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Ranking the top 4 receivers in Cowboys history

We've picked the best four passers and the best four rushers in Cowboys' . But what about the men that caught the passes? Who ranks among the top four there?

We've included both and tight ends in this group. One thing is for certain, the Cowboys have had some great players roaming the opposing defenses.

Here are the four that go up on our Mount Rushmore of receivers.

Bullet Bob

remains the only person to win both an Olympic gold medal (1964) and a Super Bowl (1971). How fast was he? He tied the world record in the 100-meter dash and set the record in the 4×100 relay at the Tokyo Summer Games.

Hayes literally changed the way defenses played against receivers when he arrived in the NFL. It was the only way they could cover him. Think of him as the Tyreek Hill of the 1960s.

Inside The Star Side Lines - Top 25 Dallas Cowboys of All Time (15-11)
' Bob Hayes changed the way NFL defenses defended receivers upon his arrival in the NFL.

He only ranks sixth all-time in receiving yardage, the league wasn't a pass-happy affair back then. But he still has the longest reception for a touchdown in franchise history.

Just the threat of Hayes being on the field opened things up for his teammates on .

The Playmaker

was the first Cowboys receiver to break 10,000 receiving yards for the franchise and is currently second all-time with 11,904 yards.

When needed a big play, his target more often than now was Irvin.

Cowboys Blog - 4
** FILE ** Dallas Cowboys' receiver Michael Irvin celebrates after gaining 30-yards on a pass in the third quarter against the in this Sept. 21, 1998 file photo, at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun, File)

How important was Irvin to the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s?

Dallas was 3-0 in 1999 going into their game against the Eagles. Up 3-0 on Philadelphia, Irvin caught an 8-yard pass but was injured on the . He never played another down of football after that.

The Cowboys went on to lose that game, 13-10. Then they lost seven of their next 12 to finish 8-8 for the season. A round playoff loss and three straight 5-11 seasons would follow.

That's how important the Playmaker was to the Cowboys.

Hail Mary's Receiver

sits in the fourth slot in all-time receiving yards for Dallas with 7,822 yards. As Irvin was Aikman's go-to receiver with the game on the line, so Pearson was for .

And at no time was that more evident than in the 1975 playoff game against the Vikings.

Cowboys Draft - Beyond the Clock: Cowboys Undrafted Wonder, Drew Pearson
ORG XMIT: S11A73571 Dallas Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson (88) catches Roger Staubach's “Hail Mary Pass” during the 1975 Divisional Playoff game against the Vikings. Nate Wright (43) said there was no interference on the play. [ AP file photo ] # 22 is Paul Krause 11062011xSPORTS
That lone catch alone cemented Pearson's place in Cowboys lore. But that wasn't the only miracle Pearson helped author.

Just the year before, he hauled in another 50-yard touchdown pass — this one from Clint Longley — to beat the Redskins on Day. A few years later, he very nearly beat the 49ers in the 1981 game.

Catching a pass in stride at midfield — moments after “The Catch” — Pearson had nothing but green grass in front of him. Only a game-saving, one-armed tackle by Eric Wright stopped him.

Pearson absolutely belongs on our monument.

No Helmet Needed

makes the monument for two big reasons. He's the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver in three categories. In 16 seasons he recorded 1,215 receptions, 12,977 yards, and 72 touchdowns.

He was also 's most reliable security blanket. He might even be among the toughest to ever play for the Cowboys over the decades.

Who can forget the game against the Giants when Witten caught a pass, lost his helmet, and charged downfield anyway. That's -level toughness.

Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten was injured during this tackle by two defenders. Dallas won the game, 3-0, played at the Oakland Coliseum on Aug. 13, 2012. Photo by Richard Paolinelli.

Then there's the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders in 2012.

Witten was injured on a tackle, initially thought to have ruptured his spleen… and didn't miss a single regular season game that year.

That's why Witten carves his name on our Mount Rushmore of receivers.

The Honorable Mentions

The tight ends mostly dominate here. Doug Cosbie, Billy Joe Dupree, and could easily have filled the top four. They'd be second through fourth if the tight ends had their own monument.

Frank Clarke would fill the fifth slot there.

As for the wideouts left off above, Tony Hill, , and deserve a special shoutout too.

Richard Paolinelli
Richard Paolinelli
Richard has covered sports at all levels - from local, prep, college, and professional - since 1984. He has been a fan of the Dallas Cowboys since 1969. Since retiring as a full-time sports writer in 2013, he has written and published several novels, two dozen short stories and two sports non-fiction books.

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