FRISCO - The Dallas Cowboys have an interesting and grand tradition not of "officially retiring a jersey number,'' but rather, just putting certain iconic numbers on freeze.
Think about it: You don't see any more No. 8's (Troy Aikman), No. 12's (Roger Staubach) or No. 74's (Bob Lilly's), right?
You also don't see any No. 22's. And based on a hint from new NFL free-agent defensive addition Keanu Neal, that Emmitt Smith-related honor is slated to continue.
Neal, as of this moment, is not official signed yet. (A physical and a signing is forthcoming.) But the former Atlanta Falcons safety - who wore No. 22 there - has used social media to suggest that he'll be rockin' No. 42.
Emmitt, of course, is a three-time Super Bowl champion and the holder of the maybe-unbreakable all-time NFL rushing record. Like Staubach, Aikman and Lilly, Smith has continued in retirement to carry a "Mr. Cowboy'' sort of aura, all originated by Lilly.
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So Neal moves on to a new number (the No. 42 he wore in college at Florida) ... but No. 88, of course, is allowed to carry on. Drew Pearson led to Michael Irvin who led to Dez Bryant who led to CeeDee Lamb, links in a wide receiver chain that is operated by the Dallas Cowboys in the exact opposite way from which they operate Nos. 8, 12, 22 and 74.
It's "quirky'' ... and of course, Cowboys Nation surely wouldn't want it any other way.
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