All-Time Teams: Dallas Cowboys



Introduction

In my endless research of all things football and through my passion for the history of the NFL, I have decided to try and compile an All-Time Team for all 32 current NFL franchises. By All-Time Team I mean a starting roster compiled of the very best players to ever put on each franchise’s jersey. I will be starting in alphabetical order by current franchise location, so Arizona Cardinals all the way to The Washington Football Team, with the goal of releasing one to two All-Time teams a week for the duration of the current NFL season. This is meant to be fun and cause some debate and is based on my opinion after all my research and deep dives into each franchise’s history. Of course, not everyone will agree with who I chose, and I’d love to hear from anyone who agrees or disagrees, but first, let’s lay out some ground rules for how I came up with each team.


1. Each team roster will consist of the following:

Offense - 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 2 OT, 2 OG, 1 C

Defense - 2 DE, 2 DT, 3 LB, 2 CB, 2 S

Special Teams - 1 K, 1 P, 1 Returner

Coach - 1 Head Coach


2. I only considered an individual’s stats and contributions with each specific franchise. For example, Peyton Manning’s years with the Broncos were not considered when deciding on the starting QB of the Colts All-Time Team. As a result, the stats and awards listed with each individual player are only those that were achieved with that specific franchise.


3. A player cannot represent two teams as the starter. Players who spent time with more than one team were considered for the franchise they spent the most time with or had the most impact on. This rule led to some interesting scenarios that I will discuss in detail with each specific article to try and clear up any confusion.


4. A player’s stats and impact were considered in context with their era. This won’t simply be a listing of who passed or ran for the most yards in franchise history.


5. All stats are from Pro-Football-Reference and through the 2021 season. I will also be counting sacks from 1960, though the NFL doesn't officially count sacks until 1982.


6. Players in the "Honorable Mentions" section are ordered by year. It's not an indication of where I believe they rank in franchise history.


Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it!


Dallas Cowboys All-Time Team


Franchise Information

First Season: 1960

Record: 538-403-6 (57.17 W-L%)

Playoff Record: 35-29

Super Bowls Won: 5 (1971, 1977, 1992, 1993 and 1995) (Lost in 1970, 1975 and 1978)

Passing Leader: Tony Romo 2,829/4,335 | 34,183 Yds | 248 TD

Rushing Leader: Emmitt Smith 4,052 Att | 17,162 Yds | 153 TD

Receiving Leader: Jason Witten 1,215 Rec | 12,977 Yds | 72 TD

Sack Leader: DeMarcus Ware 117 Sk

Interception Leader: Mel Renfro 52 Int

Scoring Leader: Emmitt Smith 986 Points

Winningest Coach: Tom Landry 250-162-6


QB: Roger Staubach (1969-1979)

Record: 85-29 | 57 Cmp% | 22,700 Yds | 153 TD | 109 Int | 2,264 Rush Yds | 20 Rush TD | Led League in TD 1973 (23) | Led League in Yds/A 1971 and 1973 (8.9, 8.5) | Led League in Rate 1971, 1973, 1978 and 1979 (104.8, 94.6, 84.9, 92.3) | 6x Pro-Bowl (71, 75, 76, 77, 78, 79) | 1971 Bert Bell | 1978 Walter Payton Man of the Year | 1971 and 1977 Super Bowl Champion | 1975 and 1978 NFC Champion | Hall of Fame All-1970s Team | Hall of Fame Class 1985


This one was easier than you might think. Roger Staubach is the greatest quarterback in Cowboys history, sorry Troy Aikman. Staubach gets the edge over Aikman for being the main offensive weapon for the Cowboys who made it to four Super Bowls in the 1970s, winning two. He led the NFL in touchdowns thrown in 1973, yards per attempt in 1971 and 1973 and quarterback rating in 1971, 1973, 1978 and 1979. Staubach was named the 1971 Bert Bell Player of the Year and the 1971 Super Bowl MVP. He was named to the Hall of Fame All-1970s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985. Aikman did win three Super Bowls and was a very good quarterback with the Cowboys, but Staubach was a much bigger factor in his team's success. For comparison, Staubach was in the top five in yards in six seasons, the top five in completions in four seasons and the top five in touchdowns in four seasons. Aikman was only top five in these categories once each, all in 1992. Also, don't forget that Staubach had to serve in Vietnam before playing in the NFL, so he was a 27-year-old rookie.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Don Meredith (1960-1968) | Record: 47-32-4 | 50.7 Cmp% | 17,199 Yds | 135 TD | 111 Int | 1,216 Rush Yds | 15 Rush TD | 3x Pro-Bowl (66, 67, 68) | 1966 Bert Bell

  2. Craig Morton (1965-1974) | 32-14-1 | 52.4 Cmp% | 10,279 Yds | 80 TD | 73 Int | 246 Rush Yds | 6 Rush TD | Led League in Yds/A 1969 and 1970 (8.7, 8.8) | 1970 NFC Champion

  3. Danny White (1976-1988) | Record: 62-30 | 59.7 Cmp% | 21,959 Yds | 155 TD | 132 Int | 482 Rush Yds | 8 Rush TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (82)

  4. Troy Aikman (1989-2000) | Record: 94-71 | 61.5 Cmp% | 32,942 Yds | 165 TD | 141 Int | 1,016 Rush Yds | 9 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 1993 (69.1) | 6x Pro-Bowl (91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96) | 1997 Walter Payton Man of the Year | 1992, 1993 and 1995 Super Bowl Champion | Hall of Fame Class 2006

  5. Tony Romo (2004-2016) | Record: 78-49 | 65.3 Cmp% | 34,183 Yds | 248 TD | 117 Int | 620 Rush Yds | 5 Rush TD | Led League in Cmp% 2014 (69.9) | Led League in Yds/A 2014 (8.5) | Led League in QB Rating 2014 (113.2) | 4x Pro-Bowl (06, 07, 09, 14)

  6. Dak Prescott (2016-Present) | Record: 53-32 | 66.6 Cmp% | 22,083 Yds | 143 TD | 50 Int | 1,460 Rush Yds | 25 Rush TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (16, 18) | 2016 Offensive Rookie of the Year


RB: Emmitt Smith (1990-2002)

4.2 Yds/A | 17,162 Yds | 153 TD | 486 Rec | 3,012 Rec Yds | 11 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995 (1,563, 1,713, 1,486, 1,773) | Led League in TD 1992, 1994 and 1995 (18, 21, 25) | Led League in Yds/A 1993 (5.3) | Led League in Yds/G 1992, 1993 and 1995 (107.1, 106.1, 110.8) | Led League in YScm 1993 and 1995 (1,900, 2,148) | Led League in RRTD 1992, 1994 and 1995 (19, 22, 25) | 8x Pro-Bowl (90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 98, 99) | 4x All-Pro (92, 93, 94, 95) | 1990 Offensive Rookie of the Year | 1993 MVP | 1993 Bert Bell | Hall of Fame All-1990s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2010


The NFL's all-time leading rusher is obviously the first running back for the All-Time Cowboys. Smith had an insane 11 straight 1,000-yard rushing seasons from 1991-2001, including leading the league in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1995. He also led the league in touchdowns three times, yards per attempt one time, yards per game three times, yards from scrimmage two times and rushing and receiving touchdowns three times. Smith made eight Pro-Bowls, four All-Pro Teams, and was named the 1990 Offensive Rookie of the Year and the 1993 MVP. He was also named to the Hall of Fame All-1990s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Smith is one of the greatest running backs of all-time and may be the most durable back ever. Smith only missed six games in his 13 years in Dallas and that's while having over 300 carries in seven different seasons.


RB: Tony Dorsett (1977-1987)

4.4 Yds/A | 12,036 Yds | 72 TD | 382 Rec | 3,432 Rec Yds | 13 Rec TD | 4x Pro-Bowl (78, 81, 82, 83) | 1x All-Pro (81) | 1977 Offensive Rookie of the Year | Hall of Fame Class 1994


Tony Dorsett rounds out one of the best running back duos of all the all-time teams. Dorsett has over 12,000 yards with the Cowboys to go along with Smith's 17,000. He had eight different 1,000-yard seasons in Dallas, including over 1,600 yards in 1981. He also had over 10 touchdowns in two seasons as well. Dorsett was named to four Pro-Bowls and one All-Pro Team as well as being named the 1977 Offensive Rookie of the Year. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994.


Honorable Mentions

  1. Don Perkins (1961-1968) | 4.1 Yds/A | 6,217 Yds | 42 TD | 146 Rec | 1,310 Rec Yds | 3 Rec TD | 6x Pro-Bowl (61, 62, 63, 66, 67, 68) | 1x All-Pro (62)

  2. Walt Garrison (1966-1974) | 4.3 Yds/A | 3,886 Yds | 30 TD | 182 Rec | 1,794 Rec Yds | 9 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (72)

  3. Calvin Hill (1969-1974) | 4.3 Yds/A | 5,009 Yds | 39 TD | 139 Rec | 1,359 Rec Yds | 6 Rec TD | 4x Pro-Bowl (69, 72, 73, 74) | 1x All-Pro (69) | 1969 Offensive Rookie of the Year

  4. Robert Newhouse (1972-1983) | 4.1 Yds/A | 4,784 Yds | 31 TD | 120 Rec | 956 Rec Yds | 5 Rec TD

  5. Herschel Walker (1986-1989, 1996-1997) | 4.3 Yds/A | 3,491 Yds | 27 TD | 232 Rec | 2,556 Rec Yds | 8 Rec TD | Led League in YScm 1987 (1,600) | Led League in Yds/Rec 1986 (6.9) | 2x Pro-Bowl (87, 88)

  6. Daryl Johnston (1989-1999) | 3.2 Yds/A | 753 Yds | 8 TD | 294 Rec | 2,227 Rec Yds | 14 Rec TD | 2x Pro-Bowl (93, 94)

  7. Marion Barber (2005-2010) | 4.2 Yds/A | 4,358 Yds | 47 TD | 174 Rec | 1,280 Rec Yds | 6 Rec TD | 1x Pro-Bowl (07)

  8. DeMarco Murray (2011-2014) | 4.8 Yds/A | 4,526 Yds | 28 TD | 171 Rec | 1,200 Rec Yds | 1 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 2014 (1,845) | Led League in TD 2014 (13) | Led League in Yds/G 2014 (115.3) | Led League in YScm 2014 (2,261) | 2x Pro-Bowl (13, 14) | 1x All-Pro (14) | 2014 Offensive Player of the Year

  9. Ezekiel Elliott (2016-Present) | 4.5 Yds/A | 7,386 Yds | 56 TD | 288 Rec | 2,244 Rec Yds | 12 Rec TD | Led League in Yds 2016 and 2018 (1,631, 1,434) | Led League in Yds/G 2016, 2017, and 2018 (108.7, 98.3, 95.6) | 3x Pro-Bowl (16, 18, 19) | 1x All-Pro (16)


WR: Michael Irvin (1988-1999)

750 Rec | 11,904 Yds | 65 TD | Led League in Yds 1991 (1,523) | Led League in Yds/G 1991 and 1996 (95.2, 87.5) | 5x Pro-Bowl (91, 92, 93, 94, 95) | 1x All-Pro (91) | Hall of Fame All-1990s | Hall of Fame Class 2007


The first of three Hall of Fame wide receivers for the Cowboys is Michael Irvin. Irvin was the main receiving threat for the great Cowboy teams of the 1990s that won three Super Bowls. Irvin had six seasons over 1,000 yards, including leading the league in 1991 with 1,523. He was named to five straight Pro-Bowls from 1991-1995 and the 1991 All-Pro Team. Irvin was also named to the Hall of Fame All-1990s Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. His 11,904 yards rank second all-time in Cowboys history and he's easily the greatest wide receiver to ever wear a Cowboys uniform.


WR: Drew Pearson (1973-1983)

489 Rec | 7,822 Yds | 48 TD | Led League in Yds 1977 (870) | Led League in Yds/G 1977 (62.1) | 3x Pro-Bowl (74, 76, 77) | 3x All-Pro (74, 76, 77) | Hall of Fame All-1970s Team | Hall of Fame Class 2021


Drew Pearson finally made it into the Hall of Fame in 2021. He had to wait much longer than he should have. Pearson was the first great Cowboy to wear the number 88 and was a threat to take the top off the defense at any moment. Pearson had over 1,000 yards twice and led the league in yards in 1977. He averaged over 16 yards per reception for his career and was named to three Pro-Bowls and three All-Pro Teams. He was also named to the Hall of Fame All-1970s Team. Pearson was also the receiver on the first official Hail Mary in NFL history. I don't know what took Hall of Fame voters so long to induct him, but it's better late than never.


WR: Bob Hayes (1965-1974)

365 Rec | 7,295 Yds | 71 TD | Led League in Yds/Rec 1970 and 1971 (26.1, 24) | Led League in TD 1965 and 1966 (12, 13) | 3x Pro-Bowl (65, 66, 67) | 2x All-Pro (66, 68) | Hall of Fame Class 2009


Rounding out the receiving core is "Bullet" Bob Hayes. Hayes got the nickname bullet because he was the fastest man in the league, actually the fastest man in the world. He won the gold medal in the 100m and the 4x100m at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, both in world record times. He was arguably the best deep threat wide receiver of his era as he averaged over 20 yards per reception on his