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Which Former Dallas Cowboys Could be Considered the Greatest All-Time?

John Williams

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AP Photo / Susan Ragan, File

Sunday, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Cole Beasley took some heat for this tweet below. The tweet refers to Barry Sanders as the "Greatest" of all time.

Cole Beasley on Twitter

The greatest. https://t.co/0rhm1LfgJe

And followed it up with this beauty.

Cole Beasley on Twitter

So I can't say Randy moss is the goat cause he didn't play for the cowboys either? Lol when I retire do I get to have an opinion again?

Yes Cole, you have to wait till you retire to get an opinion on things unless you're praising the past, present, and future Cowboys. That's how this works (Note - font used to express sarcasm).

It's certainly an interesting take.

The debates over the greatest players at their position are endless and really have no answer. It got me wondering, however, which Dallas Cowboys could be in the debate for greatest player at their position of all time.

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President Bill Clinton,  Dallas Cowboys Running Back Emmitt Smith #22 (JOYCE NALTCHAYAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Running Back

The tweet that set Cole Beasley's timeline ablaze yesterday was in regard to calling former Detroit Lions running back Barry Sanders the GOAT (greatest of all-time).

Obviously those of us in Cowboys Nation would have another opinion on the matter, considering the NFL's All-Time leading rusher donned The Star for all but a couple of forgotten seasons in Arizona.

It's arguable that Sanders could have been the NFL's All-Time leading rusher if he hadn't called it a career with good years left, but we will never know. Part of a career that is greatness like Emmitt's is, is longevity. Smith played for 14 years, while Sanders only played nine seasons.

For many of us, it's Emmitt Smith and then everyone else when considering the running back position, but the debate still rages.

Many would say Walter Payton or Jim Brown and those would be legitimate names in the discussion, but it ultimately--and typically--comes down to two names in the debate; Smith and Sanders.

Those, like Beasley, who say Sanders is the greatest, do so because of the statistics he achieved with what is perceived as lesser talent. Those same people would argue that Smith was the product of playing behind a great offensive line, with a Hall of Fame wide receiver and a Hall of Fame quarterback.

But why can't Emmitt Smith get any credit for being the offensive focal point on a team that won three Super Bowls, went to a fourth NFC Championship, and was the most dominant force in the league in the 90s?

Cause we can't give any credit to individuals with great talent around them. See 2016 Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott

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Former Dallas Cowboys Offensive Lineman Larry Allen (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Guard

Larry Allen was selected to six -- Six!!! -- straight 1st-team All-Pro teams from 1996 to 2001. He made the Pro Bowl 11 times in 12 seasons and the one season he didn't make it was in 2002 when he suffered an injury and only played in five games.

In 1999, he only played 11 games and still was selected as a first team All-Pro. Allen, incredibly was also selected as a 1st Team All-Pro as a left tackle in 1998.

He was selected to the All-Decade Second Team for both the 1990s and the 2000s. How the Pro Football Writers could even dare leave him off the first team is utterly ridiculous. Just look at his resume! If that doesn't get you in the conversation as the best guard of all-time, I'm not sure what could.

The offensive linemen whose careers most resemble Allen's, according to Pro Football Reference are:

  • Tackle Jonathan Ogden (four 1st Team All-Pros)
  • Guard Gene Upshaw (five 1st team All-Pros)
  • Tackle Walter Jones (four 1st Team All-Pros)
  • Center Kevin Mawae (three 1st-Team All-Pro selections)

Allen's six All-Pro teams trump all those who all had "similar" careers to Allen.

I don't know a lot about offensive linemen, but what I do know is that Larry Allen had the respect of his peers and the fear of defenses throughout the league. You didn't want to see him in space and he was tremendous in the trenches.

In my mind, he is the greatest of all time.

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Dallas Cowboys Kicker Dan Bailey #5 (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Kicker

Dan Bailey has been going back and forth between first and second all-time in career field goal percentage. The only thing that is keeping him from being in the conversation with people like Adam Vinatieri is clutch field goals made during the post season.

He was clutch in the 2016 playoff game against Green Bay, but Aaron Rodgers and Jared Cook erased any memory of Bailey's game tying kick with less than two minutes to play. If Dallas is able to get off the field on that third down play, Bailey may have just had a chance to kick a game winner and send Dallas to the NFC Championship game.

During the regular season, only Justin Tucker can stake a claim as the best kicker in the history of the NFL, but Bailey is right there as well.

If Dallas can make a run into the playoffs and make some clutch kicks along the way, Bailey can begin to cement himself as the greatest of all-time.

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Former Dallas Cowboys Cornerback Deion Sanders #21

Cornerback

There wasn't a player in the 90's who was as dominant at their position as Deion Sanders was at cornerback. You may find someone out there who would argue another player has been the best corner in the history of the NFL, but it's likely they aren't speaking rationally.

Deion Sanders won two Super Bowls. One with the San Francisco 49ers and then another with the Dallas Cowboys.

Sanders made eight Pro Bowls and was selected to the All-Pro 1st-team six times.

He finished with 17 total touchdowns for his career and his 53 interceptions tie him for 24th all-time.

Sure, 24th all-time isn't that great, but Sanders' reputation led to most quarterbacks throwing to the other side of the field. He was the definition of the shut-down corner. Before Revis Island came into being, Sanders was marooning opposing wide receivers on his own deserted island.

Rod Woodson, who played during a similar era to Deion, had more interceptions, but also switched to safety later in his career. He only recorded five 1st-team All-Pro selections and seven Pro Bowls at cornerback.

Deion's flair and attitude were second to none during the 90's. He talked the talk and walked the walk. He's one of those generationally transcendent players who would dominate the NFL in any era.

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Dallas Cowboys (HC) Jason Garrett and (GM) Jerry Jones (Vernon Bryant/The Dallas Morning News)

Owner

Jerry Jones is arguably the most prolific owner in NFL history.

Having bought the Dallas Cowboys for a mere $100 million, he and the rest of the Jones family have built it into the most valuable sports franchise in the world. Forbes recently released their updated franchise values and the Dallas Cowboys were valued at $4.2 billion.

Jerry Jones has earned enough clout to help teams like the Los Angeles Chargers, the Los Angeles Rams, and Oakland Raiders (soon to be in Las Vegas) find new homes with new stadium deals.

His three Super Bowl trophies from the early 90s are still quite impressive. In the same time frame, only the New England Patriots have more championships, but Robert Kraft doesn't have the same league-wide influence that Jerry Jones holds.

When Jones' bought the Cowboys, Major League Baseball was widely considered the most popular sport in the United States. Now, the NFL has completely taken over the sports market. Its offseason holds just as much intrigue as some sport's regular season.

The NFL draft has become an event unlike any other.

Jerry Jones is a big reason for all of that.

He helped shape the way the NFL approaches its TV deals and advertising. Not only has Jones taken America's Team and made it an international brand, he's done the same for the NFL. In Mexico, England, and Germany, American football continues to see growth in its club and youth levels. Every year more and more non-Americans make their way into the NFL.

Soon to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, Jones' contributions to the NFL are legendary and will leave a legacy that will help the NFL continue to flourish for decades to come.

A lot of you will invariably argue that Jerry Jones is a terrible owner for allowing Jerry Jones to continue to be the general manager. Well, if "you liked those three Super Bowls, and I hope you did, I hope you did very much," you better be willing to give Jerry Jones the GM credit for them. Because if you are willing to blame Jerry for the down years, then you better give him credit for the good years as well; recent history included.


Which Dallas Cowboys do you think deserve consideration for greatest of all time at their position? Which ones are on their way to being the greatest of all time at their position? Let us know in the comment section.



Dallas Cowboys optimist bringing factual reasonable takes to Cowboys Nation and the NFL Community. I wasn't always a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quick as I could.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. ThePsychodad69

    July 18, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    What era? I saw TD his rookie year on TV, also watched the 1st slam over the goalpost, ala Hollywood, sat in Giants stadium on MNF and watched Emmitt take the 1st touch for 6 on Sims jersey retirement night, also wondered why Romo never went overseas to the NFLE league and Austin going 200 in Denver. All depends on the era. Roger was always my favorite when I was QB, but when I moved to WR it was 88, when I became a TEsafety it was Novachek Harris and Bates was always a hero.

    • John Williams

      John Williams

      July 19, 2017 at 1:41 am

      I guess the question is, are there any past Cowboys who are the greatest at their position over the history of the NFL.

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Star Blog

3 Things We Learned About The Dallas Cowboys In 2018

Kevin Brady

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Sean's Scout: Starting Front 7 Sets Tone Early, Cowboys Depth Falters in Loss to Bengals 1
AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth

Coming into the 2018 season, loads of questions surrounded the Dallas Cowboys and the future of their roster.

Could their defense stay intact when the annual Sean Lee injury occurred? Was Kris Richard going to lead the Cowboys young secondary to places we thought they could be? And would Dak Prescott earn a contact extension and become the official franchise quarterback of America's Team.

Of course, there are tons of other questions that may have gone unanswered, but these three critical areas seem to find clarity in 2018.

Leighton Vander Esch And Jaylon Smith Are Legit

The Dallas Cowboys caught a lot of flack for their selection both of these linebackers, each for different reasons.

When they snagged Jaylon Smith in the second round of the 2016 draft, it was still unknown to the public if Smith could ever even play football again. When they took Leighton Vander Esch 19th overall last April, fans questioned how valuable an off-ball linebacker would be on a defense that already had Sean Lee.

Well, after their first full season together, it's easy to say that both Vander Esch and Smith are the linebacker options of the future in Dallas. Named to the Pro Bowl during his rookie season, Vander Esch took the world by storm in 2018. When Lee went down, he was there to not only fill his shoes, but to outplay the veteran all year long.

What is fun to consider is that as good as Vander Esch was this season, Jaylon Smith might be even better. Both posses insane sideline to sideline pursuit ability, and are some of the surest tacklers in all of football.

Watching these two grow together will be a pleasure over the coming seasons.

Their Young Secondary Is Coming Together

Like their linebackers, the Dallas Cowboys secondary is a young group, who fans are excited to watch grow throughout the years. It seemed like more pressure sat on the shoulders of young cornerbacks Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie than of Smith and Vander Esch, however.

With Kris Richard joining the staff and making the decision to move Jones to cornerback full time, it was do-or-die for the former first round pick. Byron Jones answered all the doubters, earning not only a Pro Bowl selection but also First Team All Pro honors for his performance.

Opposite him, Awuzie had a rough start to his sophomore campaign. While typically right there in coverage, wide outs too often made contested catches over him. Over the final few weeks of the year, however, that changed and Awuzie played some of the best football yet.

Xavier Woods, Anthony Brown, and Jourdan Lewis (in much fewer snaps) all had fantastic seasons as well, giving the Cowboys great hope and confidence in their secondary moving forward. They may need to add another safety during the offseason, however, though Jeff Heath remains more than just a viable option.

Dak Prescott Is Here To Stay

Whether or not you think it's justified, Dak Prescott is the quarterback of the future in Dallas. And he earned that right the back-half of 2018 and during the postseason. After a shaky start to his 3rd season, Prescott turned things around nicely, leading the Cowboys to a 7-1 finish to the regular season.

Prescott played the best football of his young career down the stretch, and showed just how valuable he is both on the field and in the locker room. It seemed like every game he made 2-3 winning plays that put the Cowboys over the top that afternoon.

Dak is going to get a contract extension, and will be locked in as a Cowboy for the foreseeable future, and with the way he played the final 10 games of his season, I can't second guess this decision much at all.



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Star Blog

Jason Garrett Can’t be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

Brian Martin

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Jason Garrett Can't be Serious About Retaining Scott Linehan, Can He?

One of the few positives most of us were looking forward to after the Dallas Cowboys Divisional Round loss to the Los Angeles Rams was the fact that Scott Linehan would no longer be the offensive coordinator for America's Team. Everything was pointing to his dismissal, but that may not be the case according to Head Coach Jason Garrett.

Todd Archer on Twitter

Jason Garrett said on 105.3 The Fan that offensive coordinator Scott Linehan will return in 2019. "We don't anticipate any significant changes on our staff," Garrett said.

I can't say that I was happy upon learning Jason Garrett plans on retaining Scott Linehan as the Cowboys OC in 2019. In fact, my first thought was… Well, something better left unsaid. I'm sure many of you can kind of read my mind, because I'm pretty positive you had all that the same thoughts running through your head as well.

In all honesty, I didn't think there was a snowball chance in hell Scott Linehan would return to Dallas after the conclusion of the 2018 season. After all, the Cowboys nearly fired him during the bye week earlier this season, meaning his job security was already on thin ice. He didn't do anything to improve things in my opinion.

I know Jason Garrett has said Scott Linehan will return as the OC in 2019, but not for a second do I believe it. We are less than 72 hours hours removed from the Cowboys exit from the playoffs and I highly doubt any of Dallas' decision-makers has had the time to sit down and discuss who stays and who goes. In fact, I know they haven't.

Jeff Cavanaugh on Twitter

Stephen Jones says they won't comment on anything with coaching staff but that they need to take a deep look at why they fell short. Says it a little early to speculate about players or coaches. They haven't had a meeting about it yet.

I think once the Cowboys brass sits down and reevaluates the 2018 season, they will come to the conclusion they can do better than Scott Linehan as their offensive coordinator. There were just too many times throughout the season where the playcalling was a problem just. It's just time to move on, despite the vote of confidence by Jason Garrett.

Of course, this could just be me trying to read between the lines hoping and praying Scott Linehan is finally fired. Like many of you, I've grown way too tired of his predictable and dated playcalling. It's time to move on and find someone more innovative who can maximize the talent the Dallas Cowboys have on the roster, much like Kris Richard did with the defense.

You can either choose to believe Jason Garrett or not. I for one have a hard time seeing the Dallas Cowboys staying status quo with their coaching staff, especially their offensive coordinator. But, only time will tell.

Do you think it's time for the Dallas Cowboys to fire Scott Linehan?



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Star Blog

Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright

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Cowboys Rammed Out of Playoffs but 2019 is Bright

If you were to have clicked over to Sportsbook Review, you could have seen what all the premier online sportsbooks were dealing on the Cowboys/Rams game before kickoff. Sites like Bovada, which incidentally you can read a Bovada Review at Sportsbook Review as well, had the Rams favored in every quarter, in both halves, and installed LA as seven-point favorites over Dallas. As is often the case, the number was nearly spot on as the Rams bounced our 'Boys out of the postseason 30-22. It was a heart-wrenching loss for Dallas fans everywhere but for those who put their money where their mouths were, it was particularly painful in what turned out to be a one-point difference between losing and pushing.

Let’s look on the bright side, though. The Cowboys not only copped the division crown but the draft picks from April bore fruit this season. Linebacker and No. 19 overall pick Leighton Vander Esch is a certified stud while third-round pick Michael Gallup proved he is a bona fide NFL receiver. Second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams had difficulties at left guard, but at the very least, has a season under his belt at the next level and could turn into a legitimate bodyguard for Prescott in 2019.

And let’s not forget about the trade for Amari Cooper, which turned Dallas from a squad struggling to find its identity to an NFC East champ in winning seven of its last nine games since Cooper arrived. This year’s edition also bested a tough Seahawks team in the first-round of the playoffs.

Let’s face it, folks, no one expected the Cowboys to win a Super Bowl this season and what we got was about as much as we could have hoped with the current roster as it is presently constructed.

Dak Prescott has one more year on his rookie contract and will be looking to score a big payday at the end of next season, if not sooner. The Cowboys could enter negotiations and lock Prescott up for the foreseeable future, but it might be best for both parties to see what 2019 brings and go from there. Either way, Dallas will pay beaucoup bucks to keep Prescott in a Cowboys uniform so watching and waiting will most likely be the tact management takes with their star quarterback, with a franchise tag in 2020 as an option as well.

In the team’s immediate future will be signing their second-round pick in 2014, DeMarcus Lawrence. The talented defensive end provided the Cowboys with the edge rusher they needed for parts of this season and his combined 25 sacks over the last two seasons would be nearly impossible to replace. Dallas franchised him this season but will most likely put together a long-term deal for Lawrence in the offseason.

Ezekiel Elliott has also reportedly been hinting at his own contract extension even though he is contractually committed to the Cowboys for next season with a team option in '20.

Ironically, one of the strengths of the Dallas Cowboys in recent years was a relatively weak link this season. The offensive line was decimated by injuries and Pro Bowler Travis Frederick missed the entire season. But those wounds will heal for next season and the old gang will be back together again.

The Cowboys have loads of cap space but are without a first-round pick due to the trade for Amari Cooper. Nevertheless, the young blood on the team looks poised to contribute for many years and there will be money available to woo free agents to a club now viewed as a legitimate contender.

If you want to look at next season’s odds, make sure to educate yourself on which online sportsbooks are the most reputable, trusted, and reliable. Read the Bovada Review over at SBR and see what customers are saying about one of the industry’s top sportsbooks. Then, when the lines come out on next season’s division, conference, and Super Bowl winners, you can be informed and maybe throw a few bucks on the 'Boys from Dallas!



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