There are officially 80 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.
There are officially 11 weeks until we’ll be getting ready for the NFL Kickoff game featuring the World Champion New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers. After that the real fun begins, as Dallas Cowboys football will be back in the swing of action! That glorious day is 80 moons away, so to celebrate we’re going to crown the Greatest 80 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The following players have all worn 80 for the Dallas Cowboys:
- Rod Barksdale, WR
- Gary Barnes, WR
- Martellus Bennett, TE
- Anthony Fasano, TE
- Lee Folkins, TE
- Bernard Ford, WR
- Everett Gay, WR
- Alvin Harper, WR
- Rod Harris, WR
- Tony Hill, WR
- Dave McDaniels, WR
- Tony McGee, TE
- Ernie Mills, WR
- Lee Murchison, WR
- Sean Ryan, TE
- O.J. Santiago, TE
- Sebron Spivey, WR
- Reggie Swinton, WR
- Stepfret Williams, WR
It’s pretty interesting that a Dallas Cowboy hasn’t worn the number 80 in the regular season since Martellus Bennett in 2011. Marty B wasn’t exactly the torchbearer that we’re looking for in an 80, but two guys do stand out above the rest.
The Cowboys took Alvin Harper with the twelfth overall pick in the 1991 NFL Draft. There are many people who believed then, and still do, that he had more talent than fellow wideout Michael Irvin. He played four seasons as a Cowboy wearing #80 (Harper came back for an encore in 1999 and wore #82) and caught 124 passes for 2,486 yards and 18 touchdowns. Harper’s most notable reception though, came in 1992 at the famed Candlestick Park.
With approximately four minutes to go in the NFC Championship game, up by 4 against the San Francisco 49ers, with a trip to Pasadena and Super Bowl XXVII on the line…Alvin Harper stepped into Cowboys History. Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner called “896 F Flat” which called for one receiver to run a curl route and one to run a post route. Harper had run the curl all day, and had been thrown the ball repeatedly. With the game on the line The Playmaker made his way to the curl route to take it over, leaving Harper to the post. Troy Aikman read blitz and knew where the ball had to go. He delivered the ball perfectly, as Norv Turner recalled in Troy Aikman’s Hall of Fame induction, to Alvin Harper between the numbers. Harper sprinted 70 yards downfield and the Cowboys dynasty was born.
While Harper’s 1992 NFC Championship play is one of the all-time greats, it’s not enough to give him the nod as our best 80. There’s somebody else that earned it long ago.
Taken in the third round of the 1977 NFL Draft out of Stanford University, Tony Hill began his path to becoming the Greatest 80 in Dallas Cowboys History. The 1977 Dallas Cowboys are arguably the greatest team that the franchise has ever fielded, and rookie Tony Hill helped them on their way to winning Super Bowl XII against the Denver Broncos.
“The Thrill” really came into his own in 1979 and, amazingly, 1980. He began to blossom into a big-play receiver. The late, great Tom Landry even said of Tony, “Our Home Run Hitter. I’ve never seen a guy who could adjust to a ball in mid-air like Tony. He is a very explosive player—the type who can turn a short play into a big play in a hurry, because he has excellent running ability and speed.”
In 1979 “Dial 80” helped the Cowboys etch their place in NFL History as he, Drew Pearson, and Tony Dorsett became the first team in NFL History to have two receivers top 1,000 receiving yards and a running back rush for over 1,000 yards. This was also the first time in franchise history that two receivers both hit four digit marks. In his career Tony has 479 catches for 7,988 yards and 51 touchdowns. He is without question the Greatest #80 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 79 in Dallas Cowboys History is!