Favorite underrated player series: Tony Tolbert

Discussion in 'History Zone' started by THUMPER, Jun 8, 2009.


    THUMPER Papa

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    I have decided to run a series of my favorite underrated players and am starting with Tony Tolbert. DE 1989-1997

    Everyone credits Charles Haley with being the missing piece for our defense and the guy that put us over the top in 1992 to win our first SB since 1977 but it may surprise people to know that Tolbert produced more sacks during Haley's time here than Charles did.

    Granted Haley was critical to our becoming a SB team but he had a lot of help.

    Haley was with the Cowboys from 1992-96, during that time he had 34 sacks. In that same period Tolbert had 39 sacks! He also split time at LDE with Jim Jeffcoat until 1995 when Jim went to Buffalo.

    Tolbert ranks 3rd in Cowboys history in official sacks with 59 although unofficially he is further down the list. He only went to one Pro-Bowl but he was a great team player. IMO he was what Greg Ellis should have been.

    Knee problems shortened his career and he retired after 9 seasons. Tony always seemed to come up with a big play when we needed one or would force a QB into making a mistake.

    He was part of the great 1989 draft class and was taken 85th overall in the 4th round.

    Tony Tolbert was an outstanding player and an even better person. He was one of the quiet leaders in the lockerroom and you never heard anything negative about him.

    Here are some highlights about him from Wikipedia:

    He was a low draft selection, because coming out of college he was what they called a tweener (Not fast enough to play linebacker and too light to be a defensive end).He ended up, not just having a long career, but also excelling.

    He broke into the starting lineup at left defensive end in 1990, and remained there for all nine of his seasons with the Cowboys.

    As defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys from 1989-1997, Tony Tolbert played an important role in the Cowboys' rise to prominence in the 90's and their three Super Bowl victories.

    Tolbert became one of the stalwarts on one of the best defenses of the 90´s. During that time, he teamed up with Charles Haley to become one of the top pass-rushing duos in the NFL.

    Although he came into the league as a pass rushing specialist, he was a rugged run stopper, making him the leading tackler among Cowboy defensive linemen for seven straight years.

    Tolbert played with chronic knee pain through the final years of his career, because of a degenerative knee condition.

    He was a Pro Bowler in 1996, when he had a career high of 12 sacks and led all Cowboys linemen in tackles for the sixth consecutive season, with 85.

    Despite playing in pain, Tolbert started all 16 games in 1997, compiled five sacks and led all lineman with 60 tackles. Tolbert's five sacks were the most on the team.

    He was released after the 1997 season because of his declining performance while playing on aching knees. This happened only a year after he was selected to his first Pro Bowl team.

    Ten years after he retired, he had knee-replacement surgery on both knees. The result of seven knee surgeries during his nine-year career.

    He recorded 59 QB sacks in 128 games played over the course of 9 seasons, plus he returned his only interception 54 yards for a touchdown.

    He had more sacks during the 90s than any other Cowboy player.
  2. Big D

    Big D Well-Known Member

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    I've always thought that Greg Ellis was underrated as well as T Newman.
  3. ZB9

    ZB9 Active Member

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    good call thumper

    ive always thought Tolbert was one of the most underrated Cowboys of the great 90s teams. He was extremely solid and consistent, one of the best run stoppers in the league, and a perfect compliment for Haley on the other side.
  4. Yeagermeister

    Yeagermeister Active Member

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    Moose Johnston

    THUMPER Papa

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    He was extremely underrated as a run-stopper IMO and tended to be thought of as strictly a pass-rusher. He & Haley made great bookends for the D-Line.
  6. BehindEnemyLinez

    BehindEnemyLinez Optimist Prime

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    Jim Jeffcoat. Even though he was a 1st rounder, I never thought he received his due for being a rock on the DL during his years in Big D. He was the link between our great defenses of the early 80's and 90's. He seemed to be the type of player who was rarely talked about but could always be depended on...

    THUMPER Papa

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    Actually, the purpose of this thread was to talk about Tolbert. I will do other underrated players in new threads.
  8. ZB9

    ZB9 Active Member

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    he was a good pass rusher as well, but I always thought of him as the best run stopper on a great run stopping defense...teams DID NOT run against those 90s Boys.
  9. BehindEnemyLinez

    BehindEnemyLinez Optimist Prime

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    Make sure Jim J. makes your list!!! ;) I do agree w/ you about Tolbert as I think he was a key element in our DL rotation during the Jimmy J "golden years". Another one of those players who didn't "stand out" but made a considerable contribution to their success in the 90s.

    THUMPER Papa

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    Don't worry, he is on the list. :D
  11. ZB9

    ZB9 Active Member

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    absolutely, Tolbert was the leading tackler among the dlinemen for 7 straight seasons

    THUMPER Papa

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    So where's bbgun with a picture of Tolbert?
  13. Hostile

    Hostile The Duke

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    I am going to like this series. Pretty much agree with what has been said about Tolbert to this point.

    THUMPER Papa

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    I thought you might. Also, there will be no kickers on the list.... :D
  15. Aikbach

    Aikbach Well-Known Member

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    Tolbert was underrated but let's not forget Haley only played two full seasons in Dallas as his back made him miss portion of 93, 95 and virtually all of 1996. So the fact his sack total is what it is is rather impressive.

    Haley's healthiest years saw performances of 12.5 and 10.5 sacks respectively. After Jeffcoat left, when Haley was out with injury poor Tolbert would have to pick up slack for the underwhelming play of Shante Carver.
  16. jobberone

    jobberone Kane Ala Staff Member

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    Tony is a small tier up from Ellis. He was the type to make a play when needed. Those defenses were known for somebody making a play when needed. Today's D is awfully close now.
  17. Chief

    Chief "Friggin Joke Monkey"

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    Watched Tolbert at UTEP when he weighed about 230. He had a good frame to add weight, some natural ability, and a willingness to learn and compete.

    Quick story: When Tolbert signed a new contract with the Cowboys (his second deal with the team, I think), one of the local El Paso sportscasters read the news report and then added a little comment of his own, saying something like, "Hey Tony, how about sending some of that money back to UTEP." I heard later that Tony's wife called that sportscaster and basically told him that they didn't need any help deciding what to do with their money and to stay out of it. :laugh2:
  18. Future

    Future Intramural Legend

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    I don't remember much about Tony Tolbert's game, but I remember his chin strap :laugh2: He was easy to pick out in the huddle.

    An aside...my dad won a used Tolbert practice t-shirt that he signed. It's disgusting and has pit stains.
  19. CATCH17

    CATCH17 1st Round Pick

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    K Mart was a bigtime return threat for us when he was here.
  20. mmohican29

    mmohican29 Well-Known Member

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    Tolbert was extremely solid. And tended to make plays in big spots. Definitely deserves a spot on this list.

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