On Monday, the Cowboys unveiled monuments for each of their Ring of Honor members at The Star in Frisco. It was a beautiful ceremony, and the monuments will be visited by fans for generations to come.
That’s not what I want to discuss, though.
It’s time for Dallas to retire some numbers. I know this goes against policy or long held belief, as the Cowboys are among five NFL teams to have never retired a uniform number. The others are three recent expansion franchises (Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars) and the Oakland Raiders. I’m sure the Ravens will retire Ray Lewis; am actually surprised they haven’t already.
Obviously, Tex Schramm and Al Davis didn’t believe in retiring numbers and the franchises have continued that policy to this very day. I have no idea what the deal is with the Raiders, but here’s what doesn’t make sense to me about the Cowboys.
Four numbers have already received the same treatment as those retired. They have been taken out of circulation. Those are 8, 12, 22 and 74. (“Bullet” Bob Hayes also wore No. 22 which certainly doesn’t hurt the cause). So why not retire them? I’m not saying retire every member of the Ring of Honor. Even with their history back to the early days of the league, I think it’s overkill that the Chicago Bears have retired 14 numbers. It should be sacred.
Four players for a franchise about to kick off its 57th season, that seems more than reasonable to me. Pretty sure no one would disagree with this, right? It’s a no-brainer.
Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Emmitt Smith and Bob Lilly.
Just flipping through the uniform numbers section of the media guide, it becomes obvious how special Schramm and Jerry Jones consider these four players as no one has worn their digits since they last played. Every other number, from 1 through 99, has been issued to a player during the regular season since 2005, and all but Nos. 48 and 49 since 2010, and that’s only because, let’s be honest, no one wants to wear them.
As for No. 88, that’s a tough one. Yes, it’s been worn by Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin and now Dez Bryant, but in between the latter two, it was worn by Jackie Harris, Antonio Bryant and some dude named Brett Pierce. Dez has definitely restored the honor to the double eights, which leads to two options when he hangs them up. Either retire it for the trio, or allow it to remain out there, maybe a highly touted first-round pick in 2030 wants to follow in their path and wear 88. That could be cool, too.
I also strongly feel that no Cowboys player should wear No. 82 after Jason Witten retires in 20 or 30 years.
For now, though, Lilly is 78 years old and Staubach is 75. Both looked great at the Ring of Honor ceremony, but hey, none of us is aging in the reverse. No time like the present.
Can even break it up. Maybe retire those two later this season, Aikman/Smith in 2018. Have plenty of time to figure out what to do with No. 88 and then Witten.
Also, and this is important to stress, this isn’t me deciding who is and who isn’t worthy of having their number retired. In my mind, the decisions on Lilly, Staubach, Aikman and Smith have already been made. Having a halftime ceremony and putting the numbers, the jerseys, for all to see, at both AT&T Stadium and Ford Center, would just be making it official.
Although, as I’m sitting here writing this, and thinking about it, yeah, if someone asked me, “Name the four retired Cowboys players most deserving of having their number retired.”
My answers would be Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith.
Follow Jeff Sullivan on Twitter, @SullyBaldHead, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Read