The Dallas Cowboys are obviously one of the most popular franchises in the National Football League for a reason. The team established a tradition of winning under legendary head coach Tom Landry and that tradition survived the transition to Jimmy Johnson during the early 1990s. Through the years not only have the Cowboys teams been popular and fan favorites, the Cowboys quarterbacks have also received more than their fair share of attention as well. Let’s take a look at the Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks through the years.
The franchise was born in 1960 as an NFL expansion team and at the starting quarterback position was veteran quarterback Eddie LeBaron. After a few years, backup quarterback “Dandy” Don Meredith emerged to become the regular starter. He was popular with the fans and would stay at the helm of the team until a strong armed youngster was able to get his chance at the end of the decade.
All through the 1970s, Roger Staubach was the face of the Dallas Cowboys and was a key reason the team became successful on the field. Staubach had a reputation as a good person of high quality to go along with his tremendous athletic ability. It was a sad day following the 1979 season when “Roger The Dodger” announced his retirement and the team turned its quarterbacking duties over to of all people… a punter.
Danny White had been the backup quarterback to Staubach for a number of years and during that time also served as the team’s punter. This made the Cowboys a dangerous team when he emerged as the starter in 1981 because when it was fourth down, no one was ever sure if they were going to go for it or actually punt the ball. In the mid 1980s a quarterback controversy developed in Dallas when young Gary Hogeboom joined the team. This controversy didn’t last long as Hogeboom eventually moved on to the Colts and the Cowboys drafted a new young quarterback who would get a shot at starting, Steve Pelleur. The end of the decade saw what some believe to be the unceremonious dumping of the legendary Tom Landry and the hiring of the brash Jimmy Johnson. Many other changes came to the team and a new starting quarterback was just one of them as rookie Troy Aikman would helm the squad to a 1-15 record in 1989.
Aikman would eventually lead a team featuring other star players including running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin to win three Super Bowl victories in four years. Many football experts have called this mid 1990s Dallas Cowboys teams one of the best teams in history. Aikman would remain at the helm through the rest of the decade and though they didn’t return to the big game, they were always considered a team that others had to worry about.
Following one season in the new decade, Troy Aikman would call it a career too and fade into the memories of the past. For the first time in team history, there wasn’t a clean transition when it came to the Cowboys starting quarterback after Troy Aikman’s retirement. The Cowboys tried Quincy Carter, Anthony Wright, Ryan Leaf, Clint Stoerner, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson, and Drew Bledsoe at starting quarterbacks from 2001 through 2006 before finding Tony Romo who would be their next quarterback to start consistently.
Because the Dallas Cowboys are one of the most popular teams in the history of the NFL, the starting quarterback for the team has also consistently been one of the more popular players. Playing quarterback for the Cowboys is similar to playing shortstop for the New York Yankees or center for the Los Angeles Lakers, most people know exactly who the person playing that position is even if they aren’t a big sports fan themselves. Watching the evolution of the quarterbacks of the Dallas Cowboys will continue to fascinating as the years go by, without a doubt there will be more great ones to come.