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Ryan’s Tribute To Landry

In our first pre-season game did anyone notice the defense ran a 4-3 flex defense on the first play?
There were three linebackers on the field and in the middle was a player wearing the No. 54. Cowboys fans were taken back to a time, when the Cowboy’s first and only coach, wearing his suit and his famous hat was standing on the sideline.

On the first play from scrimmage, new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called for the team’s starters to line up in the 4-3 Flex, a formation conceived by Tom Landry — the legendary coach whose fingerprints are all over this franchise.

“Without living in the past, we try to put that in front of our players to understand what the tradition means, what the star means, what the standard is and all that,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “I think it fits in with all of that. It was Rob’s idea all the way. He brought it up to me and I said I love that. That’s tremendous.”

The Cowboys worked on the formation in practice and didn’t wait long to show it to fans expecting to see one of Ryan’s cutting-edge defensive alignments. Instead, they watched No. 54, reserve linebacker Kenwin Cummings, jump in a three-point stance and play the role of Randy White, the Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle who was the centerpiece of the “Doomsday Defense” that scared opponents in the 1970’s.

It also proved effective. Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware batted down Denver quarterback Kyle Orton’s pass at the line of scrimmage. After the game, he beamed when reminded of the play — one that seemed ripped from the Cowboys’ glorious past.

“It was a tribute,” Ware said.

A tribute that I would of never dreamed would come from Rob Ryan. My hats goes off to you Coach Ryan! It shows that you understand the history of the Dallas Cowboys and respect that. That alone makes this Cowboy Fan have respect for you.

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

Cowboys National Monument

If there was a national monument built for the Cowboys, what would it be? I think it should be just like Mount Rushmore.

Lets call it Mount Cowboys. Now we have to decide who we think should be on this national monument. If any Cowboys player or staff member had an impact on the Cowboys they should be on this monument. Here are my choices and why I think they deserve to be on Mount Cowboys.

My first choice is the legendary coach Tom Landry. Landry had 20 consecutive winning seasons, 2 Super Bowl titles and was 1966 NFL Coach of the Year. He was the only coach the Cowboys knew until Jerry Jones took over.

My second choice is Roger Staubach. Tom Landry’s quarterback throughout the 69′ to 79′ seasons. He also won 2 Super Bowl titles for coach Landry. Roger was a 6 time Pro-Bowler. Earn the nickname of “Captain Comeback” for many of his come from behind victories.

The third choice for the Mount Cowboys monument is number 22, Emmitt Smith. He is the NFL’s All-Time leading rusher. Just that enough earns him a spot on the monument. Emmitt was elected to the Pro-Bowl 8 times. He was the first player in NFL history to have 5 straight seasons with at least 1,400 rushing yards.

My final and last choice for the Mount Cowboys is Jerry Jones. I know, Some people don’t like Mr. Jones, but what he did was made the Cowboys a dynasty in the 90’s. His buying and trading of Free Agents made all the moves to win 3 championships. He will do everything he can to ensure the Cowboys go to or at least have a shot at being a contender for the Super Bowl. It will be very interesting in the new stadium and the season without T.O.

Here is my choices for the fictional Mount Cowboys monument. If anybody else has another person who deserves to be on this monument let me know. I came up with this as a way to tribute to the Cowboys from past and present. I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I had fun writing it.

Rayfield Wright: An Inspirational Star

Last night as I lay in bed, I was flipping through the channels and something caught my eye. Now I’m not one to watch TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) or any other religious channel, but I stopped because I seen a picture of a football player in Cowboys uniform flash on the screen. I knew who it was from his jesey number and the picture looked familiar. In fact, last year we did a bio on him in our Legends of the Star series. It was Rayfield Wright.

I never knew much about Rayfield. I knew he was a great tackle and was enducted into the hall of fame the same time as Troy Aikman. He played football before I was even born. But as I listened to him tell his story, I gained so much respect for the man. He spoke very well, he seemed very educated but also grateful for the life God had given him.

The host of the show asked Rayfield to tell the story of how he became to be a Dallas Cowboy. He said that he never really wanted to play football. He didn’t play football in high school, he played basketball. He was a tall skinny kid who didn’t look like a football player at all. He went to Fort Valley State College in Georgia on an athletic scholarship for his basketball talent. He played basketball and had to choose one other sport and chose football.

Rayfield was asked to leave college to go to the NBA early, but turned down the offer stating he made a commitment to get his education and that’s what he intended to do. His senior year he was contact by someone from the Dallas Cowboys and told they were looking to draft him. This was a surprise to Rayfield because he considered himself a basketball player not football. He said football training camp was in July and basketball camp was in August. He decided to go to Dallas and see what it was all about, then he never looked back.

He became very close with coach Tom Landry. He respected Landry a great deal and said Landry’s priorities in life were in this order: God, Family, then Football. I don’t think many would think that of one of the best football coaches of all time, but I suppose maybe that’s what made him so successful and such a great leader.

It was a short interview and I’m pretty sure it was a rerun, but I’m glad I stopped on that channel and got the pleasure of getting to know more about Mr. Wright. It’s great to know that someone can start off in this world with nothing, and live his life to the fullest with nothing but love, respect and the power of prayer.

Rayfield Wright’s Athletic Accomplishments

Dallas Cowboys 1st Anniversary Team—1985.
Dallas Cowboys All Decade Team of the 1970s.
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor—Texas Stadium—Inducted 2004.
Hall of Faith Award—Athletes International Ministries—1977.
Hall of Fame—Griffin, Georgia. Inducted 1974.
Hall of Fame—Fort Valley State College. Inducted 1983.
Hall of Fame—State of Georgia. Inducted 1988.
Heroes of Football—Inducted 2000.
NFL All Super Bowl Team—1990.
NFL Legends Award—1990.
NFL Alumni “Ring of Honor” Dallas Chapter—2003.
Pat Summerall & John Madden’s—Best of the Dallas Cowboys 1995.
Received 12 game balls during his career as an Offensive Lineman.
Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame—Inducted 2002.
Texas Sports Hall of Fame—Inducted 2005.


“Although he was a long shot in the 1967 draft, Rayfield’s superior athletic ability and competitiveness carried him to six straight Pro Bowls and four All-Pro seasons, making him the most honored offensive lineman in Cowboys history. Rayfield was an integral part of all five of our Super Bowl teams. He was always a team player whose solid character contributed to a winning atmosphere. It was an honor to coach Rayfield Wright.” COACH TOM LANDRY in a letter to the State of Georgia Hall of Fame
 

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Rayfield Wright has a website: www.rayfieldwright.com and has also written a book titled "Wright Up Front" about his life which you can purchase from his website.

 

Legends of the Star – Drew Pearson

 

Last week when I wrote up Roger Staubach’s “Legend of the Star,” I mentioned the famed “Hail Mary” pass. Who better to follow up last weeks “Legend of the Star” than the recipient of that famous catch, wide receiver, Drew Pearson.

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. While he was there he won the university’s President Award. Drew was not drafted in the NFL draft, mostly because he was wide receiver in run based offense while in college. However, that did not stop the Cowboys from drafting Pearson as a free agent in 1973 and blossoming 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. He also 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. He was named to the NFL’s 1970’s All-Decade Team.

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.

 

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.