Emmitt Smith. Not the fastest or the strongest, just the perfect blend of both. Emmitt definitely benefitted from a great line but that goes both ways. Doesn't matter who you have blocking for you, holes don't stay open for long, and Emmitt smith hit the hole quicker than anyone I've seen. Probably gets a bad wrap because he wasn't as fun to watch as Sanders, who was a freak in his own right, but Emmitt did it all. Could catch, run, move the pile, could pass protect, and most of all, played with a sense of urgency, something that gets overlooked throughout his career.
It's often said that he had a great team around him, but he was the key piece. I remember in '93 when JJ wouldn't pay the two time rushing champ the money he wanted and felt like everyone else, thinking "anybody could run behind THAT line." After Cowboy runners posted an awesome stat line (42 attempts, 154 yards, 3.6 YPC, 0 tds,) in those first two games, it doesn't come as a shock that we lost our opening two games, and I guess that's really when JJ realized how important this guy was. He went on to rush for 1500 yards and garnering MVP honors that year along with the super bowl MVP honors, and the rest was history.
He is by far and away my favorite player.
Honorable mention: Daryl "Moose" Johnston, Roy Williams (only between '02-04).
Non Cowboy favorites: Rod Woodson, Mike Alstott, Derrick Thomas, David Fulcher, Joey Browner, Bag o Donuts.
I nominate this as post of the year.
Ray Finkle is another viable candidate. He's the real catalyst behind the tuck rule.
Yeah, I remember when Emmitt didn't play due to money issues and yes, Jerruh felt he could do it without him. That got settled real quick. He's another one that never had any character issues and was a great role model for kids.