IRVING, Texas – Bradie James has retired with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys announced Tuesday they signed the former Dallas defensive captain, allowing James to officially retire with the team he played with for nine of his 10 NFL seasons.
“It’s just awesome,” James said. “It’s fitting. Thankful for just the experience and the journey that I had here. It was fun. We did our best, and we put it all on the line. To have an opportunity to come back and be regarded and retire as a Cowboy is just a dream come true.”
James, who led the Cowboys in combined tackles six straight seasons from 2005-10, was drafted by Dallas in the fourth round in 2003. He notched six consecutive 100-tackle seasons and tallied 1,009 tackles in his nine years in Dallas, making him the sixth Cowboys played to top the 1,000-tackle mark.
More so than the stats, though, Jones remembers the attitude and leadership James brought the most.
“He was able to take his gifts, what he could bring, and he certainly made some great plays for us, but I think mainly his leadership – I always felt that we had a really top-flight, not only an individual, but we had a player that gave it everything he had whenever he played,” Jones said. “There was never a doubt about that.”
James’ streak of six straight seasons as the leading tackler is the longest in franchise history. Prior to that, no other Cowboys player had led the team in tackles for more than three straight seasons.
Perhaps just as remarkable as his tackling streak was the fact that he was so durable while playing middle linebacker for so long. The accountable defender played in all 16 games in each of his final eight seasons with the Cowboys after his rookie year, spanning a total of 128 games.
James ranks second and third on the Cowboys’ all-time list for most combined tackles in a season, compiling 202 in 2008 and 181 in 2009. He trailed only Eugene Lockhart, who recorded 222 in 1989. James also has the most assisted tackles in a season in Cowboys history with 117 in 2008.
The former linebacker joins a list of players that includes Emmitt Smith, Larry Allen and Mark Colombo who returned to the Cowboys to retire.
“This game, it attracts some of the most competitive people in the world,” James said. “I’ve had an opportunity to play with a lot of different types of characters, different people, build a lot of relationships. Those will be some of the things that I’ll miss.
“Also, this game, what it does, I don’t know if I can ever replicate the immediate satisfaction or result as far as winning and losing – the triumph of winning, it’s unbelievable, and the agony of losing is just as gut-wrenching, just in a different way – those are some things I know I won’t be able to duplicate in that certain fashion.”
James said he’s ready to turn the page and accept his next challenge, though he tells people all the time he’s not sure what it is he likes to do, since he’s been playing football for so long. One thing that he’s certain about is he looks forward to being able to raise his kids the right way as he prepares for life after the NFL.
“I’ve got to thank the Jones family for providing me the opportunity to do something that I just absolutely love,” James said. “It’s been great.”