One of the more successful teams in the National Football League for a long time, the Dallas Cowboys have been the beneficiary of having some great quarterbacks throughout their history. The team began play in 1960 and would go on to play in some of the greatest games ever over the course of their existence. They have won playoff games, conference titles, and Super Bowl championships, and many of these victories have been thanks to great play by their star quarterbacks.
Here is a look at some of the great quarterbacks of the Dallas Cowboys:
“Dandy” Don Meredith
The Dallas Cowboys would acquire Don Meredith during his rookie year after he was originally drafted by the Chicago Bears. Meredith would serve as the backup during the Cowboys first two seasons in the league before becoming a part time starter in 1962 and then the full time starting quarterback in 1963. The Cowboys, with Meredith leading the way, would climb up the rungs of the NFL in the mid 1960s and eventually play in some of the bigger games of the decade. Meredith would be the quarterback for Dallas when they would lose back-to-back NFL Championship games in 1966 and 1967 to the Green Bay Packers. He would establish himself not only as one of the better quarterbacks in the league, but he would also stake his claim to being one of the first fan favorites in Dallas Cowboys history. Don Meredith would shock Cowboys fans and the football world by announcing his retirement from the game in 1969. He would eventually find fame again as one of the popular commentators on ABC’s Monday Night Football.
Roger “The Dodger” Staubach
Roger Staubach’s arrival with the Dallas Cowboys in 1969 would be timed perfectly as it came at roughly the same time that the team would lose popular starting quarterback Don Meredith to retirement. The Cowboys actually drafted Staubach in 1964, but the quarterback had played collegiately at the Naval Academy and was required to fulfill four years of military service before he was free to join the world of professional football as a 27 year old rookie. Staubach spent the first two seasons of his pro career as the backup quarterback before stepping into the starter role early in the 1971 season, eventually leading the team to a victory in Super Bowl VI over the Miami Dolphins. Staubach’s time as the full time starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys would only last from 1972 through 1979 as he would announce his retirement in March of 1980. During that time he would be a six time Pro Bowler, win a second Super Bowl ring following the 1977 season, appear in two other Super Bowl games, be named the Super Bowl MVP of Super Bowl VI, and be named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team. After his career in football, Staubach concentrated on a career in real estate and was very successful.
While statistically Danny White may not be in the class of some of the other great Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks, he did have a somewhat successful career in one of the more higher profile quarterback jobs in the NFL. White’s professional football debut happened in the shortlived World Football League where he played for the Memphis Southmen. He joined the Cowboys in 1976 and served mainly as Roger Staubach’s backup during his early years with the team. Danny White was also the punter on the team and this unique positioning of having their backup quarterback as their punter made opponents always have to be wary that the Cowboys may be calling a fake punt play. Though he would not lead the team back to the Super Bowl, White’s Cowboys did make it to three consecutive NFC Championship Games, only to lose each of those contests. From 1982 on White would spend time as the starting quarterback, split time as the starter, and see time as the backup to the likes of Gary Hogeboom and Steve Pelleur. Danny White would announce his retirement in 1989 and a few years later move on to become a successful head coach in the Arena Football League.
Troy Aikman was one of the golden boy athletes in his early days as he was offered a Major League Baseball contract right out of high school before becoming a starting quarterback for two major college football programs (Oklahoma Sooners and UCLA Bruins) before being drafted into the NFL in 1989 by the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys would be undergoing serious overhaul at the time that Aikman joined the team with a new owner in Jerry Johnson and a new head coach with Jimmy Johnson replacing the legendary Tom Landry. His first year with the team would see the Cowboys put up the unimpressive record of 1-15. But, the team was forming a nucleus of young players during those early 1990s that would include Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, and Emmitt Smith. Before long this young team would be lead by Aikman to wins in Super Bowls XXVII, XXVII, and XXX. Aikman himself would win the MVP Award in Super Bowl XXVII. Though he wouldn’t return to the Super Bowl later in his career, Aikman put up solid numbers and contributed to winning teams up until his retirement in 2001 due in large part to a series of concussions he had suffered. During his career, Aikman passed for more yards than any other Cowboys quarterback, won more games during the 1990s than any other NFL quarterback, and had been named to six consecutive Pro Bowls. Like many popular players, Aikman entered the world of broadcasting following his football career and was successful there too as he has been included on multiple Super Bowl broadcasts and was even nominated for an Emmy Award in 2004.
Though it is very early in his career, the Dallas Cowboys appear to have latched onto another great quarterback with their current starter Tony Romo. If history is any indication, as long as there is success on the field, Romo will not only be seen as a quality quarterback, but with the support of the millions of Cowboy fans behind him, he will be elevated to one of the superstars in the league.
Except for a very shaky start at the beginning of their existence, not unlike most other franchises, and then a down time during the late 1980s, the Cowboys have experienced an amazing amount of consistent success. This was due to a number of things including stability at the head coaching position as well as the ownership of the team. But, it was also due to the luck and intelligence involved in obtaining and developing great quarterbacks. At almost every step in the history of the Dallas Cowboys, they have had great quarterbacks running the team on the field, and it has definitely paid off. Just ask any fan of the team.