7. Don Meredith (1960-1968)
Regular season record: 47-32-4
No. 6 All-Time Cowboys Passing Yardage: 17,199
After staring at SMU, the Chicago Bears selected "Dandy" Don Meredith in the third round of the NFL Draft but he never played a snap for them. Instead, he signed a "personal services" contract with Tecon Corporation ahead of the draft — a company that was owned by Clint Murchison who was starting a new NFL team — the Cowboys.
This led to Meredith playing with Dallas instead although he hardly saw the field as a rookie. Eddie LeBaron got the bulk of the snaps, going 0-9-1. Meredith did record one start but it was another loss for the Cowboys. As a rookie, he finished with 281 yards and a 2-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio.
He continued to play sparingly but took over as the starter in 1963. Following a couple of losing campaigns, Meredith and the Cowboys turned a corner in 1965. That year, they were 7-7 but Meredith was 7-4 in his starts. In 1966, they had their first winning campaign, going 10-3-1 with Meredith making every start except one.
In addition to the team's success, Meredith had personal bests in yardage (2,805) and touchdowns (24) and made the Pro Bowl for the first of three years in a row.
Nearly as quickly as he rose to prominence, Meredith decided to walk away from the game. At 30 years of age, and on the heels of an 11-2 season, he decided to call it a career.
His aspirations went beyond the playing field as he got into broadcasting, and was on Monday Night Football with Frank Gifford and Howard Cossell. He also had a career in acting, appearing in both television and movies.