IRVING, Texas – For those fortunate enough to have NFL Network among their channel lineup, they've been treated to a plethora of Dallas Cowboys coverage the last few days as part of the network's running series of "Dynasty Week."
Archived games, documentaries, opinionated lists and anything else Cowboys have been featured over the past few days.
So at DallasCowboys.com, we thought we would weigh with some historical relevance as well. As a staff, we've come up with the Cowboys' all-time Two-Deep roster, featuring the starters and backups for each position on offense, defense and even special teams.
Some of the starting spots were rather difficult to pick and most certainly will stir up some debate:
Quarterback: Roger StaubachWhile Aikman rarely takes a backseat to anyone, and did lead the franchise to three Super Bowls, Staubach helped epitomize a franchise that was never out of any game. Staubach was "Captain Comeback" for America's Team and will always be revered as arguably the greatest player in Cowboys history.
Backup: Troy Aikman
Running Back: Emmitt Smith
*No debate here. Smith is the NFL's all-time leading rusher and the 1993 season proved the Cowboys simply weren't the same without their workhorse back, as he returned from a two-week contract holdout to lead the league in rushing and claim the NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP honors.
*Backup: Tony Dorsett **
Fullback: Robert NewhouseThis was probably the toughest call to make, but the consensus was Newhouse was just an overall better player who could help in different ways. He played some tailback before Dorsett arrived and he was running down on kickoffs 13 years into his career. "Moose" was a very close second but Newhouse's versatility won out.
*Backup: Daryl Johnston *
Wide Receivers: Drew Pearson, Michael IrvinThere are lots of 88s on this squad. Irvin was the "playmaker" and heart and soul of the Cowboys' dynasty teams of the 1990s. If Staubach was Captain Comeback, someone had to be on the other end and most of the time it was Pearson. Hayes is a close second, and we went with the young guy in Dez as the backup, knowing that more established players like Tony Hill have more stats. When it's all said and done, though, Dez might be worthy of a Top-2 spot.
*Backups: Bob Hayes, Dez Bryant *
Tight End: Jason WittenAnother pretty simple answer. Witten is one of the NFL's most complete tight ends and has been since his second year in the league in 2004. Billy Joe DuPree once said Witten is Jay Novacek, Billy Joe DuPree and Doug Cosbie "all rolled up into one player."
Backup: Jay Novacek
Center: Mark Stepnoski *This was a close race with multiple candidates vying for the spot. In the end, maybe Stepnoski had better players around him, but no one used technique better than this Pro Bowl center, who just edged out Andre Gurode and Tom Rafferty.
*Backup: Andre Gurode
Offensive Tackles: Rayfield Wright, Erik WilliamsThe first great offensive tackle in Cowboys history was a completely dominating force who protected Staubach's blindside. Wright is an easy choice, but Williams might have been the best to ever play had it not been for an automobile accident that limited him in his later years. Adams quietly made five Pro Bowls and Tuinei was one of those "glue" players who held it all together.
Backup: Flozell Adams, Mark Tuinei
Guards: Larry Allen, John NilandOne of the most dominating players in NFL history, Allen makes this list with ease. Picking Niland over Newton was a tougher call, but he was one of the Cowboys' first great interior players who made six straight Pro Bowls from 1968-73.
Backups: Nate Newton, Ralph Neely
Defensive Ends: Harvey Martin, Charles HaleyIn this 4-3 scheme, we've found a spot for DeMarcus Ware. But Martin and Haley played the defensive end spot as well as anyone, creating havoc for opposing quarterbacks and offensive tackles for years. Ed Jones was a close second, especially the way he teamed up with Martin, but it's hard to ignore what Haley did for a young defense in the early 1990s when he arrived.
Backups: Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Jim Jeffcoat
Defensive Tackles: Bob Lilly, Randy WhiteFind a better duo of tackles from any team. You've got "Mr. Cowboy" and the "Manster" here in Dallas, a center and guard's worst nightmare. While it's a big drop-off to the second-team, Glover is the only player in franchise history to make multiple Pro Bowls in every year of his time with Dallas.
Backups: La'Roi Glover, Jethro Pugh
Outside Linebackers: DeMarcus Ware, Chuck HowleyWhile Ware played OLB in a 3-4, he could handle this position here, especially playing behind that foursome. Ware is one of the more versatile players in franchise history and had the flexibility to play just about anywhere. It's not why he's on the list, but Howley remains the only player in Super Bowl history to win the MVP award from a losing team.
Backup: Dexter Coakley, D.D. Lewis
Middle Linebacker: Lee Roy JordanAnother easy call here. Jordan was the man in the middle of those Doomsday Defenses and was often called one of the toughest players in franchise history. Breunig was an underrated player for many years and narrowly edged out Ken Norton Jr. for the backup spot.
Backup: Bob Breunig
Cornerbacks: Deion Sanders, Mel RenfroFor those who don't think Sanders belongs on this list, get over it. He's the best cornerback in NFL history and started more games in Dallas than he did for any other team. Renfro could've been on this list as a safety or return specialist as well.
Backups: Everson Walls, Cornell Green
Safeties: Cliff Harris, Darren WoodsonHard to beat this duo of safeties. Harris teamed up with Charlie Waters for many seasons, but he'll have an even better, more versatile player in Woodson, who could line up in the slot and cover receivers. While his career ended on more of a sour note, Williams made five Pro Bowls, tying him with Woodson.
Backups: Charlie Waters, Roy Williams [embedded_ad]
Punter: Mat McBriarHe's not a clear-cut pick over Danny White or Mike Saxon, but McBriar's one season in 2009 was better than any punter in franchise history. That gave him the edge over the rest. Plus, you won't find a better guy for the locker room than the easy-going Australian.
Kicker: Dan BaileyIn just three years, no kicker has been as consistent as Bailey, and no one has made more game-winners. In this parity-stricken league where all games come down to the wire, Bailey is the one reason the Cowboys have managed to stay at 8-8. He is as clutch as it gets, and despite his youth, he's a perfect fit for this all-time team – a team that probably wouldn't be settling for many field goals anyway. * *
Special Teamer: Bill BatesFor the guy who helped create the position in the Pro Bowl, Bates was one of the first great special teams player in not only Cowboys history, but the league as well. Never the fastest or biggest, he found a way to get down the field quicker than anyone. Kenny Gant and Keith Davis were both great as well, but Bates was a pioneer of sorts.