As another Cowboys’ minicamp kicks off at Valley Ranch, time to learn lots of new uniform numbers.
Darren McFadden is No. 20. Greg Hardy No. 76. Randy Gregory No. 94. Byron Jones No. 31. La’el Collins is 71. And, of course, Lucky Whitehead will wear No. 13.
But here’s where it gets tricky. Because, after all these years, the NFL team steeped in history and tradition doesn’t retire numbers.
Or do they?
Technically, no they don’t. At AT&T Stadium you can find the Ring of Honor where great players are immortalized but their numbers aren’t officially retired.
But here’s the confusing part: While I’ve never seen Roger Staubach’s No. 12 or Troy Aikman’s No. 8 given to another player, other hallowed numbers get passed around and shared like a bag of movie theater popcorn.
Mel Renfro is in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, yet his No. 20 is this year on McFadden’s back. Same for Charles Haley, whose No. 94 spent some time with DeMarcus Ware before now belonging to Gregory.
The Cowboys’ famed No. 54 went from Super Bowl MVPs Chuck Howley and Randy White to first-round bust Bobby Carpenter. And Tony Dorsett’s No. 33? In the Ring of Honor, in the Hall of Fame and … currently in the locker of rookie free agent cornerback Jason Wilson.
The Cowboys’ policy on numbers makes 0 sense.
Even "Mr. Cowboy" himself - Bob Lilly - can look out at Valley Ranch this week and see his No. 74 worn by somebody named R.J. Dill. Imagine the Yankees giving Babe Ruth's No. 3 to some Double-A utility infielder.
Jason Garrett once wore Don Meredith’s No. 17. Elvis Patterson had Don Perkins’ and Cliff Harris’ No. 43. And No. 22 has belonged to two Hall of Famers – Bob Hayes and Emmitt Smith.
The Cowboys obviously sorta think it’s okay to “retire” numbers, as long as you're a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. But they also sorta think if a number is good, continue to let it breed great players.
Right, Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin and Dez Bryant?
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.