11 seasons. Only Harvey Martin led for more with seven. Ellis led the club in sacks or tied for the lead five straight seasons, matching Jethro Pugh's mark for most consecutive seasons leading the club in sacks. And since sacks became an official stat in 1982, the Cowboys' only linebacker with more single-season sacks than Ellis' 12½ in 2007 (missing three games to start the season) is DeMarcus Ware with 14 that year and 20 this past season.
Someone said the other day Ellis only had eight sacks in 2008. Only? Yeah, well, other than Ware, got anyone else on this team who will guarantee you eights sacks this year?
Someone surely will say Ellis finishes his Cowboys career with only 77 sacks. Since sacks became an official stat in 1982, he ranks behind only Jim Jeffcoat (94½ in 12 seasons). And all I know is 57½ of Ellis' sacks came in the past seven seasons, with one of those cut short seven games with the torn Achilles (2006).
That's 8.8 sacks a season if you count 2006 a half. That's consistency, especially for a guy playing on the strong side, either end or outside linebacker, for nearly all of his career, where stopping the run always was his first consideration.
That should be Ellis' legacy here and not the one placed on him by the uninformed, always wanting to throw up at him, "Well, he was no Randy Moss."
No, he wasn't a six-time Pro Bowler or arguably the best at his position over that decade-plus. But he wasn't a pain in the ass, either, no matter what you think, and he played for just one team. Amazing to me how a guy can be as good as Moss and on his third team.
But for those in need of perspective, thanks to Michael Irvin's off-field problems, the team's swirling suspensions and other forays onto the police blotters and front two sections of the newspapers, the Cowboys were at the time in need of serious scrubbing. They could not, with the eighth pick in the draft, take a chance on a guy who needed three colleges to make his way into the NFL, and at that had to finish out at Marshall - one of the few places willing to give the guy with a troubling past another chance. They could not gamble on a bad character with a troubled past.
So the Cowboys, for those with revisionist history ailments, selected Ellis with the eighth pick. Yep eighth, not first, since everyone is quick to point out the Cowboys passed on Randy Moss. Yep, they did, and so did the seven teams picking ahead of them, and the 12 teams picking immediately behind them until Minnesota rolled the dice at 21 for Moss. But no one points out how the Bears passed on Randy Moss or how the Patriots passed on Randy Moss or how the Panthers passed on Randy Moss.
You'd have thought the Cowboys had the first pick in the draft that year and Moss went No. 2.
But let me make this argument to you: With the eighth pick, the Cowboys selected one of the top four players in the top 10 that year, judging from how those 10 careers panned out. I've got Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Fred Taylor and Greg Ellis.
The other six?
Why they were, in order, Ryan Leaf, Andre Wadsworth, Curtis Enis, Grant Wistrom, Kyle Turley and Duane Starks. You think the Chargers (Leaf) and the Bears (Enis) would like do-overs?
So as Nate Newton might say, ya'll be kind to Greg Ellis' memory. He was exactly what this organization needed at the precise time. He has been a kind, caring soul in the community, just a few weeks ago helping to spearhead the fundraiser for injured scouting assistant Rich Behm at Michael Irvin's 4th And Long premiere party.
And he has been the live oak Ware needed to lean on when arriving in 2005, even though the young whipper-snapper would become a threat to his longevity with the Cowboys. He is that kind of guy.
And believe me, due every bit of this for a job well done.