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

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


    And followed it up with this beauty.

    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 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 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 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.

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    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 , with a 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 and

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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 11 times in 12 seasons and the one season he didn't make it was in 2002 when he suffered an 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 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)
    • 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 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 and 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 of the NFL, but Bailey is right there as well.

    If Dallas can make a run into the 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 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 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 )


    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. 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 , the , 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 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 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 and made it an international brand, he's done the same for the NFL. In , 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 , 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 . 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.

    John Williams
    John Williams
    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. Make sure you check out the Inside The Cowboys Podcast featuring John Williams and other analysts following America's Team.


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    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.

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