Dallas Cowboys Tributes: “Mr. Cowboy” Bob Lilly

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If you are a Dallas Cowboys fan, you no doubt have heard about “Mr. Cowboy”. If you have not heard of Bob Lilly, then you have been under the proverbial rock for decades when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys. Let me introduce you to Bob Lilly, one of the greatest NFL football players to ever lace up a pair of cleats; and above all of the the honors that Bob Lilly earned over his entire career, none speak out louder than Bob Lilly the man.

BobLillyBob Lilly lived his life above reproach and is what I would label as a true role model for the youth growing up during his playing days. Bob Lilly was a true inspiration to many and was revered and respected by all of the Dallas Cowboy fans.  I was fortunate enough to have seen Bob Lilly play, he was in my opinion, one of the “key” players that made the “DOOMSDAY DEFENSE” one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. He was simply an amazing athlete ahead of his time. Lilly would more than likely disagree with me, he would probably say that he was just one of the players, nothing more nothing less. However, Bob Lilly was so much more; here is a short bio of Lilly’s football career and accomplishments. You be the judge!

BobLilly5Robert Lewis Lilly was born July 26, 1939) in Olney, Texas. Bob Lilly played college football at Texas Christian University (TCU), where he was a two-time All-Southwest Conference pick and a consensus All-American. He was a 1961 member of the College Football All-America Team and was a 2006 inductee to the East-West Shrine Game Hall of Fame. Lilly was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981. He is also a notable alumnus of Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. Bob Lilly was selected in the 1st round of the 1961 NFL Draft and was the Dallas Cowboys very first draft pick.

For the next 14 seasons, his play on defense was so outstanding that he became popularly known as “Mr. Cowboy.” Bob Lilly starred as a defensive end in 1961 but then moved to the defensive tackle spot in his third season with even more sensational results. Lilly made the adjustment well,  becoming the main man in Dallas’s vaunted “Doomsday Defense“. As a tackle, Lilly was a first-team All-NFL choice every year from 1964 through 1969, then again in 1971, and 1972. The only years he missed first-team honors was his final two seasons in the league and in 1970 when he was a second-team choice.

BobLilly4Equally effective as both a pass rusher and against the run, Bob Lilly continually battled double-team and even triple-team opposition, but he rarely was delayed in his pursuit of the ball carrier. Quick, agile and coordinated, he even scored four touchdowns in his career. One came on a 17-yard interception return in 1964 while the other three came on fumble recoveries. Altogether, he returned 18 fumbles for 109 yards.

Bob Lilly was extremely durable and  played in 196 consecutive regular-season games. His only career “miss” came in the 1973 championship game with Minnesota, when a leg injury put him on the bench. Post-season play became a way of life for the 6-5, 260-pound Olney, Texas, native. The Cowboys played in seven NFL/NFC title contests in an eight-year period from 1966 through 1973 and also in Super Bowls V and VI. Bob also was selected to play in 11 Pro Bowls. He is the first player who spent his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.( Source )

NS_11CWBYringLILLY#56849As I have said before, Bob Lilly was and always will be revered in Dallas. Bob Lilly was the first Cowboy inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor and has attended each induction of former players, he is, ladies and gentlemen, a class act.  If you think that I am just building up Mr. Lilly for the sake for this article, maybe I can sway your opinion just a little bit. Here is a quote by the number one Cowboy of all time, Coach Tom Landry,  who coached the Dallas Cowboys for 28 years, and was Bob Lilly’s only coach.

Tom Landry said of Lilly: “As I’ve said before, another Lilly won’t come along in my time. We’re observing a man who will become a legend”

Nothing more need be said, Coach Landry said it all. Bob Lilly was just a one of a kind athlete, I truly believe that you could have lined up Lilly anywhere and he would have been great. However, Tom Landry recognized early on that he had a rare talent and he found the position that propelled Bob “Mr. Cowboy” Lilly into greatness and a true Dallas Cowboys living legend.


  • All-NFL: 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972
    All-NFL Second Team: 1969, 1970, 1972, 1977
    All-Pro: 1968, 1969
    All-Conference: 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972
    All-Conference Second Team: 1970 (UPI), 1973 (UPI)
  • Super Bowl 6 Champion

Pro Bowls

  • (11) 1963, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973*, 1974*


In the NFL Record Book

  • (at time of his retirement following 1974 season)
  • [Tied for 1st] Most Touchdowns, Opponents Fumble Recovery, Career 3
    [3rd] Most Consecutive Games Played, Career 196

Team Records

(Cowboys’ Records held by Lilly at the time of his retirement following the 1974 season)
[1st] Most Consecutive Games Played, Career 196

BobLilly1League/Team Statistical Titles

  • Team Statistical Championships
    Sack Titles: 1961, 1962, 1963

Awards and Honors

  • 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
    1960’s All-Decade Team
    1970’s All-Decade Team
    All-Time NFL Team
    AFL-NFL 1960-1984 All-Star Team
    Pro Football Hall of Fame, 1980

There is nothing more I can add about Bob Lilly that can be said, he is without question, the true “Mr. Cowboy”.




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  • Defense 28

    great article Brady. like you said a true role model, i was able to catch the end of his career. he is the true Mr. cowboy

    • Thanks Defense 28, I am glad you enjoyed it. I will do more later on. Stayed tuned.

  • Nice Job Brady. He was way before my time, but I have the utmost respect for him. My dad has told me all about him time and time again.

  • MichaelValentino

    Nice work, Brady. I remember Bob Lilly from my boyhood. He and Roger Staubach were the biggest names on the Cowboys teams of the 70s, and truth be told, they are probably the two most revered names in team history still to this day. I did a lot of research prior to writing my Randy White tribute. In my internet search what I found was that Lilly was universally recognized as one of the greatest defensive tackles of all time. In fact, most fans and historians would name Lilly as the best tackle, or one of the three best, more often than I found would name Merlin Olsen or Alan Page. Perhaps the only player who comes up as often as Lilly is Joe Greene. Admittedly, I saw little of Lilly’s career compared to White’s. Lilly had great natural strength. White was a monster in the weight room, and he undoubtedly could lift more iron than Lilly. Lilly was quick off the line and could slice through the double team like a hot knife through soft butter. He was quicker than White. Both had incredible skill sets and desire to not be blocked. It says much about the Cowboys organization – from the scouting department to the coaches to the GM – that both Lilly and White manned the same position for the Cowboys for more than two decades. I have found that Randy White will receive no love or respect from certain fans, but as for Lilly, there was no such disrespect. He was one of the giants of both the 60s and 70s. If they had to build an all-time front four, most NFL historians would have Lilly at right tackle. I wish there was more film of him on youtube so that more people could see just how great Mr. Cowboy was.

    • Your absolutely right Michael, both Lilly and Roger were the men in those days. How I miss them.

    • MichaelValentino If you ask my dad, he was 2nd best behind White, I see it a tie. Both were totally dominant.

      • MichaelValentino

        CowgirlCas22 MichaelValentino I was going to ask you who your dad thought was better. 🙂  I go back and forth on that.  I got to watch White longer and more closely. Lilly is revered, even by people who hate the Cowboys.

  • MichaelValentino

    Thanks for uploading SB VI.  Lee Roy Jordan and Chuck Howley….I have dreams that Sean Lee and Bruce Carter will rise to their level of play. Jordan played in the shadow of Butkus and Nitschke and Lambert and Lanier.  If Jordan played 10 years later he would have made more 1st team All Pro teams and probably would be in Canton. Howley, if he had his career in Pittsburgh or New York, would also be in Canton. That 1971 team was a great team that should have more guys in Canton from the defense. They dominated a Miami team that would go 17-0 the next year. In fact, that 72 Miami team even won all six exhibition games.  The Dolphins would go 32-2 in 72-73, winning back to back SBs. That tells you just how good and talented that team was which the Cowboys beat up in SB VI.

    • MichaelValentino I felt sb VI was appropriate Lilly made some big plays in that game> This is all I get to enjoy my beloved Cowboys: history! JJ gives me nothing but 1 disappointing season after another. Oh how I wish I could go back in time and enjoy winners!