The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most storied franchises in the NFL. After joining the league in 1960, the new organization on the block had a rocky start. Fast forward to today, though, and Cowboys hall-of-famers are plentiful.
The Cowboys didn’t have a winning season until 1966 but would go on to have 20 consecutive seasons above .500 starting that year. Many talented players laid the foundation during the Cowboys’ inception in the NFL, and even more have come afterward to keep the tradition of the Cowboys alive.
Here are the 20 players, coaches and contributors whose impact on the franchise was so great, that they’ve been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A stipulation to make the list was having spent a minimum of one season with the team.
Bob Lilly (1961-1974) inducted in 1980
Lilly was the Cowboys’ first draft pick, going 13th overall in 1961. So it’s appropriate he was also the first Cowboys player voted into the Hall of Fame. Mr. Cowboy was an 11-time Pro Bowler, a seven-time All-Pro and a member of Dallas’ team that won the first Super Bowl in franchise history in the 1971 season. By our estimation, he’s the greatest Cowboys defensive player ever.
Roger Staubach (1969-1979) inducted in 1985
Roger the Dodger is one of the greatest quarterbacks in Cowboys history. He also had a late start to his NFL career because he served in the military after graduation from the Naval Academy. Staubach still managed to win two Super Bowls while throwing for 22,700 career passing yards, the third-most in team history.
Tom Landry (1960-1988) inducted in 1990
Landry is not just a pillar in Cowboys history, but in NFL history. He was Dallas’ first head coach during the team’s inaugural season in 1960 and tallied 250 career wins, the fourth-most in NFL history. Interestingly, Landry played from 1949-1955 for the New York Yankees football team; then, after his rookie year, the team’s name changed to the Giants. He was a Swiss Army knife, playing quarterback, halfback and defensive back.
Tex Schramm (1960-1988) inducted in 1991
Schramm was Dallas’ first president/general manager, and his career coincided with Landry’s. Schramm is credited with pulling the strings behind the scenes during the formative years of the Cowboys. During his time, the team won two Super Bowls.
Tony Dorsett (1977-1987) inducted in 1994
Dorsett was a highly touted prospect coming into the 1977 NFL Draft, and the Cowboys nailed it when selecting the Rochester, Pennsylvania native with the second overall pick. Dorsett was a four-time Pro Bowler, a one-time All-Pro and a Super Bowl Champion. His 12,036 rushing yards are the second-most in franchise history, cementing him as one of the greatest running backs in Cowboys history.
Randy White (1975-1988) inducted in 1994
The Manster earned a reputation as one of the most physical players in the league during his playing days. His 111 sacks are the third-most in Cowboys history. White was also a member of the All-1980’s HOF team, a nine-time Pro Bowler, a seven-time All-Pro and Super Bowl champion and game MVP.
Mel Renfro (1964-1977) inducted in 1996
The former Oregon Duck was an immediate difference maker for the Cowboys, making 10 consecutive Pro Bowls starting his rookie year. Renfro was sure-handed, recording 52 career interceptions which are the most in team history.
Troy Aikman (1989-2000) inducted in 2006
Aikman has one of the most impressive resumes in franchise history. He was selected to six Pro Bowls, won three Super Bowls and was game MVP in one of those victories. Aikman also has the second-most passing yards and passing touchdowns in Cowboys history.
Rayfield Wright (1967-1979) inducted in 2006
At 6’6, 255-pounds, Big Cat has an intimidating stature, and he backed it up as an anchor of Dallas’ offensive line. Before starting his legendary career as a tackle, Wright was actually a tight end for his first three seasons. It’s safe to say coach Landry made the right call when switching his position.
Michael Irvin (1988-1989) inducted in 2007
The Playmaker has the second-most receiving yards and fourth-most receiving touchdowns in franchise history. He was an electrifying player, known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve at all times. Irvin was also Aikman’s go-to target and the pair ruled the 1990s, winning three Super Bowls in the decade.
Bob Hayes (1965-1974) inducted in 2009
Hayes was a bonafide threat down the field in the passing game. During his time in Dallas, Bullet Bob averaged a hefty 20 yards per reception. Not only is Hayes a Super Bowl champion, but he also won two gold medals at the 1964 Olympics, making him the only person to achieve both honors.
Emmitt Smith (1990-2002) inducted in 2010
Arguably the greatest running back of all time, no player in NFL history has topped Smith’s 18,355 rushing yards. Smith was a key contributor to the three-time Super Bowl-winning Cowboys teams in the 1990s. Smith, Aikman and Irvin formed the Triplets.
Deion Sanders (1995-1999) inducted in 2011
Prime Time made the rounds during his time in the NFL, playing for five different teams. But he was as impactful as ever during his time in Dallas. Sanders was a three-time All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowler in five seasons.
Larry Allen (1994-2005) inducted in 2013
In 12 seasons with the Cowboys, Allen only missed the Pro Bowl twice. He was also selected to the All-2000’s HOF team. Allen opened many gaps for Smith to rush through and gave Aikman lots of time in the pocket.
Charles Haley (1992-1996) inducted in 2015
Haley had a knack for being at the right place at the right time. He won three Super Bowls with the Cowboys and two more with the San Francisco 49ers. His 12.5 sacks in 1994 tie him for the ninth-most in a season in Cowboys history.
Jerry Jones (1989-present) inducted in 2017
Jones was successful early on as Dallas’ owner/president/general manager. In only his fourth season running the team, the Cowboys were Super Bowl champions. But the lack of postseason success in Dallas since the last Super Bowl in 1995 has many questioning Jones’ abilities as a GM.
Gil Brandt (1960-1988) inducted in 2019
Brandt served as the Cowboys vice president of player personnel while the team was still getting its footing in the NFL. But it didn’t take long for the success to start showing on the field. Brandt, Schramm and Landry were a phenomenal trio for many years in the NFL.
Jimmy Johnson (1989-1993) inducted in 2021
Johnson is an icon in football lore and the inspiration for the name of our website. He was roommates with Jones during their days at the University of Arkansas, but the pair grew apart due to disputes about who should receive credit for the Super Bowl victories in the 1992 and 1993 seasons. Despite being a HOF’er, Jones hasn’t inducted Johnson into the Cowboys Ring of Honor, which leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Cowboys fans everywhere.
Cliff Harris (1970-1979) inducted in 2020
Harris played in an era where offenses had a run-first mindset. Yet, he still managed to intercept 29 passes, the ninth-most in Cowboys history. Harris also made six-consecutive Pro Bowls to end his career.
Drew Pearson (1973-1983) inducted in 2021
Pearson’s entry to the NFL is something out of a movie. After going undrafted in 1973, Pearson met with his new QB, Staubach, often in the offseason to practice his routes and build chemistry. When Staubach learned that Pearson was working a second job unloading 18-wheelers to help pay the bills, he demanded Dallas pay Pearson more money. It was a worthy investment as Pearson, the original 88, was a three-time Pro Bowler, three-time All-Pro and Super Bowl champ.