Emmitt Smith: Are The Cowboys The Best Triplets Ever?

Tommy RowanContributor IAugust 9, 2010

CANTON, OH - AUGUST 7: Emmitt Smith poses with his bust during the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium on August 7, 2010 in Canton, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Watching the Hall of Fame speeches invokes a lot of emotions for fans of the NFL.  Emmitt Smith’s speech was especially moving, especially when he spoke about his relationship with “Moose” Johnston.


The relationships that bond these players are remarkable, and the Cowboys of the 1990’s had quite a strong group.  Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin were known as the “Triplets”.


Where have all the “Triplets” gone?  With many teams implementing a committee approach in their backfields, has limited the amount of featured backs in the NFL.


Coaches also have more specialty players than ever before.  The Cowboys had one of the best trio of stars in the history of the NFL.  Were they the best?  You be the judge, as we look at several of the best “Triplets” in the history of the NFL.




Johnny Unitas, Lenny Moore, and Raymond Berry


Johnny Unitas

‘Johnny U’ paved the way for the forward pass in the NFL.  He threw a TD pass in 47 consecutive games, which is a record that still stands today.  Unitas was a three time MVP, and will be remembered as one of the best QBs of all time. 

Lenny Moore

Moore was a dual threat RB, as he was used as a receiver as well as a runner.  He had 5 straight seasons of at least 40 catches, which was a big feat for a RB in those days.  Moore scored in 18 straight football games, which was only matched by LaDanian Tomlinson in 2005- 40 years later.

Raymond Berry

Berry was known for his sure hands, as he only dropped two passes and fumbled once in his entire career.  He played his best game in “The Greatest Game Ever Played”, with 12 receptions for 178 yards and a TD.


Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, and Lynn Swann


Terry Bradshaw

He was the first QB to win 4 Super Bowls.  He called his own plays, and although he only through for 300 yards or more seven times, he did it twice in Superbowl games.  He totaled 932 yards passing and 9 TD in his four Superbowl wins.

Franco Harris

Harris will always be known for making “The Immaculate Reception” against the Raiders in the 1972 AFC Championship game.  He was selected to nine consecutive Pro Bowls, and also had eight straight 1,000 yards rushing seasons.  

Lynn Swann

Lynn Swan was known for his blazing speed and soft hands.  He came up big in 1975, 1978, and 1979 Super Bowls.  He totaled 364 yards receiving and grabbed 3 TD passes.


Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, and Roger Craig


Joe Montana

Joe Montana is widely regarded as the best QB of all time.  He was known as ‘Joe Cool’ as he was calm under pressure, and has 31 4th quarter comebacks in his career.  He started in four Superbowl games, winning all four.

Jerry Rice

Jerry Rice is considered the best WR of all time, and possibly the best player in the history of the NFL.  He was known as a perfectionist, and his work ethic translated to his amazing production on the field.  He has numerous receiving records, including receptions, receiving yards, and TDs.

Roger Craig

Craig was the first running back to having a 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season.  Only Marshall Faulk has matched his feat.  He was the perfect fit for the West Coast offense.    


Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmit Smith


Troy Aikman

Troy never put up gaudy numbers, but he will always be remembered for his accuracy, toughness, and leadership.  With all the big personalities on the Cowboys in the 90’s, he owned the huddle.

Emmit Smith

The NFL’s all time leading rusher was not the most physically gifted athlete, but his heart and desire can not be measured.  He was known to lay it all on the line for the team.  He once single-handedly beat the New York Giants with a separated shoulder.

Michael Irvin

The ‘Playmaker’ was widely recognized as the hardest worker on the Cowboys, during his tenure there.  He lived up to his nickname, as his continually made big plays in clutch situations for Aikman.



Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, and Andre Reed


Jim Kelly

Kelly was the architect of the K-Gun offense, which was a no-huddle spread offense that Kelly ran to perfection.  He led the Bills to four straight Superbowls, but unfortunately the talented Bills could never pull one off.

Thurman Thomas

Thomas was a multi-dimensional threat that fit perfectly into the Bills spread offense.  He led the AFC in rushing in 1989, 1990, and 1993.  During the 1989-1990 seasons, Thomas totaled 3,742 yards rushing and receiving, which was 200 more than any other player.

Andre Reed

Reed was the number one receiver for Kelly during their successful run.  He is toward the top of almost every statistical category.  Reed was part of “The Comeback”, as the Bills trailed the Houston Oliers 35-3 at half.  The Bills stormed back in the second half, and Reed caught 3 TDs to help Buffalo complete the comeback victory.


John Elway, Terrell Davis, and Rod Smith


John Elway

John Elway was one of the greatest QBs to never win a Super Bowl, prior to the 1997 season.  Elway won two straight Super Bowls in 1997-98, after losing three previous attempts.  Elway will always be known for his clutch play and comeback wins.

Terrell Davis

Davis was the help that Elway was lacking in Denver’s three previous Super Bowl losses.  During the 1996-98 seasons, Davis averaged 2,066 total yards and 17.6 TDs.  He was an integral part of the Broncos’ success during those seasons.

Rod Smith

Smith is the only undrafted player in NFL history to eclipse the 10,000 yard mark.  He was great blocker in addition to giving Elway a #1 target.  Smith had 5 receptions for 152 yards against the Falcons in Super Bowl 33, which included an 80 yard TD.


Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, and Issac Bruce


Kurt Warner

We all know his story.  Bag boy turned league and Super Bowl MVP.  He pulled the trigger for the “Greatest Show on Turf”.  In his two full seasons (1999 and 2001) he averaged 4,591 yards passing and 38.5 TD passes.

Marshall Faulk

Faulk will go down as one of the best all-around RBs of all time.  He was as good a receiver as he was a runner, and had an amazing three year for the Rams.  During the 1999-2001 seasons, he averaged 1,374 yards rushing, 5.4 YPC, 881 yards receiving, 83 receptions, and 19.6 TDs.

Issac Bruce

Ike Bruce was one of the most popular Rams, as indicated by the chants of “Bruuuuce”, every time he touched the ball.  In the Rams 1999 Super Bowl run, he led the team with 317 yards receiving and 2 TDs.  He caught a 73 yard TD in the Super Bowl, which ended up being the game winner.


Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, and Marvin Harrison


Peyton Manning

Manning has been one of the most durable and dependable QBs over his career.  He has won league MVPs as well as a Super Bowl MVP, and the Colts will always be contenders as long as he is behind center.

Edgerrrin James

‘Edge’ joined the Colts in 1999, after Marshall Faulk was traded to the Rams.  In his 7 seasons with the Colts, Edge had at least 1,500 yards rushing 4 times and he had at least 11 TDs 4 times.  The year after he was released by the Colts, Indianapolis won the Super Bowl.  Edge was given a Super Bowl ring by the Colts management for his years of service.

Marvin Harrison

Harrison and Manning were an amazing QB/WR combo from 1999-2006.  Harrison holds the record for most receptions in a season with 143, 4 straight seasons with at least 100 receptions, 8 straight seasons of at least 10 TD receptions, and 8 straight seasons of at least 1,100 yards receiving.



Tommy Rowan is the co-founder and writer for fantasyfanplay.com

For all your daily and up to the minute fantasy football news, insights, and analysis follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and dominate your draft with the Fantasy Fan Play Iphone/Ipad App