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.

It’s Time For More Ring Of Honor Inductions

It’s been five seasons since a player was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. Actually, three players were inducted back in 2005, when Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were all inducted on the same day. Five years is too long to go without a player being inducted. Especially with a team like the Cowboys that is so deep with great players.

It’s time for the Cowboys to start honoring more players in the new stadium and give them their place in history. I can probably name about 15 to 20 players who deserve to be honored, but there are two that always come to mind first. They were great players for the Cowboys through most of the 1970s and early 1980s. They helped make the Cowboys what they are today. They put their mark on the organization as well as the NFL. They dominated their positions around the same time in their careers and received many of the same honors. Those players are Harvey Martin and Drew Pearson.

Harvey Martin, 1973-1983    

Harvey Martin was drafted by the Cowboys in the third round of the 1973 draft. In his ten seasons with the Cowboys he was elected to four Pro Bowls (1976, ’77, ’78 and ’79), he was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1977 and was also on the NFL 1970s All-Decade team.  In 1977, after helping the Cowboys win their second Super Bowl Championship, Harvey Martin was selected as co-MVP of Super Bowl XII along with Randy White as they dominated the Denver Broncos. Harvey Martin, aka “Too Mean” became one of the most feared defensive linemen in the NFL.  

Martin became part of the Cowboys Doomsday Defense II, along with Randy White and Ed (Too Tall) Jones.  At the beginning of his career he was able to learn from the great Bob Lilly. Martin led the Cowboys in sacks seven times in his career. Although the NFL did not officially start recording sacks until 1982, it was Harvey Martin who collected 23 sacks during the 1977 season in only 14 games. Those 23 sacks would be the all-time record today over Michael Strahan who had 22 ½ in 2001. Martin had 14 sacks in 1978 as he once again helped the Cowboys to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII. Martin still holds the record for most career sacks for the Cowboys with 114.    

Harvey Martin had his share of problems off the field after his retirement in 1983. Those problems plagued him until the mid 1990s when he was able to turn his life around. Martin gave anti-drug speeches to school children and recovering addicts in hopes that they would listen and not make the same mistakes he made.

Harvey Martin’s life was cut short on December 24, 2001 when he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 51. By his bedside that day was teammate and good friend Drew Pearson. Martin will most likely never make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is a disgrace in my opinion. Martin belongs in the Cowboys Ring of Honor because of the kind of player he was and what he did for the Cowboys. His name needs to be displayed with the other Cowboys greats and honored for his ten seasons with the Cowboys

Drew Pearson, 1973-1983    

Drew Pearson was signed as a Free Agent by the Cowboys in 1973 and went on to become one of the greatest wide receivers in Dallas Cowboys history.  Pearson became known as “Mr. Clutch” in his career for always making the big reception for the Cowboys. In 1974 he caught the game winning touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Clint Longley on Thanksgiving against the Redskins. In the 1975 playoffs he caught the game winning “Hail Mary” touchdown pass from Roger Staubach against the Vikings. In the 1980 playoffs he caught the game winning touchdown pass from Danny White against the Falcons. Pearson finished his career with 489 receptions for 7,822 yards and 48 touchdowns. He was elected three Pro Bowls (1974, ’76 and ’77). Pearson was also selected to the NFL 1970s All-Decade team. Drew Pearson was a member of three Cowboys Super Bowl teams in 1975, 1977 and 1978.

     Like Harvey Martin, Pearson will most likely never make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pearson’s numbers compare and even go beyond some of his fellow NFL receivers at the time like Lynn Swann (336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns) and John Stallworth (537 receptions for 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns). Both Swann and Stallworth have been elected into the Hall of Fame.    

Drew Pearson’s career came to an end after the 1983 season when the car he was driving crashed into a truck killing his younger brother. Pearson suffered a lacerated kidney in the accident and had to retire from the NFL. To this day Pearson does not remember anything about the accident.

Harvey Martin and Drew Pearson both belong in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys organization need to do the right thing and place their names in Cowboys stadium for all to see. Although Harvey Martin is no longer with us, I’m sure it will make his family, friends and former teammates proud to see him finally make it. Drew Pearson needs to be honored the same as fellow receivers Bob Hayes and Michael Irvin.

Other Cowboys greats in the Ring of Honor…

Bob Lilly, 1975

Don Meredith, 1976

Don Perkins, 1976

Chuck Howley, 1977

Mel Renfro, 1981

Roger Staubach, 1983

Lee Roy Jordan, 1989

Tom Landry, 1993

Tony Dorsett, 1994

Randy White, 1994

Bob Hayes, 2001

Tex Schramm, 2003

Cliff Harris, 2004

Rayfield Wright, 2004

Troy Aikman, 2005

Emmitt Smith, 2005

Michael Irvin, 2005

Harvey Martin, ??

Drew Pearson, ??

Some pictures provided by the following books, “The Super Bowl” and “Dallas Cowboys, Our Story”

No Country For Old Men…With Bad Knees

I think everyone would agree that getting old sucks. I turned 40 on Monday so I know first-hand the magnitude in which it can suck! But on the bright side, the older you get the more memories you have. I have tons.

For instance, watching The Doomsday Defense dismantle the Denver Broncos and former Cowboy Craig Morton in Super Bowl XII. Then after the game I watched as Harvey Martin crushed an "Orange Crush" pop can during the locker room celebration.

Then there are not so fond memories like Super Bowl XIII against The Steelers. The horrible pass interference call against Benny Barnes when his feet got tangled with Lynn Swann’s which led to a Steelers score. And of course Jackie Smith. The drop. Dallas should have been the first team to win 3 Super Bowls. WE WERE ROBBED!!

Of course there was "The Catch". Montana to Clark in the NFC Championship. Should be called "The Lucky Catch". I also remember "The Fumble" by Danny White, deep in 49er territory on the ensuing drive.

And I could write a 10,000 word essay with one hand tied behind my back about the greatest dynasty in NFL history. Who might that be you ask? The 90’s Cowboys of course. This team could have and SHOULD have won at LEAST 4 in a row.

But this blog isn’t as much about my memories as it is about what it must be like to be an NFL player in the twilight of your career. Specifically Terry Glenn. Glenn’s career has had its ups and downs. He’s only played a full 16 weeks in 3 of the 12 seasons he’s been in the league so far. With 2 of those being for The Cowboys.

I think Glenn is a great player. Very professional. Super hands. Bad wheels. He’s struggled with injuries throughout his career and now time is not on his side. This will be his 13th season if he even plays at all. I personally think he should sign the $500,000 injury settlement. This way everyone is covered. Seriously, Jerry Jones could just cut the guy and he’d get nothing. He can’t pass a freakin physical and Jones is offering him 500 G’s! Not quite as sweet as the deal Glenn got last year. $5 million for 4 plays.

I feel for Terry Glenn. To a point. But he’s almost 34 with a huge bank account and he’s had the honor of playing for the greatest sports franchise on the planet. But he has bad knees. I’m 40 living paycheck to paycheck and I drive a truck for a living. And I also have bad knees.

Terry, you have my sympathies…

Legends of the Star – Lee Roy Jordan

 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 in the Orange Bowl when he made 30 tackles in one game against the University of Oklahoma. He is enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.
In 1963, he 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.
He 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 and is 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.
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.