The Dallas Cowboys have had a long history of great football teams, appearing in eight Super Bowls and winning five of them. One of the reasons for the Cowboy’s success is the great quarterbacks they have had over the years. During the 1960s they had Don Meredith. During the 1970s they had Craig Morton and Roger Staubach. The 1980s featured Danny White. In the 1990s they had Troy Aikman. After Aikman retired the Cowboys had a hard time finding another franchise quarterback. The team tried Anothony Wright, Clint Stoerner, Chad Huchison, Ryan Leaf, Vinny Testerverde, Drew Henson, Quincy Carter, and Drew Bledsoe before finding Tony Romo.
I don’t believe a player should be judged until their career is over, so I won’t consider Tony Romo for this article. I will rate the quarterbacks based on their accomplishments on the field, their passing statistics, winning percentage, and playoff success. When judging quarterbacks the most important thing to consider is how they perform in the post season, and particularly in the Super Bowl.
1. Troy Aikman (1989-2001)
Troy Aikman was drafted as the number one overall pick in the 1989 draft. Aikman suffered through a miserable 1-15 season as a rookie. The beating he took during his rookie season probably led to his injury problems later in his career. He holds the record for the most win in a decade, winning 90 games during the 1990s. He led the Cowboys to three Super Bowls in a four year period, winning all three of them. He was the MVP of Super Bowl XXVII. Aikman has the highest completion percentage in the history of the Super Bowl, completing 70% of his passes. Aikman’s overall post season record is 11-5.
I know many people would pick Roger Staubach as the better quarterback. Staubach was known as “Captain Comeback” for leading the Cowboys to 23 come from behind victories in the fourth quarter. Aikman didn’t need to lead many fourth quarter comebacks because he took care of business during the first three quarters of the game. And his 3-0 record in the Super Bowl also gives him the edge over Staubach.
2. Roger Staubach (1969-1979)
Roger Staubach was drafted in the tenth round in the 1964 draft. He had a five year commitment to the Navy after leaving the Naval Academy and most teams didn’t want to wait five years so the Cowboys were able to get him in the tenth round. Staubach led the Cowboys to four Super Bowls, winning two of them. During Staubach’s career he led the Cowboys to six NFC championship games, winning four of them. Staubach’s career record in the post season was 11-6, including 2-2 in the Super Bowl. He was the MVP of Super Bowl VI when the Cowboys defeated the Miami Dolphins 24-3. Staubach was the highest rated passer in the NFL four times. When he retired he was the highest rated passer of all time.
3. Don Meredith (1960-1968)
Meredith is probably best known for his work on Monday Night Football. Like Aikman, he started his career playing on some bad Cowboy teams. By the mid-1960s the Cowboys were winning. Meredith never led the Cowboys to a Super Bowl. He was the Cowboys quarterback during the “Ice Bowl” in 1967, losing 21-17 to the Packers for the right to go to Super Bowl II. The Cowboys also lost the previous year to the Packers for the right to go to the first Super Bowl.
4. Danny White (1976-1988)
Danny White had the misfortune of following Roger Staubach. He could never escape from the shadow of “Captain Comeback”. He did lead the Cowboys to three consecutive NFC championship games during the 1980-1982 seasons, losing all three games. He holds the team record for most touchdown passes in a season (29) and most passing yards in a season (3980). He was benched and replaced with Gary Hogeboom in 1984. He regained the starting job but lost it again to Steve Pelleur in 1987 and never regained the starting job again. He was cut shortly after the Cowboys drafted Troy Aikman.
5. Craig Morton (1965-1974)
Craig Morton led the Cowboys to the Super Bowl after the 1970, losing to the Colts 16-13 on a last second field goal. He threw two fourth quarter interceptions that many believe are largely responsible for the Cowboys losing the game. He was replaced by Roger Staubach in 1971. He was later traded after the 1974 season. He lost the Super Bowl again, this time throwing four interceptions against the Cowboys in Super Bowl XXII.
Feel free to post a comment with your thoughts on the greatest Dallas Cowboy quarterback. Also be sure to vote in the poll below.
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Dutch Robbins on November 14, 2014:
Tony Romo has to prove he can advance to the big game so far none. Even Meredith lost 2 big championship games to the packers and a playoff game to Cleveland. White lost the big playoff game against the 49ers . All 3 qbs didn't even make it to the Super Bowl. Give Morton credit he was the first qb to do so. If running back duane Thomas didn't fumble the ball at the 1 yard line and two passes should had been caught result 2 interceptions against Morton qn blame. Morton career would have taken a different change for the future for Morton. The Dallas team only got better thru the years ahead.
Larry Rankin from Oklahoma on October 16, 2014:
Very insightful article.
I believe I would probably have went with Aikman, as well. Though his stats don't jump off the page and he had the benefit of one the greatest O-lines and running back, there haven't been many to manage the game as well as he has.
As for the future, I've been critical of Romo in recent years, but he really looks to have talent around him now. His stats are certainly phenomenal. If he could win a couple of Super Bowls, who knows.
Shawn Scarborough (author) from The Lone Star State on April 02, 2013:
Jonathan, When I wrote that Danny White lost his starting job to Steve Pelleur I was not referring to 1986. In 1987, Pelleur took over the starting job after Danny White was benched.
Jonathan Myers on August 14, 2012:
Staubach was a better QB than Aikman. He could and did will lesser teams to win many many times. When Aikman was winning he always had a stellar team around him. Your note about Danny White losing his starting job to Steve Pelleur is wrong too. Danny White was leading the Cowboys in 1986 with a 6-2 record when he broke his wrist against the NY Giants. The Boys '86 season fell apart after that as Pelleur was terrible. White tried to come back after the broken wrist but was never the same.
Shawn Scarborough (author) from The Lone Star State on August 13, 2012:
Thanks Chris. Romo will probably be on this list once he career is finished. I do not judge players until I know what all their accomplishments are.
Christipher Murphy from Clute, Texas on August 13, 2012:
Tony Romo and Troy Aikman should be tied for number one. It is not Romo's fault that he has not won a ring. He is not the problem. A lot good information here, though. Perhaps you should look over these stats: https://hubpages.com/sports/Can-The-Cowboys-Win-Th...
Gustavo on April 14, 2012:
Hope this year will be better Go Dallas
Packers fan on February 03, 2012:
GO PACK GO the packers rule but staubuach and Troy aikman were good QBS my favorite player of all time is probably Brett farve he was a great QB
samanthamsmith from Small Town USA on October 30, 2011:
I learned some stuff.
Shawn Scarborough (author) from The Lone Star State on October 19, 2011:
afd352--thanks for stopping by.
gracenotes--thanks for your comment.
gracenotes from North Texas on September 20, 2010:
Roger Staubach was always my hero -- still is. I'll never forget the season where he took the Cowboys wild card team to the Super Bowl. Those Cowboys/Steelers match-ups were memorable. I hated Terry Bradshaw during the 70's, but ironically, now I absolutely love him due to his big personality (almost too big for television). Both Roger and Terry make their homes in my area, and I keep thinking that someday, I'll run into one of them.
afd352 on September 19, 2010:
For his WHOLE career Roger gets it for me. After that first season Aikman had a pretty good supporting cast. Like John Elway, Roger took some pretty ordinary teams to the playoffs and even took a wild card team to the Super Bowl, then almost won it. Any quarterback could have won 3 superbowls with the team Jimmy Johnson assembled.
Shawn Scarborough (author) from The Lone Star State on August 16, 2010:
TwO1FouR--thanks for your comments. I'm glad you got to learn about the Cowboy quarterbacks from previous decades.
superbowlsaints--thanks for stopping by and commenting. I take it from your name that you are a saints fan. The Saints have a great coach in Sean Payton. He was an excellent offensive coordinator with Dallas a few years back.
superbowlsaints on August 13, 2010:
Seems to be a lot of Cowboys fans on this site, great hub!
TwO1FouR from Dallas, TX on August 12, 2010:
You got some great Cowboys hubs. Never knew of the older players so it's nice to read up on them. Thanks!
Shawn Scarborough (author) from The Lone Star State on July 25, 2010:
Thanks for stopping by cybersupe.
CYBERSUPE from MALVERN, PENNSYLVANIA, U.S.A. on July 24, 2010:
It will be an interesting pro football season this year. You put a lot of work into this hub and I am most appreciative for sharing this article with me.
Shawn Scarborough (author) from The Lone Star State on July 24, 2010:
Thanks for visiting wavegirl22. Make sure and circle October 25 and November 14 on your calendar. The Cowboys and Giants play on Monday Night Football on October 25 in Arlington and in NY on Sunday afternoon on November 14.
Shari from New York, NY on July 23, 2010:
He doesn't have a ring on his finger (yet) but I do believe that one day Tony Romo will make this list. . . Of course my all time favorite is Captain comeback himself . .what a team the Boys were when Staubach was QB! Good Hub..rated upwards:)