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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 – 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 – 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. 

Legends of the Star – Ed “Too Tall” Jones

Standing six-feet, nine-inches tall, defensive lineman Ed "Too Tall" Jones was very deserving of his nickname. However, it was his skills as a football player that Cowboys fans will remember most. In high school he played basketball and received 52 college scholarships, but he decided instead to play football for Tennessee State. It was a decision he would never regret as he led Tennessee to an almost perfect record during his 3 years with them, losing only one game in those 3 seasons.
 
His performance at Tennessee State caught the eye of the Dallas Cowboys’ recruiting staff, and in 1974 Jones became the number one pick in the NFL draft. Some of the experts said the Cowboys wasted their number one overall pick on him because he was too tall to play football, and the name stuck.
 
"Too Tall" Jones won acclaim for his role in the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line-up during the 1970s and 1980s, playing for a franchise record 15 years. During his first five years with Dallas, the Cowboys played in the Super Bowl three times, following the 1975, 1977, and 1978 seasons. He was a tenacious defender with a knack for going after the opposing quarterback causing them to rush their throws and upsetting their offense. Along the way he piled on agreat deal of sacks. He reached his record high in 1985, sacking the opposition’s quarterback 13 times.
 
Jones shocked his coaches and teammates at the end of 1979 when he announced he would not be returning to Dallas the following season to pursue a career in boxing. He did exactly that and after one year he retired undefeated, and re-signed with the Cowboys and played with them until his retirement in 1989.
 
He was named All Pro in 1981 and 1982, played in the Pro Bowl three times, and was named Most Valuable Player in 1982.
 
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.