What The 1995 Dallas Cowboys Look Like Now

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In 1996, famed Dallas sportswriter Skip Bayless released the non-fiction book Hell-Bent, his examination of the 1995 Dallas Cowboys, with a tagline promising the inside scoop on how the team "won it all in spite of themselves." From the outside looking in, it seemed that a team so obviously loaded with talent could have won the Super Bowl in their sleep, but the 1995 squad was plagued with dysfunction. After the '92 and '93 Cowboys obliterated Buffalo in back-to-back Super Bowl wins, head coach Jimmy Johnson made way for former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer — a man with no NFL coaching experience whose "wishbone" offensive scheme didn't look like the best fit for the pro game in general or the Cowboys in particular.

After losing the NFC Championship in '94 to hated rivals the San Francisco 49ers, the '95 squad returned to largely dominate the league en route to a decisive victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX. But Bayless wasn't just whistling Dixie; between coach/player conflicts, off-the-field shenanigans, and the off-season addition of one of the most flagrant loudmouths in the league, they were often a team at odds with themselves. They're the last Cowboys team to even get a whiff of a championship, one of the most stacked teams to ever take the field — and here's what the 1995 Dallas Cowboys are up to today.

Swervin' Irvin on the straight and narrow?

Being one of 17 children (!), Michael Irvin learned early how to stand out: work harder than everyone else. The speedy wide receiver known as "The Playmaker" wreaked absolute havoc on NFL secondaries throughout the '90s, but was almost as well-known for his extracurricular activities, which always seemed to involve strippers and cocaine. He was just as likely to be the voice of reason in team conflicts as he was to up and stab a teammate in the neck with a pair of scissors over a petty dispute, but as unpredictable as the man was, the player was just the opposite — if the ball was thrown anywhere in his vicinity, he was predictably coming down with it.

The five-time Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame inductee has also carved out a second career for himself in broadcasting, and he's developed a reputation as an opinionated but insightful analyst while dissecting games for ESPN and NFL Network. He also competed on Season 9 of Dancing with the Stars (winning a head-to-head dance-off with former 49ers wide receiver Jerry Rice), and finally seems to have gotten the better of the white stuff after struggling with addiction for years.

Mr. Accurate to Mr. Analyst

Troy Aikman is one of the most accurate quarterbacks to ever play the game, as evidenced by a story that sounds like an urban legend but is not. At a workout before the start of the 1997 season, offensive lineman Mark Tuinei stuck a Gatorade bottle on his head, and bravely challenged the QB to knock it off with a football from 30 yards — which he did, cleanly. He was as cerebral a field general as there was in the NFL in the days before Peyton Manning; seemingly the only thing that could rattle him was Switzer. During the '95 season, the head coach called the QB to the mat when assistant coach John Blake came to him to state that Aikman's criticism of some players had been perceived as a tad racist. (Wide receiver Michael Irvin took issue, saying, "I'm as black as anybody and I know the man loves me.") The press caught wind of the conflict, which remained in the headlines even as the 'Boys prepared to cream the Steelers in the big game.

After Aikman's retirement in 2000, he jumped into broadcasting, where he has excelled. He's been a first-team play-by-play announcer for Fox since 2002, being just as cerebral a sportscaster as he was a quarterback, and he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2006. Now in his 50s, he's still somehow totally ripped and looks like he could still knock a bottle off a dude's head from 30 yards.

Rushing champ to dancing champ

For such a seemingly nice guy, running back Emmitt Smith wasn't too hospitable to the hapless defenders tasked with taking him down. He was a larger back but was also deceptively quick and was known to take advantage of off-balance or indecisive defenders by simply running right the hell through them. He, Aikman, and Irvin were known as the "Triplets" — the three offensive players Dallas' opponents absolutely had to account for. It was next to impossible, but you still had to try. He's often overlooked in discussions of Greatest Running Back of All Time in favor of superhuman backs like Barry Sanders and Walter Payton, but Smith is the all-time NFL rushing leader, having broken Payton's record in 2002.

Post-football, Smith blazed a trail for his teammate Irvin by competing on Dancing with the Stars in during Season 3, and he actually won, securing rug-cutting bragging rights over the Playmaker. He's dabbled in broadcasting as an analyst for ESPN, judged a Miss Universe pageant, and become a real estate developer in partnership with another Cowboys great, quarterback Roger Staubach — all in all, quite a well-rounded post-football career. Aside from his beard being a little whiter, he doesn't look much different than he did in his playing days ... so, try not to get on this nice guy's bad side. His only decision will be whether to beat you in a dance-off or just flatten you.

Maybe not the greatest, still pretty great

Until his retirement, one of the few consistent bright spots during the Cowboys' post-glory years was tight end Jason Witten, one of the most durable and punishing players to ever play the position. He's pretty much the consensus Greatest Tight End in Cowboys' History — but before Witten, there was Jay Novacek. Just as reliable and perhaps even a slightly better route runner, Novacek confounded opposing secondaries who already had their hands full with Irvin and #2 receiver Alvin Harper. Just how reliable was he? He once related a story wherein, during a game, the football seemed to kind of just drop from nowhere into his hands while running a route. "When we watched the film," he said, "I asked Troy [Aikman] if he saw me. [He said,] 'No, I just knew you'd be there.' That's why you play the game. That's better than winning the Super Bowl."

Novacek has taken it easy in retirement, content to make sporadic public appearances reflecting on his life and career. But unfortunately, he's also been prompted by circumstances to become a strong advocate against bullying and hazing among college fraternities. His son Blake, an aspiring and promising broadcaster, suffered irreparable brain damage after allegedly being victimized in a hazing incident in 2015. "[The Cowboys] fought on the field, but never in the locker room," he told the Dallas Observer. "It's past time for these fraternities to learn that lesson."

Lett him forget, already

Leon Lett was an absolutely stifling defensive tackle, a two-time Pro Bowler and first-team All-Pro who gave opposing offensive coordinators headaches for 11 seasons with the Cowboys and Broncos. But he's best remembered for making two of the most high-profile, boneheaded blunders in the history of the NFL, a fact that irks him to this day. During his squad's first Super Bowl win over the Bills, he was returning a recovered fumble for a sure touchdown when his showboating allowed Bills receiver Don Beebe to swat the ball out of his hands and prevent the score. But that was nothing compared to his gaffe during the Thanksgiving 1993 game vs. Miami, a play involving a blocked field goal and an ill-advised touch that we won't go into further detail about, for the sake of Cowboys fans whose blood hasn't stopped boiling over it for a couple decades.

In a 2015 interview, Lett said of the Thanksgiving game, "It was just one of the worst days of my NFL career. I'm not making any excuses. I think I kind of got the rules mixed up there. You know, I just kept hustling, trying to make a play." An admirable quality, and one that the Cowboys' organization thinks Lett can pass on to its current defensive squad. He's been an assistant defensive line coach for Dallas since 2011, where he presumably preaches the virtues of not being a bonehead.

Never one to mince words

In all of NFL history, there are exactly two players with five Super Bowl rings. One, surprise of surprises, is Tom Brady. The other is Charles Haley, one of the most utterly terrifying defensive ends of all time. Many players inspire a healthy respect in opponents; Haley inspired actual fear, as it seemed he didn't so much try to tackle people as murder them. Drafted by San Francisco (with whom he won two championships) and traded to Dallas in 1992, Haley's volatile nature wasn't confined to the field. After a loss to the Raiders while with the Niners in 1991, he had such a profound freakout that even after smashing a window and gashing his hand, team doctors were literally scared to approach him.

Haley continued to struggle with anger issues after his 1999 retirement and endured a divorce and estrangement from his four children before finally pinning down a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. He managed to rebuild his life and reconnect with his family after successful treatment for his mental health issues and alcoholism in 2012, and even wrote a book documenting his victory over his demons for the benefit of those with similar struggles. Still, he has a hard time disguising his anger or beating around the bush when discussing the current Cowboys lineup. "I don't think they understand what it takes to win a game," he said in a 2018 interview. "Jerry [Jones] built this house for a bunch of damn losers."

The man called MOOOOOOOOOSE

It's safe to say that, with the evolution of NFL offenses, the fullback position isn't quite as important as it used to be — many NFL teams don't even have a dedicated fullback on their rosters anymore. But during the more run-oriented '90s, the position was key to that aspect of the game — and Emmitt Smith didn't pile up all those rushing yards with no help. His punishing lead blocker: fullback Daryl Johnston, best known to fans as "MOOOOOOOOOSE" (with exactly that many O's), who regularly created holes that couldn't have been any wider had the Cowboys started an actual moose at the position.

Moose joined Fox as an analyst in 2001 and jumped ship to NFL Network in 2010, delivering thoughtful analysis while building a solid reputation as a terrible dresser. But it appears that his broadcasting days will soon be coming to a close, as it was reported in 2018 that he may be taking on a new gig: general manager. Alex Marvez, host of Sirius XM's NFL Radio, reported that the Alliance of American Football, a spring league that will commence play in 2019 in sorta-competition with the NFL, has pegged Moose for the GM position of its as-yet unnamed San Antonio club. Wonder what the fans will be chanting when he makes his first sideline appearance.

Rockets for feet, machine gun for mouth

Cornerback/wide receiver/kick returner Deion Sanders was a man so badass, he needed two nicknames to encompass the entirety of his radness ("Primetime" and "Neon Deion"). He was possessed of an agility and an extra gear which only the legendary Barry Sanders could even hope to rival; he played more like a Madden player jacked up to all 100s than an actual man. Sure, he was also a legendary loudmouth, but you would be too if you were so awesome you needed two cool nicknames. Oh, and in the offseason he played pro baseball, becoming a true two-sport star and the only athlete ever to appear in both a Super Bowl and a World Series.

In the years since his retirement, Sanders has put his loud mouth to good use as a pregame analyst for NFL Network, and also continued to shoulder his way into the spotlight through TV appearances on shows like The League, Running Wild with Bear Grylls, and not one but two reality shows featuring himself and his family. He's also taken to Twitter exactly like a loudmouth and has remained extremely forthcoming with his opinions on Cowboys personnel decisions — most recently throwing his support behind embattled former Dallas receiver Dez Bryant.

Backup to head coach ... for now

On the rare occasions that Troy Aikman had to miss playing time, backup QB Jason Garrett could be counted on to step in and coolly handle things. He was around for the '92, '93, and '95 Cowboys' Super Bowl wins, and went on to play for the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers while establishing himself as a dedicated student of the game. All signs pointed to a future career in coaching, and all signs were right — he got his feet wet as quarterbacks coach of the Dolphins in 2005, rejoined the Cowboys as offensive coordinator in 2007, and took over as head coach in 2010, a position he still retains.

At least, he does as of this writing. Among Dallas fans, there's a strong perception that Garrett — who is staunchly conservative in his play-calling philosophy — has failed to capitalize on the ridiculous talent he's fielded during his reign, including shoo-in future Hall of Famers like Jason Witten and Tony Romo. Realistically, Garrett probably doesn't have much to worry about because when Jerry Jones likes you, he's apparently willing to overlook a lot. But if Coach Garrett wants to win the fans back over, he has a pretty simple road map — one that ends in Roman numerals and a big trophy.

The luckiest coach on Earth

According to legend, Jerry Jones decided to fire Jimmy Johnson — who, remember, had just won his second Super Bowl in a row — in a late-night drunken rage, which is the only way the firing really made sense. Jones turned immediately to the man he'd considered before hiring Johnson: legendary Oklahoma coach and three-time national champion Barry Switzer, who hadn't set foot on a sideline in six years and had never coached a pro-style offense. Somehow, the Cowboys reached the NFC Championship in Switzer's first year and he led the '95 Cowboys to win the big one in his second — but his third go-round saw Dallas limping to a 6-10 record and Switzer handing in his resignation at the season's end.

He's been called one of the worst pro coaches to ever win a championship, and the fact that he's remained retired since 1997 does little to dispel this notion. But for Switzer's part, he doesn't seem to care; he's been enjoying his retirement, secure in the knowledge that Oklahoma Sooners fans will revere him until the end of time and that nobody can take his Super Bowl ring away. He's dabbled in acting, started up a successful family vineyard, and ... established a bank, in partnership with country music star and famous blowhard Toby Keith. Look, Barry Switzer doesn't care if he confuses you. He just kind of does his thing, and somehow, the wins keep coming.