In this series, we’re rating the greatest, or most memorable, Cowboys of all time at each number available. That’s right, from one to 99, multiple Cowboys have occupied those jersey numbers. We’re not interested in what these players did in their careers, just how they performed while they were a part of “America’s Team”. In doing research for this, you find that it’s fun because of how much of a mixed bag it truly is. In turn, some numbers have a strong lineage of great football careers that make it hard to choose and others make you question whether that number needs a winner. Either way, it’s great for offseason fodder before we gear up for OTA’s and training camps.
Number 31: Roy Williams, SS, 2002-2007
Analysis: The only other consideration here could have been Benny Barnes who played defensive back from 1972-1982 and won a Super Bowl, but Williams has the better overall career. Williams played seven years for the Cowboys, starting 95 of 98 games, recorded 414 tackles, 19 interceptions, nine forced fumbles, 6.5 sacks, and three pick-sixes. In his time, he was an All-Pro safety and a five-time Pro Bowler. He may not have been the best guy in coverage all the time but he was a darn good player for six of his seven seasons in Dallas.
Number 32: Walt Garrison, FB, 1966-1974
Analysis: Consideration was given for Dennis Thurman (1978-1985) who had 36 career interceptions but he only started three seasons in his eight years in Dallas. Orlando Scandrick may be the best fifth-rounder the Cowboys ever had but Walt Garrison is the winner at number 32. Garrison spent his entire career in Dallas, appearing in 119 games as a fullback and kick returner. Garrison had 899 attempts for 3,886 rushing yards and 30 rushing touchdowns. He also contributed 1,794 receiving yards and nine touchdowns through the air. Garrison was part of the Cowboys’ first Super Bowl championship team and made the 1972 Pro Bowl.
Number 33: Tony Dorsett, RB, 1977-1987
Analysis: Is there really anybody else? The answer is obvious as Tony “TD” Dorsett is one of those legendary Cowboys that will always be one of the greats. He started 139 games, rushed 2,755 times for 12,036 yards, and 72 touchdowns. Through the air, he had 382 receptions for 3.482 yards and 13 touchdowns. In his rookie season, Dorsett won both AP’s Rookie of the Year and the Super Bowl. He was a four-time Pro Bowler, an All-Pro in 1981, plus he was inducted into the 1994 Pro Football Hall of Fame and Cowboys Ring of Honor.
Number 34: Cornell Green, DB, 1962-1974
Analysis: This one was a little difficult as Herschel Walker deserves some consideration but his most important contribution as a Cowboy came from when he was traded. Green gets the nod for us here because his longevity was amazing playing 13 years, all with the Cowboys. Green started 171 of 182 total games, he amassed 34 career picks for 552 return yards and two scores. He was also part of the franchise’s first Super Bowl championship team, was an three-time All-Pro, and five-time Pro Bowler.
Number 35: Calvin Hill, RB, 1969-1974
Analysis: Hill played just six seasons for the Cowboys but he was an integral part of their first championship team. He was selected 24th overall in the 1969 NFL Draft. Hill started 69 of 73 games as a Cowboy, rushing 1,166 times for 5,009 yards and 39 touchdowns. He also contributed 1,359 receiving yards on 139 receptions with six touchdown catches. He was the 1969 Rookie of the Year, an All-Pro selection, and four-time Pro Bowler.
Number 36: Vince Albritton, SS, 1984-1991
Analysis: The number 36 isn’t the most successful in this bunch as it goes to a relatively forgotten player during a dark period for Cowboys’ fans. Still, an eight-year career (86 total games) in the NFL is nothing to scoff at as Albritton’s career lasted longer than the norm. He was an UDFA for the Cowboys that just had a lot of trouble staying off the injured reserve list. Albritton was named the Cowboys Special Teams Player of the Year in 1987. He was able to beat out Bill Bates for the starting strong safety position in 1989 when he started all 16 games with little fanfare. He made only 27 career starts, has one career interception, seven fumble recoveries, and three sacks.
Number 37: James Washington, DB, 1990-1994
Analysis: Washington really is the only memorable Cowboys player to do anything with number 37. He was a former fifth-round pick for the Rams but was a Cowboys’ plan B free agent pickup in 1990. Plan B free agency was a program that only lasted a few NFL seasons and was terminated in 1992. Washington ended up paying off as he started 58 games at various safety positions. Washington became well-known because his hard-hitting nature earned him the nickname “Drive-By”. He recorded 377 tackles, 14 interceptions, and two forced fumbles. Washington won two Super Bowls as a member of the Cowboys before moving on to the Redskins in 1995.
Number 38: Jeff Heath, DB, 2013-Present
Analysis: Roy Williams wore 38 for one season but it was his last in Dallas and was riddled by injury. That only leaves one guy to take the crown and that’s the G.O.A.T. himself, Jeff Heath. He was thrust into a starting role way to early as a rookie and was abused by phenoms like Megatron but he did have an interceptions with 47 tackles. The next three seasons would see Heath as the Cowboys special teams ace and backup safety. Heath made plays when he got his opportunities, picking off Jameis Winston three times in two seasons and forcing a fumble.
Last season, Heath started 15 games, recorded 55 tackles, five pass deflections, three picks, and two forced fumbles. He’s got a bit of a reputation as a closer as he waits for the biggest moments of the game to make an impact. Last season, his speed caught up with Derek Carr on what should have been a walk-in touchdown to beat the Cowboys. Heath literally saved the day for the Cowboys, keeping their playoff hopes alive.
Number 39: Brandon Carr, CB, 2012-2016
Analysis: In many fans eyes, Carr will never live up to the contract he was paid but you can’t dismiss his best quality and that’s availability. He started all 80 games he appeared in as a Cowboy and got off to a great start. In his first two seasons, he recorded 108 tackles, 24 pass deflections, six interceptions, and two pick-sixes. Over the next three seasons, Carr would go pick-less in two before snagging one in 2016. Car recorded 275 tackles, 48 pass deflections, and seven interceptions in five seasons with the Cowboys.
Number 40: Bill Bates, SS, 1983-1997
Analysis: Bates is one of the most beloved Cowboys of the 90’s dynasty teams. He suffered through tough losses of the 1980’s but became one of the few holdovers from those teams to the Jimmy Johnson era. Bates only started 47 career games all before Johnson was even the coach but he played with an intensity that impressed Johnson. Bates contributed as a backup safety and special teams star, playing in 217 career games as a Cowboy. Bates recorded 667 tackles, 18 sacks, and 14 interceptions in his 15 NFL seasons. He won three Super Bowls, was 1984’s Special Teams Player of the Year, was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler.