428 games played. 1,770 catches. 27,185 receiving yards. 186 receiving touchdowns.
Those are the combined numbers of Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin, and Dez Bryant during their Cowboys career wearing the sacred #88.
Following the recent release of Dez Bryant, that #88 is now vacant. And the Cowboys should keep it that way.
It’s unconventional that a team would pass down such a legendary number without retiring it. The number could’ve easily been retired following the end of Drew Pearson’s career, yet it was passed down to The Playmaker when he was drafted five years later in 1988, as it was to Dez in 2010.
Pearson, the original #88, spoke on his feelings toward the number at the Albertsons All-Star Gala on Tuesday. “I think we need to give it a rest for a little while and not put any pressure on anybody…I know the parting wasn’t mutual. I know Dez wanted to be a Cowboy.”
With that said, Pearson is 100% right. The departure of Dez hit Cowboys Nation hard and that somber feeling will linger on for sometime, just as the loss of Tony Romo still does. Bryant was a staple here in Dallas for eight seasons and seeing a player like him leave on bad terms can leave a dark cloud over the fan base.
And that’s where a new era of receiver comes in.
Just because the Cowboys may be drafting a receiver with the 19th pick next Thursday, doesn’t mean the pressure of being a member of the 88 Club should be anointed. “I think right now, a lot of these kids coming in right now, they have numbers they grew up with, having meanings to those numbers and why they have them. So if that’s the case, then let them roll with that,” Pearson explained on a possible incoming rookie receiver wearing #88.
Wearing #88 for the Dallas Cowboys has not only become a tradition for incoming star receivers, but the utmost privilege. It’s like proposing to someone; you don’t get on your knee and ask just anyone for their hand in marriage. “I think part of it is for that 88 Club member to want to have the career where it’s warranted that you’re a Dallas Cowboy throughout that career.”
So, if the Cowboys decide to hand the #88 jersey to another wideout in the future, make sure it’s the right one, because the 88 Club is meant for a Cowboys lifer. But for now, give #88 a rest because not only does the number deserve it, but Dez deserves that respect too.
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