There are officially 61 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.
Tank Top Tuesday! It is my sincere hope that your eyes are grazing this with your guns fully out thanks to the weekly holiday. Grab the sunscreen and a couple of Capri Suns so we can lay out in the sun and quibble over the Greatest 61 in Dallas Cowboys History.
The Following Players Have All Worn 61 For The Dallas Cowboys:
- Jim Cooper, OT
- Kelvin Garmon, OG
- Allen Green, K/P
- Bill Nagy, OG
- Nate Newton, OG
- Blaine Nye, OG
- Duane Putnam, OG
- John Wetzel, OT
If I had to do a power ranking of the Top 5 Fried Chicken places I'd probably go:
- Popeye’s (the Cajun fries PLUS the biscuits? Dude.)
- Kentucky Fried Chicken (the chicken skin is magnificent)
- Golden Chick (tender-mania)
- Bush’s Chicken (although that drive-thru is crazy the first time)
- Chicken Express (all about dat sweet tea, boss)
So if you’re still with me you're probably either wondering what in the world I’m talking about or hating me because now you’re starving.
I bring up the glory of fried chicken because the discussion for the Greatest 61 in Dallas Cowboys History revolves around some dudes who are all about meat and potatoes.
Blaine Nye was one of the earlier Cowboys as he was selected in the 5th round of the 1968 NFL Draft… as a defensive tackle.
Like a lot of future great offensive linemen, the Cowboys flipped Nye to the other side of the scrum and Nye became an offensive guard. Nye lined up at right guard specifically, directly next to Pro Football Hall of Famer and the Greatest 70 in Dallas Cowboys History, Rayfield Wright.
He was a staple on some great Cowboys teams that traveled to three Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl VI, and earning himself a trip to two Pro Bowls. You’ve undoubtedly heard about the “Zero Club” that consisted of Cowboys who wanted to avoid the limelight. Blaine Nye was the founding member of this group and prided himself on his hard work.
Nye’s work attitude and disposition can be best exemplified by the fact that during his NFL career, which you now know was incredible, he earned two master’s degrees.
Everyone has different paths in getting to the NFL, and offensive lineman Jim Cooper was no different.
As a 6th round draft pick in 1977 he wasn’t exactly the rookie that everybody was most excited to see… in fact he was cut after training camp. Fortunately for Jim, and for the Cowboys, he was re-signed during the pre-season and worked his tail off to become a master of the offensive line.
Cooper would become the most versatile offensive linemen in the era of Four Irishmen and a Scott as he served backup at every role until replacing Rayfield Wright at right tackle in 1979.
He was part of an elite offensive unit and did the 61 proud, but there’s still some more meat left on this bone.
In terms of paths to success, the one that Nate Newton took is certainly unique.
His pro football career started as an undrafted free agent on the 1983 Washington Redskins squad (they would later go on to lose Super Bowl XVIII). Fortunately for Nate, the 80s were a time where the United States Football League existed and he was able to score a gig with the Tampa Bay Bandits.
The USFL would eventually fold and in 1986 Nate was in need of a chance… when along came the Dallas Cowboys.
One of the first things that happened to Nate was that he scored a sweet nickname. As Newton outweighed the famed Chicago Bear, William “The Fridge” Perry, “The Kitchen” seemed fitting.
Newton started out at the left guard position in 1987 and struggled a bit until the arrival of Jimmy Johnson in 1989.
Johnson challenged Nate to monitor his playing weight and moved him to the right tackle position where Newton excelled. Johnson moved The Kitchen back to left guard in 1992 after the emergence of Erik Williams in an effort to have the best five offensive linemen on the field. This unit became one of the greater offensive lines in NFL History, becoming known as The Great Wall of Dallas, and paving the way for Pro Football Hall of Famer and the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher Emmitt Smith.
Nate Newton was an instrumental part in a line that helped the Dallas Cowboys win three Super Bowls in the 1990s. Newton is regarded as one of the greatest linemen to ever wear the star and he is appropriately the Greatest #61 in Dallas Cowboys History.
Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 60 in Dallas Cowboys History is!
Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys
Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.
The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.
Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.
Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.
Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.
Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.
The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.
Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.
The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.
The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.
The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.
Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history
Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.
Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.
~ ~ ~
Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.
Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.
Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.
The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.
Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.
It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.
I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.
Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.
As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.
His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.
Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.
Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.
Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Free Agent CB Orlando Scandrick Joining Washington Redskins
Just two days after being released by the Dallas Cowboys, cornerback Orlando Scandrick has found a new home in the nation's capitol. After 10 seasons in Dallas, Scandrick is signing with the rival Washington Redskins.
Redskins and Orlando Scandrick have agreed to a 2-year deal worth a max value of $10M, source said. From Dallas to a rival.
By joining Washington after leaving Dallas, Scandrick follows in the footsteps of many ex-Cowboys: Terrell McClain, Jason Hatcher, Stephen Bowen, and even Deion Sanders to name a few.
Last week, Orlando reportedly requested his release from Dallas. It was widely expected that he would be a salary cap casualty anyway, though, and especially with the young stockpile of cornerbacks the Cowboys currently have.
Dallas has three young corners they believe in with Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Anthony Brown. There is also talk that Byron Jones could be moving back to CB next year.
Scandrick, 31, will get to stay in the NFC East and now cover some of his former teammates. Give the reportedly salary, he should at least be the slot corner for Washington next year if not a starter.
Want to help make Inside The Star better?
We’re collecting feedback from our readers about the site. It only takes <2 minutes to complete, and can be done from any device.
Don’t worry, your information will not be shared with anyone but me (Bryson T.).
NFL Draft2 weeks ago
Mauricio’s 2018 NFL Mock Draft 1.0: Cowboys Steal Defensive Talent
Dallas Cowboys6 days ago
Dallas Cowboys Have Missing Piece at Offensive Line
Star Blog19 hours ago
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Cowboys 2018 Free Agency: What’s Left Before Market Opens?
Dallas Cowboys2 weeks ago
Do the Dallas Cowboys Have Any Trade Assets?
Star Blog1 week ago
3 Former Penn State Alumni Cowboys Could Target in Free Agency
Star Blog1 week ago
Cowboys Defense: Bigger Need at Safety or Defensive End?
NFL Draft1 week ago
Final Cowboys Mock Drafts Before Free Agency Address Defensive Interior, Receiver