One of the most significant years in NFL history was 1960. It was the same year that Pete Rozelle was voted in as the new NFL commissioner, filling a role previously held by Bert Bell prior to his death in October of 1959. The move was very surprising at the time because Rozelle was only 33-years old and had very little experience. Even with the many objections against Pete becoming the commissioner, he was still voted in by the owners after a meeting in January of 1960 where it took a rumored 23 ballots before they finally reached a final decision.
Starting in 1960, the NFL added a Playoff Bowl, or third place game for the two team's that finished second in each conference, to be played at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. It was also the first year of the American Football League, AFL, which competed with the NFL until the two companies merged in 1966 to form the league we currently know today.
The Chicago Cardinals would also go through changes in 1960 and they moved to St. Louis. The NFL would also add two more teams in 1960 and 1961. The Minnesota Vikings were announced as the newest team to join the league and were scheduled to begin in 1961. Meanwhile, in Texas, the Dallas Cowboys became the NFL's 13th team.
The inaugural season for the Dallas Cowboys, who were actually called the Dallas Rangers before changing it in March, was nothing special outside of the hiring of New York Giants assistant coach, Tom Landry, as their first ever head coach. He would struggle in his first season and the Cowboys finished the 1960 season with a 0-11-1 record. It was the only time the Cowboys would not win a single game in one season.
Eventually, the Cowboys would turn things around and in 1971, they played in Super Bowl V where they lost to the Baltimore Colts 16-13. That marked the start of a decade of dominance for the Cowboys as they would go on to play in five Super Bowls between 1971 and 1979. In their first five Super Bowl appearances, they went 2-3. After the 1978 season, however, it would be 15 years before they returned to the Super Bowl.
The Cowboys dominated the 70's and 90's and ended up going to eight Super Bowls between those two decades with a 5-3 record. Let's take a look at those five wins and rank the 8 best and 7 worst Cowboys players to win a Super Bowl.
22 Best: Chuck Howley, LB (VI)
We find ourselves in a bit of a pickle here because Chuck Howley was one of the greatest and most dangerous defensive players in Dallas Cowboys history but his best performance in a Super Bowl did not happen or result in a win. It was actually in 1971, at Super Bowl V, when Chuck put up one of the single greatest defensive performances ever.
Although sacks and tackles were not recorded officially at the time, Chuck Howley still managed to grab two interceptions, one of which was in the endzone preventing the Colts from a game-tying score, and a fumble recovery.
Because of the lackluster performance by pretty much everyone on the field that day, Chuck Howley's impressive showing earned him the Super Bowl MVP award making him the only player to ever win that title while on the losing team.
21 Worst: Tommie Agee, RB (XXVII, XXVIII)
Before Daryl Johnston injured his shoulder in the preseason of the 1990 season, Tommie Agee was basically signed to be a backup and emergency fullback. But that injury opened up the door for Tommie Agee to start 11 games that year and rush for 213 yards in the season. He also caught 30 passes for 272 yards and a score making it his best season of his career.
But he would end up getting released in November of 1993 and then resigned in 1994 opening up the chance for him to earn two Super Bowl rings without ever getting a single carry or reception.
20 Best: Jay Novacek, TE (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
When it came to safety blankets, Troy Aikman used to love to find Jay Novacek cutting across the field about five to ten yards from the line of scrimmage. He later became one of Aikman's favorite passing targets, especially in Super Bowl XXVII and XXX.
Jay had two of the best performances ever, from a tight end in the Super Bowl when he caught seven passes for 72 yards and a touchdown during XXVII and then nabbed five more passes for 50 yards and a score in Super Bowl XXX. He owns the NFL record, among Tight Ends, for most receptions, receiving yards, and touchdowns in the Super Bowl, ever. His best performance, Super Bowl XXVII, ranks third all time as one of the greatest single game showing by a TE in the Super Bowl.
19 Worst: Dan Reeves, RB (VI, XIII)
No, your eyes did not deceive you. That is the same Dan Reeves who coached the Denver Broncos for 12 years, the New York Giants for four more years, and finally, the Atlanta Falcons for seven years. He is the same man who lead two different teams to four different Super Bowls, losing all four and it is the same man that was named the NFL's Coach of the Year, twice.
Long before he took the head coaching position with the Denver Broncos, he was a player for the Dallas Cowboys from 1965 until 1972. His two appearances, as a player, occurred at the tail end of his playing career when he was already dropping lower and lower on the depth chart. He played in Super Bowls V and VI and retired in 1972.
18 Best: Michael Irvin, WR (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
As the teams headed into a timeout during the two-minute warning of the first half of Super Bowl XXVII, Michael Irvin had one reception for 20 yards and was being shut down by a stout Buffalo Bills secondary. But then, in the matter of about 15 seconds, Troy Aikman connected with Irvin twice, for two touchdowns. Irvin would finish the game with six receptions for 114 receiving yards, and two scores.
Over the course of his only other Super Bowl appearances, Michael Irvin caught three passes for 75 yards and five for 76 yards giving him a grand total of 256 receiving yards, sixth all time in the Super Bowl. He is also seventh in receptions with 16.
17 Worst: Darrin Smith, LB (XXVIII, XXX)
There are a lot of players that might not necessarily put up any stats during the Super Bowl but still contribute, and that is fine. Darrin Smith, however, is a story for another day. In 1993, he had an outstanding rookie season and became their starting linebacker. He would finish the season with 93 tackles and a closet full of awards. He played in Super Bowl XXVIII but failed to get in on the turnover action. He recorded a couple of tackles but not much else.
But then cam the 1995 off-season and he was a restricted free agent that turned down the Cowboys contract offer and sat out the first seven games of the season before finally playing. That selfish attitude was rewarded when he was able to win another Super Bowl ring at Super Bowl XXX.
16 Best: Larry Brown, CB (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
In Super Bowl history, only three men have three interceptions for their entire Super Bowl career and two of them played for the Dallas Cowboys. Rod Martin, the legendary Oakland Raiders Linebacker, is the only non-Cowboy to steal three passes. Chuck Howley and Larry Brown, both men from Dallas, are the other two.
Larry Brown had two game-changing picks during Super Bowl XXX leading to him becoming the only cornerback in Super Bowl history to be named the Super Bowl MVP that year. Both interceptions occured in the second half during Pittsburgh Steeler drives that would have lead to either a game-leading score or a game-winning one. His performance was the greatest ever by a cornerback in Super Bowl history.
15 Worst: Derrick Gainer, HB (XXVII, XXVIII)
Of all the athletes that have had the honor of playing in a Super Bowl more than once, Derrick Gainer is one of the luckiest.
After being drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1989 NFL Draft, he ended up leaving the team shortly before his first season began only to sign on to their practice squad a month later. He would bounce around the league until landing a job as Emmitt Smith's backup running back in 1992 following their release of Curvin Richards, who had the backup role until fumbling issues left the Cowboys no choice but to release him.
For his career, Gainer had 41 carries for 120 yards rushing and one score in the regular season. His postseason does not look much better and between the two Super Bowl rings he now owns, he had a combined two carries for one yard.
14 Best: Roger Staubach, QB (VI, XIII)
Ask any Dallas Cowboys fan who is the greatest QB to ever wear the blue and silver and chances are you will hear the name Roger Staubach more than 60% of the time. Troy Aikman would end up being around 39% while the rest of the guys would equal the last 1%.
The fans that picked Roger Staubach are also the same fans that probably had the pleasure of watching him live and in action at some point.
During the two Super Bowls he won, he was named the MVP once, in Super Bowl VI, after going 12-for-19, 119 yards passing, and two touchdowns. He would next win Super Bowl XII where he would throw for another 183 yards and one touchdown.
13 Worst: Dale Hellestrae, LS (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
Before anyone gets upset over this choice, let's explain something first. Dale Hellestrae is considered to be the greatest long snapper in franchise history, as well as being one of the best in the NFL during his tenure in Dallas. But the main job of a long snapper is to snap the ball to the placeholder on field goals and to the punter for punting.
Between Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII, and XXX, the Cowboys punted a grand total of 12 times. It was just not something they had to do very often as one of the league's premier offenses's. In fact, they were usually near the bottom of the league each season during their three Super Bowl run in the '90s.
He makes the list for having three Super Bowl rings and almost nothing to show for it since he barely even played a single minute between all three games.
12 Best: Randy White, DT & Harvey Martin, DE (XII)
Super Bowl XII was a memorable one for several reasons. For starters, it was the first time a Super Bowl was held inside a domed stadium and also the first, of seven times, that the Super Bowl was held at the Louisiana Superdome. Also, it was the first, and only time, that the Super Bowl MVP award was given to two separate players in the same game, the Dallas Cowboys Randy White & Harvey Martin.
The Orange Crush defense of the Denver Broncos came in as the best in football until they faced the Doomsday defense of the Dallas Cowboys, led by the Co-MVP's White and Martin. Because Sacks were not officially counted until 1982, most Hall of Fame defensive players have never been given the credit they deserve for their dominance like when Harvey Martin, that season, had 23 sacks, which would be an NFL record.
If the Super Bowl MVP award could have been given to the entire Cowboys defense, they would have done so because of how stout and tough they played on the game's biggest stage.
11 Worst: Jason Garrett, QB (XXVIII, XXX)
Jason Garrett knew who he was and what he was destined to become in the NFL. He knew he would be nothing more than a backup QB in Dallas and he turned it into a career.
As such, he was there for the Cowboys last two Super Bowl appearances, just waiting on the sidelines for something to happen to Troy Aikman so he could finally get in and make a play in a Super Bowl. But it never happened and the only chance he has to appear in a Super Bowl would be as a head coach, if the Dallas Cowboys can get back there this season. But he still will not be able to take a snap or even make a play. He better enjoy those two rings for doing absolutely nothing for them.
10 Best: Troy Aikman, QB (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
If not for the play of our No.1 Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl winning player, Troy Aikman would be the easy choice. His performance during Super Bowl XXVII was so excellent that he earned himself the one and only Super Bowl MVP award of his career. Some say it was his single greatest performance of his career. For the game he went 22-for-30 with a 73.3% completion percentage and passing for 273 yards and four scores.
After winning two more Super Bowls in four years total, Troy would finish his Super Bowl career with a completion percentage of 70%, 689 passing yards, five touchdowns, and one interception. He never lost a Super Bowl, finishing with a 3-0 career record, along with many of his fellow teammates in the '90s.
9 Worst: Godfrey Myles, LB (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
The worst mistake a player can make is getting injured for something not related to the game itself. That was exactly what happened to linebacker Godfrey Myles, the former third round draft pick from the University of Florida. At Super Bowl XXVII, Godfrey was in the midst of a touchdown celebration with his teammates when he was shoved and he tore his ACL in the process. He would not return to football until Week 9 of the following season.
He might just be the only man in NFL history to win three Super Bowls while only helping them during one, in Super Bowl XXX following the 1995 season. During the regular season that year, Darrin Smith held out and Robert Jones was injured, leading to Godfrey Myles chance to play and he got some solid playing time throughout the rest of the season and through the Super Bowl victory.
He has three rings and maybe one or two moments worth remembering unfortunately.
1 Best: Emmitt Smith, RB (XXVII, XXVIII, XXX)
Emmitt Smith ranks among the greatest Super Bowl performers in NFL history after his incredible three game run in Super Bowls XXVII, XXVIII, XXX. He has already been considered the greatest running back in NFL history, owning a ton of NFL records including having the most rushing yards in a career. He is without a doubt the greatest running back in Super Bowl history too thanks to his 289 rushing yards (3rd place all-time), five rushing scores (NFL record), and that coveted Super Bowl MVP award he earned during Super Bowl XXVIII when he rushed for 132 yards and two touchdowns, on 30 carries.
He was not the prettiest runner and he was never the type to put himself above the team so his highlights are far and few between. But what he did better than anyone else was use his teammates like they were extensions of himself. He could hit the open holes and run behind his offensive line like anyone we had ever seen and have yet to see, even today.