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What’s the greatest individual number in Dallas Cowboys history?

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Who’s number one? Surely not #1.

Emmitt Smith

You may have noticed over this offseason that BTB’s own Michael Sisemore has been walking us down memory lane while chronicling the greatest Cowboys to wear each jersey number.

It’s fun to debate who the best is at each individual number, but what if we pitted those collections against one another? What if it was a battle to be the best number collectively?

Imagine each and every number was thrown into a ring. Which one has the largest legacy through all the players (or at least the legendary ones) that have worn it?

Here are the contenders.

70: Not quite elite yet, but one day it could be special

The Big Cat (shout out to the older members here at BTB) once donned the number 70 for the Dallas Cowboys. If you’re unaware, I’m talking about Rayfield Wright.

If a number belonged to a player in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s worth considering as the greatest ever. Obviously it only has Rayfield as its claim presently, but Zack Martin is making quite a run at this thing.

It’s not hyperbole to say that Martin could also one day wind up in Canton. He’s on the best path you can be four seasons in, he’s literally always been an All-Pro.

Number 70 isn’t in the “greatest of” conversation quite yet, but it’s warming up. Keep your eye on it.

74: Bob Lilly doesn’t need help

There is only one person that has ever worn the number 74 in regular season action for the Dallas Cowboys, Mr. Cowboy himself, Bob Lilly.

Sometimes players are given 74 during this time of the year, the offseason and general dead period, but it’s somewhat of a kiss of death. If you’re wearing 74, your odds of making the 53-man roster likely aren’t good. Obviously there are exceptions, but they change numbers.

74 is a fantastic number in Dallas Cowboys lore, but the reality is it loses to numbers with more total greatness.

88: The trinity

There’s an argument that this is the greatest number in Cowboys history, but obviously this is my total argument and my argument is that this is ultimately the second-best.

For the purposes of how 88 is regarded we’re only including Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin, and Dez Bryant. If there really were a “Club 88” they would be the sole three members.

Consider the career résumé that 88 has with these musketeers. It’s astonishing.

  • 428 games
  • 1,770 receptions
  • 27,185 yards
  • 186 touchdowns
  • 11 Pro Bowl appearances
  • 5 First-Team All-Pro selections
  • 4 Super Bowl rings
  • 2 Ring of Honor presences
  • 1 Hall of Fame enshrinement

There’s no denying that this number brings with it an incredible legacy. All three players are legends within America’s Team, but unfortunately that’s where the number falls short.

You can (we all have) make a legitimate argument that Drew Pearson belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. For all we know, he’ll eventually get in. That would up 88’s credibility and possibly put it over the edge; however, for now there’s only one gold jacket here.

As of now it’s unlikely Dez Bryant will ever end up in Canton, but his place in Cowboys history is cemented forever, he’s the team’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns for crying out loud.

This is an elite number, but there’s an even more elite one that takes the cake as number one.

22: Two Hall of Famers, Bob Hayes and Emmitt Smith

If I really wanted to I could list the career résumé of number 22 just like I did for the number four times its literal value, but there’s only one number that matters here. Two.

Two different players have worn this number and earned a bust in football’s hallowed halls. Two! That’s two completely different players and two completely different careers that have each been deemed to be among the finest to ever play the game. Talk about a number (and a reason for why 70 is worth monitoring).

Additionally, 88 may bring with it the team’s all-time receiving touchdowns record, but 22 has the record of all records. The NFL’s all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith wore this number in this club.

It’s a great problem to have multiple great numbers in Dallas Cowboys history duking it out to be the best of the best, but there can only be one winner. Shout out to you, 22.