IRVING, Texas – While the focus remains heavy on the draft and free agency, it won’t be too long before the Cowboys report to training camp in Oxnard, Calif.
It’ll be a longer camp and preseason this year with the Cowboys playing five exhibition games, including the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. That pushes up the start date to camp, meaning the pads will be coming on before too long.
So as we count down the days to camp, let’s take a light-hearted look at the significance of each number as we stroll through the years of Cowboys football, continuing today with No. 89.
- All Cowboys conversations about the number 89 should probably begin and end with Herschel Walker. The Cowboys’ do-everything back ended his stint in Dallas in 1989 with a measly total of 246 rushing yards after ripping off 1,514 yards the year before.
- Why is Walker’s departure of vast importance? His trade to Minnesota landed the Cowboys five players and six draft picks – four of which became Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, Russell Maryland and Kevin Smith. It’s not an exaggeration to say Walker’s departure in 1989 helped lay the foundation for the Cowboys’ dynasty of the 1990s.
- With that positive note out of the way, the rest of the Cowboys’ history with the number 89 is a bit bleak. The 1989 season was the worst in team history with their 15 losses being the most ever.
- As one might expect from such a lousy season, the Cowboys’ 204 points scored in 1989 is the lowest point total ever – an average of 12.7 points per game. The 321 first downs that the Cowboys’ defense allowed that year is also the worst-ever.
- If Cowboys fans think the running game has been bad in recent seasons, try 1989 on for size. Dallas scored just seven rushing touchdowns that year – fourth worst in team history. The defense’s 21 rushing touchdowns allowed is the second-worst mark ever. The Cowboy’s Sept. 10, 1989 opener against New Orleans saw them run the ball a mere 10 times in a 28-0 loss. That’s the fewest total rushes in franchise history for one game.
- All that misery on defense at least allowed for one or two milestones. With the Dallas defense spending an average of 34 minutes per game on the field, linebacker Eugene Lockhart was able to set the franchise record for both solo tackles in a season (154) and tackles in a game (16 on Oct. 29, 1989 against the Phoenix Cardinals).
- 1989 gave a brief look into a promising future, though. Freshman quarterback Troy Aikman set the rookie record for passing yards in a game with 379 against Phoenix. James Dixon also set the rookie record for total yardage, with 1,688 kick return yards and 477 rushing yards.
- On a happier note, 89 is also the number of Dallas’ longest playoff game kick return, which belongs to Rod Hill in a 37-26 win against Green Bay in the 1983 divisional round.
- Bob Hayes owns the longest reception in Cowboys history at 95 yards. His 89-yard hookup with Craig Morton against the Chiefs on Oct. 25, 1970, was good enough for fourth longest in team history.
- You’ve got to look at the tight end position for the best player to ever wear No. 89 for Dallas. Mike Ditka sported No. 89 for Dallas, but only for three seasons at the end of his career, so a fellow tight end, Billy Joe DuPree, gets the nod. DuPree played all 11 seasons of his career in Dallas after the Cowboys drafted him 20th overall in 1973. DuPree was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, and he helped Dallas to the Super Bowl XII title. He finished his career with 267 receptions for 3,565 yards and 41 touchdowns.