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

John Williams



Cowboys Headlines -  40
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.

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)


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)


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


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)


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.

I didn't start out as a Cowboys fan, but I got here as quickly as I could. I grew up a Joe Montana fan when he was with the 49ers and followed him to the Chiefs, until we moved to Texas. I've now been a Fan of the Boys since the Dark Days of the Post-Aikman, Pre-Romo era of abysmal quarterback play, now relishing in more than a decade of franchise quarterbacking for America's Team.

  • ThePsychodad69

    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

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

Star Blog

Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D

Sean Martin



Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense 1

It took some time, but the Dallas Cowboys have their first outside free agent of the offseason, signing Linebacker Joe Thomas to provide depth at a position where Anthony Hitchens and Kyle Wilber have already signed elsewhere.

The fifth-year pro has played exclusively with the Green Bay Packers, but the Cowboys do have some familiarity with Thomas as he spent part of 2015 on their practice squad.

Joe Thomas has served as a core special teams contributor and sub-package LB for the Packers out of South Carolina State, and will now look to bring these services to a Cowboys team in need of play making ability on both defense and special teams.

Using film from this past season, here is Joe Thomas' full scouting report.

LB Joe Thomas: Strengths

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Joe Thomas lined up at all three LB positions for the Packers, taking the majority of his snaps on defense at MIKE or WILL. The WILL position is where Thomas should fit best in Dallas.

Not overly physical with a shorter but square frame, Thomas is a rangy player with light feet and fluid movement ability. Shifting laterally along the line of scrimmage to "pick through trash" is not a problem for Thomas, nor is flipping his hips and running to the football.

It may take Thomas more effort than it should to get in position on most plays, with false steps and late reads being an issue, but once he establishes his sight on the point of attack this is a downhill missile of a player.

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Joe Thomas uses his length well to disengage from blocks and finish off plays, doing a nice job of not allowing blockers into his chest consistently.

With Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith expected to be the Cowboys' primary starters at WILL and MIKE respectively, Thomas could supplement these two physical, well-rounded players extremely well given his athleticism.

LB Joe Thomas: Weaknesses

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There is a reason a player with the raw traits of Joe Thomas goes un-drafted, and in this case it is because of awareness and anticipation issues in Thomas' game.

Far too often on tape, Thomas is forcing himself to recover from false steps against the blockers in front of him. I would have loved to see a player with this movement ability get more clean opportunities to finish at the football, but it was simply not there for Thomas.

When Thomas wasn't late to the ball against the run, he was getting caught flat-footed in space trying to compensate for this reactionary ability. This led to Thomas' fair share of missed tackles, where the LB failed to break down correctly.

Overall, Thomas did a decent job of avoiding blocks and disengaging, and does play with better-than-expected stopping power. The strength and technique to shed blocks was rarely seen though, relying on his quickness to outrun opponents to the spot.

LB Joe Thomas: Summary

Sean's Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Dallas Cowboys Defense

This is a player that should help the Dallas Cowboys in two phases of their game this season.

Signed for both 2018 and 2019, the Cowboys have clearly seen enough from their former practice squad linebacker in Green Bay to bring back an athletic ST ace with upside on defense.

Joe Thomas shouldn't be taking Lee or Smith off the field regularly this season, but at his best he will factor into Rod Marinelli's defense on passing downs.

Thomas gives a unit predicated on flowing to the ball even more speed on the field, and is an ideal depth signing with the versatility to cover punts and kickoffs.

Tell us what you think about "Sean’s Scout: Linebacker Joe Thomas Brings Speed, Range to Cowboys D" in the comments below. You can also email me at, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!

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Star Blog

Could a Special Coach Help Dez Bryant’s Route-Running?

Brian Martin



Could Special Coach Help Dez Bryant's Route Running?

Dez Bryant's career with the Dallas Cowboys may be in limbo, but that's not stopping him from trying to improve his game and on-field performance.

Bryant will reportedly train with personal wide receivers coach David Robinson, who specializes in route-running, according to reporter Jane Slater of NFL Network. This should come as good news to a lot of Cowboys fans, because Dez Bryant has often been criticized throughout his professional career for his route-running.

If anything, this news should indicate that Dez Bryant is more determined than ever to rebound from his disappointing 2017 season and prove his critics wrong that he is no longer one of the top receivers in the league. I for one am not going to bet against him.

Bryant's work ethic and passion for the game have never been questioned. His desire to be the best is evident anytime you turn on his film, whether it is in a game situation or on the practice field. He takes the "practice like you play" mantra to heart.

Everybody should be encouraged that at this point in his career, Dez Bryant is still looking at ways to improve his game and seek help. Hopefully, working with a well-known receivers coach like David Robinson can take Bryant's game to the next level.

Dez Bryant

Dallas Cowboys WR Dez Bryant (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

You may not know who David Robinson is (I certainly didn't), but he is well respected around the league and has helped other receivers under his tutelage. Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders, Jordan Reed, and even Cowboys former WR Brice Butler have all benefited from Robinson's coaching.

Dez Bryant has always been regarded as one of those types of receivers who is always open regardless how tight the coverage is around him. His ability to go up and snag the ball out of the air is arguably his best trait, but he could become more dangerous if he can create separation on his own with better route-running.

Unfortunately, Bryant is entering the stage in his career where age becomes a factor and some regression is to be expected. This is why improved route-running could improve any deficiencies Bryant maybe dealing with.

But, what exactly will David Robinson be working on with Dez Bryant?

Robinson told Jane Slater that in his workouts with Dez Bryant, he will concentrate on the expansion of Bryant's route tree, shaking defenders at the line of scrimmage, and improving footwork technique to compensate for any natural loss of speed due to age.

I don't know about you, but I'm actually looking forward to seeing how Bryant responds to Robinson's coaching, hopefully still as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

We all know that Bryant's status with the Cowboys is unknown, at least to those of us on the outside looking in, but I don't see him going anywhere in 2018. There just aren't any vet WRs or rookies who I can see replacing his production. Of course, I could be wrong.

One thing is for sure though, Dez Bryant isn't going to sit on his hands while he waits to find out what his future holds.

Do you think improved route-running will help Dez Bryant's game?

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Star Blog

Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Brian Martin



Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?

Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.

I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.

Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.

Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.

Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.

Shea McClellin

New England Patriots LB Shea McClellin

After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.

Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.

This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.

If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.

With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.

He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.

Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?

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