There have been countless legendary players who wore the star on their helmet for the Dallas Cowboys. But some left a more lasting impression than others. Today, we’re going to rank the five most exciting Dallas Cowboys players of all time.
We realize the position players always get the shine, while the guys in less flashy roles are overlooked. We’re talking about the hogs on the offensive line and the special teamers who put their bodies on the line to win the field position battle.
Maybe one day we’ll rank those often-forgotten players. But today, it’s all about the players you’d see on a highlight reel.
5. DeMarcus Ware
The former Auburn Tiger was a game-wrecker. It’s hard to imagine opposing QBs got much sleep the night before a game against Ware.
Ware was a threat to make a play every time he put his fingers in the grass to rush the passer. He tops the Cowboys record books with 117 sacks, and led the NFL in two seasons.
Ware spent nine seasons in Big D and made four All-Pro teams and seven Pro Bowls.
Normally when fans think of exciting players, their minds jump to offensive players. But a big sack in crunch time can be just as thrilling as a game winning touchdown.
4. Dez Bryant
What made Bryant so special was the variety of ways he could make a play. He could use his 6’2, 220-pound frame to catch a goal line fade, or to Moss a cornerback. But Dez also used his speed to turn short throws into huge gains.
Bryant also fed off the energy of the fans. If he was in Dallas, he’d get the crowd pumped up after a play or stare down the opposing fans if the Cowboys were on the road.
In eight seasons with the Cowboys, the Texas native tallied 7,459 receiving yards. That’s the third-most among WRs in franchise history. But Bryant is the Cowboys leader in touchdown receptions despite playing significantly less games than the other players in the top five.
3. Tony Dorsett
Dallas took Dorsett with the second overall pick in the 1977 NFL Draft, and being selected that high comes with huge expectations. But Dorsett still hurdled that high standard.
Dorsett had the ability to make a play even when there was seemingly nothing there. At 5’11, 192-pounds he wasn’t huge but still managed to gash defenses on rushes through the offensive line. Then, he’d turn on the jets and speed through the second level of the defense.
Tony was also ahead of his time as a pass-catching RB. Dorsett has the second-most rushing yards and the 29th-most receiving yards in the Cowboys record books.
2. Ezekiel Elliott
Cowboys fan’s opinions on Elliott are a bit clouded because he’s dealt with injuries the past few seasons and isn’t as quick as he once was. But in 2016, Zeke took the NFL by storm and was a force in his first four seasons.
Elliott’s 1,631 rushing yards led the league as a rookie. That’s the third-highest mark by a first-year in league history.
Zeke gave defenses headaches with his speed and elusiveness. He would routinely blaze past safeties on his way for long touchdown runs. Elliott had 16 touchdowns as a rookie, the most in Cowboys history.
His recent injuries are likely a result of his high usage early in his career. But fans shouldn’t lose sight of the player Elliott once was.
1. Emmitt Smith
Of course, this is the chalk answer for the most exciting player in Cowboys history. But how could we not give it to the NFL’s all-time rushing leader?
Smith was versatile. He could shake a defender with his quickness, but he also had the strength to plow through tacklers. His extraordinary balance allowed him to keep a play alive even if it seemed like Smith was wrapped up with no chance of gaining more yards.
Being a Hall of Famer and three-time Super Bowl champion certainly helped bolster his resume compared to the other players in this ranking. Smith got the job done even in the big moments.