They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars.
They are the Dallas Cowboys, "America's Team."
The Dallas Cowboys joined the National Football League as a 1960 expansion team, and have become one of the most successful teams in the history of the NFL and in American sports overall.
The team has earned the longest streak of consecutive winning seasons with 20, the most playoff games, 56, winning 32 of them, the most appearances in the NFC Championship Game (14), and the most Super Bowl appearances (eight), one more than any other NFL team.
The Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in just four years.
They are also tied with the San Francisco 49ers for having the second most Super Bowl wins (five), only behind the Pittsburgh Steelers with six wins.
Dallas is the first and only NFL team to lose a Super Bowl and still have a player selected as the Super Bowl MVP.
Linebacker Chuck Howley, intercepted two passes and forced a fumble in Super Bowl V to become the first defensive player to win the award.
They are the first NFL team to send at least 13 players to the Pro Bowl (2007 season).
An article from Forbes Magazine, dated September 2, 2009, lists the Cowboys as the highest valued sports franchise in the history of the United States.
He played through the 1970s making six trips to the Pro Bowl (1971, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979) and led the league in passing four times (1971, 1973, 1978, and 1979), recording two Super Bowl Championships (VI, XII) while earning a Super Bowl MVP award (VI).
Staubach ended his career with a starting record of 85-29.
He completed 1,685 balls for 22,700 yards and 153 touchdowns on 2,958 attempts.
He also ran for 2,264 yards and 20 touchdowns on 410 attempts.
Legendary coach Tom Landry described Staubach as "possibly the best combination of a passer, an athlete and a leader to ever play in the NFL."
Staubach is also a member of the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team and was named to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
Roger was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985.
When it comes to stats, no other running back can touch Emmitt Smith, who not only holds the NFL's all-time rushing mark with 18,355 yards, but he's also the all-time leader with 164 rushing touchdowns.
His 175 total touchdowns rank second all-time to Jerry Rice (207).
When it comes to postseason records, Smith ranks at the top in several categories as well, including rushing yards (1,586), rushing touchdowns (19) and 100-yard games (seven).
He rushed for 937 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning him NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
From then on, Smith would be a 1,000-yard back, eclipsing that mark 11 straight years, including four seasons when he led the NFL.
In 1995, Smith rushed for a then-NFL record 25 touchdowns in a season, along with 1,773 yards.
In three Super Bowl appearances, Smith scored five rushing touchdowns, more than any other player.
Smith is an eight-time Pro Bowler (1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1998, and 1999); he was named to the All-Pro first-team five times (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995).
Emmitt went on to claim quite a few more accomplishments throughout his career.
He was selected the NFL’s 1990’s All-Decade Team, one NFL MVP Award in 1993, and was the work horse to the 'Boys three Super Bowl victories in the 1990s.
Smith was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, in his first year of eligibility.
Michael Irvin was self-nicknamed "The Playmaker" due to his penchant for making big plays in big games during his college career.
Irvin was a key playmaker for the Dallas Cowboys that won six division titles and three Super Bowls.
Irvin was selected to five (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995) Pro Bowls (two more than any other wide receiver in franchise history) and was named the MVP of the 1992 Pro Bowl.
He led the Cowboys in receiving for eight straight years, starting in 1991 all the way until his playing days came to an abrupt end in 1999, when a serious neck injury in Philadelphia not only forced him to leave the game on a stretcher, but ended his career as well.
Irvin’s heart and soul helped the Cowboys to four straight appearances in the NFC Championship Game (1992–1995) and captured three Super Bowl titles with back-to-back wins over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII and Super Bowl XXVIII, and the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX.
His best season was in 1995 when he set Dallas records for receptions (111) and receiving yards (1,603), while also scoring 10 touchdowns and setting an NFL record with 11 games with over 100 yards receiving.
Daryl Johnston told a national conference call: "Michael was the hardest working guy on our team. … He was a guy, who made some wrong decisions, but he never took anything public, and he never spoke out against anyone on our team. He wasn't a problem. He was more of an inspiration."
Irvin ended his career with 750 (1st) receptions for 11,904 (1st) receiving yards and 65 (2nd) receiving touchdowns.
Irvin was inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2005 and then inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007.
Bob “The Bullet” Hayes changed the way Pro Football was played.
The Dallas Cowboys drafted Hayes in the seventh round of the 1964 NFL Draft, taking a chance on the idea that an Olympic sprinter with unrefined football skills could excel as a wide receiver.
The bet paid off due to Hayes' amazing feats in cleats.
Many credit Hayes with forcing the NFL to develop a zone defense and the bump and run to attempt to contain him.
Once considered the world's fastest man by virtue of his multiple world records in the 60-yard, 100-yard, 220-yard, and Olympic 100-meter dashes, Hayes is the only man to win both an Olympic gold medal and a Super Bowl ring.
Hayes was the second player in the history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a single season, and he did that in his rookie year by finishing with 1,003 yards.
Also during his rookie year, he led the team with 46 receptions and set franchise records for total touchdowns (13) and total receiving touchdowns (12).
He made the Pro Bowl his first three pro seasons (1965, 1966, and 1967).
He finished his 11-year career with 365 (seventh) receptions for 7,295 (fourth) yards and 71 (first) touchdowns, giving him an impressive 20 (first) yards per catch average (both career touchdowns and yards per catch average remain franchise records).
Hayes was enshrined in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2001 and was selected for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
Starting OL—Williams, Allen, Stepnoski, Newton, and Wright
Erik “Big E” Williams is the only offensive lineman in Cowboys history named NFC Player of the Week (1992).
Williams stood toe-to-toe with the Eagles' intimidating pass-rusher Reggie White during a mid-season game to claim NFC Player of the Week.
When he suited up for the Cowboys, he was considered one of the biggest, meanest, and certainly one of the best offensive tackles in football.
Williams was a four-time Pro Bowler (1993, 1996, 1997, and 1999).
Only Rayfield Wright (six) and Flozell Adams (five) have more Pro Bowl selections than Williams among offensive tackles.
Despite his dominance, many believe he could've been even better had it not been for the injuries.
Allen is regarded as possibly one of the physically strongest men to have ever played in the NFL with an unbelievable 900+ lb. squat and dead lift as well as a three-person assisted bench press of 700+ lbs.
In his career, he played in more Pro Bowls than any other Dallas Cowboys offensive player in franchise history.
Allen has been widely recognized as one of the NFL’s best offensive linemen in NFL history.
In his 13 seasons in the National Football League, he was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006), including his last as a 49er in 2006.
He was also named All-Pro eight times, seven times at guard (1995-1997, 1999-2001), and once at tackle (1998).
Allen was selected to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team and to the NFL’s 2000s All-Decade Team.
In a tough December game in New Orleans on the big stage of "Monday Night Football," Saints linebacker Darion Conner (known for his speed) picked off Aikman's pass.
Looked like Conner was going to make a Saints touchdown when from the corner of the screen came a 320 lb. blur.
It was Larry Allen; he was lined up at right tackle on the play.
Nearly 50 yards later, Allen caught Conner and tackled him before the end zone.
The Saints had to settle for a field goal in a game that the Cowboys hung on to win.
From that moment, Larry Allen's star was born.
With his Pro Bowl selection at tackle in 1998, he became just the third player in league history to be selected to the Pro Bowl at more than one offensive line position during his career, joining Bruce Matthews of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans (guard/center) and Chris Hinton of the Atlanta Falcons/Indianapolis Colts/Minnesota Vikings (guard/tackle).
Mark Stepnoski at center went on to anchor an offensive line that not only helped Emmitt Smith win three straight rushing titles from 1991-93, but helped lead the way for the Cowboys to win consecutive Super Bowls.
Stepnoski was a five-time Pro Bowler, (1992, 1993, 1994, 1995, and 1996) with two with the Houston Oilers.
Stepnoski was also selected to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team, which was quite impressive being only second to Pittsburgh Steelers all-time great Dermontti Dawson.
OG—Nate Newton was one of the best offensive linemen the club has ever had.
Newton made five straight Pro Bowls from 1992-96 and then another trip to Hawaii in 1998, which turned out to be his final season with the Cowboys.
Only Larry Allen (10) has been to more Pro Bowls with the Cowboys on the offensive line. Newton is tied with Rayfield Wright and John Niland for six appearances each.
OT—Rayfield “Big Cat” Wright
For thirteen seasons, Wright played 166 games, started at right tackle in six NFC Championship games, and played in five Super Bowls, winning two of them (Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII).
He earned his first of four All-NFL honors in 1971 and was voted that same year to the first of six straight Pro Bowls.
"Rayfield could do it all," said former Cowboys running back Calvin Hill after Wright's election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "He could pull. He could run in the open field. He could finesse-block and power-block in the run game. And there was no one better in pass blocking. He was dominant."
Wright was also voted the NFLPA NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1972 and was selected to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team.
In 2004, Rayfield Wright was inducted in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
In 2006, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Honorable mention—Flozell Adams, John Niland, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, and Mark Tuinei
DE – Harvey Martin, part of the famed Doomsday Defense, "Too Mean" Martin led the Cowboys in sacks seven times.
Martin went to the Pro Bowl four times (1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979) and was co-Super Bowl MVP in Super Bowl XII (shared with teammate Randy White).
He still holds team records for most sacks as a rookie (8-1973) along with DeMarcus Ware, in a season (23- 1977), and career (114).
Martin was one of the Cowboys' most popular players in the 1970s and early '80s, setting team records with 114 career sacks and 23 in 1977.
That season he was the Associated Press' NFL defensive player of the year.
Martin was also named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team.
DT-Bob Lilly became the main man in Dallas's vaunted "Doomsday Defense".
As a defensive tackle, Lilly went to the Pro Bowl 11 (1962, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1973) times and made the All-Decade Team in the '60s and the '70s.
Lilly also led the defense to become Super Bowl (VI) champs.
His 29-yard sack of Dolphin quarterback Bob Griese (an NFL Record) is one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl defensive history.
This was the signature play of his 14-year Hall of Fame career.
Adding to his great career, Lilly was honored to be named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
Lilly was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980.
DT-Randy White nicknamed “Manster” by teammates who said he was half man and half monster was named co-MVP of Super Bowl XII with teammate Harvey Martin, making him one of only seven defensive players to win that
Randy White would continue being a force in the league with a remarkable nine straight (1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, and 1985) Pro Bowl selections.
He played in three Super Bowls, six NFC Championship Games, and accumulated 1,104 tackles (701 solo) and 111 sacks.
His highest single season sack total was 16 in 1978.
Martin was named to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team.
Randy was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1994, the same year that Dallas added his name to their Ring of Honor.
DE—Ed "Too Tall" Jones was a member of the famed "Doomsday Defense" squad of the 1970s.
Jones was given the nickname "Too Tall" because of his height, 6’9”.
Jones made three Pro Bowls (1981, 1982, and 1983) and has an unofficial sack recording of 106 sacks, though he is only credited with 56 sacks.
His highest single-season sack total was 13 (in 1986).
Jones played on three NFC champion teams and the 1978 Super Bowl winner.
Honorable mention—Charles Haley, Jethro Pugh, Le’Roy Glover, and George Andre
OLB—Chuck Howley teamed up with Dave Edwards and Lee Roy Jordan to form one of the greatest linebacking corps in NFL history.
During his career, Howley intercepted 25 passes and is second in Cowboys' history with his 17 fumbles recovered.
Howley was named First-Team All-Pro five times in his career and was a six-time Pro Bowler (1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, and 1971).
Howley became the fourth player in franchise history inducted into the Ring of Honor (1976).
Chuck is part of the 20/20 club, awarded to defensive players to record 20 sacks and 20 interceptions.
Howley is still arguably the greatest linebacker in the history of the Dallas Cowboys.
When he retired, Tom Landry said "I don’t know that I’ve seen anybody better at linebacker than Howley."
ILB—Lee Roy Jordan, nicknamed “Killer” became the franchise's all-time leader in solo tackles (743) in his 14 seasons with the Cowboys.
He was a two-time All-Pro (1969 and 1973) and a five-time Pro Bowler (1967, 1968, 1969, 1973, and 1974).
He also helped the Cowboys to three Super Bowls and five NFC Championship games.
He holds the team record for tackles in a single game (21) and ranked number one in interceptions for a linebacker with 32 (tied for third-most all-time by linebackers).
Head coach Tom Landry said of Jordan, "He was a great competitor. He was not big for a middle linebacker, but because of his competitiveness, he was able to play the game and play it well. His leadership was there and he demanded a lot out of the people around him as he did of himself."
In 1989, he became the seventh member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.
ILB—Bob Breunig was one of 12 drafted rookies who made the team that year—hence the "Dirty Dozen" nickname for the 1975 draft.
Breunig started his career in the NFL as Dave Edwards backup.
In 1976, he replaced the retired Dave Edwards at strong side linebacker.
In 1977, he was converted to middle linebacker, to replace the retired Lee Roy Jordan, making him just the third player in Cowboy history to man the position on a full time basis.
He played 10 seasons for the Cowboys, appeared in 21 playoff games, including six NFC championships and three Super Bowls.
He was an All-Pro four times and a three time (1979, 1980, and 1982) NFL Pro Bowl Selection.
OLB—DeMarcus Ware is considered the best 3-4 outside linebacker by Sporting News and has been described as "the most dynamic defender in the league right now" by ESPN.
In his rookie season (2005) he finished with 58 total tackles, 14 tackles for losses, eight sacks (franchise rookie record), and three forced fumbles.
In the 2008, Ware tied (Simon Fletcher) the NFL record for recording a sack in ten straight games.
2008 was his best year recording 84 tackles, 20.0 sacks, 9.0 tackles for a loss, six forced fumbles and two passes defended.
January 9, 2009, Ware became the first NFL player to win the Butkus Award.
Ware is a four-time Pro Bowler (2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009) and was selected to the NFL’s 2000’s All-Decade Team.
Since his rookie season (2005) Ware has the most quarterback sacks with 64.5.
In 80 NFL games, he has recorded 356 tackles, 64.5 sacks, 61.0 tackles for a loss, 23 forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries (one of which he returned 69 yards for a touchdown), 18 passes defended and one interception which he returned 41 yards for a touchdown.
Honorable mention—Thomas Henderson, Ken Norton Jr., Eugene Lockhart, and Dave Edwards
CB—Deion “Prime Time” Sanders wasn't the most physical player in the league and he didn't claim to be.
He was simply the best shutdown cornerback of his time and arguably the best ever.
Deion scored a total of eight touchdowns for the Cowboys, one receiving, four-punt return, one fumble return, and two interception touchdowns.
In 1996, Michael Irvin was suspended for the first five games, Sanders started full-time on offense, becoming one of the first true two-way players since the 1950s
Deion was a four-time (1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999) Pro Bowler with the Dallas Cowboys and an eight-time Pro Bowler throughout his career.
He went on to help the Cowboys win their third Super Bowl title in four years in Super Bowl XXX against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Sanders was also named to the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team.
Deion Sanders is arguably the greatest cornerback to ever play the game.
CB—Everson Walls is the only player to record 11 picks in a season in nearly 30 years.
Walls lead the league with 11 interceptions as a rookie and exploded onto the scene with a Cowboys single-season record, which still stands.
In his first five years in the league Walls picked off 34 balls—that’s almost seven interceptions per year.
Walls is one of the most prolific and decorated defensive backs to ever play the game.
He is the only three-time (11, seven, and nine) season leader in interceptions. He also led his Cowboys in interceptions a franchise record five times, and is second all-time on the franchise interceptions list with 44.
He also shares the career Pro Bowl interceptions record with four, and shares the single-game Pro Bowl record for interceptions with two.
Walls will always be considered one of the best cornerbacks in Cowboys history.
FS—Mel Renfro is the club's all-time leader with 52 interceptions.
He made 10 straight Pro Bowls (1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1973) in his first 10 seasons, four at safety and six at cornerback.
He was also made Pro Bowl MVP in 1970.
Renfro anchored a secondary that helped the Doomsday Defense win its first Super Bowl that season.
Renfro led the Cowboys in kickoff returns from 1964-66 and punt returns in 1964-65.
His 26.4-yard kickoff-return average still ranks first in club history.
He led or tied for the teams lead in interceptions three times, including 1969 when his 10 interceptions led the entire NFL.
Renfro was added to the Texas Stadium Ring of Honor in 1981, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1996.
SS—Darren Woodson is the Cowboys all-time leading tackler with 1,350 career stops and is currently 10th in Cowboys history with 23 interceptions.
Unfortunately for Woodson, in what turned out to be reminiscent of his entire career, even that record-setting day for him was overshadowed.
The safety broke the record in 2002 against Seattle.
Later in the same game, Emmitt Smith set the NFL's rushing record, eclipsing Walter Payton's mark.
He made the Pro Bowl in 1994, starting a five-year streak (1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1998) of Hawaii trips.
Woodson was also a four-time All-Pro selection.
He was a member of all three Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl champion teams of the 1990s.
He was described in Sports Illustrated as "one of the hardest hitters in the NFL."
Honorable mention—Terence Newman, Charlie Waters, Cliff Harris, and Cornell Green