Dallas Cowboys Fans Have a Favorite Debate

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I once heard something about Marcus Allen, that if it is true I consider it to be one of the greatest accomplishments in the History of the game. I heard that in his illustrious career Marcus Allen was never tackled for a loss of yardage. He was stopped for no gain, but never for a loss. If true, that is not just amazing, it is warrior like. The object of the game is to move the football forward. Barry Sanders lost more yardage on negative runs than any RB in the History of the game, because of his dancing around.

Do you know why every Lions Head Coach took him out in goal line situations? One Lions fan once told me Barry wanted his teammates to get the score. No, his coaches wanted to score. For one minute pretend you are the Lions Head Coach. Your career hinges on wins and losses. Wins are secured by scoring. Are you, in all honesty, going to pull your best player to give other guys a chance to score if he can do it better than they can? Barry was never going to throw his body in there and hit the hole to get the hard yard. That is what separates him from the RBs I would prefer to have on my team. The willingness to sacrifice. To absorb a blow in order to deliver a bigger one.

Feb. 2, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA: Dallas Cowboys former running back Emmitt Smith (right) with wife Patricia Southall on the red carpet prior to the Super Bowl XLVII NFL Honors award show at Mahalia Jackson Theater. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The epitome of this concept happened in the last game of the 1993 season. Dallas and the New York Giants were both 11-4 going into the final game of the season. The winner of that game was guaranteed home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The loser of that game was relegated to the Wildcards. The game was at New York, but Dallas was the heavy favorite. In the first half they lived up to their status and went into halftime with a 13-0 lead.

They also went into halftime uncertain if their star RB was coming back. Late in the 2nd quarter Emmitt took off on a 46 yard run. As he was tackled he remained on the ground with what turned out to be a separated shoulder. He was given two options; park it for the rest of the game, or play hurt, perhaps even be a decoy. Emmitt Smith didn’t even hesitate in making his decision, and what followed is to this day the greatest show of heart on a football field that I have ever seen. The second half began with Emmitt indeed being a decoy, and this caused him to yell at Head Coach Jimmy Johnson.

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  • Collin


  • Mike

    So….Barry inherited the run and shoot offense in 1989 after smashing virtually every NCAA single season rushing record the year before…behind a fullback.

    Barry played behind a fullback (Tommy Vardell) for the first time in his NFL career in 1997…and rushed for 2,053 yards. The next year (his last) he played in a 2 back set and “dropped off dramatically”…rushing for a “mere”1,491 yards. That’s “pretty good”.

    Keep it up, though. Keep perpetuating that myth that Barry was ALWAYS looking for the big play and would routinely give up 3 yarders for the chance to break one for 60. The truth is, Barry picked up a lot of 1 and 2 and 3 and 4 yard gains….when he SHOULD HAVE lost 1 or 2 or 3 or 4 yards. You see the 60 and 70 yarders on YouTube…unless you have the tapes or watched Sanders during his career, you may not remember him breaking 3 tackles on a busted play to turn minus 3 into minus 1.

    Saying you’d take twenty backs over Barry Sanders shows just how objective you are.

    • Rowdy Yates

      Thank you! Barry wasn’t necessarily always looking for the big play, he was looking to move the ball forward. When he moved the ball forward, often he was able to make the big play happen. Because he COULD make everyone miss, that’s what he did. No running back before or after had the gift that Barry had. The NFL has seen a lot of great running backs, and you could replace Emmitt Smith with just about any of them and they would produce the same results on the field. That’s not taking anything from Emmitt, because he is one of the greats, but Barry was a truly a one-of-a-kind talent.

  • Rowdy Yates

    Wrong! I gave the author the benefit of the doubt until he questioned Barry’s ‘heart’. Emmitt was glad Barry retired, because if he hadn’t Barry would have the records, and this debate wouldn’t exist. For the record though, I think this debate is pretty stupid. Even though they were both RB’s, this is an apples and oranges comparison. They were very different players, as the author notes, but the difference wasn’t in the players’ hearts. Emmitt couldn’t do the things Barry did, and Barry couldn’t do the things Emmitt did. Barry is a small guy, Emmit, while not a huge guy, was bigger and had more power. And the Lions’ coaches didn’t let Barry do some of the great things he was capable of, like leaping over a pile in a goal-line or short yardage situation. The Lions offense was designed to keep Barry from getting hit – to play to his strengths. It didn’t always work, but Barry didn’t really get hurt, which is why he was able to make the most out of his 10 years in the NFL, especially when you consider that he played for the Lions. Unfortunately the Barry years are only thing a Lions fan has in recent history to remember fondly. Dallas fans will never understand. I can watch Barry Sanders’ highlights all day and never get bored. I can watch Barry Sanders lose yards all day never get bored. Emmitt Smith wasn’t so exciting, as the author fairly notes. I’d take Barry over Emmitt in a minute, but that doesn’t change the fact they were both great players and class-act guys.