It’s a question that comes up quite often – “Who’s your favorite player?” And it’s a question that never gets any easier to answer. As a fan for over 35 years, there is such a large pool of Cowboys players to choose from. Fans of the New England Patriots don’t have that problem. Nobody ever has a tough decision between Tom Brady or Steve Grogan. But for Cowboys fans it’s much harder as the assortment of choices are plentiful.
At the top of most people’s list is Roger Staubach. He is “Captain America” after all. Staubach was a great playmaker for this team in the ‘70s and an all-around great guy to where even fans from other teams will acknowledge his greatness. That is a testament to how well respected he is. Some people have a favorite “Triplet” they love as all three of those guys are in the Hall of Fame and helped bring the Cowboys three Super Bowls in the ‘90s. Or maybe your favorite player is a guy currently on the team. While Tony Romo may not be on the roster next season, he will remain in our hearts forever. That is unless, he goes and plays for the Washington Redskins, but let’s try not to think about something like that. Maybe you love the ever-so-admired Jason Witten, whose had a career or reliability and great character follow him every step of the way. He will certainly have a gold jacket waiting for him later. Or maybe you are fond of one of the new guys like Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott. I mean, he jumped in the kettle! How do you not love that guy!
There are so many to choose from, which is why I can’t. It’s like picking a favorite child or favorite slice of bacon. You just can’t decide. And while I currently do not have a favorite Cowboys player, I did at one point.
The Origin of 24
My twitter handle is @dannyphantom24 and every once in a while someone will ask me about the reasoning behind the “24.” The answer is simple – it’s been my sports uniform number throughout my life. I carried it into adulthood as it’s my softball jersey number, city-league basketball number, etc.. My wife and kids have even adopted it throughout their sports careers as well. It’s our family number.
And while the answer is simple, the reasoning for it goes back a ways. When I was a kid, I moved around a lot, bouncing around from school to school. As a result, I didn’t have many friends. By the time I would be around long enough to make them, I’d be shipped off somewhere else having to start the entire process over again. One of the downsides of not having many friends was at recess time. Playing football was the one real treat for a kid in elementary school. Unfortunately, when you don’t have any friends, you don’t get picked for teams and when you do, nobody will ever throw you the ball. It was depressing.
I was an athletic little tyke. I wasn’t the best football player on the field, but I was one of the better ones. Even still, it was hard to ever see the ball. But I’m a problem-solver and figured out that if I wanted to get the ball that I would have to take matters in my own hands and pick off a pass. So my favorite position quickly became cornerback. I would sniff out who the main receiving targets were and line up against them. Even when I got stuck covering the daisy picker who had very little interest in playing, I would cheat off my assignment and jump routes to snag the interception. It was fantastic. Over time, other kids would see that I could play and I’d start getting passes thrown my way, but that would be short-lived because I would eventually move and have to start all over again.
With cornerback becoming my favorite position to play, I was fascinated by the Cowboys young corner, Everson Walls. In his rookie season, he only started 12 games, but still managed to pick off 11 passes! That’s remarkable. Walls became my first ever favorite player and he wore number 24.
Happy 57th birthday to former Dallas Cowboy CB Everson Walls. Undrafted FA, 3x-NFL Interception Leader. https://t.co/y15vwHkQJn— NeptuneGameTimeBryan (@BryanNeptune) December 28, 2016
What is very odd about the number 24 is that it would eventually be the same number of all of my favorite players for all three sports I love.
Disclaimer: I grew up in California so my first exposure to sports teams were teams from that state. That includes the San Francisco Giants (who were just dreadful back then) and the Los Angeles Lakers (who were exciting to watch back then). These aren’t Texas teams and are organizations that many of you may hate, but just remember – I made these choices as a young kid and I have never wavered on them. I stay true to the teams I support.
Fortunately for me, the San Francisco 49ers hadn’t become great yet as the Joe Montana era arrived shortly after I started following football. Whew, I dodged a big bullet there! Because of how terrible they were, the 49ers weren’t on television very much. But the Dallas Cowboys were and they were on a lot. Everything about them fascinated me – the colors, the star, the fedora, the stadium, and so many exciting players.
So when I first started having any type of interest in sports my favorite players were Everson Walls, Willie Mays, and Magic Johnson. Two of them wore the number 24.
Like I mentioned, my kids also took on my number 24 for their sports activities, however there was a point where my son chose to admire someone else more than his own father. When he played basketball at the age of 10, he swapped out number 24 for the number eight, because of his favorite player – Kobe Bryant. Sure, many of you reading this probably hate Kobe, but remember, we are die hard Lakers fans so just imagine I’m talking about Dirk Nowitzki and you’ll be able to relate. I didn’t really challenge my son on his decision because he’s allowed to have his own heroes, but also - I too loved Bryant. So number eight it was. It looked like that was going to be his number throughout his youth sports career when all of a sudden, out of the blue, Kobe changed his number. And he switched it to 24. What a weird coincidence. Clearly, that number was destined to stay with us.
I’ll admit, I own a Marion Barber jersey and I want so badly for things to work out for Morris Claiborne. Those numbers have a special meaning to me. But it all started with Everson Walls. While I have lots of favorite players over the years, you always remember your first.
Who was your first ever favorite Cowboys player?