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17) Will Harris Have Unique Place Like Others To Wear 17?

Posted Jul 4, 2013


IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is still in sight.

Coming off two straight 8-8 seasons and three full seasons removed from the playoffs, the Cowboys have plenty of question marks surrounding them as they prepare for the 2013 season.

As we count down the days to camp, the writers of DallasCowboys.com will take a different question each day that is hovering over this team.

With 17 days until the Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., today’s question centers on the history of the jersey No. 17 in Cowboys history – from past to present.

17) Will Harris Have Unique Place Like Others To Wear 17?

Around the league, the jersey No. 17 isn’t the most prominent jersey number and never really has been. Philip Rivers is probably the best player in the NFL to currently wear number.

But when it comes to the Cowboys, the No. 17 has a unique place in franchise history. Not always worn by the best player or the star athlete, but it seems like the guys who have worn it in the past, have quite a story that goes along with their time in Dallas.

Think about the No. 17 real quick. And in Cowboys history, here’s what you’ve got:

  • The first quarterback to be inducted into the Ring of Honor.
  • The first Cowboys player to become head coach of the team.
  • The first quarterback to lead his team to the playoffs and get released in training camp the following year.
  • A special teams captain and one of the more respected players on the team who later went to the Bears and was arrested on federal drug charges.
  • And if that’s enough, arguably the greatest player who ever wore No. 17 for the Cowboys is a player most people never even knew finished his career in Dallas.

Yeah, whether you’re talking about Don Meredith, Jason Garrett, Quincy Carter, Sam Hurd or Harold Carmichael, who was a superb receiver for the Eagles, it appears No. 17 has a unique place in Cowboys history.

So you have to ask where if Dwayne Harris will leave some kind of mark. If he does, it will probably be as a returner. Harris ranked second in the NFL last year with a 16.1 yard punt return average. His runbacks were not only stellar, but timely in games against the Eagles and Steelers.

While he might not beat out rookie Terrance Williams as the No. 3 receiver, Harris showed late last year he can be effective on offense and special teams.

Right now, he’s just a third-year receiver looking to contribute. But based on the other players who have donned No. 17 over the years, history suggests Harris will have a lasting impression on this franchise one way or another.

Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 17:

  • Emmitt Smith was the 17th overall player drafted in the 1990 draft. The Cowboys forfeited the No. 1 overall pick that year because they drafted Steve Walsh in the NFL Supplemental Draft the year before. However, Smith more than made up for it.
  • The Cowboys also drafted 17th overall three other times, taking Mel Renfro in 1964, Kevin Smith in 1992, and Kevin Brooks in 1985.
  • With three 100-yard games in 2012, tight end Jason Witten now has 17 games in his career with triple-digit receiving yards. That’s good for fifth-most in Cowboys history behind Michael Irvin (47), Tony Hill (26), Bob Hayes (21) and Drew Pearson (19).
  • Emmitt Smith and Tony Dorsett both played in 17 career playoff games. The Cowboys were 10-7 in those games with Dorsett and 12-5 with Smith.
  • DeMarco Murray is currently 17th on the Cowboys’ all-time rushing list with 1,560 yards. If he can produce the team’s first 1,000-yard rushing season since 2006, Murray would elevate himself to at least 11th in franchise history.
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