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Cowboys countdown to kickoff: #74 Bob Lilly

The Dallas Cowboys face the New York Giants in Week 1. And we’re counting down to it by jersey numbers.

January 2, 1972: NFC Championship Game - San Francisco 49ers v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

We’re continuing our countdown to the opening game of the Dallas Cowboys 2023 regular season. Each day we’ll present a new player whose jersey number represents the countdown to opening day. Today is number 74 and a historical player.

DE Bob Lilly
Born: 26th July 1939 (83) - Olney, Texas
College: TCU Horned Frogs
Draft: 1961, Round 1, Pick 13, Dallas Cowboys

Career Stats:
Games: 196
Sacks: 95.5
Fumble Recoveries: 18
Defensive Touchdowns: 4

Hall of Fame 1980
Super Bowl Winner 1972
11 x Pro Bowl
9 x All-Pro
NFL 1960’s All-Decade Team
NFL 1970’s All-Decade Team
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Team
NFL 100th Anniversary All-Team
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor

Bob “Tiger” Lilly enrolled at TCU in 1958. By his sophomore season he was playing a backup role on the team and helped the Horned Frogs win the Southwest Conference Championship. The next season he was given a starting role and again won the SWC championship. His final season at TCU he was named All-American and first-team All-SWC. In 1981 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame and in 2006 he was inducted in the East-West Shrine Game Hall of Fame.

In 1961 the Cowboys made a series of trades in the NFL draft and ended up with the 13th overall pick. They would select Bob Lilly with this pick making him the first selection ever made by Dallas in an NFL draft. He was drafted to play defensive end but Tom Landry made the move to put Lilly in at defensive tackle and he would be the spearhead of what would become the “Doomsday Defense”. A memorable moment was during Super Bowl V when the Cowboys lost by a field goal. The picture of Lilly’s helmet flying in the air after he threw it in frustration is still an iconic image. He would make an even bigger highlight a year later when the Cowboys won Super Bowl VI. Lilly would set an NFL record at the time by making a 29-yard sack; this highlight is still played among memorable NFL moments today.

His four-point stance was unique and first adopted by Lilly making him a pioneer of this stance. The force he generated off the snap along with his speed and agility made him an impossible force to block. Offenses would regularly scheme for Lilly, the plan often being to triple-team him in order to try and quell the impact he could make in the game.

What was impressive during his time playing is that he only missed one game due to a leg injury, near an impossible feat. Another impressive accolade in Lilly’s history is his 11 Pro Bowl nominations, a Cowboys team record not replicated for nearly 50 years (Jason Witten). He was later nicknamed “Mr. Cowboy” when he was made the first inductee to the Cowboys Ring of Honor. In The Sporting News list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, Lilly was ranked number ten, the highest Cowboys player on the list. No other player in Cowboys history has ever worn the number 74 jersey other than Bob Lilly.

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