To know Mo Claiborne is to know perseverance. What other word could describe a top-10 draft pick stopped short of fulfilling his potential, time and time again? Claiborne garnered rave reviews coming out of college, but those shifted to hushed tones after several-injury plagued seasons hampered his development. When Claiborne tore his patellar tendon in September 2014, many wondered if he’d ever play for the Cowboys again. If you’ve followed along these past two seasons, you know the answer to that question. And if you know anything about Mo Claiborne, you know his latest bout with injury isn’t enough to hold him down.
What else is there to say that Jason Witten’s resume doesn’t already provide? There’s the 231 games, and the 221 total starts. There’s the 1,134 receptions for 12,374 total yards and 64 touchdowns – some of the best-ever numbers for an NFL tight end. Despite all of that, though, it isn’t the numbers that stand out about the 14-year Cowboy. It’s the consistency, the determination and the unrelenting willpower – the indomitable desire to fight – that personifies his every game, his every practice, his every snap.
The job of an NFL kicker is a thankless one. It requires countless hours of practice for opportunities that rarely present themselves. When those moments do come, there is no margin for error. Given the nature of the business, it’s no surprise Dan Bailey fights tirelessly to maintain his preparation and his focus. And if you know Dan Bailey’s story, you know it’s a fight that started long before he became a Dallas Cowboy.
They call him “Iron Horse.” In a sport known for brute force and physicality, Brandon Carr has never missed a game in nine long seasons. For that matter, from the time he showed up in the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick, Carr has started every game of his career. Plenty has changed over that span – from professional ups and downs, to personal triumphs and tragedies. The journey has only strengthened his resolve, fostering that will to fight he’s known from the very beginning.
Sean Lee wasn’t available the last time the Cowboys reached this stage. He was rehabbing from a torn ACL – one of a slew of injuries that has hampered the Pro Bowler's career. Injuries cut short Lee’s campaign in 2012 and 2013, and they sidelined him for the entire 2014 season, including an unexpected playoff run. Those frustrations might break the willpower of lesser players, but Sean Lee is made of sterner stuff. From the injured reserve to the All-Pro team, Lee has fought his way to this moment – and he’s ready for it.
The record book will reflect that Dak Prescott was a rookie during the 2016 season, though he has played above and beyond that label. It’s hardly surprising if you know his story. Prescott has been molded by the values his mother instilled in him – and the hardships presented by her loss. Considering his journey to this point, it’s no wonder how he can handle the magnitude of this moment.
Created By: Kent Garrison
The foundation of the Dallas Cowboys’ entire program under Jason Garrett is a simple one: “Fight. Fight to be your best. Fight to uphold the standards that we have in everything that we do. Fight for each other."
But just as the Cowboys have fought their way to 13 wins as a team, their roster is comprised of 53 players who have fought to reach this point. Every challenge and adversity is different, but the Cowboys’ approach to all of them has been the same: Fight.
Below, get to know the members of the Dallas Cowboys, and how they’ve resolved to #FinishThisFight.
Dez Bryant has fought so hard to get to this point, it’s hard to remember anything else. There was the fight to rise above his circumstances, to make it to this stage of his career. The fight to prove his value as one of the top receivers in this league. And through it all, there’s been the fight against perception – the scrutiny, the talk that goes hand-in-hand with being one of this game’s most intense players. But at this point, Dez Bryant is done talking. He’d rather just show you.
Long before the start of the school day, Tyron Smith was already hard at work, washing windows and grinding for his family’s cleaning company. Perhaps that’s why he took so well to left tackle – a position that demands a tireless work ethic, but offers little in the way of the spotlight. That work ethic, combined with his freakish athleticism, made Smith a first-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and has earned him countless accolades in professional football. Ask him about that, though, and he’ll tell you it doesn’t matter. Tyron Smith wants only to work, to help his team and to finish this fight.
You won’t be the first person to underestimate Cole Beasley, and you probably won’t be the last. He doesn’t care. The Cowboys’ slot receiver has made a living out of defying expectations. It hasn’t always been easy, going back to his brief departure from the team during his rookie training camp. But in the time since, Beasley has proven countless times – to his teammates as well as himself – that he’ll answer the bell. Five years into a distinguished career, he’s also proven that he’s fighting to meet his own expectations, rather than those that are set for him.
Football is a numbers game at this level. Roughly 40 percent of the guys who start out at training camp won’t make the final roster, and even for those who claim a spot, there are no guarantees. It’s a story Keith Smith knows all too well. Throughout the first two years of his career, the young linebacker was never settled, bouncing from the active roster, to the practice squad, to off the team – and back again. From countless roster moves, to an unexpected move to the fullback position, where he has flourished. Through all that uncertainty, Smith was settled on one thing: his willingness to fight.
One’s willpower can be tested by far more than just football. Lance Dunbar found his way to Texas in the face of untold devastation by Hurricane Katrina. From that tragedy, he remolded his story into one of triumph. From a North Texas legend to an undrafted longshot, Dunbar has developed into a valued role player on this roster. Throughout a five-year NFL career, he has fought – through injuries, roster battles and countless other adversities – to earn that spot.