There are officially 74 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.
Guess what day it is?! No, not hump day. Today is Bob Lilly Appreciation Day! We’re going to unveil who the Greatest 74 in Dallas Cowboys History is. Let’s get started.
The following players have all worn 74 for the Dallas Cowboys:
- Bob Lilly^
^Pro Football Hall of Famer
Yes, really. Only one man, one legend, one Cowboy has EVER worn 74. Holy freaking crap how awesome is that?
Robert Lewis Lilly, aka Mr. Cowboy, started wreaking havoc at Texas Christian University. He was twice an All-Southwest Conference pick, a consensus All-American, and a member of the 1961 College Football All-America Team. With a resume like that you’re sure to get noticed at the NFL level, and Lilly definitely was.
After expansion in 1960, 1961 was the first time that the Dallas Cowboys would ever participate in the NFL Draft. Having previously traded their first-round draft choice to the Washington Redskins in exchange for first Cowboy QB ever Eddie LeBaron, they found themselves in a pickle. There was a player sitting at the 13th pick that they knew could catapult them into NFL relevance. The Dallas front office called up the Cleveland Browns and struck a deal.
The Cowboys gave up their first round draft choice in 1962 and Mr. Cowboy was born.
There is usually an insane amount of pressure on first-round draft selections. There’s an even larger level of responsibility handed out to the number one overall pick. Imagine being a franchise’s first ever draft selection! Lilly never batted an eye and the Hall of Fame defensive tackle actually began his career in 1961 as a defensive…end.
It wasn’t until 1963 that Coach Landry moved Lilly to the defensive tackle spot. It was at this position that Lilly found his niche and became the star of the vaunted “Doomsday Defense”. Lilly used a rarely seen four-point stance (in which he placed both of his hands in the ground as opposed to the usual one) that allowed him to generate a greater force when taking on the opposing linemen.
The Cowboys and their fearless leader finally began to find success and punched a ticket to the big dance with their first Super Bowl berth in 1970. The Cowboys were beaten mostly by themselves, but the scoreboard and record books assign the victory to the Baltimore Colts. Bob was so disgusted with the loss that after the game he launched his helmet, almost into outer space, across the field in an iconic moment in NFL History.
1971 saw an intense level of dedication and commitment from Bob Lilly and his Cowboys teammates. This eagle eye focus led to a return trip to the Super Bowl, this time against Don Shula’s Miami Dolphins, where the Cowboys trounced the Fins 24-3. Bob Lilly got his own personal satisfaction with another iconic moment in NFL History.
Early in the game, with a 3-0 lead behind them, Bob Griese (also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, mind you) took the snap on 3rd and 9. He scrambled around the pocket for a bit, Larry Cole jumped in the air causing him to retreat, and Bob Lilly chased him down for a 29-yard sack. It is to date the longest negative play in Super Bowl History and is a microcosm of the grit and determination that Bob Lilly played with throughout his entire career.
Bob Lilly's career accomplishments include:
- 196 consecutive regular season games played AND started
- 94.5 career sacks (unofficial as sacks weren’t officially tallied until 1982)
- 4 career touchdowns (3 fumble returns and 1 interception return)
- 11-time Pro Bowl Selection (1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973)
- 7-time First-Team All-Pro Selection (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971)
- 2-time Second-Team All-Pro Selection (1970, 1972)
- 8-time First-Team All Conference Selection (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972)
- 2-time Second-Team All-Conference Selection (1970, 1973)
- Member of the 1960s All-Decade Team
- Member of the 1970s All-Decade Team
- Member of the 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
- Inaugural member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor inducted on November 23rd, 1975 which was dubbed Bob Lilly Day
- Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 1980 (first year of eligibility)
Mr. Cowboy is not just the Greatest 74 in Dallas Cowboys History; He is arguably the Greatest Cowboy of All-Time. He has exemplified excellence both on and off the field. His numbers between the hashes speak for themselves, but Bob Lilly is a Hall of Famer in real life. He consistently refers to his former head coach as “Coach Landry” and celebrates the achievements of all Cowboys … never having missed a single Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor member induction.
NFL Films once referred to Lilly as the “unblockable, unstoppable, force of The Doomsday Defense.” He was all of this and so much more.
Bob Lilly gave the Dallas Cowboys everything that he had and laid the foundation for one of the NFL’s most historic franchises. He is anything and everything that you would want in a football player. Mr. Cowboy is not just the only, but he is unequivocally the Greatest 74 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 73 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Could Loaded FA Safety Market Drive Down Earl Thomas’ Value?
It's no secret the Dallas Cowboys and Earl Thomas share a mutual interest in one another. Thomas has publicly stated his desire to join America's Team and the Cowboys did their darndest to make that happen last offseason. Nothing ever materialized a year ago, but it's looking as if the stars have finally aligned and a union between the two could merely be just weeks away.
Surprisingly enough, the Dallas Cowboys may have dodged a bullet last year when the Seattle Seahawks refused to part ways with their All-Pro safety. Not only would they have had to surrender a high draft pick, but they would've also had to extend Thomas' contract. Fortunately, timing is everything and now the Cowboys might just have to do the latter.
A potential contract between the Cowboys and Thomas is of course what I want to dive in today. I'm not going to get into numbers right now, because it's nearly impossible to project any kind of contract for any safety this offseason, especially for the former Seahawk, Earl Thomas.
Right now, it's a little difficult to know who might have the advantage in contract negotiations, Earl Thomas or the Dallas Cowboys. A lot of times the one that has the leverage, however slight, is the one that gets the better of the deal. As surprising as it may be, the Cowboys might just have the advantage here and I'll tell you why.
First off, this year's market for free agent safeties is pretty stacked with starting caliber players. See below:
- Earl Thomas
- Landon Collins
- Lamarcus Joyner
- Tyrann Mathieu
- Adrian Amos
- Clayton Geathers
- Ha-Ha Clinton Dix
- Glover Quinn
- Tre Boston
- Kenny Vaccaro
- George Iloka
- Jimmie Ward
- Adrian Phillips
Earl Thomas is obviously the headliner here amongst the free agent safeties, but having so many starting caliber players available could drive down Thomas' market value just a bit. This is especially true when you take into consideration the market for FA safeties just a year ago. It was almost a complete standstill last year, with only Kurt Coleman signing a three-year $16.5 million deal with the New Orleans Saints. Not even the "Honey Badger" Tyrann Mathieu could get more than a one-year deal.
With all of these safeties available in free agency, we could be looking at another stingy market. This of course could be good or bad news for the Dallas Cowboys, especially as it pertains to Earl Thomas. Since he is the top FA safety available, everything could once again be at a standstill until he is signed.
Of course, we all know this will ultimately come down to determining Earl Thomas' market value. There is no denying he is still arguably the best free safety in the game today, but there are concerns about his age (30) and the two lower leg injuries he's sustained in the past three years.
Even with the loaded free agent market of starting caliber safeties and Thomas' age and recent injury history, he's still likely to receive a contract that earns him $10 million annually, give or take. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he gets another four-year deal worth $40 million, $25.7 million guaranteed, with a $9.5 million signing bonus like he signed with the Seahawks back in 2014.
The Cowboys of course would probably find a four-year $40 million deal for Earl Thomas acceptable. They would more than likely frontload the contract with a lot of protection in the details. They have the cap space to make this happen and still be able to sign their own, so money shouldn't be a problem.
Now, whether or not Thomas' market value may dip a little due to all of the above mentioned reasons will be something we will have to wait and find out. Regardless, I'd be a little shocked if Earl Thomas doesn't finish his career with the Dallas Cowboys.
Do you think Earl Thomas' market value will take a little hit this offseason?
Acquiring Brown Will Give Dallas Twin Turbo Terrors
What a difference a receiver makes, right? As Dallas fans, we know the impact of a player who can shake coverage, get open, and catch the ball. How was the season going before the Cowboys pulled the trigger for Amari Cooper in the deal with the Raiders? Cooper proved to be the lightning rod and a turning point in a season that was growing increasingly dismal. Dak Prescott and Cooper went together like peanut butter and jelly, while the Cowboys stormed to a division title and a postseason berth.
Now, imagine all of that times two… maybe even two and a half if Antonio Brown could be had from the Steelers. Scary right? We understand there’s only one ball to go around but that didn’t stop Kevin Durant from joining the Warriors, did it?
As of this writing, the best online sportsbooks like Intertops, are dealing Dallas as the seventh of 16 choices to win the NFC championship at odds of 12-1. Imagine how those odds would shrink if Brown wore a Cowboys uniform next season, giving Prescott the luxury of not one upper echelon wideout but that plus an elite receiver. Hut, hut, hut and a few clouds of smoke later the Cowboys would be moving the chains or celebrating in the endzone.
Brown and Cooper would be a devastating combination with Ezekiel Elliott coming out of the backfield. Brown was made for Dallas, it gives him an even grander stage than the one he shared with Ben Roethlisberger and Le’Veon Bell in Pittsburgh.
Despite the fact that the 'Boys haven’t won a Super Bowl since Barry Switzer was roaming the sidelines in the mid-90s, America’s Team still resides in Dallas. But we need a game-changer and Brown is just such an athlete. But what do we give in return and will that cost be worth whatever productive years Brown has left after this one? Let’s not forget that the mercurial Miami native will be 31 when the season begins and men who make a living with their legs don’t get better at that age. But Brown is so good and so unique that, even if he drops half a click, he's still amongst the best in the game.
That level of talent is hard to replicate and it could be the missing piece which allows Dallas to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender next season and the year after.
However, up to this point, we’ve been very good at dreaming of a Brown to Dallas trade but haven’t quite worked out the details. It takes two to tango and if we expect to get the Steelers’ attention we need to give them something valuable in return. Dallas surrendered their first-round pick (27th) this season when they traded for Cooper so that’s no longer an asset.
Pittsburgh would be vying for a first-round pick (and likely more) for Brown's services but some have speculated Dallas would consider dealing rookie-standout Leighton Vander Esch.
Wait... what? We know, you’re clutching your pearls, and the words are stuck in your gasp. We get it. The kid was a home run this past season, leading the Dallas defense in tackles and earning a Pro Bowl invitation in his inaugural NFL season. But this would be a Faustian deal.
The Cowboys give up a player who is poised to be a stud for years to come for a playmaker in Brown that could render a Super Bowl in the immediate future. Brown's expiration date will surely turn his milk sour sooner rather than later, but in the here and now, Antonio Brown could be the bell cow who leads the Cowboys to the promised land before he’s put out to pasture.
Just something to think about...
2018 In Review: CB Anthony Brown Bounces Back
To say it's been an up-and-down start to the career of young cornerback Anthony Brown would be an understatement.
As a sixth round pick in 2016, everything Brown contributed during his rookie season was a plus. Due to injury he was asked to step into a greater role as the season went on, and he performed well enough to make the front office comfortable allowing multiple veterans to walk for nothing in free agency the following Spring. Brown looked like a legitimate starting cornerback in the league, and when Dallas brought in Chidobe Awuzie and Jourdan Lewis during the next draft, the young secondary seemed set.
Then 2017 happened. And Anthony Brown struggled. Really struggled.
These struggles, coupled with the emergence of both Lewis and Awuzie during their own rookie seasons, made Brown's status heading into 2018 rather uncertain. Some wondered if they would trade him for a day three pick, others thought Brown could even end up being cut. Jourdan Lewis and Anthony Brown were slated to compete for the nickel cornerback job in training camp, and as it turned out, all Brown needed was that one extra chance to compete.
Brown won the job outright during the preseason, and began 2018 as the starting nickel. A fan favorite, most thought Lewis would reclaim his rightful spot on the depth chart sooner or later, but Anthony Brown's play (and Kris Richard's preferences) kept Lewis on the bench for much of the season.
Simply put, Anthony Brown balled in 2018, and was the Cowboys' second best corner for most of the year. By the end of the season Chidobe Awuzie had regained form, but Brown and Byron Jones were the most consistently reliable corners on the roster all of 2018.
Brown tallied 44 tackles, 2 sacks, and an interception in 2018, and finished third on the team in pass breakups with 8. As the slot corner Brown had an excellent season, especially for a former sixth round pick.
Now he enters a contract year, and with the Cowboys having so many guys to pay over the next two offseasons, he could find himself as an unrestricted free agent in 2020. And if he can keep up his play from last year moving forward, he could be in for a nice payday that Spring.
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