Depending on whom you ask, the Dallas Cowboys are the greatest franchise to ever grace the gridiron.
But still, the Cowboys are America’s Team.
While most NFL franchises string together a few strong seasons here and there, Dallas has managed to compete in every single era. Because of that, there aren’t many Top-50 players lists more deep than Big D’s.
Here are those players, the greatest on one of, if not the greatest, franchises in NFL history.
Fun Fact: He played a season in NFL Europe and led the Barcelona Dragons to a World Bowl title.
Why He’s On The List: Glover made the Pro Bowl every single season he played for the Cowboys (four). He was such a fiend on the interior defensive line that he made the NFL’s 2000 All-Decade Team.
Fun Fact: He’s the President of Texas NORML.
Why He’s On The List: Stepnoski was the leader of the Cowboys’ virtually unstoppable offensive line in the 1990s. He manned the middle for the first two of their three Super Bowls and made three straight Pro Bowls in Dallas before his departure.
Fun Fact: In 1966, a horse trailer was included in his signing bonus.
Why He’s On The List: The ever-dependable Garrison was just as effective pushing the pile as he was catching passes out of the backfield. In 1971, he helped the Cowboys win their first Super Bowl, and the next year, he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.
Fun Fact: He somehow, someway never made it to the Pro Bowl, but despite that fact, he was a Hall of Fame finalist in 2008.
Why He’s On The List: Jeffcoat was a special playmaker on the defensive side of the football. He wrecked havoc in opposing backfields for over a decade and won two rings with the Cowboys.
Fun Fact: He
is was back.
Why He’s On The List: Owens only played three seasons in Dallas, but he was so dominant during that trio of years his resume demands a spot on this list. He averaged 78 receptions, 1,196 yards and 13 touchdowns during his tenure in Big D.
Fun Fact: He has the same shoe size, 22, as Shaquille O’Neal.
Why He’s On The List: At 6’7”, 340 pounds, you could call Adams physically gifted. He wasn’t an instant hit, but he developed into one of the best blindside blockers in the NFL and was rewarded with five trips to Honolulu.
Fun Fact: He’s tied with two other players for the most years in a Dallas uniform.
Why He’s On The List: Tuinei is one of the many top-notch road-pavers Emmitt Smith has to thank for his NFL rushing record. The two-time Pro Bowler was on each of the Cowboys’ world-title winning teams in the 1990s.
Fun Fact: He was steamrolled by the next player on this list, who ended up being his teammate.
Why He’s On The List: Bates only made one Pro Bowl, but the impact his presence had on the Cowboys’ defense was undeniable. The safety with the non-stop motor retired with three Super Bowl rings and played a key role in winning two of them (he was injured prior to Super Bowl XXVII).
Fun Fact: He’s one of only two players to record over 10,000 yards from scrimmage and 5,000 return yards in his career.
Why He’s On The List: Walker averaged 1,733 yards from scrimmage per season during his first stint with the Cowboys. But not only was he a productive Cowboy, the fact that his value on the trade block led to Dallas’ domination in the 1990s has to be taken into consideration.
Fun Fact: In high school, he won a whopping six state track and field titles in events that included discus, shot put and the 4x880-yard relay.
Why He’s On The List: Donovan helped anchor an offensive line that bulldozed opposing front sevens on the Cowboys' way to three Super Bowls. He retired with one ring and four trips to the Pro Bowl.
Fun Fact: If you point the finger at him, it’s really unfair.
Why He’s On The List: Since taking the reins in 2006, Romo has become the fourth most productive QB in Cowboy history (he’s actually No. 1 by a wide margin if you grade by passer rating alone). While he has yet to advance past the divisional round of the playoffs, the three-time Pro Bowlers’ numbers are eye-opening.
Fun Fact: In his last season at Oklahoma, he was forced to sit out the Gator Bowl because he signed with a pro team prior to the game—a game in which Fred Biletnikoff scored four touchdowns.
Why He’s On The List: Neely, a four-time All-Pro, is a member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor and the NFL 1960’s All-Decade Team. He retired with two rings, but he didn’t actually play in their Super Bowl VI victory because of an injury.
Fun Fact: In his 11 years in the NFL, he never missed a game.
Why He’s On The List: Going into the 2012 NFL season, DePree is tied with Jason Witten for the most touchdown receptions by a tight end in franchise history. He played in three Pro Bowls, three Super Bowls and won a ring in 1978.
Fun Fact: He signed with Yale in an attempt to become the first black quarterback ever at the university.
Why He’s On The List: Hill only played six seasons for the Cowboys, but he’s still the fourth-leading rusher in franchise history. And in those six years, he made four Pro Bowls, participated in two Super Bowls and won one.
Fun Fact: He was such a dominant lead blocker that the NFL created a Pro Bowl spot for traditional fullbacks. Naturally, Johnston was the first elected.
Why He’s On The List: Moose, a three-time Pro Bowler, served as Emmitt Smith’s battering ram. His value on the Cowboys' three Super Bowl-winning teams in the 1990s is indisputable
Fun Fact: When he retired, no one had played in more playoff games than Pugh.
Why He’s On The List: He somehow, someway never made it to the Pro Bowl despite racking up an average of 12.5 sacks over a span of five seasons. Pugh competed in five Super Bowls over the course of 13 postseason appearances and won two.
Fun Fact: He played both ways at Marquette and led the team in receiving.
Why He’s On The List: A member of the Cowboys’ legendary Doomsday defense, Andrie was a nightmare for opposing QBs. He’s one of the most accomplished pass-rushers in franchise history and was voted to five Pro Bowls.
Fun Fact: Don’t call Hill a meathead—he graduated from Stanford at the age of 20.
Why He’s On The List: Hill is second in franchise history in receiving yards behind only Michael Irvin himself. The three-time Pro Bowler led the team in receptions and yards nine consecutive seasons.
Fun Fact: The one Super Bowl that the Cowboys didn’t win from 1992-1995 happened to be the year he was sidelined by a career-threatening car crash. Coincidence?
Why He’s On The List: Upon his arrival, Williams injected intensity into a mammoth offensive line in Big D. That O-line paved the way for three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s, and he made four Pro Bowl teams.
Fun Fact: Because he was larger than William “The Refrigerator” Perry, his teammates nicknamed him “The Kitchen.”
Why He’s On The List: Newton was a member of an offensive line that helped open holes for the leading rusher in NFL history. He won three Super Bowls and was voted to six Pro Bowls.
Fun Fact: In high school, he was an All-State quarterback, All-American basketball player, state champion hurdler and set a state pole vault record. In other words, he was kind of a big deal.
Why He’s On The List: Novacek should demand a name change from the Triplets to the Quadruplets. Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin receive all the hype, but Novacek was on all of those Super Bowl teams too, and he was voted to five consecutive Pro Bowls during the era.
Fun Fact: He won two Arena Football League championships as the head coach of the Arizona Rattlers.
Why He’s On The List: Because he was the heir to Roger Staubach’s throne, White is all too often overlooked. When healthy, the one-time Pro Bowler was a force to be reckoned with. He’s second in franchise history in touchdown passes.
Fun Fact: He was an All-State fullback in high school and began his college career at the position.
Why He’s On The List: Niland, a six-time Pro Bowler, was a key cog on quite a bit of Cowboy title contenders. He played in two NFL Championships and three Super Bowls including the club’s victory in Super Bowl VI.
Fun Fact: He’s the only player in league history to block four total punts in back-to-back games.
Why He’s On The List: Dallas didn’t have a single losing season during Waters’ tenure on the team. The three-time Pro Bowler played in five Super Bowls and walked away from the game with two rings.
Fun Fact: In high school, he was an All-American basketball player, had minor league offers from MLB franchises and was a Golden Gloves boxer.
Why He’s On The List: The 6’9”, 271-pound monster played more games for the Cowboys than any other player in franchise history, and that’s even after he took a year off in the middle of his career to be a boxer. Jones was a three-time Pro Bowler and harassed opposing passers en route to a Super Bowl XII triumph.
Fun Fact: He excelled in the NFL despite having a less-than-blistering 40-yard-dash time of just 4.72 seconds.
Why He’s On The List: Walls defined the label “ball hawk.” He led the NFL in interceptions three years and was a four-time Pro Bowler with the Cowboys.
Fun Fact: Witten only wears a helmet because he has to.
Why He’s On The List: He has been voted on to seven Pro Bowl teams since 2004, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if there are more to come. Witten, who’s third among tight ends in all-time receptions, has consistently been one of the top all-around tight ends in the league throughout his career.
Fun Fact: He boasts the most Super Bowl rings out of any player in NFL history.
Why He’s On The List: After 100.5 (unofficial) sacks, Haley definitely deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and he’s been a finalist. His five Pro Bowls and five—five!—Super Bowl victories (three in Dallas) speak for themselves.
Fun Fact: His debut studio album Prime Time debuted at No. 70 on the U.S. Hip-Hop charts.
Why He’s On The List: Neon Deion is arguable the greatest cover corner in the history of the game. While he had memorable years with the Atlanta Falcons and San Francisco 49ers, he’s still an all-time great Cowboy after four Pro Bowls and a Super Bowl triumph with the franchise.
Fun Fact: He was a basketball-to-football success story long before Antonio Gates. Green didn’t even play football at Utah State.
Why He’s On The List: The versatile defensive back could’ve played in the NBA, but after more than a decade of NFL success, it’s safe to say Green made the right decision. Five Pro Bowls, two Super Bowl appearances and a ring later, the undrafted free agent retired as one of the greatest Cowboys ever.
Fun Fact: Dallas signed him straight out of college, which created a mess after the Baltimore Colts selected him in the ninth round of the draft.
Why He’s On The List: Perkins in the most accomplished rusher in Big D history not named Emmitt Smith or Tony Dorsett. He’s a member of the Cowboys Ring of Honor and retired as a six-time Pro Bowler.
Fun Fact: Instead of safety, he played linebacker at Arizona State and was coached by Lovie Smith.
Why He’s On The List: Woodson, a five-time Pro Bowler, is the Cowboys’ all-time leading tackler and every single one inflicted pain on the opposition. The 6’2”, 219-pounder sure hit like a linebacker, and he brought toughness to a team that won three Super Bowls.
Fun Fact: He participated in the then-WWF’s WrestleMania 2 in the battle royal.
Why He’s On The List: While plenty of Cowboys on this list helped lead the team to a victory in Super Bowl XII, Martin, a four-time Pro Bowler, had more influence on the title than anyone (minus Randy White, who he shared the honor with) as he won the game’s MVP award. The one-time Defensive Player of the Year was a sack machine, and if QB takedowns were an official stat back then, he’d still be Big D’s all-time leader.
Fun Fact: After retirement, he spent time on the barnstorming basketball team the Harlem Magicians.
Why He’s On The List: “Mr. Clutch” came up big quite a bit in the 1970s, which earned him three trips to the Pro Bowl and a spot on the All-Decade Team. Pearson played a major role on three Cowboy Super Bowl squads, including the XII Champions.
Fun Fact: Outside the lines, he’s known for a successful broadcasting career, but he also acted in several movies and television shows.
Why He’s On The List: Dandy Don is one of the most popular players in franchise history and led the Cowboys to a pair of NFL Championship berths before the Super Bowl-era began. He earned three straight Pro Bowls and garnered MVP honors in 1966 as well.
Fun Fact: He has no relation to former Oregon Ducks cornerback Cliff Harris Jr.
Why He’s On The List: Captain Crash was elected to six Pro Bowls and has been a Pro Football Hall of Fame finalist. Over the course of his career, Harris played in five Super Bowls, including two Cowboys victories.
Fun Fact: In Super Bowl V, he won the game’s MVP award despite being on the losing end—he refused the trophy and is still the only losing player to be awarded the honor.
Why He’s On The List: Howley helped lead the Cowboys to a victory in Super Bowl VI the next year. He is a member of the 20/20 club and was voted into six Pro Bowls.
Fun Fact: He was a stud wideout in high school and was named his team’s Most Valuable Receiver his senior season.
Why He’s On The List: At only 29 years old, Ware has already been voted into six Pro Bowls and holds the franchise’s career sack record. The physical freak is a Hall of Fame lock and has plenty of time to climb this list.
Fun Fact: His habit of watching game film non-stop led to an in-home projector being included in his contract.
Why He’s On The List: Killer used unrivaled intensity to overcome his 6’1”, 215-pound frame and lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowl berths, including a victory in 1972. The five-time Pro Bowler is a Hall of Fame finalist and one of the greatest linebackers in league history not enshrined in Canton.
Fun Fact: The jack of all trades played tight end and defensive line on top of tackle in the pros. In high school, he even got time at free safety and punter.
Why He’s On The List: Even more impressive than his six straight Pro Bowls was Wright’s role in the Cowboys' two Super Bowl titles. He kept Roger Staubach upright on his way to a Hall of Fame berth.
Fun Fact: Arguably the strongest man in NFL history, he recorded a bench press of a whopping 692 pounds.
Why He’s On The List: The 6’3”, 325-pound monster helped pave the way for Emmitt Smith in Super Bowl XXX victory. Allen was voted into 11 Pro Bowls, and after making two All-Decade teams, he’s a Hall of Fame guarantee.
Fun Fact: The one-time world’s fastest man set records in the 60, 100 and 220-yard dashes as well as the Olympic 100-meter dash.
Why He’s On The List: A rare track-to-football success story, he was voted into three straight Pro Bowls and the Hall of Fame. Hayes’ ability not only as a wideout but as a return ace helped the Cowboys win the Super Bowl in 1972.
Fun Fact: In 1962 while still in college, he was part of a world-record setting 440-yard relay team.
Why He’s On The List: Renfro was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after retiring with 52 interceptions and 10 straight Pro Bowl visits. He played on four Cowboy Super Bowl teams, including their victorious squad in Super Bowl XII.
Fun Fact: His overwhelming strength for a wide receiver forced the NFL to adjust the rulebook to prevent physical wide receivers from pushing off helpless cornerbacks.
Why He’s On The List: Known as the hardest worker on any team he’s played for, the Playmaker was voted into five-straight Pro Bowls and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He recorded 11,904 receiving yards in his career and was part of The Triplets who ignited the Cowboys to a trio of Super Bowl triumphs.
Fun Fact: After just two months of Thai boxing training, his round kick was powerful enough to register 400 pounds per square inch on a psi gauge.
Why He’s On The List: White played on Dallas’ Doomsday defense that led the Cowboys to a Super Bowl XII victory. He was elected into nine straight Pro Bowls and the Hall of Fame.
Fun Fact: When he broke off his record-long 99-yard run, Dallas only had 10 men on the field.
Why He’s On The List: Dorsett sprinted his way into four Pro Bowls and an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after rushing for 12,739 yards in his career. Yet another fun fact: He’s the only football player to win a college championship and a pro one in back-to-back years. Dorsett helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl XII in his rookie season after triumphing in an NCAA title at Pitt.
Fun Fact: He doesn’t remember playing in Super Bowl XXVIII.
Why He’s On The List: The winningest starting quarterback of any decade was one-third of The Triplets who were highlighted in the Cowboys’ three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s. On top of those rings, Aikman was voted into six straight Pro Bowls and was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Fun Fact: Instead of the traditional three-point stance, he lined up pre-snap with both hands on the ground.
Why He’s On The List: Not only did Lilly earn the nickname Mr. Cowboy, but he was the key cog in Dallas’ Doomsday defense that led the club to victory in Super Bowl VI. As labeled by NFL Films, the unblockable, unstoppable force was voted into an incredible 11 Pro Bowls and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Fun Fact: Not only is he the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, but he holds the postseason rushing yards record as well.
Why He’s On The List: The halfback labeled as too small and too slow retired as the most accomplished runner in league history. Smith was part of The Triplets who carried the Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories. Eight Pro Bowls, four rushing titles and a regular season and Super Bowl MVP later, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Fun Fact: He’s the last Heisman Trophy winner from a military academy.
Why He’s On The List: Tom Landry threw Staubach’s name into the discussion as the greatest combination of passer, athlete and leader in league history. The six-time Pro Bowler led the Cowboys to a pair of Super Bowl titles, three more championship berths and was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
David Daniels is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report and a syndicated writer.