Last week we established our Mount Rushmore of players on the offensive side of the ball. This week, the defense gets the glory. We'll begin with the defensive line and the obvious choice for the first player.
Bob Lilly's list of accolades is so long it would take up this entire post, and probably another. And you'd still have material left over for part of a third. Needless to say, there is a reason why he's called, Mr. Cowboy.
Drafted by the Cowboys out of TCU in 1961, Lilly began as a left defensive end before switching to right defensive tackle full-time in 1964.
He started every game Dallas played between 1961 and 1974.
While the NFL didn't officially record sacks until 1982, an unofficial estimate credits Lilly with 95.5 sacks.
He scored four touchdowns — three on fumble recoveries and another on a 17-yard interception return. One fumble recovery for a score went for 42 yards.
He also played in two Super Bowls. His iconic cigar-smoking photo celebrated the end of years of championship frustrations with a victory in Super Bowl VI. He was the anchor for the Cowboys' defense throughout his career.
He became the first member of the Cowboys' Ring of Honor when it was introduced in 1975 at Texas Stadium.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted him in 1980, his first year of eligibility.
The year after Lilly retired, the Cowboys drafted Randy White with the second overall pick. White would be a backup at defensive end in 1975 and then at linebacker in 1976. But in 1977 he moved into the right defensive tackle slot and never looked back.
Officially credited with 52 sacks (1982-1988) he is unofficially credited with 111 sacks.
White, like Lilly, intercepted one pass in his career and recovered 10 fumbles. He recorded one safety, but he never found the endzone.
White did win one Super Bowl in three appearances, earning a co-MVP with Harvey Martin in Super Bowl XII. The duo dominated the game in the 27-10 win over Denver, terrorizing former Cowboys Quarterback Craig Morton.
White's name, along with Tony Dorsett, was added to the Ring of Honor on October 9, 1994. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the same year.
As for the “Manster” nickname — half man, half monster — that came courtesy of teammate Charlie Waters.
The Cowboys' strong safety said of White: “the way Randy plays he has to be part-man and part-monster.”
Ed “Too Tall” Jones played 15 seasons for Dallas, taking the 1979 season off to pursue a short-lived boxing career.
NFL quarterbacks were grateful for the one-year reprieve.
At six-feet-nine inches, Jones was a walking wall that was hard to throw a pass over.
He finished his career after the 1989 season with three interceptions, 19 fumble recoveries, and an unofficial total of 106 sacks. He was part of the Super Bowl XII win over the Broncos as well.
Unfortunately for Jones, most of the accolades for the Cowboys' line went to Randy White and Harvey Martin.
He has yet to be inducted into the Ring of Honor or the Hall of Fame.
The forgotten man
Jethro Pugh played all 14 years of his career in Dallas. He collected two Super Bowl victories in five appearances. He recovered 14 fumbles, intercepted one pass, and recorded two safeties.
Yet Pugh was never voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nor has he been added to the Cowboys' Ring of Honor.
He was often overshadowed by other players on the line.
In fact, he is most noted for a play he didn't make.
He was the player Jerry Kramer blocked to allow Bart Starr to score the winning touchdown in the Ice Bowl in 1967. But despite that infamy, Pugh was a solid player on the line whenever he took the field.
He deserves better than to be lost to anonymity.
Harvey Martin didn't become a starter until the third of his 11 seasons in Dallas. But he did earn a co-MVP in Super Bowl XII, his only championship season.
Martin finished with two interceptions, six fumble recoveries, two safeties, and unofficially with 114 sacks.
Like Jones and Pugh, he has not been inducted into the Ring of Honor or the Hall of Fame.
Charles Haley helped bring the Cowboys three Super Bowl wins. But he only played five seasons for the Cowboys.
The others listed above played their entire careers — and in double-digits in years — in Dallas.
It's a technicality, yes, but it's enough to keep him off the mountain, though he is a member of the Ring of Honor.