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Ode to Emmitt: Keanu Neal Changing Jersey Number w/ Cowboys

While the have never officially retired a , some are clearly held in high esteem and not given out lightly or at all. Newly-signed has worn the #22 since entering the NFL in 2016, but he will be changing numbers with Dallas due to the reverence of legendary .

No Dallas player has worn the #22 since Smith became the NFL's all-time rushing yards leader while winning three Super Bowls with the Cowboys. Other numbers held in this regard are 's #12, 's #8, and 's #74.

Despite his own with the number, which includes a trip to the in 2017, Keanu will be switching back to the #42 that he wore in college in Florida. The last significant player to don this number in Dallas was another defensive leader, former .

The Cowboys treatment of their hallowed jersey numbers has been different from most NFL teams. While there are “unofficially retired” numbers like the ones we just mentioned, others like #88 and #94 have been handed out to promote the legacy and lineage of great players at a key position.

Like before him, was given #88 last year to continue the legacy of great Cowboys receivers in and . When joined Dallas in 2015, he was given 's #94 as a vote of confidence in Gregory's potential as the team's next elite pass rusher.

It will be interesting to see how the Cowboys handle other sacred but more recently-used numbers such as 's #9 and 's #82. Giving either to another player would likely start a riot among .

Perhaps the greatest player in franchise history, Emmitt Smith certainly deserves every bit of respect and honor that the team wants to show. Credit to the Cowboys for recognizing that, and credit to Keanu Neal for making and embracing the change.

Jess Haynie
Jess Haynie
Cowboys fan since 1992, blogger since 2011. Bringing you the objectivity of an outside perspective with the passion of a die-hard fan. I love to talk to my readers, so please comment on any article and I'll be sure to respond!

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Chris Elcano

Jess just wanted to say I enjoy reading your articles more than any other. Usually pretty on point. It’s like you’re writing my thoughts almost every time. Keep up the good work. Your talent is much appreciated.

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