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 training camp.
Number 91: L.P. Ladouceur, LS, 2005-Present
Analysis: When you think of L.P., you think of impressive consistency, he’s literally been perfect. He’s never muffed a snap on almost 2,000 snaps in his career. He was finally invited to the Pro Bowl in 2014 and is now entering his 14th year in the NFL. Playing in 205 games, he’s the only player on the roster that has played in Texas Stadium, he’s the last player on the roster that played in the 2000’s decade as well as played for Bill Parcells. Perfection at longsnapper cannot be overstated.
Number 92: Tony Tolbert, DE, 1989-1997
Analysis: When he was drafted in the fourth round in 1989, it was considered a flyer move by the Cowboys as Tolbert was the exact definition of “tweener”. In his day, Tolbert (6’6, 268 lbs) was too slow to play linebacker but too light in weight to play defensive end. In his first two seasons, Tolbert played all 32 games but only had nine starts and eight sacks. Tolbert settled in at left defensive end and became the full-time starter in 1991 registering seven sacks, 73 tackles, and a fumble recovery. When Charles Haley was signed in 1992, he and Tolbert were off to the races, becoming one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL. Tolbert would go on to start 121 of 144 games at left end, recording 531 tackles. His 59 career sacks were more sacks than any pass rusher in the 1990’s dynasty. His best season was 1996, where he recorded 12 sacks while be selected to both the Pro Bowl and First-Team All-Pro team.
Number 93: Anthony Spencer, OLB, 2007-2014
Analysis: Being drafted in the first round made expectations for Anthony Spencer sky-high. Spencer was always looked at as the guy who needed to perform when DeMarcus Ware was on his opposite side taking on the doubles. Spencer earned the name “Almost Anthony” for his constant pressure, but failure to get sacks, averaging only four sacks per season through his first five seasons. Finally in 2012, Spencer hit the double-digit mark for sacks at 11 and earned his first Pro Bowl nomination. Spencer was franchise tagged twice by the Cowboys but unfortunately had micro-fracture surgery in 2013 and his career never truly recovered. He left the Cowboys after 2014 to sign with the Saints but never played a down and was released in October of 2015.
Number 94: DeMarcus Ware, OLB, 2005-2013
Analysis: Charles Haley won three championships and is a Hall of Famer but Ware left the Cowboys as the best pass rusher they ever had. Ware was selected 11th overall in 2005 much to the chagrin of Bill Parcells, who wanted Marcus Spears first. Luckily, the team ended up with both guys. Ware was an invaluable weapon for the defense for so many years even though most folks thought he was a tweener coming out of Troy. He started all 16 games as a rookie and recorded eight sacks. In 2006, Ware would start a seven-year run of going to the Pro Bowl and was a four-time First-Team All-Pro. He also had an eight-year run with double-digit sacks. Ware is tied with five other players for the most seasons leading the league in sacks. He’s one of three players to reach 10+ sacks in seven straight seasons with John Randle and Reggie White. Ware is second to White in reaching 100 sacks in the fastest time, doing so in his eighth season.
He owns the Cowboys record in most games with multiple sacks at 28 and has 32 career forced fumbles which also is a franchise record. Most importantly, Ware is the Cowboys career sack leader at 117. The only thing that’s painful is to know his lone Super Bowl win came with the Broncos. Still, Ware is the best Cowboy to ever do it and will most certainly be a Ring of Honor member as well as future Hall of Famer.
Number 95: Chad Hennings, DT, 1992-2000
Analysis: He was drafted by the Cowboys in the 11th round of the 1988 NFL Draft but had an eight-year commitment to serve in the U.S. Air Force. After the 1991 Gulf War concluded, sweeping budget cuts allowed Hennings to have his final four years of service waived. In 1992, Hennings returned to the Cowboys to begin his NFL career, he spent his first three seasons as a special-teamer and key reserve for their prominent pass rush. Hennings was a contributor to the Cowboys back-to-back titles of 1992-1993. In ‘95, Hennings earned seven starts in place for the suspended Leon Lett. The very next season he would replace Russell Maryland after he left to Oakland in free agency. Though he was never an All-Pro or Pro Bowler, Hennings play on the field was quite good and he was an exceptional leader in the locker room. He started 72 games out 112 appearance, recording 216 tackles, 27.5 sacks, six fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, and a defensive touchdown. Hennings was a contributor on all three of the Cowboys championship dynasty teams of the 1990’s.
Number 96: Marcus Spears, DE, 2005-2012
Analysis: Though Ebenezer Ekuban might be more memorable, that was because he became a first-round bust. Spears was the man that Parcells wanted more than anyone as a cornerstone to his switching of the defense to a 3-4 alignment. Thankfully, he was overruled by the Joneses to select DeMarcus Ware. Marcus Spears was still a perfect fit for what Parcells wanted to do and the Cowboys got him with their second first-round pick at 20th overall. Spears was asked to take on blockers and free up the linebackers to get to the quarterback. In eight seasons, he started 89 of 115 games played, battling through some injuries but recorded 236 combined tackles, 13 batted passes, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Spears never became a Pro Bowler but he was solid for his role.
Number 97: La’Roi Glover, DT, 2002-2005
Analysis: No offense to Jason Hatcher, who spent seven seasons with the team but Glover is one of the best free agent signings the Dallas Cowboys ever made. They swooped in to sign Glover on a multi-year deal after two straight 5-11 seasons. He stepped right in and showed the Cowboys that he was among the best defensive tackles in the league. Glover is the only Cowboys player to make the Pro Bowl in his first four seasons with the organization. Glover only spent four seasons in Dallas but he appeared in all 64 games, recording 160 tackles, 21.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, two recoveries, three batted passes, and a safety. Glover was a two-time First-Team All-Pro in 2002 and 2003, he also was voted to the 2000’s All-Decade team.
Number 98: Greg Ellis, DE, 1998-2008
Analysis: Even though he was a decent player, Greg Ellis will always remind Cowboys fans that they passed on Randy Moss for him at eighth overall in the ‘98 Draft. Ellis would start 155 of 162 total games on the left and right side. Ellis produced year-in and year-out but was never the devastating pass rusher they wanted. In 2006, Parcells moved him out of position to 3-4 outside linebacker. He would only play nine games, producing 4.5 sacks before rupturing his Achille tendon, ending his season. His best season came one year later as Ellis started 10 games and recorded 12.5 sacks. He made his only Pro Bowl that year and was also named the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year. Though he started every game of 2008 and recorded eight sacks, he was post-June 1 cut in 2009. In 11 seasons, he racked up 372 tackles, 77 sacks, and four interceptions.
Number 99: Chris Canty, DE, 2005-2008
Analysis: Though Hurvin McCormack spent five seasons with the Cowboys and was on a Super Bowl team, he didn’t contribute more than seven starts, plus he was inactive in the Super Bowl. Chris Canty was a sure-fire first-round pick before a knee injury and detached retina dropped him to Dallas in the fourth. The Cowboys traded their fifth-rounder in 2005 and fourth-rounder in 2006 to move up for Canty at 132nd overall. After rigorous rehab, Canty made it to the field one week into camp. He registered 35 tackles, was second on the team with five tackles for loss, and tied for fourth with 2.5 sacks. Canty became a full-time starter from 2006-2008, starting every game, recording 79 tackles, eight batted passes, and 7.5 sacks. Though he was solid, the Cowboys having extended Jay Ratliff in 2008 couldn’t afford another big contract with an extension for DeMarcus Ware in the works. Canty played four years with the Giants and three with the Ravens before leaving football in 2015.