Before I dive into the final installment of my series on my Top 10 Dallas Cowboys of all time, I want to wish you all a happy Memorial Day.
We are in a great deal of debt to those who have ever served, are serving now and will serve in the future, and even more so for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives so that we may be free. Because of those selfless acts, people like myself, are able to turn a passion into a career.
We should remember those sacrifices more than once a year but as we celebrate this weekend, let’s keep in mind that it’s not just a free day off. It’s paid for already by those serving our great nation.
With that being said, I’m not entirely sure how to segue to the main topic of conversation but I’ll give it a shot.
Just to recap, the list begins with Jason Witten at No. 10 and he’s followed by a list of nine hall of famers. Cornerback Mel Renfro comes in at No. 9 and wide receiver Michael Irvin at No. 8. Running back Tony Dorsett is next at No. 7 and his teammate Randy White comes in at No. 6. Larry Allen lands at the fifth spot while the quarterback he spent a lot of time protecting, Troy Aikman, comes in at No. 4. Roger Staubach is in the No. 3 spot, followed by Bob Lilly, leaving us at No. 1.
No. 1 – Emmitt Smith
Should I be proud or ashamed that I don’t have to look up Smith’s stats to know he had 18,355 career rushing yards and 164 touchdowns? I’m thankful for the fact that 17,162 of those yards and 153 of those touchdowns came while wearing stars on his helmet. As a Cowboy, Smith rushed his way into history, passing Walter Payton as the NFL’s all-time-leading rusher.
To me, that was the difference maker as to who to put at No. 1 on the list of greatest Dallas Cowboys of all time. You can make a case for Staubach and Lilly but it seems like nobody argues for them as being the best of all time at their positions. When it comes to running back, however, whether you believe the best to be Jim Brown, Barry Sanders, Payton or Smith, the Cowboys’ running back no doubt belongs in that discussion.
One thing I didn’t know until looking at his stats, though, is that Smith had 937 yards in both his rookie and final NFL seasons.
I won’t claim it’s not based at all on my own memories since I don’t recall watching Staubach and Lilly and have many fond memories of Smith breaking loose for a big run. A huge part of my childhood involved racing into the door on Sunday afternoons to see Smith and the rest of the Cowboys and it hurt when he became an Arizona Cardinal.
Nonetheless, you can’t take away Smith’s accomplishments. He was a three-time Super Bowl champion and Super Bowl XVII MVP (something that can’t be said of any other running back.) He was the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1990 and league MVP in 1993. In each season from 1991-1993, and again in 1995, Smith led the league in both rushing yards and rushing touchdowns. He’s a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade team and the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team.
Smith was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring on Honor in 2005 and into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Despite the fact he played his final games as a Cardinal, Smith signed a one-year deal with Dallas to retire as Dallas Cowboy, one of the greatest Dallas Cowboys ever, and in my opinion, the greatest Cowboy of all time.