Lett Me Love You: Leon Is Greatest #78 In Cowboys History

There are officially 78 days until the toe meets the ball at AT&T Stadium where the Dallas Cowboys will host the New York Giants on NBC’s Sunday Night Football.

Happy Saturday! I hope that you are reading this in the comfort of your own home with your feet propped up, relaxing and living the good life. In order to make your life as easy as possible, we’re going to keep this one short and simple. Let’s figure out who the Greatest 78 in Dallas Cowboys History is.

The following players have all worn 78 for the Dallas Cowboys:

  • Bob Asher, OT
  • John Dutton, DT
  • Dean Hamel, DT
  • Don Healy, DT
  • Leon Lett, DT
  • John Meyers, DT
  • Jermey Parnell, OT
  • Greg Schaum, DE
  • Junior Siavii, DT
  • Kurt Vollers, OT
  • Bruce Walton, OT
  • Dave Widell, OT
  • Maury Youmans, DE

I promised you short and simple! 78 boils down to two down linemen: Leon Lett and John Dutton.

John Dutton was a defensive animal. Obtained by trade with the Baltimore Colts in 1979, Dutton came into a defensive line rotation that found itself without Jethro Pugh and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. He gets lost in the shuffle of defensive greatness considering that he put his hand in the ground next to Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy White, but Dutton may be the most underrated Cowboys down lineman in history. Dutton, White, and our Greatest 79 in Dallas Cowboys History Harvey Martin all helped anchor the 1985 Dallas Cowboys that hold the team record for most sacks in a season with 62. Dutton was a part of a Cowboys squad that went to three straight NFC Championship games in 1980, 1981, and 1982…losing to the eventual Super Bowl Champion 49ers and Redskins in ’81 and ’82 respectively. While Dutton was great, 78 belongs to another Cowboy.

Leon Lett was a 7th round draft selection in 1991 that was, honestly, lucky just to make the team. After an injury plagued rookie year, Lett found himself as a big cog in the defensive line rotation in 1992. Known for his quickness and agility his teammates affectionately nicknamed him “The Big Cat” (we might see this nickname again on this countdown soon!). Lett and the fleet of pass rushers that Butch Davis put together helped the Cowboys on the defensive side of the ball throughout the run of their dynasty in the 1990s.

Lett is sometimes remembered for two iconic plays:

  • Late in Super Bowl XXVII, with the game already in hand, Leon picked up a fumble and raced towards the end zone. As he reached the 10-yard line Leon held the ball out to his side, similar to the touchdown celebration of teammate Michael Irvin but did not see a racing Don Beebe. Beebe’s never-give-up speed allowed him to force a fumble with the ball falling out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback giving the ball back to the Buffalo Bills.
  • It snowed on Thanksgiving Day 1993 in Texas Stadium. Neither the Cowboys or the Miami Dolphins were too thrilled about this. With the Cowboys leading the Dolphins 14-13, with 15 seconds on the clock, Miami set up for a go-ahead field goal. Dallas blocked the kick and only needed to allow the ball to come to a complete stop without touching it. Lett slid in on the snow, touched the ball, making it live and a free-for-all. Miami recovered and had another shot at victory, which they took and made.

Leon Lett should be remembered for his 217 tackles, 22.5 sacks, and 3 Super Bowl rings. He was an iconic face on the teams that we remember so fondly and is the Greatest 78 in Dallas Cowboys History. Lett is looking to continue the tradition of Cowboys excellence as he currently serves on the coaching staff as Assistant Defensive Line Coach. Right on, Leon!

Check back tomorrow to find out who the Greatest 77 in Dallas Cowboys History is!