(Jersey) Numbers Game

With today's release of the first "official" roster for the 2022 season, it got me thinking about how the Cowboys hand out jersey numbers attached to our most famous and beloved greats of the past. I find it interesting that some numbers are off limits, while some are handed out to guys that probably won't make the team and even others seem reserved for the assumed next great one.


12 -€” Roger Staubach

8- Troy Aikman

22 -€” Bob Hayes, Emmitt Smith

No surprise these aren't handed out. I think Parcell's gave out 22 during his era, but other than that it's essentially retired. Very difficult to argue for any player ever donning one of these again.


88 -€” Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin, Dez Bryant

73 -€” Larry Allen

21 -€” Deion Sanders

70 -€” Rayfield Wright

48 -€” Daryl "Moose" Johnston

Everyone knows the story behind 88 and that special club. I like what the team has done there.

Deion's old number doesn't have quite the reverence as 88, but it does seem like it's only given to players with high upside, although those have been running backs instead of corners. I don't recall seeing just a random dude wear 21.

Larry Allen's 73 has, in the past, been given to seemingly almost anyone -€” the most recent player being Joe Looney. As of this year, it's apparently now getting the 88 treatment.

Between Rayfield Wright and Zack Martin quite a few guys wore number 70. Once Martin eventually hangs up the cleats you have to believe it either goes to off limits or becomes reserved like 88 and 73. Fun fact: Mark Stepnoski wore 70 his rookie year.

48, like 73 is apparently now special. It was handed out to a couple random guys in the early 2000's after Moose retired. Joe Thomas wore it most recently. Now with Jake Ferguson, we're told he understands the weight and expectations of wearing the 48.

As a note, I suppose it's too early to know where 82 will end up, but it's a good bet it's either reserved or off limits.

Like Bad Halloween Candy

28 -€” Darren Woodson

33- Tony Dorsett

94 -€” Charles Haley, Demarcus Ware

17 -€” Don Meredith

43 -€” Don Perkins, Cliff Harris

20 -€” Mel Renfro

55 -€” Lee Roy Jordan

54 -€” Chuck Howley, Randy White

72 -€” Ed "Too Tall" Jones

79 -€” Harvey Martin

This group of numbers is just puzzling to me. The team hands these numbers to just "dudes". Jones and Martin are not in the Ring of Honor or HOF, though many argue they should be. Woodson, Meredith, Perkins, Jordan, and Howley are not in the HOF. Ware isn't in either -€” yet. Only Woodson, Haley and Ware are from the Jerry Jones era. Maybe you can make the argument that he doesn't feel the other guys were special enough for their numbers to warrant special treatment. But, 94 at least should be reserved for the next great one (with all due respect to Gregory, he wasn't it).

Kiss of Death

74 -€” Bob Lilly

I'm honestly not sure what to make of this one. It's virtually in the off limits category once the regular season begins. Think about how many times you've seen the number 74 after pre-season -€” never! Think about how many times you see it in the first couple pre-season games -€” almost every year. Any player who gets this number is generally not making the team. On the rare occasion that he does, his number is instantly changed.


24 -€” Everson Walls

40 -€” Bill Bates

71 -€” Mark Tuinei

61 -€” Nate "The Kitchen" Newton

9 -€” Tony Romo

Quick, what do all these guys have in common? A few things. None are in the Ring of Honor or HOF. None of them likely ever will be. All were long time players for Dallas, fan favorites and Pro-Bowlers. More than that, all of them were undrafted.

I'd like to see these numbers go to guys that are long shots to even make the team. Maybe they do and I just haven't noticed and/or the team doesn't specifically say so. It's seems like, other than 9, they are given out at random.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.