DESTINED FOR THE RING OF HONOR: Right or wrong, releasing DeMarcus Ware had to be difficult | Special feature
This was different. Yes, it was still business, no way around that, but this was also personal.
DeMarcus Ware wasn’t other people. He was a face-of-the-franchise guy, one who took that role quite seriously. He was the anti-diva, too, one who almost never declined a charity event or the signing of an autograph. The fans came first.
Ware, as much as any athlete I’ve covered, never forgot who he was. He was the kid no one wanted coming out of high school, the kid who used to clean out chicken coops. There was no diva in Ware. He just wanted a chance.
Amazingly, Ware was offered just a single football scholarship, that being from Troy. We’re talking all divisions, junior colleges and everything in between. Just one school was interested. If not for some former high school teammates already playing there and convincing the Trojans’ coaching staff, who knows what would have become of Ware.
He arrived in the NFL with high expectations and a skeptical head coach in Bill Parcells. It’s no secret that the Tuna preferred Marcus Spears or Shawne Merriman with the 11th overall pick of the 2005 NFL Draft in favor of Ware, and although the Dallas Cowboys were able to eventually land both Spears and Ware, Jerry Jones wasn’t budging on that first selection. The pick would be Ware.
There were many times Jones allowed Parcells to talk him into draft picks, but this wasn’t one of them. Jones and Parcells even made a little wager on how many sacks Ware would have his first five seasons. Jones won.
Parcells was tough on Ware, even more so than other rookies, which is truly saying something. Ware would bring his coach orange Gatorade during breaks in practice. Any other flavor wouldn’t suffice. Parcells would tell him how great Lawrence Taylor was back in his days with the New York Giants and that Ware was no Taylor. Not even close. There were instances Parcells would chew him out, tell him what he did wrong and on the very next snap, Ware would do exactly as Parcells said. Instead of acknowledging the positive result, Parcells would just turn and walk away, a disgusted look on his face. Ware could do no right.
The media would ask a question about Ware, mention a sack in a preseason game or how quick the rookie looked coming off the ball. Parcells would stare as only he could before saying, “Let’s not put him in Canton just yet, OK?”
Ware has told me that no one has ever treated him like Parcells did. He broke him down and built him back up and in the end, Ware gives the Hall of Fame coach a lot of credit for how his career turned out. It wasn’t easy that first season, though. Lot of tough love.
Reminded of that rookie season at his own Canton induction in 2013, Parcells said, “With this media the way it is nowadays and the internet and the social media, we’re quick to anoint these guys. You know, that’s the last thing he needed to hear, in my opinion, at the time because he really didn’t know what the hell he was doing and that was the truth. But he found out and he continued to do it well. I’m proud of him, and he’s turned into quite a football player.”
The numbers would suggest that Ware will one day join Parcells in Canton. And his career isn’t finished. So far, 117 sacks, and 32 forced fumbles. Seven Pro Bowls, four First Team All-Pro nods and a Second Team All-Decade selection for the 2000s. After a few solid seasons in Denver and the body of work should be more than enough.
This has to rank at the top of the list for most difficult decisions Jones has had to make in his 25 years of ownership, right there with allowing Emmitt Smith to sign with Arizona.
Jones adores Ware and vice versa. And they both always hoped Ware would be one of those guys who played his entire career with the same franchise. That is the ultimate honor for any NFL player, to play their entire careers with one team. Ware wanted that, told me on multiple occasions how important that was to him. In a perfect world, one without a salary cap, that would have been the case, too. Jones would have had no problems signing a few checks these last few years when Ware may have been overpaid. Cost of doing business. The salary cap made that difficult, though.
Ware earned all of the $75 million or so he made with the Dallas Cowboys. That’s a lot of dough, of course, but he never missed a practice, was never late to a meeting and never big-timed anyone, teammate, reporter or coach. The man worked every day like a rookie trying to make the team, and nothing more can be asked of an athlete.
He played every snap the same way, and he played hurt. There are at least 10 occasions in the last five years when the overwhelming majority of players would have sat. Instead, Ware took the field, most famously against undefeated New Orleans six days after being carted off the field with a neck injury against San Diego during the 2009 season. He literally cried on the field thinking his career was over and he’d never be able to play with his kids.
Then there was the finale against the Redskins in 2012, a division title on the line. Ware could barely come out of his stance, never mind make a play. There he was on the field, though. Whether he should have been or not is a debate for another day. Ware played 34 snaps and, he somehow, through sheer will, mustered a QB hit and hurry on Robert Griffin III.
Ware is one of those guys who will do anything for the team and on that day, in his mind, all he could do was take the field. Throughout his nine seasons in Dallas, he was always begging offensive coaches to let him take snaps at tight end, H-back, whatever. Let him block someone, throw him the ball, Ware just wanted to help. They never took him up on the offer, but he was willing. He was always willing for the team, for the fans, for the Dallas Cowboys. He was and is a class act.
The reaction Tuesday was rare in sports today. No one blamed Ware for leaving. Was just one of those situations in life. Not fair, not easy, it is what it is.
This was indeed different. DeMarcus Ware was and always will be a Dallas Cowboy, destined for the Ring of Honor a few years after he hangs them up. He’s just going to play for someone else the next few years.
And that sucks. No other way to say it.
Courtesy: Jeff Sullivan
NFL LIVING LEGEND: Dallas Cowboys lineman Larry Allen inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame (Special Feature)
Larry Allen chases down an interception (watch Video | listen to Audio)
“This guy’s got a rocket booster strapped to his back!”, proclaimed Dan Dierdorf (puke) as 325 lb. Larry Allen chased down a Troy Aikman tipped interception during his rookie year.
Larry Allen bench presses 700 lbs. (watch Video | listen to Audio)
Watch as Dallas Cowboys guard Larry Allen works his way up to a 700 lb. bench press during the spring of 2001.
Dallas Cowboys legends speak about what made Larry Allen so great, as he is announced as a member of 2013′s NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
SPAGNOLA: In the beginning of this remarkable L.A. story
OXNARD, Calif. – Here is exactly what we know about Larry Allen.
He will become the 14th true Dallas Cowboys member inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio, and just the second offensive lineman in the expansion franchise’s 53-year history.
While playing for the Cowboys from 1994-2005, he was named to the Pro Bowl 10 times (seven consecutively), one short of the team’s all-time record of 11 held by Bob Lilly, a Hall of Famer himself, and as many as Hall of Famer Mel Renfro but more than the likes of Hall of Famers Randy White, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Tony Dorsett.
Twice he was named to the NFL All-Decade Team, in the 1990s and the 2000s, quite a feat to have played so long at such a high level during his 12 years with the Cowboys and final two seasons with San Francisco, which included his 11th Pro Bowl selection.
He was a member of the Dallas Cowboys’ 1995 Super Bowl championship team and played in consecutive NFC title games his first two seasons in the NFL.
He had the speed to once run down a New Orleans linebacker from way behind who certainly thought he was taking his interception to the house, and yet strong enough to bench press 700 pounds one day at The Ranch.
Allen, along with Charles Haley and Drew Pearson, were the last inductees to the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-member Ring of Honor.
Whew, that’s a ton, appropriately so since he was a ton for opponents to handle during his career.
But for the rest of the story, or maybe it’s the first of the story, we have to know how in the world a guy who went to Butte Junior College in Oroville, Calif., and then to Sonoma State, a Division II school, winds up getting drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, who at the time were the two-time defending Super Bowl champs.
You will discover a lot of luck and tireless research by many were involved.
Current director of scouting Tom Ciskowski first turned the Cowboys on to this massive offensive lineman. At the time, the Cowboys were members of BLESTO, the national scouting combine service teams used around the league which had written a report on this Allen guy.
“I was the West Coast scout,” Ciskowski said of his role back then with the Cowboys, “so was responsible for all the schools in that area.”
Even tiny Sonoma State, north of San Francisco, past Petaluma, and east of the 101 that runs right through the current Cowboys training camp site. Yet, it’s hard to evaluate players like Allen because of the level of competition he’d been playing against. You just don’t know if he’s throwing guys around because they are two levels below Division I.
Ciskowski made his dutiful school call, and the coach set up a meeting with Allen. “He was fighting for him,” Ciskowski said, a scouting term for endorsing. Then once he had the meeting and put the tape on, he gained enough confidence to recommend Allen to the Cowboys’ higher-ups because “you could see he had something.”
The Cowboys, and many other teams, could see Allen had something, too, when he was invited to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game.
“Sure you are concerned,” Ciskowski said of evaluating his play against other D-II schools, “until you saw him against the Penn States, Ohio States, Michigan States in that game.”
That is where then scouting director Larry Lacewell first got a glimpse of this guy going like 6-4, 330 pounds, who was strong as a bull.
“Frankly, looking at a guy from Sonoma State is not real exciting,” Lacewell says, “until you saw him practicing against Division-I guys.
Lacewell, still around at training camp these days, remembers seeing Allen in a pass-rush drill, the first guy trying to rush around him.
“He punched him,” said Lacewell, meaning reaching out and pass blocking with two hands to strike the guy in the chest, “and you could hear ka-baam.”
Then in a full-speed team drill Allen drilled a linebacker, “and I saw him rolling on the ground,” Lacewell said. “Just stuck him. I just remember how strong he was.”
That convinced the Cowboys to push him up the draft board. Ciskowski, Lacewell and offensive line coach Hudson Houck saw what they thought could be, because as Lacewell said after watching film of Allen playing at Sonoma State, “It was unfair,” L.A. against those D-II opponents.
Even at that, there still was another hurdle to overcome. Somewhat of a defective shoulder was discovered at the NFL Combine, or as Cowboys trainer Jim Maurer, then an assistant to then Cowboys trainer Kevin O’Neill, remembers, a rotator cuff problem. As the story goes, there was another problem: Allen was so wide across the chest he couldn’t fit into the MRI chamber, so whatever doctors were worried about couldn’t be confirmed by an imaging picture.
Also there was this: Scar tissue from multiple stab wounds in the shoulder sustained during his formative years growing up in Compton, Calif.
“It was a pretty significant issue as I remember,” Maurer says of the shoulder, “a lot of questions about it.”
Bryan Broaddus, then working in the Green Bay scouting department, remembers Allen, and remembers the Packers were so worried about the shoulder that he was taken off their draft board for medical reasons.
But O’Neill didn’t take the easy way out he could have when the Cowboys front office came to him for an opinion. You know, cautiously downgrade Allen just to cover himself if the shoulder curtailed Allen’s career.
Ciskowski remembers O’Neill saying “the shoulder could be rehabbed” instead of needing surgical repair.
So the Cowboys had Allen on the on board, so on board Lacewell says that they had a first-round grade on the man-kid from Sonoma State. But on draft day, Allen began falling, falling, falling. Look, guys like Heath Shuler, Trent Dilfer, Shante Carver (Cowboys), Eric Mahlum, Kevin Lee, Bruce Walker, Marcus Spears (seriously, an OT) and David Palmer already had been drafted in the first and early part of the second. But Allen? Still was on the board.
“So we’re sitting there, and you know you hear rumors, you heard about the shoulder problems,” Lacewell said, “and we’re asking ourselves, ‘What are we missing?’”
So Lacewell, Ciskowski and Houck went into the room next to the Cowboys war room with the draft in progress and Allen falling out of the first round and into the second. They put the film of Allen on one more time “to make sure we were seeing the right thing,” Lacewell says. “Maybe we were wrong, and you just don’t do that or have the time (during the draft).
“But Hud, Tom and I, particularly Tom – I give him all the credit in the world, because it’s easy to waffle or lose your guts on a guy from Sonoma State – we were confident he was the guy. No doubt we were holding our breath (when he was falling) until he got to us.”
And with the 17th pick in the second round, 46th overall, the Dallas Cowboys select offensive guard Larry Allen, Sonoma State.
Who? What? From where? Thought they produced wine out there in Sonoma not football players?
Oh, and there was one more flashback for Lacewell. When time came for the rookie Allen to take his conditioning test, Lacewell says, “He was pitiful. He couldn’t finish anything.”
But brother, could he finish a block, and as the stories go, finish a guy’s career, too, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones remembering how one opponent lambasted by Allen retiring from football the very next day and how several opponents would develop what became known as the “Allen flu,” turning up sick/hurt the day they would have to take on the Cowboys offensive lineman.
And Saturday, Larry Allen, the man of few words, from tiny Sonoma State will officially finish his NFL career with a bronzed bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preceded by potentially the shortest acceptance speech in the history of the Hall’s enshrinement ceremony. But that’s OK. They don’t judge these guys on words, just production.
“Over my years I like to name the few really great ones,” said Lacewell, who’s been around a whole lot of great ones, first starting his coaching career under Bear Bryant at Alabama and having then coached at Oklahoma, Iowa State, Arkansas State (head coach for 11 years) and Tennessee before spending 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (1992-2004) in their college and pro scouting departments.
“And Larry Allen is the very best offensive guard I’ve ever seen, phenomenal. I’ve known Cortez Kennedy for quite some time. Recruited him. Cortez Kennedy told me once when Larry would hit you, he said, ‘It felt like a boulder had.’ I remember a linebacker once trying to run from him, he’d punch the guy and the linebacker started rolling on the ground.”
Imagine that. Imagine all of this.
And then you have the rest of this L.A. story.
IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is just days away.
With just four days until the Dallas Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., one question centers on DeMarcus Ware closing-in on the team’s sack record and where that might put him among the franchise’s best players.
Where does DeMarcus Ware rank among Dallas Cowboy greats?
Barring any significant injury – and if 2012 showed us anything it’s that it takes a lot more than just an average injury to sideline DeMarcus Ware – at some point early this season the Cowboys will have a new all-time sack leader.
The late Harvey Martin has held that distinction since he retired in 1983, sitting at the top of the charts with 114 sacks. Ware currently has 111, meaning he needs just four more sacks this year to surpass Martin as the Cowboys’ all-time leader.
Officially, according to the NFL, Ware already holds the mark because the league didn’t start registering sacks as an official stat until 1982. But the Cowboys have kept the correct stats and Martin has had the lead for 30 years. That will likely change this season, considering Ware hasn’t been held under double-digit sacks since his rookie year of 2005.
So when that happens, what will it mean for DeMarcus Ware’s legacy with the Cowboys? Will it even change at all?
Martin holding the club’s sack record hasn’t been enough to land him a spot in the Ring of Honor. Many pundits believe Martin is the biggest snub of the Tom Landry era and is the most deserving to get into the Ring. However, Ware is seemingly a lock for the Ring of Honor when his playing days are done.
But even if he never plays for a championship team, is it possible for Ware to be considered one of the best defensive players in Cowboys history? Stats-wise, he’ll be more accomplished than Bob Lilly or Randy White and Martin. But those guys have Super Bowl rings.
Just how far does Ware have to stretch the sack record to overlook his lack of team success? Then again, Ware turns 31 next month. He still has a few good years in him and who knows what the Cowboys will do as a team over the next few seasons.
With four sacks, Ware will be considered the very best Cowboys player to rush the quarterback. But just how many sacks will he need to be considered the best defensive player in franchise history?
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 4:
- DeMarco Murray had just four rushing touchdowns last season to lead the team. Kevin Ogletree also had four receiving touchdowns, which ranked him third behind Dez Bryant (12) and Miles Austin (six).
- The only player drafted No. 4 in franchise history was Scott Appleton, a defensive tackle in 1964. Appleton never suited up for the Cowboys, who traded his rights to the Steelers.
- Only four players have donned the No. 4 for the Cowboys: Mike Saxon, Toby Gowin, Micah Knorr and Shaun Suisham.
- Isaac Holt is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in blocked punts with four, all occurring in a four-year span from 1989-92.
- Dennis Thurman and Dexter Coakley are tied for the most interception returns for touchdowns in team history with four each.
- Bob Hayes (1970) and Terrell Owens (2007) are the only two players in Cowboys history to record four touchdown catches in a game.
Rayfield Wright, Fort Valley State
1967, seventh round (No. 182 overall)
Wright’s career as an offensive lineman landed him in the Hall of Fame. It’s an honor that would have been impossible to predict from his start.
The Cowboys bounced Wright between tight end, tackle and defensive end during his first three years in the league before establishing him at right tackle. Once there he became a fixture with six consecutive Pro Bowl selections. Wright was named All-Pro four times and earned a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1970s.
Larry Allen, Sonoma State
1994, second round (No. 46 overall)
He is the second Cowboys offensive lineman to earn a bust in Canton and will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this year.
Allen is arguably the most dominant lineman of his era. His 10 Pro Bowl appearances with the Cowboys is the most of any offensive player in club history. Allen was named to the Pro Bowl as a right guard, a left tackle and a left guard, something no one else has done.
Honorable mention: Herb Scott (13th round, 1975), Mark Stepnoski (third round, 1989), Erick Williams (third round, 1991), Flozell Adams (second round, 1998).
Howard Richards, Missouri
1981, first round (No. 26 overall)
Until Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick was selected in 2011, this was the last time the Cowboys have used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Richards was primarily a backup for five of his six seasons with the Cowboys. He started 16 games during a disappointing, injury-prone career.
Robert Shaw, Tennessee
1979, first round (No. 27 overall)
This is the first time the Cowboys used a first round pick on an offensive lineman. Shaw began his career backing up John Fitzgerald at center and showed promise. But two months deep into his third season, a season that saw the only three starts of his career, Shaw blew out his right knee in a loss to San Francisco. He tried to come back for 20 months but was never able to pass his physical and retired.
IRVING, Texas – Rarely do the Dallas Cowboys enter a draft with a glaring need at any one position. And by the time it rolls around this late-April, who knows how badly the Cowboys will need a safety.
But as it stands currently, the team looks rather thin at the position, where they are counting on two players who were injured most of last year.
In fact, the Cowboys have entered several drafts in recent history with a need at safety.
So it begs the question: Just who are the best safeties in Cowboys history. It’s a rather top-heavy list, but the staff of DallasCowboys.com came up with the Top 10 with a couple of honorable mentions.
Honorable Mention: The two that just missed the list had tons of potential. One developed into a better safety after he left and the other had injuries that plagued his career. Randy Hughes was supposed to be the next Cliff Harris and was on his way. He was a fearless hitter with range. But constant shoulder injuries cut Hughes’ career short, as he played just six years with the Cowboys (1975-80). As for Brock Marion, a seventh-round pick who started alongside Darren Woodson, he went to the Dolphins and became a Pro Bowler.
10. Bill Bates – It’s hard to leave off Bates on any list, particularly one featuring top safeties. That was Bates’ position his entire career although he thrived more as a special teams player. Still, Bates started 47 games, mostly from 1986-88. He did have a game-clinching interception in the 1991 playoffs to give Jimmy Johnson his first postseason win.
9. Mike Gaechter – A seven-year starter for the Cowboys in the 1960s, Gaechter had 21 career interceptions, good for 13th in club history. His 100-yard interception return for a touchdown was the longest in franchise history for nearly 40 years before Bryan McCann (101 yards) topped that in 2010.
8. James Washington – If you can make the list for basically one game, Washington has done that. Sure he was a starter on Super Bowl teams, but not all of them. He was a role player at times, but his performance in Super Bowl XXVIII was one of the best in franchise history. He was involved in three turnovers, including a game-tying fumble return to open the second half. He also had an interception and forced a fumble in the Cowboys’ 30-13 win over the Bills.
7. Michael Downs– He was the other rookie free agent who started for the Cowboys in 1981. Everson Walls got the attention with his 11 interceptions as a rookie, but Downs also made his mark early on. He started for about eight seasons on some bad teams, but still led the team in picks three times and is tied for fifth in franchise history with 34 interceptions.
6. Roy Williams –When the Cowboys drafted him eighth overall in 2002, they anticipated having the best safety in franchise history when it was all said and done. As it turned out, Williams did make five Pro Bowls and had quite a start to his career. But it turned sour toward the end as he struggled in coverage and seemingly lost his confidence. Still, early on, Williams was a catalytic player who had a presence in the secondary. Continue reading →
Despite how he comes across to some, former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson told The Dallas Morning News’ David Moore he still has faith Dez Bryant will grow into that elite player.
“I feel confident that it will happen for him,” Pearson said. “I hope it happens here.
“Dez understands the situation he’s in and really wants it. Maybe it will all come to him at one time.
“Maybe he’s just a late bloomer.”
But Pearson still has plenty to nitpick about the Cowboys’ third-year receiver.
What stood out recently was the Monday Night Football blunder when Bryant was fooled into thinking the Bears were in press coverage. He adjusted his route and went deep rather than run the hitch that was designed. Cornerback Charles Tillman picked off the pass from Tony Romo and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown and a 10-0 lead.
“It was a bad read,” Pearson said. “Those are the kind of things that defenses, defensive backs especially, will give you a false look initially. If you’re not cerebral, if you’re not experienced enough to make adjustments, cornerbacks will play those games with you.
“You can’t get fooled by that in your third year in the league. If you made that mistake with coach [Tom] Landry in your third year, that would have been a cardinal sin.”
“When the game is on the line, that is the time No. 88 needs to step up, not take a back seat, not take a step back. That is when No. 88 is expected to shine.”
Part of being consistent is having a few signature routes the quarterback knows he can complete to you in virtually any situation. Pearson had three: the 12-yard sideline route, the 15- to 20-yard turn-in and the 15- to 20-yard end route. Those were his bread and butter.
What does Bryant have? Is he consistent enough with any of them?
“His route tree is limited to the slant, the fade, the go route and the end route,” Pearson said. “That is it. I’ve never seen him run a counter, a post corner, a slant-and-go, a sideline takeoff where he stutters and takes off the way Kevin Ogletree did so successfully in the opener.”
Pearson had been critical of Bryant throughout his first two years with the Cowboys, and Year Three looks to be more of the same. This obviously stems from Bryant wearing the same jersey number that Pearson did during his 11 seasons with the franchise.
“He’s not living up to the expectations that were placed on him by wearing that number,” Pearson recently told the Midland Reporter-Telegram. “Drew Pearson took it to the Ring of Honor level and Michael Irvin took it way beyond that to the Hall of Fame level.
“When Michael and I had a chance to talk to Dez when he came in his rookie year we told him, ‘Don’t do what Drew Pearson did in it. Don’t do what Michael did in it. Do more than that.’ I know that’s a lot to live up to, but what else is there? You live up to those expectations and people will cherish you for the rest of your life.”
Bryant dropped three passes in the Cowboys’ 34-18 loss to the Chicago Bears Monday night. Two of those incompletions cost the Cowboys first downs and the third might have gone for a touchdown.
Even though Bryant finished with a career-high 105 receiving yards, the mistakes overshadowed his eight catches.
Pearson focused on Bryant’s mistakes during a Tuesday interview that aired on ESPN.
“You should know your plays. You should know where to be. You should know your adjustments that you need to make,” Pearson said. “You know what your value is to this Cowboys offense. You should be making the big plays to help the offense when they need it. To me, that’s what the 88s are all about. That’s what I did in the 88s, that’s what Michael (Irvin) did in the 88s. I’m not saying Dez needs to be us. But we’d just like to see him carry that tradition on with the 88s a little better.”
ARLINGTON, Texas – For the second straight year, Jason Garrett invited alumni to Cowboys Stadium to watch a practice as a way to mix the franchise’s generations.
Ring of Honor members Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris and Larry Allen were among the 54 alums in attendance.
During the practice DeMarcus Ware was able to catch up with Billy Joe DuPree. Sean Lee got some tips from Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson. Tony Romo was able to see former teammates in Dexter Coakley and Darren Woodson.
After the practice the current and former players got together for a dinner inside the stadium.
“It just shows you how much tradition this has and the standard you need to hold,” Lee said. “When you see the great players, you want to be like that. You want to win to make them proud and hold that tradition up. That happens by working hard every day and trying to learn some knowledge from them about how to be successful.”
The practice also allowed the alums to catch up with each other.
“Garrison, I love talking to Walt,” Staubach said. “He was telling a story that he gave me a little Skoal. I never had it before and he remembered how I broke out into a sweat and unfortunately got sick. So I said, ‘Walt, how do you remember that?’ He said he never forgot it. I think a lot of stories are half truths, but it’s fun to reminisce. There was a great turnout with the old, veteran players.”
Former Dallas Cowboy star Charles Haley poses at his Dallas home with his unprecedented five Super Bowl rings and trophies, won while playing first in San Francisco (two on the left), then Dallas (three on the right). Haley is up for admission to the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.
IRVING, Texas — Will Charles Haley again get one step closer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame?
Fifteen modern-era finalists for the 2012 Class will be announced this Saturday. Haley and former Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells (2003-06) are among 26 current semifinalists. It is usually limited to 25, but this year there are 26 resulting from a tie for the final position.
A finalist the last two years, Haley won an NFL player-record five Super Bowls in 13 NFL seasons – two with the San Francisco 49ers from 1986-91 and three with the Cowboys from 1992-96. He was inducted into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor this past November.
Parcells won two Super Bowls with the Giants (1986 and 1990) and compiled a 34-32 record with the Cowboys, becoming the first head coach in NFL history to lead four different teams to the playoffs (Giants, Patriots, Jets, Cowboys).
The finalist list will increase to 17 with the inclusion of the two recommended candidates of the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee, Jack Butler and Dick Stanfel. The 2012 Hall of Fame Class will be determined and announced Feb. 4 on Super Bowl weekend.
While the focus this week seems to be squarely on Saturday’s upcoming matchup with the Eagles, in a game that could decide the Cowboys’ playoff fate and possibly lead them to an NFC East title, it’s still Christmas. It’s still that time of year to get some last-second shopping.
And if you’re still scrambling out there, trying to find a gift for a football fan, especially a die-hard Cowboys fan, then you might want to check out Breakthrough ‘Boys, the story of the 1971 Cowboys.
Personally, I’m currently about halfway through the book, written by Jamie Aron, a longtime writer for The Associated Press who has written a handful of sports books in the last decade.
But this one right here hits home more than any other I’ve read in a while because even though it’s been 40 years since the Cowboys’ first title, so many things happened that season that can be related to today’s game.
Even if you don’t remember the Cowboys or the NFL back then, or in my case, weren’t even born yet, there are some reference points to consider.
Imagine the Danny White-Gary Hogeboom quarterback controversy, the presence of Terrell Owens on and off the field, the opening of Cowboys Stadium and just the steady pressures of trying to get over the hump and finally win a playoff game. Those are things this team has faced over the years as some of the bigger storylines in franchise history.
And things like that actually all occurred there in 1971. You had Tom Landry trying to make up his mind about the quarterback position, flipping back and forth between Craig Morton and Roger Staubach. Then there was the saga of Duane Thomas, who distanced himself from the team but his talents on the field couldn’t be ignored.
It was also the first year Texas Stadium opened and the Cowboys moved from the historic Cotton Bowl to the state-of-the-art stadium that was the most unique sporting venue in the world and certainly ahead of its time. We experienced the excitement of that just two years ago as well.
And if all that wasn’t enough, just imagine what it was like for a Cowboys team labeled “Next Year’s Champions” that finally became “America’s Team.”
It all happened in 1971 and it’s all chronicled in Breakthrough ‘Boys. This might not be the Super Bowl season you remember the most, but it’s the one that actually started it all.
It’s the first time the Cowboys have inducted players into the Ring of Honor in the three-year history of Cowboys Stadium.
There are a total of 20 people in the Ring of Honor.
Pearson, nicknamed the Original 88, made the All-Decade team of the 1970s and was a three-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler. His signature play came in 1975 when he caught a deep pass, later named Hail Mary, from quarterback Roger Staubach to beat the Minnesota Vikings in a playoff game. Pearson ranks second in franchise history in catches (489), third in receiving yards (7,822) and third in touchdown receptions (48).
“I waited and I prayed,” Pearson said after receiving a silver bowl and putting on his blue blazer with the Ring of Honor patch. “I always believed that one day this day would come.”
Haley’s selection signifies the Cowboys celebrating one of their best defensive players. He won three Super Bowl titles after he left the San Francisco 49ers to join the Cowboys and he changed the power structure in the NFC in the 1990s.
Haley has won five Super Bowl titles — including two with the 49ers — and is considered one of the dominant pass-rushers of his time. He has been eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame since 2005 but has not been selected.
After thanking his family and the fans, Haley said, “This is great and this is one of the greatest things that happened to me in my life.”
Allen, who former Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton called one of the great linemen of his time, was an 11-time Pro Bowler and six-time All Pro selection. He was also named to the All-Decade team of the 1990s. He’s eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame next year.
Allen, a soft-spoken man, was brief in his remarks to the fans.
Pearson’s name and years played is displayed next to Tex Schramm on one side of Cowboys Stadium, basically the Tom Landry era.
Allen and Haley surround The Triplets, on the other side of Cowboys Stadium.
Charles Haley proud to be inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.
After waiting many years for his place in the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, Drew Pearson didn’t know what to do Sunday once he put on that blue jacket.
“It was like a feeling of satisfaction, it was a climax to a journey,” Pearson said. “It’s a very emotional time. If I wasn’t so vain, I probably would have cried out there. But the tears were definitely flowing inside.”
Offensive tackle Larry Allen and defensive end Charles Haley joined Drew Pearson as the three inductees into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor during halftime of Sunday’s game against Seattle.
Drew Pearson, 60, was inducted into the Ring of Honor 28 years after he retired from the NFL.
“It doesn’t bother me because it’s now,” Pearson said. “It’s nice to be going forward where you don’t have to be asked that question anymore … why aren’t you [in the Ring of Honor]?”
“My kids thought that was my first name for a long time, because everybody comes up to me [and says] ‘why aren’t you in, why aren’t you this?’”
Charles Haley also was emotional during the post-Ring of Honor news conference. He said he’s not thinking about whether joining the Ring of Honor will help him make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I’m thinking that Jerry Jones is a great man right now, that’s what I’m thinking,” said Haley, who played for the Cowboys from 1992-’96. “I’m not thinking about tomorrow. You can write and think about tomorrow. I’m thinking about today and how great today is. I’m enjoying this moment and I hope you help me enjoy this moment.”
Larry Allen also was enjoying his moment.
“Before every game I would look up there [at the names of the other Ring of Honor inductees] the most,” he said. “At a certain point of games, I would just look up there…. try to find a way to get up there.’’
On Sunday, Larry Allen finally made it “up there’’ in the Ring of Honor. So, too, did Drew Pearson and Charles Haley.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys add three players to Ring of Honor
ARLINGTON — The Dallas Cowboys stayed in the playoff hunt with a win over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday, but the big story at the game came at halftime, as three of the team’s greatest players were added to the Ring of Honor.
It’s been six years since the Cowboys inducted new members into the Ring, when the “Triplets” — Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith — saw their names unveiled at the old Texas Stadium.
On Sunday, Larry Allen, Charles Haley and Drew Pearson joined them.
Allen was a domanant offensive guard who played for the Cowboys from the mid-1990s into the 21st century. He made 11 Pro Bowl appearances during his career in Dallas and played on their Super Bowl XXX team.
“I’d like to thank Jerry [Jones] and his family; the Cowboys organization; my beautiful wife; my three great kids; I’d like to say thank you for playing for the greatest fans in America,” Allen said.
Haley played on that team, too, and on the other two Cowboys championship teams from the 90s. Haley also won a couple of Super Bowls in San Francisco.
“This is not a right, but a privilege, and God knows… this is one of the greatest things that’s happened in my life,” Haley told the cheering crowd.
Drew Pearson is the one we’ve been waiting for… but not as long as he’s been waiting. His last season with the Cowboys was in 1983.
“I waited. I prayed. And because I prayed, I always believed that this day would one day come,” Pearson said. “And I am so happy and so proud to be a part of this distinguished Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor!”
The three added Sunday are all very deserving and bring the total number of Cowboys in the Ring of Honor to 20.
Courtesy: TED MADDEN | WFAA Dallas
Backup link to video: http://www.wfaa.com/sports/football/Cowboys-add-three-to-Ring-of-Honor-133333238.html
Today the Cowboys will induct Larry Allen, Charles Haley and Drew Pearson into the Ring of Honor. It’s the first time the Cowboys have conducted such an event since the Triplets in 2005.
With that we look at ten players who might be next for the Jerry Jones committee of one to consider.
Harvey Martin.No name resonates more with former Cowboys players than this man. He led the Cowboys in sacks seven times, is the unofficial franchise leader with 114 and holds the single-season mark of 23 sacks in the 1977 season. Before there was Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware, Martin along with Randy White and Bob Lilly set the standard for pass rushers in franchise history.
Bill Bates.A special teams ace and despite making just one Pro Bowl, 1984, he was a beloved figure in Cowboys lore. When you think of outstanding special teams players in Cowboys history, Bates’ name comes up first. Nobody was better on a unit the causal fan knew nothing about.
Darren Woodson. A three-time All Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler won three Super Bowl titles. He was a talented safety who not only covered tight ends but wide receivers. His presence is still felt at Valley Ranch, because the Cowboys have not replaced him and his signature is inside a locker of former safety Roy Williams, that’s now the home of cornerback Terence Newman.
Everson Walls. He led the Cowboys in interceptions five times, is second all-time in franchise history with 44 and still holds the single-season record with 11 picks in 1981. The 11 picks is also the franchise record for a rookie. It would be nice if Walls gets in with Martin, another Dallas native.
Jimmy Johnson. The second coach in Cowboys history rebuilt the franchise and won two Super Bowl titles and the third one, XXX in 1995 was with Barry Switzer, but it was Johnson’s team. The ending was bad, but there’s no denying what Johnson meant to the franchise.
Charlie Waters. A three-time Pro Bowler at strong safety, Waters started 22 of 25 playoff games. He was a fierce hitter who gets lost because we talk so much about Cliff Harris. Waters is considered one of the top safeties in Cowboys history.
Deion Sanders.He made his mark with Atlanta, yet, Sanders was a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All Pro and of course won one title with the Cowboys. Sanders holds the career mark for punt return average at 13.3. He was the first big money free agency signed by the Cowboys and he was a playmaker on defense and special teams.
Daryl Johnston. When Emmitt Smith broke the all-time rushing mark, he hugged this man. Johnston didn’t miss a game from 1992-to-1995. Johnston is one of the best fullbacks in franchise history, and his blocks paved the way for Smith to get a bulk of his yardage.
Danny White. The third-round pick from Arizona State, made only one Pro Bowl, and he had just one losing season in the years he started, 1987 where he compiled a 3-6 mark at age 35. He took the Cowboys to three NFC title games, never advancing to the Super Bowl. White is second in completions in franchise history at 1,761.
Mark Stepnoski.A five-time Pro Bowler who won three titles. But here’s a little known fact: He was named to the second-team of the 1990s All-Decade team. Stepnoski was a solid player during his era, not only with the Cowboys but in the NFL as well.
If you subscribe to the “takes one to know one” theory then comments made by former Cowboys great Rayfield Wright when talking about rookie tackle Tyron Smith have to be encouraging.
Wright, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor at Cowboys Stadium, said he’s kept his eye on the Cowboys’ rookie right tackle this year and so far, he loves what he sees.
“I’ve been watching him the entire season,” Wright said at the Cowboys’ Legends radio show with Nate Newton Wednesday night in Arlington. “It’s very interesting for him to be as young as he is and for him to perform the way he’s performing. When he first started out, there were some missteps there and the quickness of his setup. But as games continued to progress you can see a big change in him.”
So Rayfield, just how good can Tyron Smith be?
“I think he’s going to be one of the greatest tackles, outside of myself,” Wright said with a laugh. “He’s awesome. He’s playing really good football right now. I really like how he’s moving his feet. Footwork has been excellent.”
Smith has started all seven games this year and has experienced more trouble lately, allowing a team-high 5 ½ sacks. But it seems clear, at least to one Hall of Famer, that the Cowboys 20-year-old right tackle is certainly on the right track.
1 on 1: Roger Staubach
Nick Eatman had a chance to sit down with Cowboys hall of famer and ring of honor member Roger Staubach to talk about the players being inducted into the ring of honor this weekend. Drew Pearson, Charles Haley, and Larry Allen will be immortalized with 15 other legendary Dallas Cowboys.
RELATED: About the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor inductees
Originally published 19 August 2011 11:32 PM | The Boys Are Back blog
Position: Wide receiver
With the Cowboys: 1973-83
How acquired: Undrafted free agent
Notable: Had 489 career receptions, third-most in club history. Hall of Famer Michael Irvin leads with 750. … Among Cowboys receivers with at least 200 career receptions, ranks fifth in yards-per-catch at 16. … Led NFL in receiving yards with 870 in 14-game season of 1977. Finished among league’s top 10 in receptions three times and top 10 in receiving yardage five times. … Named first-team All-Pro three times and selected to three Pro Bowls. … In 22 career playoff games, caught 67 passes for 1,105 yards and eight touchdowns. … Completed five of seven options passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns.
Quotable: “I really don’t live in the past. Who is to say it’s the right time? For me, this is the right time. I’m 60 years old, and I’m going into the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. How about that?”
Position: Defensive end-outside linebacker
With the Cowboys: 1992-96
How acquired: From San Francisco, for a second- and third-round draft choice
Notable: Hybrid pass rusher. Had 33 sacks in 58 games during first four regular seasons with Cowboys. Finished fourth in NFL in sacks with 121/2 in 1995. Had 3 1/2 sacks and one interception in 10 postseason games. … Named first-team All-Pro in 1994 and selected to Pro Bowl in 1994-95. … Limited by back problems to one sack in five regular-season and two postseason games during final season with club. … Returned to San Francisco for two playoff games in 1998 and a full regular season in 1999.
Quotable: “For my teammates, I tried to let them know I’d be there no matter what, hell or high water. I know I put a lot of
teammates through hell, a lot of coaches through hell and owners. But Jerry stuck with me.”
Position: Offensive guard and tackle
With the Cowboys: 1994-2005
How acquired: Second-round pick, 1994
Notable: Made 170 starts at both tackle spots and right guard while with Cowboys. Started 10 games at right tackle as a rookie
in 1994 and moved to right guard, starting every game in 1995, the last season the Cowboys won a Super Bowl. … During time with Cowboys, named first-team All-Pro six times and selected to 10 Pro Bowl teams. … Teammate and fellow offensive lineman
Nate Newton said he saw more than a few defensive linemen matched against Allen “quit’ during games.
Quotable: “When I was stretching before [home] games, I’d look up at those names in the Ring of Honor and hope I could find a way to get up there. I kept trying.”.