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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

This And That As Training Camp Nears

Dez Bryant

It was asked on NFLN recently which rookies would have the biggest question mark going into the 2010 season. Jamie Dukes said it would be Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant.

“When it comes to fanfare and scrutiny no one is more scrutinized than Dallas Cowboy football players. Can he handle being a Cowboy? Can he stay out of the clubs? Can he handle the fame and fortune of being a Dallas Cowboy? That’s the big concern. The (No. 88 jersey) puts a target on your back as well. I question whether or not he can handle the success of being one of those Dallas Cowboys”

Warren Sapp also of the NFLN added…

“I think Dez Bryant is going to have growing pains in Dallas,”

It seems to me, and this is my opinion of course, that certain people on the NFLN love to hate the Cowboys no matter what is happening. Or maybe I’m just too sensitive to the subject. Why is Dez Bryant the biggest question mark when so many other players on other teams are getting into trouble?

Happy Birthday Miles

As reported by DallasNews.com, Kim Kardashian threw new boyfriend Miles Austin a party to celebrate his 27thbirthday. Sister Kourtney Kardashian was also in attendance.

Isn’t it funny how nothing negative is reported with Miles Austin dating Kim Kardashian, but anyone that Tony Romo dates draws all kinds of negative headlines. Things should be exciting if these two are together on Thanksgiving when Reggie Bush and the Saints come to town.

Best Current Cowboys

As Kelly reported the other day, DallasNews.com has put together a bracket to see who the best current Dallas Cowboy is. They matched certain current Cowboys together and let the fans vote on a different match-up every day. The first match-up was between Marion Barber and Felix Jones.

Jones won easily over Barber 82.5% to 17.5%

I will admit I voted for Barber.

The second match-up had DeMarcus Ware beating Keith Brooking 94.09% to 5.91%

As much as fans love what Brooking brings to the team, there was no way he was beating Ware.

In today’s match-up it’s Jay Ratliff against Gerald Sensabaugh. As of this morning Ratliff leads Sensabaugh 96% to 4%.

No big surprise there.

Injury Update

Some injury news reported by ESPNDallas.com as we are now three weeks away from training camp opening.

Cornerback Orlando Scandrick who broke his index finger during the teams OTA’s says he will wear a splint on his broken finger once the regular season starts. Scandrick says he will be ready once training camp opens even with a splint on his finger.

Linebacker Stephen Hodge who had microfracture surgery says he is hopeful he can return for training camp. Hodge did do some light training on the side during the teams OTA’s.

Linebacker Keith Brooking who had off-season knee surgery will be ready for training camp. Brooking came back towards the end of the teams OTA’s and said he will be ready to go when training camp opens.

Air Coryell Connection

Cowboy’s offensive coordinator Jason Garrett actually uses a large portion of Don Coryell’s offense in the Cowboys attack. Garrett learned from former Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner who coached Garrett as a player in the early 90’s. Turner learned the offense from Ernie Zampese when both were coaches with the LA Rams.

Goodbye Don Coryell

Don Coryell passed away yesterday at the age of 85. He coached the San Diego Chargers from 1978 to 1986. He brought the Chargers to the AFC Championship game in 1980 and 1981, but lost both times. He was involved in what many consider the best game ever played in 1981 when the Chargers beat the Dolphins in overtime 41-38 in the divisional round of the playoffs. The following week they would lose to the Bengals in minus 59 degree weather with the wind in Cincinnati.

“We’ve lost a man who has contributed to the game of pro football in a very lasting way with his innovations and with his style,” Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, the quarterback who made Air Coryell fly, said from Oregon. “They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery — look around, it’s there.”

Don Coryell coached some great offensive players in San Diego like Dan Fouts, Kellen Winslow, Charlie Joyner, Wes Chandler, John Jefferson and Chuck Muncie. Coryell compiled a 111-83-1 record in 14 seasons in the NFL.

The Thin Line Between Love and Hate

As a daily reader of this fine blog and a fan of all who contribute in any way, shape or form, I have been pondering a few general thoughts based on some of the comments that I have read on many of the recent posts. Whether I will be able to accurately articulate my exact thoughts, remains to be seen…..but here it goes:

 

THUG LIFE

Quick question…..How many active Dallas Cowboys have been arrested and charged or convicted of a crime in the last 3 years, or even 5 years?? I am talking about players getting in trouble WHILE on the Cowboys roster. This is not a trick question, because I personally can’t think of any. Please feel free to enlighten me. There seems to be some type of conspiracy theory about the team and it’s “troublemakers”, and I am sure it is ALL because we signed Pac Man, or maybe it’s because Michael Irvin got in trouble 12 years ago. To me, it doesn’t really make alot of sense. 

I read and hear many people say we don’t need any players unless they have a perfect history or have never had any scrapes with the law, and I have to ask WHY? These men are not our political leaders, our school teachers or any type of religous leaders. They are football players. The main qualifications for the job are to be really strong and really fast.

Don’t get me wrong, the laws and rules of society should be applied to all in sports and life and yes, they are role models to kids, and yes, maybe it is hard for me and you to understand why some profesional athletes make the decisions they do, but they are not perfect, and very human. In my opinion, if a player or players make mistakes, they should pay for their crimes within the court system and then within the NFL player conduct system, but after that should we ban them for life? Should they never be given a second or even a third chance??

If you say that, No, they do not deserve other chances, then I would ask you Why? Is it because you and I do not make the millions or drive the cars, is it jealousy? Or is it an even darker issue at hand? Just something to ponder. And as far as the Cowboys go, last I checked we had a majority of our roster made up of very good guys, from Witten to Demarcus, and even all of the young guys like Deon Anderson (who without a second chance in college would not be in the NFL right now) and Sam Hurd. I just don’t understand why the Cowboys get slapped with the generic “made of bad guys, with no character” tag so often. We are definitely not the Cincinatti Bengals.

 

THE T.O. SHOW

It’s been cancelled. It’s over. He is gone. It really doesn’t matter anymore if you and I agree with it, like it, dislike it, can’t decide about it; because it’s done. Time to move forward. I hate to even bring this up, because of all the over-sensitive T.O. fans out there, but at the end of the day, he was a great player for us for 3 seasons, and great personality who provided alot of entertainment and, in my opinion, actually a good guy who got a pretty bad rap from the media and the average fan-on-the-street, but NOT a Cowboys legend by any stretch of the imagination. He will not be in the Ring of Honor, there will be no statues of him at the new stadium and no freeways named in his honor. He does rank up at the top of the NFL all-time recieving records, but he did most of his damage with the San Francisco 49ers. Did you hear that?? The 49ers! One of our all-time arch rivals! So, one last time….Goodbye T.O., thanks for the memories.

 

HALF GLASS EMPTY

This last thought is probably the most delicate, because I normally like to deal in facts, instead of “faith” or opinion….but, to me, there is just way too much negativity among the Cowboys nation! It is hard, due to the terrible end of the season last year culminating in the train wreck that was the Philly game, but where is the faith? The support? The optimism?

I am glad I live here in the metroplex and am able to follow the team in the local media, because sometimes it seems that some people are trying to convince me that we don’t have any able-bodied football players on this team, and we have a “general manager” that doesn’t even know how many yards long a football field is (it’s 100, Jerry). We went 9-7, and missed the playoffs, a very dissapointing season, yes, who can even begin to argue that but this is not Detroit or Oakland, and this is not even Green Bay or Denver.

We have a nucleus of players in place, on both offense and defense, that rank right at the top of the NFL. Do we have every little nickelback or 3rd receiver position covered perfectly and ideally? Well, no, but name me a team that does? The great and even quality players in the NFL don’t just grow on trees, unfortunately.

I will put my faith and my support behind Romo, Witten, Barber, Ware, Ratliff, Newman and the rest, and hope that we get a few breaks that all teams need and get to where we all want to go, to the Superbowl. It’s not going to be easy this year, next year or any year ever, but that’s football, that’s sport, that’s competition.

So, there you have it. Just a few random thoughts from TD….. you can love me or hate me, agree or disagree, that’s what it’s all about here! All I know is that it is a thin line, a razor thin line, between LOVE and HATE. Which side of the line are you on??
 

Cowboys Fan For LIFE – TD

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Legends of the Star – Crazy Ray Jones

 

This weeks Legend Of The Star is dedicated to someone who never played a down for the Dallas Cowboys, but was on hand for more Cowboys games than even Tom Landry, Emmitt Smith, and yes, Jerry Jones. Of course I am referring to Crazy Ray, who passed away Saturday morning after a prolonged battle with heart ailments and diabetes.

His passionate affection for the Cowboys made him a legend in his own right and gave a new meaning to the word fan. His passing will be felt by everyone in the Cowboys family and that includes players, coaches, and fans alike.

For over 40 years, Crazy Ray touched the lives of thousands of Cowboys fans, and seeing him decked out in his western attire with six-shooters blazing will be missed by all. His passion for the team made him a national celebrity who made numerous talk show and radio show appearances, which revealed a man whose passion for life was just as important to him as his passion for the game.

His overflowing enthusiasm was a model not just for fans of the Cowboys, but for people everywhere in all walks of life. There was a lesson for all fans, in the way Crazy Ray lived his life. And while football players are so willing to admit that they are not role models these days, Crazy Ray was indeed a role model for us all.

So Starstruck gives a huge Texas-sized farewell to a true Legend of the Star who will be missed by us all. He is now among the stars in heaven, and if I know Crazy Ray, those stars are all silver and blue.

 

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.