There are officially 89 days until the toe meets the ball at AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys will host the New York Giants on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.
I hope that you’ve packed your neon clothes and hair spray because today we’re taking a look back at the 80s. To be specific we are going to determine who the greatest 89 in Dallas Cowboys History is. This is a number that’s typically given to wide receivers or tight ends so we’re sure to see some touchdowns on this list.
The following players have all worn 89 for the Dallas Cowboys:
- Robert Awalt, TE
- Kelly Blackwell, TE
- Thornton Chandler, TE
- Tony Curtis, TE
- Donnie Davis, TE
- Mike Ditka^, TE
- Fred Dugan, WR
- Billy Joe DuPree, TE
- Gavin Escobar*, TE
- Scott Galbraith, TE
- David LaFleur, TE
- John Phillips, TE
- Jim Price, TE
- Brian Salonen, TE/LB
- Derek Tennell, TE
- Derek Ware, TE
- Randal Williams, WR
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
*Active player on the Dallas Cowboys roster
This is quite the list to digest. There are an awful lot of tight ends here, two wide receivers, and I’m sure you’re wondering about that “TE/LB” that I threw in. Brian Salonen was a Montana dude who was drafted to play TE. After mostly playing special teams he was converted to linebacker heading into his sophomore season. He fizzled out shortly, but deserves a mention, as that’s an interesting hybrid.
Few fans will know who Fred Dugan is in Cowboys history. Taken in the 1960 Expansion Draft by the Cowboys…Dugan, along with Billy Howton, became one of the first ever-starting wide receivers for the Dallas franchise. While he only played one year (1960) under Landry and Co., asking to be traded after 1960, Dugan will forever be remembered as one of the very first Cowboys.
It’s obvious that this list is filled up with tight ends. Gavin Escobar is one of the current Cowboy tight ends that look to have a great 2015. The Cowboys had one of the greatest tight ends that have ever played the game lace up for them in Mike Ditka. Don’t believe me? Chew on this, Mike Ditka was the first EVER tight end inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The former Pitt Panther’s accolades as a player really came during his time in Chicago, where he was a part of the 1963 NFL Champion Chicago Bears, but he had quite the run in Dallas as well.
In four years with a star on his helmet Ditka caught 72 passes for 924 yards and 5 TDs. He went to two Super Bowls as a Cowboys player and was a member of the 1971 World Champion Dallas Cowboys squad that won Super Bowl VI. Ditka even caught the final touchdown pass, from fellow Hall of Famer Roger Staubach, in SBVI that gave the Cowboys their 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins. Ditka would transition from player to coach for the Cowboys in the 1973 season and was a part of the coaching staff that won Super Bowl XII.
While Ditka was a great 89 for the Cowboys, the Greatest 89 in Dallas Cowboys History poetically landed in Dallas the year that Ditka became a part of the coaching staff. Billy Joe DuPree was taken with the 20th overall pick of the 1973 draft out of Michigan State University. As a 6’4” tight end DuPree was hard to stop and proved it by leading the Cowboys in receiving yards with 392 his rookie season.
Perhaps part of what made DuPree such a great tight end was the presence of Ditka on the coaching staff, or perhaps it was just his own sheer athletic skill. In 11 years (all with Dallas) DuPree caught 267 passes for 3,565 yards and 41 TDs. DuPree played in three Super Bowls: Super Bowl X where the Cowboys lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Super Bowl XII…a victory against the Denver Broncos (where he led the team in receiving yards with 66), and DuPree caught a touchdown in what I believe was the greatest game of all time…Super Bowl XIII where the Cowboys were outdone by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In an era where tight ends were used most often for blocking, DuPree was a TD machine. He helped redefine the position, as it became more of an offensive threat to opposing defenses. His 41 TDs were a Cowboys tight end record until Jason Witten broke it in 2012.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 88 in Dallas Cowboys History is!