Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players, Part IV: Newton to Newman
For the next 12 days, we will present the Top 60 in groups of five, leading up to Nos. 1-5 on Sept. 12.
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So, now we present Nos. 41-45. Note the criteria for selection at the bottom of the article. And if you missed any of our other pieces, check them out below.
45. OL Mark Tuinei
One of the biggest longshots in Cowboys history. Tuinei turned down the USFL, where he was a 19th round draft pick, to sign with the Cowboys as undrafted free agent. Tuinei played on the Cowboys’ defensive line, moved to the offensive line two years later and then played all three line positions before finding his groove in the 1990s with two Pro Bowl selections and three Super Bowl rings. Sadly, Tuinei died of a drug overdose in 1999.
44. OL Nate Newton
Newton landed in Dallas in 1986 after a year on Washington’s practice squad and two years with the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits. Nicknamed “The Kitchen” in response to Chicago Bears offensive lineman William “The Refrigerator” Perry, Newton found a place as a guard on those great 1990s Cowboys team and earned three Super Bowl rings, six Pro Bowl selections and two All-Pro selections.
43. LB Bob Breunig
A third-round pick in 1975, Bruenig came to the Cowboys at the end of the Lee Roy Jordan and Chuck Howley era. He quickly became a starter and, when Jordan retired, became the franchise’s third middle linebacker in its history. A back injury ended Bruenig’s career after 10 seasons, but he remains No. 6 on the Cowboys’ all-time tackles list (1,016). He was selected to three Pro Bowls, four All-NFC teams and earned one All-Pro nod, a second-team selection, in 1980.
42. C Mark Stepnoski
Stepnoski logged nine years with Dallas, but his prime was from 1989-1994. As the center he anchored back-to-back Super Bowl champions before cashing in with a big contract from the Houston Oilers. As a Cowboy he reached three Pro Bowls and earned two All-Pro selections. He also earned a place on the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1990s. Had Stepnoski remained with the Cowboys after that second Super Bowl, he might be higher on this list.
41. DB Terence Newman
The Cowboys made Newman the No. 5 overall pick in the 2003 NFL Draft. The hope was that he would become a Deion Sanders-type of cornerback. Newman wasn’t quite that good, but he had an above-average career in Dallas. His 32 interceptions is tied for seventh in Cowboys history. Newman made two Pro Bowls as a Cowboy.
Tomorrow: Nos. 36-40.
Top 60 criteria:
Player honors — Pro Football Hall of Fame, Cowboys Ring of Honor, All-Pro selections, Pro Bowl selections, MVP awards, etc… That has to be a big part of the process.
Team success — Pro football is a team game, and as such every player on the list played a part in a successful era in Cowboys history (though success is, to some degree, in the eyes of the beholder).
Time with Cowboys — This is important. As part of this process I only took into account a player’s time WITH the Cowboys. There have been some great players that have come through Dallas, but some of them only spent a few years with the team. Depending upon how successful they and the team were during their time, that influenced whether they made the list or not. That also includes their impact and role in that success, whether there are statistics associated with that or not.
Feedback from experts — Throughout the process I consulted with two writers that have been around the Cowboys since the 1990s — Mike Fisher and Richie Whitt. Their feedback, along with the bios that I wrote on each player, played a role in where players were ranked.