70 Rayfield Wright – Offensive Tackle – 1967-1979

Many people never thought Rayfield Wright had any chance of making it in the NFL. For Rayfield, this was nothing new. He has been defying the odds ever since he was a child growing up in poverty in the deep south.

After lettering in basketball in high school, he went to Fort Valley State University where he was named All-American. In 1967, he was drafted by the Cowboys in the 7th round and his prospects of making the team were slim at best. However, he forced his way onto the team through his hard work and sheer determination, and for the first three years of his career, he was used in a variety of roles that included tight end, defensive lineman, and offensive tackle.

In 1969 he got his big break when he replaced an injured Ralph Neely at offensive tackle. He would never look back. For the next 11 seasons Rayfield Wright started at right tackle and became one of the best players at his position ever to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

He was selected to the Pro Bowl for six straight seasons, but Cowboys fans best remember Rayfield for helping to lead the team to five Super Bowls and winning two of them. Only one other player in NFL history has appeared in more Super Bowls than Wright, and he is one of only 13 players in NFL history to have played in five Super Bowls.

While he was on the team the Cowboys led the league in offense five times. He was the co-captain of the Cowboys for seven years and helped the team win ten division titles and six conference titles.

In 2004, the Dallas Cowboys inducted Rayfield Wright into the Ring of Honor, and two years later in 2006, he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

55 Lee Roy Jordan – Linebacker – 1963-1976

Lee Roy Jordan began his amazing football career playing linebacker for the University of Alabama from 1960-1962. While he was there he led his team to winning seasons each year, including a perfect season that culminated in a National Championship in his sophomore year. During his senior year, he was a first team All-American and had his most memorable game while playing in the Orange Bowl when he made an amazing 30 tackles against the University of Oklahoma. For all of his stellar achievements, Jordan was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

In 1963, Lee Roy Jordan was drafted by the Cowboys in the first round of the NFL Draft and was the sixth overall pick. He became one of the key members of the Cowboys’ famed “Doomsday Defense.” He was an excellent defender against the run and the pass, and had great instincts that made him one of the best linebackers of his era. He also had a great nose for the ball and is currently second all-time in fumble recoveries for the Dallas Cowboys.

Late Cowboys head coach Tom Landry, knew he had something special in Lee Roy Jordan who he loved for his tremendous leadership on and off the field, and for his fierce competitiveness.

“He was a great competitor,” Landry once said. “He was not big for a middle linebacker, but because of his competitiveness, he was able to play the game and play it well. His leadership was there and he demanded a lot out of the people around him as he did of himself.”

Jordan played 14 seasons for the Cowboys and during that time, Jordan became a two-time All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler while playing in three Super Bowls and five NFC Championship games.
Jordan also holds the Cowboys record for career solo tackles with 743, a record that has now lasted over 35 years. He is also second in career assisted tackles with 493. His combined tackles of 1,236 is still a franchise best!

His leadership and competitiveness was legendary and in 1989 he became the seventh member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor.

88 Drew Pearson – Wide Receiver – 1973-1983

One Cowboy who is always near and dear to my heart is wide receiver Drew Pearson who is best known as the player who caught the famous “Hail Mary” pass thrown by the great Roger Staubach.

Drew Pearson, or “Mr. Clutch” as he was commonly called, didn’t start his career out as wide receiver, and in fact he replaced Hall of Famer, Joe Theismann, at quarterback, when he began his football career at South River High School.
Soon after, he attended the University of Tulsa and graduated in 1972, but not before winning the university’s President Award given each year to their best athlete.

Unfortunately, Drew was not selected in the NFL draft, mostly because he was a wide receiver in a run based offense while in college. However, that did not stop the Cowboys from signing Pearson as a free agent in 1973. They didn’t know it at the time, but Pearson would blossom into one of the greatest wide receivers ever to play the game.

Drew got his nickname because of his many game-winning catches and his ability to make a clutch play whenever his team needed one. Legendary Cowboys head coach, Tom Landry, had this to say after the famous “Hail Mary” game,

“It was amazing, unbelievable. I can’t believe the ball stuck on Drew’s hip like that. It was a thousand-to-one shot, but I tell you, I’ll take it. The game was out of my hands.”

Drew Pearson helped the Cowboys to three Super Bowl appearances and a victory in Super Bowl XII in 1978. He was named All-Pro 3 times and made Pro Bowl appearances in 1974, 1976 and 1977. He led the NFC in pass receptions in 1976 with 58.

Pearson was also a great leader and served as a captain for the Cowboys for four years.

He ended his marvelous career with 489 receptions and 7,822 receiving yards, and 50 touchdowns, and was recently named to the NFL’s 1970′s All-Decade Team by Sports Illustrated.

Since his retirement in 1983, Drew has gone on to become a sports broadcaster for CBS and HBO; and he also hosted the Dallas Cowboys post-game show.

He will always be remembered as one of the greatest receivers ever to wear the Dallas Cowboys uniform, but unfortunately his story is not one with a happy ending.

Despite all of Pearson’s amazing accomplishments and a wonderful and storied career as a Dallas Cowboy, he has yet to be inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor because of a dispute with team owner Jerry Jones.

It was Drew Pearson who originally gave fame and notoriety to uniform number 88. Later on, a kid by the name of Michael Irvin chose that number to honor him and added even more magic and mystique to the number 88. Irvin’s name is deservedly enshrined in the Ring of Honor, while Drew Pearson simply watches and waits.

Regardless of what Jones’ off the field differences are with Pearson, his refusal to acknowledge and honor one of the greatest players ever to wear the Cowboys uniform is both petty and sad.

Luckily, die-hard Cowboys fans across the country, already regard Mr. Clutch as one of the all time Dallas Cowboys, it’s too bad the Dallas Cowboys don’t see it that way.

Legends of the Star: Everson Walls

He was told he was too slow for the NFL and would not be able to make it. He went undrafted in 1981 coming out of Grambling State University. His dream then became a reality when his hometown team signed him as undrafted free agent. Everson walls went on to play 14 seasons in the NFL and made an immediate impact from the time he stepped onto the field in 1981 for the  Dallas Cowboys.   

Everson Walls was born on December 28, 1959 in Dallas, Texas. He was raised by his mother in north Dallas just two miles from the Cowboys practice facility. Walls attended Lloyd V. Berkner High School in Richardson, Texas. He didn’t start playing football until his senior year and ended up leading the division in interceptions.

After graduating high school in 1977, Everson Walls enrolled at Grambling State University. He was invited to training camp by an assistant football coach and impressed the legendary head coach of Grambling, Eddie Robinson. Walls impressed Robinson so much that he received a full football scholarship and did not disappoint. Some of Walls accomplishments while playing at Grambling were being selected to the Kodak 1AA All-American team, the Black College All-American team and during his senior season he led the nation in interceptions. Walls gives credit to coach Eddie Robinson for helping him mature as a human being.

     In the spring of 1981 Everson Walls attended Cowboys training camp as a free agent. He was signed as a free agent and just like at Grambling State, he did not disappoint. In 1981, Walls led the NFL in interceptions with 11 as well as earning a Pro Bowl invitation as he helped lead the Cowboys to the NFC Championship game against the 49ers. Walls had seven tackles, three deflected passes, one fumble recovery and two interceptions in the game. But even though he a great game for the Cowboys, it would be one play that Walls would have his name attached to for the rest of his career. That play  would be “The Catch” by Dwight Clark as Walls was covering him that has gone down in NFL history. The play also made the cover of Sports Illustrated.   

   

Everson Walls never let the Dwight Clark play affect his play on the field. He went on to lead the NFL in interceptions again with seven in the strike shortened 1982 season, as well as nine in 1985. He also earned three more Pro Bowl honors in 1982, 1983 and 1985. He was named first team All-Pro in 1983 and second team All-Pro in 1982 and 1985. In 1986 Walls was the youngest player named to the Cowboys 25th Anniversary Team and in 1987 was named Cowboys Man of the Year. Walls was part of the Cowboys secondary led by cornerback Dennis Thurman and they became known as Thurman’s Thieves. Others who made up that group were Ron Fellows, Michael Downs, Bill Bates, Ricky Easmon, Victor Scott, and Dextor Clinkscale.

    

After playing for the Cowboys from 1981 to 1989, Walls then signed with the NY Giants in 1990. Playing safety for the first time in his career, Walls led the Giants with six interceptions. The Giants posted a 13-3 record in 1990 and went on to beat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV. Once again Everson Walls would make the cover of Sports Illustrated, but this time as a world champion. 

The Cleveland Browns would be where Everson Walls finished his NFL career. He played for the Browns during the 1992 and 1993 seasons before retiring. With Walls leaving the NFL, he also left behind some records. He is the only player to lead the NFL in interceptions three different times. He also led the Cowboys in interceptions a record five times. He holds the record for Pro Bowl interceptions with four. Walls is 10th all-time on the career interception list with 57. How does Walls match up to other Hall of Fame defensive players when it comes to interceptions?

Mel Renfro, 52

Willie Brown, 54

Darrell Green, 54

Lem Barney, 56

Mel Blount, 57                                                                                  

     Some other honors given to Everson Walls after retiring in 1993 were being named to the All-Time Cowboys Team. Being named to the NFL’s All Decade team for the 1980’s and in 1998 Walls was elected to the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame.

As a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Everson Walls became close friends with running back Ron Springs. That friendship grew as both moved on with their NFL careers and onto life after football. In 2006 as Springs was suffering through diabetes and needing a kidney transplant, it was Walls who stepped up and offered one of his kidneys to Springs after finding out he was a match. In March of 2007, the surgery was done successfully giving Springs a new lease on life. Walls wrote a book titled “A Gift for Ron”, which tells of his experiences on and off the field and his decision to help Ron Springs. Walls and Springs have also started a foundation called “Gift For Life Foundation”. The site is to spread awareness about organ donation. You can find more information here. www.giftforlifefoundation.org    

Everson Walls and his wife Shreill Walls have two children and still reside in the Dallas area.

Despite Everson Walls outstanding career which includes multiple honors and records, he still remains on the outside of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Walls was a preliminary nominee for the Class of 2006, but has not reached the list for semi finalists. Is it because of Dwight Clarks catch in the 1981 NFC Championship game that is keeping Everson Walls out of the Hall of Fame? I would hope not because his NFL career speaks for itself. As a fan growing up watching Walls play I would like to think someday soon he will get serious consideration for what he truly deserves, which is a place in Canton, Ohio next to the other greats of the NFL.

Legends of the Star: Danny White

When the subject of the Dallas Cowboys is brought up people either love them or hate them. There is no in between when it comes to the Cowboys. The same can be said about Danny White. I became a fan of the Cowboys in the late 1970s when Roger Staubach’s Hall of Fame career was coming to an end. So growing up a Cowboys fan in the 1980s the quarterback I knew was Danny White and I quickly became a fan of his. I loved the way he played the game and I loved the way he led the Cowboys offense. But there are people who don’t think of Danny White as a great quarterback or even a good quarterback. They simply know him as the player who could not win the big game for the Cowboys and loser of three straight NFC Championship games. Danny White does not get the credit he deserves for his career with the Cowboys for the simple reason that he followed a legend in Staubach. 

Wilford Daniel White was born on February 9, 1952 in Mesa Arizona. He graduated from Mesa Westwood High School and then moved on to Arizona State University where he played quarterback and was also the team’s punter. In 1973 Danny White was an All-American with the Sun Devils. For his college career White threw for 6,717 yards, 64 TDs and 42 INTs. White was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as well as the State of Arizona Sports Hall of Fame and the Arizona State University Hall of Fame. In 2000 Danny White was named Arizona Athlete of the Century by the Arizona Republic.

Danny White was drafted by the Cowboys in the third round of the 1974 NFL Draft. White decided to give the World Football League (WFL) a try and played there in 1974 and 1975 for the Memphis Southmen.

In 1976 Danny White joined the Dallas Cowboys. He served primarily as Roger Staubach’s backup and also as the Cowboys punter. He would remain the Cowboys punter through the 1983 season. White was also a member of the Cowboys Super Bowl XII Championship team in 1977. Roger Staubach announced his retirement after the 1979 season and it opened the door for Danny White to become the starter.

  In 1980 Danny White became the starter for the Cowboys and led them to a 12-4 record, but the Cowboys came in second place to the Philadelphia Eagles. White also broke the Cowboys single season touchdown record by throwing 29 touchdown passes in 1980. 

Danny White led the Cowboys to a Wildcard playoff win against the Rams, 34-13. In the second round playoff game in Atlanta, White led a Staubach like comeback and beat the Falcons 30-27. With the Cowboys losing 27-17 with time running out, it was White who led the Cowboys to two touchdowns and won the game. The game was voted one of the top ten Cowboys games of all time by the fans. In the NFC Championship game the Eagles put an end to the Cowboys Super Bowl dreams as they won easily, 20-7. No fault should go to Danny White for the loss to the Eagles. The Eagles defense simply shutdown everything the Cowboys attempted to do on offense. Also, the Cowboys defense gave up 194 rushing yards to Wilbert Montgomery to go along with his 42 yard touchdown run.

                                         

Danny White once again led the Cowboys back to the NFC Championship game in 1981. In one of the most famous Championship games ever played, the Cowboys lost to the 49ers 28-27. Again, no blame should be placed on Danny White as he played an incredible game as he led the Cowboys to a 27-21 lead with a little more than four minutes to play.

In a strike shortened 1982 season White led the Cowboys to a 6-3 record and earned his only Pro Bowl honor. He also led the Cowboys back to the NFC Championship game for the third straight season. This time the Cowboys traveled to Washington where they would once again lose. White would not have the chance to finish the game as Dexter Manley came free through the middle of the line and planted White into the RFK Stadium grass. White suffered a concussion and was lost for the entire second half. The Redskins went on to beat the Cowboys 31-17.

With White being knocked out of the 1982 Championship game, it opened the door for backup quarterback Gary Hogeboom to play. Hogeboom threw two touchdown passes against the Redskins, but it was his second of two interceptions in the fourth quarter that sealed the Cowboys fate. There were stories about how White might be replaced as the starting quarterback by Hogeboom, but White remained the starter for the 1983 season. Danny White led the Cowboys to another 12-4 record in 1983, but lost to the Rams in the Wildcard round at home.

   Tom Landry made the difficult decision in 1984 to replace Danny White as the Cowboys starter and handed the job to Gary Hogeboom. The Cowboys started 4-1, but after ineffective play by Hogeboom, Landry handed the job back to Danny White. The Cowboys missed the playoffs in 1984, but returned in 1985 as Danny White was once again the opening day starter. Once again the Cowboys came up short in the playoffs as they lost to the Rams again.

In 1986 the Cowboys opened the season with a 6-2 record and had the best offense in the NFL with Danny White at quarterback. During an away game against the NY Giants, White was slammed to the ground by Giants linebacker Carl Banks and White broke his throwing wrist. The injury ended White’s season and the Cowboys ended the 1986 season with a 7-9 record, which was their first losing season since 1965.

Danny White would come back from his wrist injury in 1987, but would battle quarterback Steve Pelluer for the starting job throughout the season.  The quarterback battle would continue into the 1988 season. The Cowboys missed the playoffs in both 1987 and 1988. When Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989, the option on Danny White’s contract was not picked up and White decided to retire from the NFL. 

Danny White ended his NFL career with 21,959 yards (3rd on Cowboys all-time list), 155 touchdowns (2nd on Cowboys all-time list) and 132 interceptions (also 2nd on Cowboys all-time list). His punting average with the Cowboys was 40.4 yards per punt. His record as the Cowboys quarterback was 62-32.

Danny White became the head coach of the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena League in 1992. He remained the head coach until 2004. While with the Rattlers he won the league championship twice in 1994 and 1997. He also led the Rattlers to three other championship games in 2002, 2003 and 2004 where he would lose. He was named coach of the year in 1993.

After leaving the Rattlers he became the head coach of the expansion Utah Blaze in 2006. He led the Blaze to the playoffs all three seasons he was with the team. White’s overall Arena League coaching record is 162-93, with a postseason record of 20-13. He was inducted into the Arena League Hall of Fame in 2002.

Danny White and his wife JoLynn have four children. They also have eight grandchildren.

Danny White deserves so much more credit then he gets for his career with the Dallas Cowboys. He was a leader for the team and made the team better when he was the starter. Following a legend like Roger Staubach must have been a hard thing for Danny White.  Even coach Tom Landry once said…

“I don’t think anybody could have followed Roger and done as well as Danny”

“Danny is a solid Winner”

Legends of the Star: Mr. Cowboy, Bob Lilly

Many great players have worn the Dallas Cowboys uniform with pride and distinction during the teams glorious 50 year history. None however, can lay claim to the ultimate team nickname, “Mr. Cowboy” save one, the great Bob Lilly.

Though there are many current and former Cowboys who deserve their due recognition for helping the Dallas Cowboys become and maintain the title of “America’s Team”. However, a strong case can be made that if not for Bob Lilly, it may have never happened.

Many of the newer and younger Cowboy fans have all heard of the great  Bob Lilly at one time or another. They may have even heard that he is considered by most to be the best Defensive Tackle in Cowboy history. A fact that cannot be disputed.

That said, it’s only a small part of Lilly’s amazing legacy and the impact he made on a young franchise that would soon become one of the juggernauts of the NFL.

Bob Lilly was born in 1939 and went to Texas Christian University where he became a star defensive end and was named to the All-America team. As part of this honor he received a camera as one of his awards, a gift that would surely impact the rest of his life.

In 1961 Bob was drafted with first overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys, thus becoming the first ever draft pick in franchise history. He would not disappoint.

Though he was originally drafted as a defensive end, in his third year with the Cowboys, coach Tom Landry switched his position to defensive tackle where he would become one of the best at his position in the NFL for many years to come.

Lilly was a punishing defender and his tough demeanor and sheer determination made him the undisputed leader of the Cowboys famous “Doomsday Defense’. Lilly was so unstoppable, that he was regularly double and triple teamed for the majority of his career.

He was selected to the Pro Bowl a then record 11 times between 1962 and 1973, and Lilly was also a seven time first team All Pro selection.

During his long 14 year Hall of Fame career he was as durable as they came missing only one game to a leg injury.

Lilly was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, his first year of eligibility, and was the first player who spent his entire career with the Cowboys to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He is a member of the All Century Team and in 1999 was ranked number 10 on the “100 Greatest Football Players” by the Sporting News. Sports Illustrated calls him the greatest Defensive Tackle in NFL history.

In addition to being the Cowboys’ first ever draft pick, when all was said and done, “Mr. Cowboy” would also become the first player ever to be inducted into the “Ring of Honor”. He is the only Dallas Cowboy to wear the #74, and is the only number unofficially retired by the team.

Aside from football, Bob Lilly went on to become a noted photographer, a career that stemmed back to the day he began using the camera he won as an All-American. His interests included photographs of magnificent sunsets, majestic mountain ranges and scenic landscapes that captured all the natural beauty of the Midwest. He has launched a successful business where people can buy some of his most famous photographs.

www.boblilly.com

Legends of the Star – Emmitt Smith

 

As we come to the end of our exclusive series “Legends of the Star,” you can certainly make the case that we saved the best for last. It is with great pleasure that I introduce Emmitt Smith as this week’s Legend of the Star.
 
Emmitt Smith may go down in history as the greatest player ever to wear the uniform of the Dallas Cowboys. The NFL’s all time leading rusher had it all and I’m not just talking about his enormous athletic ability. He was a great and charismatic leader, a passionate player who loved the game, a positive influence who made those around him better, and one of the classiest players that football has ever known.
 
Emmitt Smith burst onto the national scene while playing running back for the University of Florida. He set many school records as a Gator including their single game and season rushing records, and all of their scoring records. After three years at Florida he had scored 37 touchdowns, had 23 100-yard rushing games, was a NCAA All-American and still holds 58 school records. Emmitt opted not to complete his senior year and decided to enter the NFL draft.
 
After posting the worst record in franchise history at 1-15, the Cowboys drafted Emmitt Smith in the first round of the 1990 draft. Head coach Jimmy Johnson felt that Emmitt was the kind of player who could be the cornerstone of the team’s offense. He was right.
 
Over the next twelve seasons, Emmitt captured the hearts of Cowboy fans everywhere with his intensity and hard-nosed style of play. Together with Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman they formed the most lethal offensive punch that the game had ever seen. Emmitt Smith had real nose for the endzone and was nearly unstoppable inside the ten-yard line. During his career in Dallas, he was able to help lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowl Championships, lead the NFL in rushing four times, was the league MVP in 1993, and MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and was the first player in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons.
 
Emmitt Smith now holds the NFL record in career rushing yards with 18,355, breaking the previous record held by his childhood idol, and former great, Walter Payton. Besides this prestigious record, Emmitt holds over a dozen other NFL records including the all time career rushing touchdown record with 166 scores. He is one of only two non-kickers to score over 1000 points in his career, the other being Jerry Rice.
 
Next week, on July 21st Emmitt Smith will be enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
 
On September 19, 2005, Emmitt Smith was enshrined in the Cowboys Ring of Honor along with his former teammates Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin. He is sure to be a first ballot NFL Hall of Famer as soon as he becomes eligible in 2010.
 
It was a great pleasure reviewing all of the great players that have graced the “Silver and Blue” and I hope you enjoyed reading each of our weekly editions. Now it’s time to get ready for another great season of Cowboys football. I hope you check in with StarStruck each and every day for our ongoing continuous coverage of everything near and dear to the Dallas Cowboys.

 

 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Legends of the Star – Troy Aikman

As we get close to the end of our Legends of the Star feature, I finally get to profile one of my personal all time favorite Cowboys, Troy Aikman.
 
Troy was almost a legend even before he started playing professional football. As a college player, he played for both UCLA and the school he first enrolled with, the University of Oklahoma. While at Oklahoma he played for future Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer. Aikman was the teams biggest star, but because their offense wasn’t suited to his style of play, he transferred to UCLA a year later, where he gained national attention. He set over a dozen team records that still stand today and led the Bruins to the Aloha Bowl in 1987 where he compiled a 10-2 record. A year later as a senior, he won the Davey O’Brien Award which is given each year to the nations top quarterback. He was a consensus All-American, West Coast Player of the Year, and finished third for the 1988 Heisman Trophy.
 
In 1989, the Cowboys had a new owner in Jerry Jones, and a new head coach in Jimmy Johnson. That year the two of them drafted Troy Aikman with their first round pick in the NFL Draft. It was a move that would change the destiny of the franchise for the next decade.
 
Although Troy finished his first year with a disappointing 0-11 record, everyone could see that he was bursting with talent, and that he was a natural born leader. All he would need is a supporting cast, and the following season the Cowboys provided Aikman with everything he would need to lead the team into greatness.
 
In 1990, Aikman completed 226 of 399 passes for 2,579 yards and 11 touchdowns and the team improved to 7-9, but the following year he completed an NFC-best 65.3 percent of his passes, and the Cowboys improved again to 11-5 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
In 1992, everything started to come together for Aikman and the rest of the Cowboys as they were about to unleash their new high powered offense to the rest of the league. That year, the Cowboys rocketed to the Super Bowl with an explosive display of offensive power coupled with a bruising defense. The Cowboys finished the season with a 13-3 record, and Troy Aikman was named Super Bowl MVP.

For the next three seasons, the Cowboys compiled a 36-9 record, and snatched two more Super Bowl titles. Together with running back, Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver, Michael Irvin, the "Triplets" were football’s biggest stars. They were unstoppable and punished opposing defenses with a hard-hitting, lightning fast attack, that had not been seen in the game before, or since.

With 90 wins in the 1990s, Aikman became the winningest starting quarterback of any decade in NFL history. Unfortunately, during his final two seasons, injuries began to take a toll on him, and after sustaining ten concussions, the Cowboys’ six-time Pro Bowl selection announced his retirement from football.

His career statistics included a team record 32,942 yards and an amazing 165 touchdowns for a passer rating of 81.6. On September 19, 2005, during a broadcast on Monday Night Football, Troy Aikman was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor with his longtime teammates Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. The following year, Troy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Canton, Ohio and gave a teary eyed acceptance speech that no Cowboy fan can ever forget. He is forever, a true Legend of the Star.

 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Legends of the Star – Michael Irvin

Michael Irvin was the greatest wide receiver ever to don the uniform of the Dallas Cowboys. The "Playmaker" as he was sometimes called started out his career playing for the University of Miami, where he was heavily recruited. While he was with the Hurricanes, he set school record for receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions. He was part of the Hurricane’s 1987 National Team.
 
In 1988 Irvin entered the NFL Draft and was selected 11th overall by the Dallas Cowboys. In his very first game, he started and caught his first touchdown pass, which was something that hadn’t been done by a Cowboy in 20 years. He immediately became one of the teams best players in his rookie year and he led all wide receivers with a 20.4 yards per catch average. He quickly became one of the most exciting receivers in the league and his ability to make the big plays made him one of the biggest stars in the game. His ability to push off a defender and surpass them with such ease, caused many opposing teams to employ new strategies to try and stop him from beating them.
 
From 1991 through 1998, he was the leagues best wide receiver, and racked up an impressive 10,265 yards in that span. He helped lead his team to four straight NFC Championship games and three Super Bowl titles. In Super Bowl XXVII, he caught 6 passes for 114 yards and 2 second quarter touchdowns that occurred in a span 18 seconds, the fastest pair of touchdowns ever scored in a Super Bowl. In 1995 he had one of the most remarkable seasons ever for a wide receiver when he set team records with 111 receptions, 1,603 yards, and 10 touchdown receptions.
 
Michael Irvin had some scuffs with the law during his playing years and also after he retired as a player, but when he was on the field, there was nobody better. For you trivia buffs out there, Irvin is the only player to play for the first four coaches of the Dallas Cowboys.
 
Irvin finished his career with 750 receptions, 11,904 yards and 65 touchdowns. He was selected to five Pro Bowls, and was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor on September 19, 2005. Two years later, he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Legends of the Star – Larry Allen

Larry Allen first gained national attention when he led little known, Sonoma State to the Senior Bowl in 1992. The two time All-American starred while playing guard, and in two seasons he only allowed one sack. He set ten different team records that still stand today.
 
In 1994, Larry Allen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft, making him the first NFL player ever to be selected from Sonoma State. He made an immediate impact on the team and was soon considered to be the NFL’s premier offensive lineman. He is widely recognized as the one of the best offensive lineman in NFL history and is certainly the best offensive lineman the Dallas Cowboys have ever had. He was the biggest part of an offensive unit that has posted the four lowest sacks allowed totals in club history with 18 in 1995, 19 in 1996 and 1998, and 20 in 1994.
 
Allen is widely credited for the success of Emmitt Smith with his unparalleled play as his lead blocker, and played a role in eight of his eleven 1,000 yard rushing seasons. Allen, was also able to bench press 700 pounds, and is considered to be the strongest man to ever play professional football.
 
In his 12 year career, Larry Allen was selected to 11 Pro Bowls and is just the third player in NFL history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at more than one offensive line position during his career. Only Bob Lilly had more Pro Bowl selections than Larry Allen. He is the most decorated offensive lineman in Dallas Cowboys history.

 

 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Legends of the Star – Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders was and still is one of the most colorful and most polarizing players in sports. He started out his career in 1988 when he was drafted by New York Yankees. He was then drafted the following year by the Atlanta Falcons with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. He showed up wearing thousands of dollars of diamonds and gold including a flashy silk shirt embroidered with the words "Prime Time." The name stuck with him.
 
Sanders had a very successful baseball career and went on to have an even better football career. He became a rare two sport star who made headlines with his play as well as his very controversial comments. He was loved and hated by millions of fans across the country.
 
For his first five seasons in the NFL, Deion Sanders played for the Atlanta Falcons and was the best cornerback in the league and one of the best return specialists in NFL history. He was as dynamic a player as there ever was in the game. He then signed a one-year deal with San Francisco, and became the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His four tackles and interception helped the 49ers beat San Diego 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX.
 
Soon after that, in 1995, Sanders signed a huge contract to play with the Dallas Cowboys. He was to get a $13 million dollar signing bonus, but because Jerry Jones was superstitious, he received $12,999,999.99, a penny less.His presence at cornerback helped Dallas win the Super Bowl that season. In that game, he became the only player in NFL history to catch a pass and make an interception in the Super Bowl. In 1996, Sanders started all 16 games at cornerback and eight at wide receiver to become the first two-way NFL player in 34 years. But make no mistake, with eight Pro Bowl selections as a cornerback, defense is where Sanders really shined.
 
During his 14-year NFL career, Deion Sanders was a perennial All-Pro and one of the most feared pass defenders to ever play the game. He is the only player to have appeared in a Super Bowl and a World Series.

 

 

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys. 

Legends of the Star – Darren Woodson

Darren Woodson was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys as a converted linebacker in the second round of the 1992 NFL Draft out of Arizona State University.

He played at safety for the Cowboys and was a five time Pro Bowl selection who developed a reputation as an effective run-stopper and was a feared and ferocious hitter. He was leader both on and off the field and was a mentor to many of the younger players, including Roy Williams.

Besides chasing and tackling ball carriers in the secondary, Woodson also was very relentless at chasing down and stopping kick returners on special teams. For many years, Woodson dominated at his position and was a threat to anyone carrying the ball within his range. Many of his tackles were so ferocious that he drew many fines from the NFL during his career.

However, doing all those things for all those years finally took a toll on Woodson’s body. After missing most of the season after having back surgery just before training camp, the hard-hitting safety announced his retirement in December of 2004. It was the end of an era for the Dallas Cowboys. Darren Woodson was the last player left from the 1992, 1993 and 1995 Super Bowl champions and he was also the last player drafted by Jimmy Johnson. His 1,350 tackles are the most-ever in Cowboys history. 

Just the mention of Woodson’s name can still make opposing wide receivers and kickoff returners cringe.

Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.