Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players, Part VI: Frederick to Waters

Matthew Postins

Continuing today, in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Dallas Cowboys, we present our Top 60 All-Time Greatest Players in Franchise History.

For the next 12 days, we will present the Top 60 in groups of five, leading up to Nos. 1-5 on Sept. 12.

If you feel we've done a guy wrong (or right!) let us know on Twitter @PostinsPostcard and we'll barroom-brawl over it!

So, now we present Nos. 31-35. Note the criteria for selection at the bottom of the article. And if you missed any of our other pieces, check them out below.

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 56-60

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 51-55

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 46-50

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 41-45

➡️ Cowboys Top 60 Greatest Players: Nos. 36-40

35. WR Tony Hill

Hill had the good fortune to play with Drew Pearson, and Pearson certainly overshadowed “The Thrill.” But, the third-round pick in 1977 won a Super Bowl ring, earned three Pro Bowl selections and racked up impressive numbers opposite Pearson. Hill is third all-time in Cowboys history in receiving yards (7,988), fifth in touchdown receptions (51) and sixth in combined yards (8,436).

34. C Travis Frederick

Frederick’s career ended after last season (assuming he doesn’t return), and one could make the case that he retired as the best center in Cowboys history, despite only playing seven years (missing a year due to Guillain-Barre Syndrome). Frederick made five Pro Bowls while earning three All-Pro selections (one first-team pick). Time will tell if Frederick moves up, or down, this list based on his play during that short period of time.

33. OL Erik Williams

The third-round could have been one of the best offensive linemen in Cowboys history. But what might have been if not for that 1995 car crash (which actually allowed room for Larry Allen to move into the offensive line rotation). Despite that car accident, Williams was a three-time Super Bowl champion, a three time All-Pro and a four-time Pro Bowl selection. But he was certainly on track to be higher on this list had it not been for that car accident.

32. S Charlie Waters

Waters played 11 years for the Cowboys and was named to the NFL’s All-Rookie team in 1970. He is third in Cowboys history with 41 interceptions. He struggled as a cornerback, but thrived as a safety opposite Cliff Harris. Once he moved to safety full-time, Waters ended up with three Pro Bowl nods, two All-Pro selections (both second team) and won two Super Bowl rings.

31. RB Don Perkins

Before Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith there was Perkins, who played his college football at New Mexico under future Buffalo head coach Marv Levy. The Cowboys acquired Perkins through an unusual personal services contract, executed before the Colts took him in the 1960 Draft. The contract was contingent on the Cowboys getting a franchise. Once Perkins made the roster in 1961 he was the team’s No.1 back through 1968, rushing for 6,217 yards and 42 touchdowns. His rushing yards is currently third in Cowboys history. Perkins was the NFL Rookie of the Year, a six-time Pro Bowler and a three-time All-Pro. He was one of the first members of the Cowboys Ring of Honor, inducted with teammate Don Meredith.

Tomorrow: Nos. 26-30.

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. 

Register today for free or log in to access this premium article.