Not so much the 53 best players in club history, DallasCowboys.com has constructed the ultimate team, filling out the depth chart and making room for contributors at every position, including special teams, while at the same time looking ahead to how this year's 53-man roster might shake out.
The series continues today with 1992 and pass rusher Charles Haley:
College: James Madison
Cowboys Tenure: 1992-1996
Why Him? Haley was impactful enough to warrant selection on an all-time 49ers roster, too. He played eight years in San Francisco, starting and finishing his career there after briefly retiring in 1997 due to a back injury. But his contributions to the Cowboys in only a six-year span earned him induction last fall into the team's prestigious Ring of Honor. Although Haley was criticized at times throughout his career for clashes with teammates, coaches and media – he has discussed his battle with bipolar disorder in interviews – he is remembered more for being the final link to the Cowboys' dominating defense of the 1990s. Acquired in a trade just before the 1992 season, Haley brought a fearsome pass rush (100.5 career sacks) and veteran presence to the young but gifted group. The '90s Cowboys won their first of three Super Bowls in '92, blowing out the Bills, 52-17, in a game that turned when Haley sacked Jim Kelly and forced a fumble that led to a touchdown and a Dallas lead. Haley was a starter on all three championship teams and collected five rings with the Cowboys and 49ers, the most by a player in NFL history. He made Pro Bowls as the Cowboys' sack leader in 1994 (12.5) and 1995 (10.5).
The Role:Haley was known best as a defensive end during his career, including his time in Dallas, but on our Ultimate 53 roster he will start at outside linebacker. He actually began his career as an outside linebacker in San Francisco, so his experience as a stand-up defender is a benefit. His biggest asset, though, is getting to the quarterback.
Back To The Future:There is a certain symmetry to watching Haley offer advice to DeMarcus Ware and the Cowboys' other pass rushers these days. A welcome visitor to Valley Ranch, Haley is passing his knowledge of technique and rush moves to today's most dominant sack artist. Ware is already approaching 100 career sacks himself as the focal point and leader of the current defense.