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Remembering the unheralded No. 88s throughout Cowboys history

CeeDee Lamb will don one of the most iconic numbers in Dallas Cowboys history when he puts on No. 88, but who are the lesser known players that came before him?
Credit: AP
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Antonio Bryant (88) holds up the ball after catching a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2002, in Irving, Texas. Dallas won, 14-13. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Much is made of how new Dallas Cowboys first-round pick CeeDee Lamb will wear No. 88, just as some of the other great receivers in franchise history have done.

Everyone knows about Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin, and even Dez Bryant. But what about the unheralded players who wore 88? Here is a look at those other 88s in chronological order.

LB Sonny Davis, 1961 — The Cowboys took the Baylor product in the fourth round of the 1961 NFL Draft. The Denver Broncos of the AFL also coveted his talent and drafted him in the fourth round of their draft. 

However, the Corpus Christi W.B. Ray High School product chose the home-state Cowboys. Davis played two games for Dallas and was never heard from again in pro football.

P Colin Ridgway, 1965 — The former Aussie rules football player was another one of those innovative personnel acquisitions the Cowboys were famous for under Gil Brandt. Ridgway got a track and field scholarship at Lamar University in Beaumont, and the Cowboys wanted to see how his dropkick abilities, common in Aussie rules football, would do at the NFL level. 

Ridgway punted for three games for Dallas, averaging 39.2 yards per punt. However, Ridgway's pro football career stalled after those three games.

WR Sonny Randle, 1968 — Technically, the former Chicago/St. Louis Cardinal and San Francisco 49er would be the inaugural member of the 88 Club as he was the first receiver in Dallas' history to sport the number. 

The Niners released Randle three games into the 1968 season, and the Cowboys picked up the 6-2, 189-pound wideout. Randle caught one pass for 12 yards in his six games for Dallas. The Cowboys traded Randle after the 1969 season to rival Washington, who cut him at the end of the preseason.

WR Reggie Rucker, 1970-71 — If the former 1969 undrafted free agent from Boston College would have stayed on through the 1971 season, he would have been the first Cowboys player to wear No. 88 and win a Super Bowl. 

Rucker played in place of Lance Rentzel during the 1970 playoffs, catching one pass for 21 yards and recovering a fumble in the NFC Championship Game versus the 49ers. When the Cowboys acquired AFL legend Lance Alworth, Dallas cut Rucker two games into the 1971 season.

WR Ron Sellers, 1972 — The Cowboys' receiving corps was showing its age with Bob Hayes losing his speed and Alworth turned 32 in the preseason. The Cowboys traded a third-round pick to the New England Patriots for Sellers, who had a reserve role with the reigning Super  Bowl champions until seven games in. 

That is when Sellers established himself as the team's best receiver, providing a target for QB Craig Morton, who was filling in for an injured Roger Staubach. After the season, the Cowboys traded Sellers along with a second-rounder to the Miami Dolphins for receiver Otto Stowe, who only lasted one year in Dallas due to a contract dispute.

TE Jackie Harris, 2000-01 — The 32-year-old had worn Nos. 80 and 81 with the Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers until he landed with the Tennessee Oilers in 1998, who later became the Titans the next year. Harris was No. 88 for the AFC Central team, and carried it over to the Cowboys, even though from 1973-99, the only players to sport 88 were Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin, both Super Bowl champion, legendary receivers. 

Harris played 29 games for the Cowboys wearing 88, catching 54 passes for 447 yards and seven touchdowns. His last touchdown catch was a game-winner thrown by rookie Quincy Carter against the New York Giants on Dec. 9, 2001.

WR Antonio Bryant, 2002-04 — Arguably the most well-known of the other 88's, Bryant fell to the Cowboys in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft due to character issues. It's not like those would ever surface in the NFL. His rookie year was his best year as he caught 44 passes for 733 yards and six touchdowns, dropping to 39 for 550 and two scores in 2003. 

The Cowboys traded Bryant to the Cleveland Browns midway through the 2004 season for Quincy Morgan, who was disgruntled with the Browns. "It's one of the few trades that I've ever seen that it's really a win-win for everybody," Browns coach Butch Davis said. "Quincy Morgan is from Texas so he gets to go home; Antonio Bryant wanted a new start." Morgan was cut in 2005 while Bryant's contract with the Browns was not renewed at the end of 2005.

TE Brett Pierce, 2005 — In 2004, the undrafted backup tight end to Jason Witten and Dan Campbell was wearing No. 49, which was Tom Landry's number with the New York Giants and strangely was not issued by the Cowboys until 2001, a year after the Hall of Fame coach's death. 

Nonetheless, with Bryant gone, Pierce saw 2005 as a chance to change his number to No. 88. Pierce played 10 games as No. 88, starting in one game, the Nov. 14 Monday nighter at Philadelphia where safety Roy Williams picked off Donovan McNabb for a pick-six to win the game 21-20. Pierce caught two passes for 25 yards before tearing his ACL on Thanksgiving. The following training camp, Pierce tore the same ACL from Thanksgiving and was placed on injured reserve. 

Who was your favorite Cowboy to ever wear No. 88? Share your thoughts with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.

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