When I was in elementary school there used to be a gum ball machine that yielded little helmets for all of the NFL teams. Every day I would beg my parents for a quarter so I could get a new one as I tried to collect them all. Of course while I ultimately wanted every team there was one that I wanted above all… the Dallas Cowboys.
After about 7 Broncos, 5 Packers, and 3 49ers I got it – the big enchilada.
Throughout this Countdown To Kickoff series here at Inside The Star we have covered a lot of greatness. We’ve had Pro Bowlers, All Pros, Super Bowl Champions, and Hall of Famers. Some numbers have stuck out a little bit more than others. 94 has two legendary pass rushers and Club 88 is all about being a big-time wide receiver.
Today, 22 in our Countdown To Kickoff, is the big enchilada.
The number 22 is arguably the greatest number in Dallas Cowboys History as it boasts two Pro Football Hall of Famers that played two different positions. Join me as we recount two of the most beloved players in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.
The Following Players Have All Worn 22 For The Dallas Cowboys:
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
Legend Of #22: Bob Hayes
The NFL is filled with the finest athletes that the world has to offer. We’re talking about the most physically gifted individuals on the entire planet.
The biggest, the smartest, the strongest, and the fastest human beings all flock to the National Football League.
During the 7th round of the 1964 NFL Draft the actual fastest man on the face of the earth was drafted to play wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys. What a wide receiver he would become.
Florida A&M – Robert Lee Hayes
Jump in my DeLorean and let’s go back to the Florida A&M campus in 1962 so we can see what this Robert Lee Hayes kid was all about. Don’t worry about that hoverboard or sports almanac; we’ll need those later (can you tell I love Back To The Future?).
Bob, as he’s known around town, doesn’t even need a DeLorean because he can reach 88 miles per hour by foot. In 1962 Hayes tied the world record for the 100-yard dash, running it in 9.2 seconds. He’d actually go on to break the record the following year with a time of 9.1 seconds, a record that would stand for 11 years. Bob also blasted through 200 meters in 20.5 seconds and 220 yards in 20.6 seconds (while running into an eight mile per hour wind, mind you). The words you’re looking for are, “holy crap.”
Konnichiwa! Tokyo, Japan played host to the 1964 Olympic Games when Bob Hayes became an official, and literal, worldwide sprinting sensation.
Bob Hayes won the Gold Medal in the 100m with a time of 10.06 seconds (tying the then world record). That’s faster than the time it took me to type that sentence!
Hayes also served as a part of the United States Men’s 4x100m Relay Team. When you’ve got Bob Hayes on your team you don’t need much else, as France’s Jocelyn Delocour put it, and with Hayes the red, white, and blue took gold… giving Bob his second Gold Medal in the Games.
Bob left Tokyo with two Gold Medals around his neck and returned home an American Hero. Two months later he would become a part of America’s Team.
1964 NFL Draft
The 1964 NFL Draft is arguably the greatest one to have ever taken place. It yielded 11 Pro Football Hall of Famers, more than any other draft class in history… three of them being Dallas Cowboys: Mel Renfro (2nd round), Bob Hayes (7th round), and Roger Staubach (10th round).
Bob, and Roger Staubach, were selected with “futures picks” which allowed them to be drafted by NFL teams before they finished their college eligibility.
Many wondered whether the track star, and Olympic Gold Medal Winner, Bob Hayes could succeed in pro football or not. I mean, sure the guy was fast, but could he catch?
Hayes sprinted into the NFL with force. He led the league in touchdowns in both of his first two years, with 12 and 13 respectively, while covering 2,235 yards in the process.
Bullet Bob Hayes
Bob Hayes was so fast that he was thought to be able to outrun a bullet, and he proved it on the football field. Hayes was the ultimate deep threat on the gridiron as evidenced by his league leading yards-per-reception in both 1970 and 1971, 26.1 and 24.0. Nobody could keep up with him.
The bullet speed of Bob Hayes forced defensive coordinators to adapt and completely change their defensive schemes. Teams had to move to a “zone” defense because Bob was going to beat whoever lined up on him in single man coverage every single time and therefore demanded deep, double man coverage schemes.
The “bump and run” technique was implemented largely to stop Bob Hayes. Defensive backs had to disrupt his route right off of the line of scrimmage just to have a chance at slowing him down. It was never any use and Bob Hayes ran past them all.
#22: Bob Hayes
The 2009 Pro Football Hall of Fame Class featured the first man to win both an Olympic Gold Medal (1964) and a Super Bowl Ring (1971/Super Bowl VI). Bob Hayes posthumously joined the most elite fraternity in professional sports, his bust and memory being introduced by his quarterback, Roger Staubach.
Bob Hayes isn’t just one of the greatest Dallas Cowboys of all-time, he isn’t even just one of the greatest football players of all-time… Bob Hayes is one of the finest athletes to ever walk the face of the earth.
He was only the second Olympic Gold Medal Winner enshrined in the Hall of Fame, following Jim Thorpe… who serves as the inspiration for the Hall residing in Canton, Ohio.
The legend of Bob Hayes has rippled even into today’s NFL as the effect of his incredible speed serves as the foundation for so many NFL defenses. His career resume includes:
- 2-Time Olympic Gold Medalist (1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan)
- 365 Career Receptions
- 7,295 Career Receiving Yards (5th in Franchise History)
- 71 Career Receiving Touchdowns (1st in Franchise History)
- 20.0 Career Yards Per Reception Average (6th All-Time)
- 95 Yard Reception in 1966 (Longest Reception in Dallas Cowboys History)
- 3-Time Pro Bowl Selection (1965, 1966, 1967)
- 2-Time First-Team All-Pro Selection (1966, 1968)
- Super Bowl VI Champion
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Class of 2001
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2009
Bob Hayes was one of the most magnificent wide receivers to ever play the game of football. He etched the number 22 into greatness, but another individual forever immortalized it.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please allow me to present, the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher…
Legend Of #22: Emmitt Smith
Despite 700 career attempts for 3,928 yards and 36 touchdowns… the University of Florida’s Emmitt Smith was thought to be “too small” for the professional game of football. This caused him to slip all the way to the 17th pick of the 1990 NFL Draft. Smith joined the Dallas Cowboys and was the final piece to what would become one of the most dominant teams in NFL History.
The new 22 joined quite the loaded team. He had an offensive line that was considered the best in the NFL, known as the Great Wall of Dallas, and he had a star quarterback named Troy Aikman who threw passes to the team’s number one receiver, Michael Irvin.
Other playmakers like Alvin Harper and Jay Novacek lined up on offense… but Smith, Aikman, and Irvin were a cut above the rest. “The Triplets” were about to dominate the game of football.
Smith put together 937 yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season, earning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. After that is when things really got interesting.
1991 was the year that the Dallas Cowboys finally started cooking with gas and Emmitt Smith, to quote Lieutenant Colonel Frank Slade, took a FLAMETHROWER to it! Emmitt ran, ran, then ran some more, ran again, then kept running. Take a look at his stats from 1991-1995:
*Super Bowl Champions, NFL Leader
During this run Emmitt Smith became the first player in NFL History to rush for 1,400+ yards in five straight seasons, while leading the league in rushing in four of them.
This five-season window is also sandwiched between 1990 and 1996 when Smith had 11 and 12 touchdowns, respectively. That makes Emmitt one of three players to start their careers with seven straight ten-touchdown seasons; Jim Brown and LaDainian Tomlinson are the other two.
As you are probably well aware - the Dallas Cowboys won the Super Bowl in 1992, 1993, and 1995. This cemented them as a dynasty within the pages of Pro Football History, and the ink on the paper read Emmitt Smith.
In each of their Super Bowl seasons, the Dallas Cowboys were armed with the NFL’s rushing champion. Emmitt Smith and his Triplet Teammates made the Cowboys lethal from all aspects of the offense.
After winning their first title in 1992 the Cowboys, and Emmitt, wanted more in 1993. This became a historical year for Emmitt Smith as he became the first, and only, running back in NFL History to win in one season:
- NFL Rushing Title
- NFL MVP Award
- Super Bowl Championship
- Super Bowl MVP
Run, Emmitt, Run
After the Super Bowl victories Emmitt Smith was not done. He kept on running and uncovered yard after yard. He posted 1,000+ yard seasons all the way through 2001, which made him the first person not just to achieve 11 1,000+-yard seasons, but Emmitt achieved them consecutively!
Accolades like these obviously don’t happen to just any football player. It takes an enormous amount of grit, dedication, and durability to dominate such a physically violent game over such a long period of time.
Emmitt Smith was neither the fastest nor flashiest guy on the field, but he was the strongest. Smith had a will that absolutely could not be broken. Michael Irvin has long regarded that when Emmitt hit the field, he’d turn into Superman. It’s hard to dispute that as Emmitt was in fact a Man of Steel over the course of his entire career.
Once you reach the top of the mountain it’s hard to get back. We see every year how Super Bowl teams fall off because everyone is gunning for them. Even then, it’s human nature to get complacent once you’ve tasted the sweet nectar of victory. Not for Emmitt Smith.
Amidst all the awards, parades, and confetti showers... Emmitt Smith wanted more. There are many Super Bowl winners, there are plenty of NFL MVPs, but there is only one NFL All-Time Leading Rusher.
When Emmitt Smith entered the NFL the crown belonged to Walter Payton, and Emmitt knew it would take everything he had to win it. From the moment he had an NFL locker Emmitt Smith wrote down some goals that he wanted to achieve.
With such an illustrious career he had already accomplished a majority of them, now it was time to chase the big one.
After 11 straight 1,000+-yard seasons Emmitt Smith entered the 2002 season with the record in sight.
“Move Over, Sweetness! Make A Place For Emmitt!”
Through the first 7 games of the season, Emmitt chipped away. On October 27th, 2002 the Dallas Cowboys would play host to the Seattle Seahawks… and Emmitt Smith was 93 yards from Walter Payton.
I know that there are a lot of records in sports. I even know that a lot of them revolve around “iron man” type performances (Cal Ripken Jr. and Brett Favre come to mind). To conquer this record, and to unseat Walter Payton in doing so, took more will, drive, and durability than any of those in my opinion.
The running back position, especially in the days of Emmitt Smith, takes a beating. Even with a great offensive line and a fullback like Daryl Johnston, it’s a punishing gig. Only one man could have done it.
With approximately 10 minutes to go in the game, 13 yards away from glory, Emmitt Smith joined the huddle.
A short gain for 3 yards got the blood running of every football fan on earth. This is it. This is the drive. This is history.
Emmitt took the next handoff, hit the hole, bounced off a tackle, picked up a block, and stumbled off of the outstretched arm of a Seahawk. In typical Emmitt Smith fashion he placed his right hand on the turf just long enough to regain his balance and propel himself forward… into immortality.
Emmitt Smith had become the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher.
#22: Emmitt Smith
The career of Emmitt Smith far transcends what normal human beings are capable of doing. His accomplishments stretch almost as far as his career yardage total. They include:
- 8-Time Pro Bowl Selection (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999)
- 4-Time First-Team All-Pro Selection (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995)
- 4-Time NFL Rushing Leader (1991, 1992, 1993, 1995)
- 4,409 Career Rushing Attempts (Most All-Time)
- 349 Playoff Career Rushing Attempts (2nd All-Time)
- 164 Career Rushing Touchdowns (Most All-Time)
- 19 Playoff Career Rushing Touchdowns (Most All-Time)
- 175 Career Touchdowns (2nd All-Time)
- 21,579 Career Yards From Scrimmage (2nd All-Time)
- 1,586 Playoff Career Rushing Yards (Most All-Time)
- 201 Games Played (5th in Franchise History)
- 3-Time Super Bowl Champion (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
- 1993 NFL MVP
- Super Bowl XXVIII MVP
- Member of the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team
- Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, Class of 2005
- Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2010
- NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher – 18,355 yards (17,162 with Dallas)
It’s fitting that the number 22 belonged to both Bob Hayes and Emmitt Smith. Two twos compromise 22, and the two of these 22s took it all the way to the Hall of Fame... say that five times fast!
Bob Hayes set the foundation of greatness for the number 22, but Emmitt catapulted it into immortality. It is for that reason that Emmitt Smith is, and will forever be, the Greatest 22 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 21 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
The Dallas Cowboys WR Position Battle is Heating Up
Earning a spot on the Dallas Cowboys final 53-man roster is going to be a lot tougher in 2018 then it has been in years past. There is no shortage of position battles taking place right now to earn one of those coveted openings, but it's the battle taking place at receiver that's gaining steam and starting to heat up.
The ultimate unknown right now is how many wide receivers the Dallas Cowboys choose to carry on their 53-man roster this season. Last year they decided to carry six, but they have been known to carry just five. Unfortunately, this means they will have to release some talented players and risk losing them to another team.
As things stand right now there may just be one, possibly two, roster spots up for grabs. I think the only thing we know for sure right now is Cole Beasley, Allen Hurns, Michael Gallup, and Tavon Austin are the only WRs who can feel secure their jobs are safe for 2018. Everybody else is playing a game of Survivor, just hoping their name isn't the one written down and their torch isn't snuffed out.
Terrance Williams' flame may be safe due to his current contract. The Dallas Cowboys can't save anything by releasing him, but it doesn't cost them that much either. It's unlikely he has a future with the team, so if someone were to prove themselves more worthy, his flame could be extinguished.
Last season I thought Noah Brown was ready to unseat Williams, but that never really materialized. Unfortunately, Brown hasn't really shown up as much as I thought he would this offseason, and missing the game against the San Francisco 49ers last week didn't do him any favors either. This doesn't bode well for him moving forward.
Deonte Thompson was signed as a free agent to provide some veteran experience and speed to the passing game, but that in no way means his job is secure. He needs to do something to show up a little more because his age and salary means a younger up-and-coming WR could make him expendable.
Second-year WR Lance Lenoir Jr. might just be the receiver who has stirred things up the most. He has not only created a buzz for himself in offseason practices, but he was able to carry it over into the preseason last week against the 49ers. His arrow trajectory is definitely pointing upwards.
I'd definitely hate to be the one to decide who stays and who goes when final cuts are made. It's not going to be an easy decision to make, because the outcome will definitely have an impact on the team's success this year.
All of these players were brought into help Quarterback Dak Prescott and the passing game reach new heights, so making the wrong move could be detrimental. The number of wide receivers and who the Dallas Cowboys decide to keep might be the most important decision they make before the season starts.
How would you predict the Dallas Cowboys WR position battle turning out?
Any Concern About Dan Bailey Not Playing Against 49ers?
With all the excitement of the Dallas Cowboys finally playing in a game last week against the San Francisco 49ers, it may have escaped your attention that Dan Bailey remained on the sideline the entire time. He didn't attempt one field goal or kick off once last Thursday, which in my opinion is a little concerning.
Dan Bailey joined Ezekiel Elliott and Sean Lee on the sideline as a healthy scratch last week. The decision to sit both Zeke and Sean Lee makes sense due to the physical demands of their positions, but sitting Bailey was a bit of a head scratcher. After all, it's not like he plays a physically demanding position like the other two.
I know. I know. Dan Bailey is an integral part for the Cowboys success moving forward. I'm not arguing that he's not, but after sitting out the majority of the 2017 season with a groin injury and lingering concerns about his health this year, not playing him at all against the 49ers is a bit confusing.
I don't believe there is any kind of kicking competition between Dan Bailey and Brett Maher, who handled all of the kicking duties against the 49ers last Thursday. Bailey will be the Cowboys kicker when the 2018 season gets underway in just a few short weeks. But, the question remains… Why didn't he receive any playing time?
Dan Bailey was never quite the same last season once he returned from his injury. Something was off and I don't know if it was more mental or physical, maybe a little of both. He just wasn't splitting the uprights like his normal self.
Unfortunately, we have seen this kind of thing happen in the past with one of the Cowboys kickers. Nick Folk went through a similar situation with an injury and never really bounced back. I'm just hoping history doesn't repeat itself.
Obviously, the Dallas Cowboys know more about what's going on with Dan Bailey than I do. But, you would think they'd have allowed him to attempt a field goal or at least an extra point in a game situation to build up his confidence once again. It's what I would have done.
Hopefully I'm just being a little paranoid and I'm reading more into this than there actually is. But, the fact I haven't heard any reasoning as to why Dan Bailey was held out last week is sitting a little uneasy with me. I'm just hoping it was precautionary in order to keep him as healthy as possible for the upcoming season.
Should we be concerned Dan Bailey was a healthy scratch last week?
Week 1 NFC East Predictions and Cowboys Season Outlook
Let me start this article with a strong opening statement: The Cowboys will be better in 2018 than they were in 2017. There's been a lot of talk about the lack of a true No. 1 receiver. But when we break it down, the current setup will most likely play out better for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott.
The Dak Stats
Certain quarterbacks shine when they have that go-to playmaker. We're talking about guys like Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Calvin Johnson, Ocho Cinco, Tim Brown, Jerry Rice, and Dez Bryant. But other QBs do better at reading the defense and quickly adapting to what is given. Dak Prescott is the latter breed of QB.
Let’s do a quick numbers exercise to prove this.
When Prescott is targeting 8 or more receivers throughout the game, his passer rating jumps from 86.1 (targeting less than 8) to 104.5. He passes for almost 50 yards more per game and his touchdown to interception ratio drastically improves from 21-13 to 24-4.
Most importantly, when he targets at least 8 different receivers, the Cowboys are 14-2. When he targets less than 8, the team is just .500 at 8-8.
Without a doubt, Prescott is much better at adjusting to what the defense is giving him. He just isn’t one of those guys who can successfully "force" the ball (like Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees). Not feeling the pressure of having to get the ball into the hands of the star playmaker will give this offense a new kind of depth in 2018.
Yes, losing Jason Witten hurts, much more so in my opinion than not having Dez.
Questions Still Loom
This is still the Cowboys' biggest concern on offense. There is some great depth. We have Rico Gathers, Blake Jarwin, Geoff Swaim, and the young stud out of Stanford, Dalton Schultz. But between the three who have any NFL experience, there are only 9 catches between them. I must say that Dalton, with his 4.75 40-yard dash, has a legitimate shot at seeing a lot of playing time in his rookie campaign and could become an impact player with his size (6’5”, 244-lbs) and speed.
But despite the battle for TE being wide open, and debates about whether or not the team needs a No. 1 receiver, the Cowboys are still expected to give the Eagles a run for their money in the NFC East. Here are the odds on the defending NFC East champions and how (although early) it is expected to shake out:
- Philadelphia Eagles -167
- Dallas Cowboys +350
- New York Giants +650
- Washington Redskins +750
NFC East Week 1 Predictions
The Cowboys open the season in a difficult road game against the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers have been listed as 2.5-point favorites (follow the Cowboys NFL Odds here all season long) which isn’t surprising considering they are a tough team playing at home. You might be thinking, "crap, we're opening up as underdogs?" Don’t worry too much; it actually bodes fairly well because the lines-makers generally give a 3-point advantage to the home team. This means that they actually handicap the Cowboys to be a half-point favorite on a neutral field and a 3.5-point favorite in Arlington.
The Redskins open their season in Arizona against the Cardinals. The line is set at a pick ‘em (meaning there is no point spread; it's anyone's game). But, looking at the 'Skins and Cardinals, I think Washington gets disappointed in Week 1 and starts their season with a loss.
The Giants get to test their new offensive line and see if they were right in continuing to place their faith in Eli Manning against the best defense in the league. The Jags are 3-point favorites at MetLife stadium. This means the Jags are actually 6-points better. I do think that the Giants will be vastly improved this season, but they are also going to open with a loss.
The Eagles don’t have it easy either, but they will probably pull out the win at home as 4-point favorites against the Dirty Birds on Thursday Night Football. Their defense is just too good. Atlanta's road offense scored just 21 points per game last year while Philly scores 28 on average at home. The Eagles' home defense has been downright nasty, only allowing 12 points per game in Philadelphia.
This will be a two-horse race for the division between the Eagles and Cowboys. And even if the Eagles win the East, the Cowboys will wildcard into the playoffs.
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