After Jerry Jones essentially strong-armed him into taking jersey No. 88 with the Dallas Cowboys, but before he finally accepted the responsibility, rookie wide receiver CeeDee Lamb picked up the phone.
Because it’s only right, he dialed the Hall-of-Famer best associated with the legendary digits. Lamb soon heard Michael Irvin’s voice — and blessing — on the other line.
“We talked about the tradition and the respect I had for him and that number,” Lamb explained Thursday, via Pro Football Talk. “Not about any pressure, but how much of an edge he’s giving me by wearing that number. No matter where I look, when I see myself, I’m going to see 88. It’s going to always remind me of who wore it before me.”
Lamb confirmed, as he did in his post-draft ruckus, that he initially chose No. 10 until Jones nudged him to assume No. 88, partly to follow in the footsteps of Irvin, Dez Bryant and Drew Pearson, and partly to honor Jones’ late friend Jerry Lamb (no relation), who passed away last December.
“Just like Michael [Irvin] and Dez [Bryant] and those guys, and we’ve got us a wide receiver,” Jones said during his Day 1 conference call, via Blogging the Boys. “And let me tell you one thing: if he’s got the competitiveness and heart of that Jerry Lamb, he’ll be bad to the bone.”
Lamb relented, appeasing his boss and becoming only the 12th player in franchise history to don the dual eights and the first since Bryant, who similarly gave a stamp of approval.
“Kind of going more in-depth with the situation, just kind of understanding the tradition and how much that number means to this organization, and then how much of a foundation that number holds itself – the great legends before me and what they’ve done with that number, it’s kind of like, why not keep the tradition going, you know?” Lamb said, per PFT. “Obviously, they didn’t retire the number for a reason. So, just trying to keep the legacy of 88 going in Dallas.”
The top prospect available on the Cowboys’ big board, selected No. 17 overall, Lamb — who’s drawn pro comparisons ranging from DeAndre Hopkins to Jerry Rice — was a three-year contributor for the Oklahoma Sooners, totaling 173 catches for 3,292 yards and 32 touchdowns. He broke out as a true junior in 2019, finishing with 1,327 yards and 14 scores on 62 grabs.
Jones now-famously turned down three trade offers to stay put and secure Lamb, adding the former consensus All-American to a loaded offense captained by Dak Prescott and featuring Amari Cooper, Ezekiel Elliott, and Michael Gallup.
Lamb confidently (if idealistically) stated after he was drafted that, given the glut of talent, Dallas can average 40 points per game in 2020.
“Oh yeah, that’s definitely achievable,” he said.
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