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.

Finding That Blue And Silver Lining

There are times, in life, when things aren’t going exactly as you would hope. In those times it is difficult to remain positive. Focusing on the negative just seems so much more natural. I know it sure is true in my case. I can’t speak for you of course. We all handle things in our own way. Some manage to look on the bright side no matter what. I, for one, could learn a lot from these people.

The one thing that 99.9% of visitors to this site have in common is obvious. Our love for the Dallas Cowboys.

Being the cynic that I am I tend to look at negative things in life and take for granted all the good things going on. Looking back on the 2008 season I’ve focused on lack of discipline, lack of leadership and a general sense of discord with the Cowboys organization as a whole. But there were some amazing moments this year. New faces emerged and old reliables continued to amaze us.

Felix Jones

How many of us saw this guy coming? His incredible burst and open-field speed left friend and foe alike wide-eyed with mouths hanging open in amazement. Not to mention you would be hard pressed to ever see him without a smile on his face. This young man has a very bright future ahead of him and I know we all look forward to watching him grow into the elite running back he obviously has the potential to be. I have no doubt that had he not gotten injured and subsequently put on injured reserve he would be the 2008 NFL Rookie of the Year.

DeMarcus Ware

Just when you think this guy couldn’t get any better what does he do? He gets better. His athleticism and sheer determination are something to behold. This man is a game changer. A difference maker. One of the greatest linebackers I’ve ever seen play the position and I’ve seen plenty. My personal choice for Defensive Player of the Year. I have no doubt he will be a Hall of Famer. First ballot. Bank on it. And he’s a Dallas Cowboy baby!

Jason Witten

Can you have a more solid teammate than Jason Witten? The greatest tight end in the game today, bar none. He’s always willing to give a little extra. Even with injuries that would have sidelined most players, Witten never relented, always stayed focused on the task at hand and never let anyone down. A warrior.

Tashard Choice

If you haven’t seen it yet check out the Georgia Tech locker room speech video of Choice posted on youtube. This video alone makes you well up with pride that he wears the blue and silver. His running style and ability to find the hole and to get extra yards where most players wouldn’t reminds me so much of Emmitt Smith. This guy is a legend in the making.

Bradie James

James is emerging as a true leader on the defensive unit. This diamond in the rough is only going to get better. I mean.. 116 tackles and 8 sacks at inside linebacker. Are you freaking kidding me? Should be a Pro Bowler. I have the upmost respect for Bradie James. He’s a great interview and has no problem telling it like it is.

These are just a few of what was arguably the largest collection of talent on any team in the NFL. Yeah, as a whole this team underachieved. But they will be alright. They will right the ship. Nothing comes easy in the NFL. Chalk 2008 up as a learning experience. What’s done is done. Time to move on.

On this day on January 28, 1996 the Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. Number 5. They were not and are not done. Not by a long shot.

The destiny of the Dallas Cowboys is the same as it has always been. Greatness. Some things never change, my friend. I’ll never stop believing in this team. Many, many great men have donned the blue and silver. More have arrived and more will follow. No team does greatness-knows greatness-like the Dallas Cowboys. Glorious battles and future gold are just over the horizon. All we have to do now is wait for the clouds to break and follow the stars.

Legends of the Star – Bill Bates

Bill Bates started his career while playing as a safety for the University of Tennessee. While he was there he was named second-team All-Southeastern Conference his junior and senior seasons, and developed a reputation as the team’s hardest hitter and quickest tackler.
Bill Bates was much smaller than other safeties in the league and for that reason he was not drafted in the NFL Draft. However, the Cowboys were impressed with his sheer determination and heart that he displayed in college and decided to sign him as an undrafted player in 1983. Bill immediately became a visible figure on the field with his ferocious special teams play. It was due to his amazing seaon as a fierce special teams player that the NFL changed the rules and added a spot on the Pro-Bowl team for special teams coverage player. In 1984, he became the first NFL player to be honored.
Bill was an inspirational leader both on and off the field, and in 1990 Head Coach Jimmy Johnson named him the Cowboy’s Special Team’s captain. He held that position for the duration of his career with Dallas Cowboys, a career that spanned from 1983-1996.
Bill was a big part of the 1992, 1993 and 1995 Super Bowl Champions team, and has been a long time favorite of Cowboys fans. While playing linebacker, his last minute interception at Chicago’s Soldier Field preserved Dallas’ 17 – 13 win in the team’s triumphant return to the playoffs after a six year absence, and will surely go down as one of the big plays in the rebuilding of the Dallas Cowboys.
Bill was selected to the All-Madden Team for twelve years in a row, and was named the winner of the Bob Lilly Award four years in a row, from 1990 – 1994. This award is selected by a vote of the fans and annually goes to the Cowboy player who displays leadership and character on and off the field. He is 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 – Rayfield Wright



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. 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, Rayfield Wright was inducted in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, and in 2006, he was inducted 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.