Dallas Cowboys: 30 greatest players in franchise history

Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)
Tom Landry, Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images) /
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Dallas Cowboys, Emmitt Smith
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 07: Emmitt Smith visits FOX Studios on September 7, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images) /

123. . Running Back. (1990-2002). Emmitt Smith. 2. player

Certainly, there is an argument to be made that Emmitt Smith is the greatest Dallas Cowboys player of all-time. Especially since Smith is responsible for breaking one of the most coveted NFL records of all-time.

But Smith was a bit of a consultation prize for the Cowboys when they elected to draft him 17th overall in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft. Dallas actually had their hearts set on drafting Baylor linebacker James Francis before the Cincinnati Bengals snatched him up at No.12.

With Smith tumbling down the draft due to concerns about his size (5-foot-9, 210 pound) and speed (4.7 40 time), Dallas traded up from No. 21 to No. 17 to grab him.

In hindsight, it could have been the greatest decision the Cowboys have ever made. Smith became the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, recording 937 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in his first season in Dallas.

Smith would go on to rack up 11-straight years posting 1,000 or more rushing yards per season, including 78 games with 100-rushing yards or more. Both of which are NFL records.

Along with fellow Triplets in quarterback Troy Aikman and wide receiver Michael Irvin, Emmitt would lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories in the early 1990s.

By the end of his 15-year pro career, Smith would not only own the Cowboys’ franchise record for rushing yardage but also the NFL’s all-time rushing record posting a ridiculous 18,355 yards on the ground. His 164 rushing touchdowns are the most in league history as well.

Emmitt Smith’s accolades include being the MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII, an eight-time Pro Bowler, a five-time All-Pro, named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1993, a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, and four-times was the NFL rushing leader in both yardage and touchdowns.  Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.