The winner of the 4th jeffpearlman.com book giveaway …

One week ago I posed the following: As the fourth (and best) jeffpearlman.com book giveaway, I offer this: I have compiled a list of the 10 players I consider to be most vital to the 90s Dallas Cowboys’ vast successes. Post your own list here (in order of importance), and the one that comes closest to matching mine wins a freshly minted copy of “Boys Will Be Boys,” as well my DVD (which I used for research) of the history of the Cowboys—as well as a used, one-of-a-kind Jeff Pearlman tissue.

So, to kick things off, here’s my list:

1. Michael Irvin, wide receiver: Irvin caused myriad off-the-field problems, but no player was more responsible for the Cowboys’ success. Irvin remains the hardest working player most Cowboys have ever seen. It was contagious.
2. Troy Aikman, quarterback: There was a time, in the early 1990s, when Jimmy Johnson thought Aikman would never develop into a quality NFL starter. He’s now, of course, in the Hall of Fame.
3. Emmitt Smith, running back: To measure Smith’s value, all one has to do is go back to the start of the 1993 season, when Smith held out and the defending Super Bowl champs went 0-2.
4. Herschel Walker, running back: An excellent player under Tom Landry who Johnson immediately traded to the Vikings for a package of players and picks that wound up resulting in Smith, Clayton Holmes, Darren Woodson and Russell Maryland. A steal, times 1,000.
5. Charles Haley, defensive end: Arrived before the 1992 season and changed everything. A once-ordinary pass rush became dominant, and Haley was the reason. Would probably rank even higher were he not, ahem, insane.

6. Darren Woodson, safety: The NFL’s best safety for a solid five-year span, Woodson was the rare defensive back who could cover like a cornerback and also slam into ball carriers like a linebacker.

7. Jay Novacek, tight end: The most reliable receiver on the team and, maybe, the NFL, Novacek kept defenses honest and made one key catch after another.
8. Mark Stepnoski, center: The glue of the NFL’s best offensive line. Undersized and underrated, Stepnoski was an amazing blocker and an even better leader.
9. Daryl Johnston, fullback: Garnered oodles of attention for leading Emmitt Smith’s way, but equally adept at protecting Aikman on pass plays.
10. Erik Williams, offensive lineman: Before he nearly died in a car accident, the best lineman most had ever seen. Legendary—but reckless.

***

After much deliberation, the winner is … David, who probably should be flogged for saying “Charles Woodson” instead of “Darren Woodson,” but otherwise had every name on my list. David, drop me an e-mail at anngold22@gmail.com, and I’ll hook you up.

Thanks to everyone for participating. Book comes out in 13 days …

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