Daryl Johnston Should be in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor


When Dallas Cowboys Owner and GM Jerry Jones inducted Drew Pearson, Larry Allen, and Charley Haley in to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, it brought the total to 20 men (18 players plus Tom Landry and Tex Schramm) in the Ring. It also sparked questions about whether Charley Haley deserved to be in The Ring, and that controversy led some of us to start thinking about who should be the next to get inducted in to the Ring.

Nov 6, 2011; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys ring of honorees Larry Allen Charles Haley and Drew Pearson (left to right) during a halftime ceremony from the game against the Seattle Seahawks at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

We decided to let you, the Dallas Cowboys faithful, determine which Cowboy player(s) most deserve to be in the Ring of Honor. We will begin providing profiles for the 10 finalists this week. If you want to read about the methodology we used to create the list of 10 finalists or the 3 players who received Honorable Mentions for almost making the Top 10, please click here

The first candidate we present for your consideration is Daryl “The Moose” Johnston.

Like several players who were a part of the 3 Super Bowls in the 1990s, Daryl Johnston changed the way NFL thought about the personnel. It was not quite the same as Bob Hayes forcing defense to invent zone coverage, but it did change the selection process for the NFL Pro Bowl.

Johnston’s blocking, coupled with Emmitt’s production and the Cowboys’ success, created a niche in the NFL for the bruising FB who didn’t carry the ball, but could move blockers out of the hole. Daryl was 6’2” and around 240 lbs.

Johnston was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1989 NFL Draft; he retired after the 1999 season due to a neck injury. Between his rookie season and 1997, he played in an impressive 149 consecutive games.

People get so caught up in the memories of Johnston busting opening big holes for Emmitt, they forget that he was also a valuable contributor to the special teams units

Before Johnston demonstrated to the NFL world that a lead-blocker consistently removing multiple potential tacklers on a single play could anchor an almost unstoppable rushing attach, the NFL had never selected a ‘blocking FB’ to the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl selection process still thought of the FB as another RB.

Johnston played his entire career, 11 years, in Dallas. He had 232 carries for less than a 1000 yards. He caught 294 passes for 2,227 yards. Yet he still made the Pro Bowl in 93 and 94

Most memorable Johnston moment: It was difficult not to choose a crushing block or an important TD reception off a play-action to Emmitt.  The day that Emmitt broke Walter Payton’s All-Time NFL Rushing record, Johnston started the day out in the broadcasting booth, but he went down to the field in anticipation of his former teammates epic accomplishment.  I challenge anyone who was a fan of the Cowboys in the 90s to watch the video of Emmitt and Daryl celebrating and not get choked up.

The Nickname:

In the words of former Cowboy QB Babe Laufenberg:

"“We had all these 5-foot-9 running backs at the time — all little guys,” Laufenberg said. “Daryl was in the back of the pack when they came in, and I said something like, ‘Look at all the deer, and there’s a big ol’ moose behind them.'”"

Why the Moose Deserves to be in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor:

I think the average fan realizes that Daryl Johnston played a huge role in the Cowboys’ offense that won 3 Super Bowls.  He opened holes for Emmitt, he protected Aikman, and he had reliable hands when he was needed as a receiver out of the backfield.

To be honest, I still believe that Moose should have been inducted on September 19, 2005.

That was the day that Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, and Troy Aikman were inducted.

My logic for thinking that Johnston should have been inducted with Emmitt is based on the magnitude of Moose’s historical contribution to the franchise. The Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s in general, and Emmitt Smith specifically, will be a part of NFL history forever.

They may not have won many playoff games in the last 15 years, but Emmitt Smith is the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher. His record will stand for years, if not decades. If people still talk about Jim Brown when they discuss the NFL’s best RB ever, you can be sure that people will still be talking about Emmitt Smith in 50 years. Not many other players today can say that with as much confidence as Emmitt.

Lets not forget how Gretzky-like Emmitt’s record is. He rushed for 18,355 yards. The closest player who is still active is LaDainian Tomlinson with 13, 684. After LT, the next in line with an outside chance is Steven Jackson who has amassed 9,093 yards in his first 8 seasons. He is 28. But everyone knows it is the yards that you need to gain after your 32nd birthday that very few seem capable of getting. Even if he had another 8 seasons as equally productive as his first 8, he would still be 169 yards behind Emmitt.

My point is this: even if Cowboy fans never win another Super Bowl, they will always have Emmitt Smith, which is more than the vast majority of NFL franchises(to say nothing of the 5 Lombardi trophies).  I don’t believe that you can conclusively say that Cowboy fans would have the NFL’s All-Time Leading Rusher if they didn’t have Daryl Johnston leading the way for Emmitt.  Of the 18,355 rushing yards gained by Emmitt, 13,963 came in seasons when Johnston was playing with him in Dallas.  Emmitt rushed for less than 4400 yards after the Moose retired.  

If you still need another reason, go watch one of Emmitt’s highlight reels and pay attention to the number of big runs Emmitt had where he didn’t have to juke or run over a would-be tackler until he was in the secondary.  Daryl Johnston was a big reason why the LB’s didn’t even have a chance to tackle Emmitt on many plays.

If you want a hint about which Dallas Cowboys are still to come, think about players that caused changes to the way Pro Bowl Teams were selected.