Lists. Everybody has them. Some, like shopping lists or to-do lists are not so fun. Others like “what would I do if I won the lottery?” lists are lots of fun. In the sports world, especially in the age of hyperbole, lists are about as common of a thing as you will find. Top ten this and who is the best that discussions permeate the media outlets of internet, radio and televison to excess.
One riff on the idea of a list is to use the term “Mount Rushmore of…” to define the four most iconic at any one particular trade. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to determine who would be on the Mount Rushmore of Dallas Cowboys. This is one of the most impossible tasks one could undertake, given the abdunance of talent and personalities that have adorned the silver helmet with the blue star on it. A task that is really up for about as much conjecture as possible. With that being said, since I am a person who has never really backed down from a challenge or been short of opinion, who better to give it a go than me?
A couple of tidbits before we get started. In order to be considered for such an honor, you either had to have spent the majority of your career in Big D or you had to be a Cowboy for life. As I am sure we can all agree, those who wore the star forever should deserve a slight bit more consideration than any other. This means guys like Deion Sanders and Mike Ditka are not going to be considered. Lastly, to be completely unbiased, I came up with a simple point system to determine the four faces that should be a part of this prestigious new landscape.
Here is the point system:
Super Bowl Wins = +5
Hall of Fame = +4
League MVP Awards = +3
Ring of Honor Entries = +3
Lifetime Bonus = +3
Super Bowl Losses = +2
All-Pro Selectons = +2
Franchise Stat Leader = +2 per stat
All-Decade Team Selection = +2
NFC Championship Appearances +1
Years of Service = +1
Pro Bowl Appearances +0.5
And now, the players who made consideration for our Dallas Cowboys’ Mount Rushmore…
The “Honorable Mention” Group:
Tony Dorsett (1977-1987) – 37 points
What got him close: Dorsett was the Cowboys franchise leader in all major rushing statistics until Emmitt Smith showed up. He still ranks eighth all time in rushing yards. TD was also selected to the Pro Bowl four times. He was named an All-Pro three times and has a Super Bowl ring.
What kept him off: Being eclipsed by Emmitt in every major statistical category hurt, as did only winning one ring.
Bob Hayes (1965-1974) – 40.5 points
What got him close: Hayes is amazingly still the Cowboys all-time leader in touchdown receptions. He was selected to the Pro Bowl three times and an All-Pro four. Hayes has one Super Bowl ring and played on another team who lost in the Super Bowl.
What kept him off: Unfortunately for Hayes, he played in the wrong era. Had he been with Dallas later during their 70’s dominance, he may have had more Super Bowl wins and definitely more appearances.
Larry Allen (1994-2005) – 48.5 points
What got him close: Allen was named to more Pro-Bowls (11) than any other Dallas Cowboys player but one. He made two separate All-Decade teams and is one of the two best offensive linemen in the history of the franchise.
What kept him off: Becoming a Cowboy too late. Had Allen been on the other two Super Bowl teams of the 90’s, it is possible he could have made the monument.
Michael Irvin (1988-1999) – 52.5 points
What got him close: Irvin was the heart of the 90’s Cowboys winning three Super Bowl rings in four years and forever being one of the “Triplets.” A five-time Pro-Bowler and three-time All-Pro, Irvin set the NFL single season record posting eleven straight 100-yard receiving games.
What kept him off: Having his career ended early certainly kept him from reaching the franchise record for touchdowns and also limited his number of career receptions. Irvin had 1,000-yard receiving years in the two years prior to his career-ending injury so it’s also likely he would increased his Pro-Bowl selections.
The “Close But No Cigar” Group
Troy Aikman (1989-2000) – 55 points
What got him close: The mind of those 90’s Cowboys and the second of the “Triplets,” Aikman was the exact model of a pocket passer. He has six Pro-Bowl selections, three All-Pro teams and three Super Bowl rings to his credit and was robbed of an All-Decade team selection given that he won more games (90) and rings (3) than any other QB of the 1990’s.
What kept him off: The abuse his body took. Aikman’s career ended earlier than it should have due to countless concussions and back injuries. Had the rules that protect QB’s now been in place during his career, he likely would have had much more prolific numbers and a longer career.
Roger Staubach (1969-1979) – 56 points
What got him close: Arguably the greatest quarterback in team history, Staubach was a six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro member. He was the Cowboys leader during their most successful decade, taking Dallas to five Super Bowls and winning two. He was also ranked as the 46th best player in NFL history by NFL.com.
What kept him off: Retiring too early was probably the main culprit. Jackie Smith dropping a sure touchdown in Super Bowl XIII didn’t help either.
The “Juuuuuuuust A Bit Outside” Group
Mel Renfro (1964-1977) – 62 points
* Renfro is still the Dallas Cowboys franchise leader in interceptions even though he hasn’t played in almost 40 years. He is also tied for most NFC championship game appearances with eight. A 10-time Pro Bowler and 5-time All-Pro, Renfro is one of the most decorated defensive backs to ever play the game.
Rayfield Wright (1967-1979) – 63 points
* The “Big Cat” is, along with Larry Allen, the most prolific offensive lineman in team history. Wright made six Pro-Bowl and six All-Pro teams during his 13 year career, all with the Cowboys. He is tied with Renfro is conference championship appearances and was named to the 1970’s All-Decade Team.
THE MOUNT RUSHMORE OF THE DALLAS COWBOYS FRANCHISE
Randy White (1975-1988) – 63.5 points
* “The Manster” was a 9-time Pro Bowl selection as well as an astounding 9-time All-Pro during his entire career with the Cowboys. White took the baton from Bob Lilly as the leader of the Doomsday Defense. Since the NFL did not keep official stats on sacks until 1982 and tackles until 2001, there is no way to statistically quantify how dominant White was.
Bob Lilly (1961-1974) – 63.5 points
* Before White, there was Bob Lilly. Arguably the greatest defensive tackle to ever play, Lilly is tied with Larry Allen in all-time Pro Bowl appearances by a Cowboy with 11 and with White for all-time All-Pro selections by a Cowboy at nine. Lilly was named to both the 1960’s and 1970’s All-Decade teams during his entire career in Dallas. He is also the only Dallas Cowboys player named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Emmitt Smith (1990-2002) – 65 points
* The NFL’s All-Time leader in rush attempts, rushing yards AND rushing touchdowns, it is hard to argue that anyone did it better than #22. The third member of the famed 1990’s “Triplets” on this list, Smith is shockingly the only Cowboy to ever be named league MVP. With eight Pro-Bowl selections and six All-Pro selections, Smith was the soul of those 1990’s Cowboys’ teams that brought back the luster to the organization.
Tom Landry (1960-1988)
* There is no way to have a discussion about the history of this illustrious franchise without mentioning Tom Landry. His 250 wins as coach of the Cowboys is more than half of the organization’s total as is his 20 playoff victories. Landry was as innovative as a coach can be, creating the 4-3 defense, flex defense, man-in-motion concept and shotgun formation. To this day, his presence is still felt around this organization as there is a statue of him outside of the stadium.
So there you have it, my picks for the Cowboys four most iconic personalities. How do you feel about these selections. Leave your comments below as I am sure this is a topic that is certainly debatable.