Category Archives: NFL Hall of Fame

TRENCHED IN HISTORY: Dallas Cowboys Offensive linemen

Rayfield Wright - HS

BEST

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.

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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.

Herb Scott - Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

Honorable mention: Herb Scott (13th round, 1975), Mark Stepnoski (third round, 1989), Erick Williams (third round, 1991), Flozell Adams (second round, 1998).

WORST

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.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS: 2013-2014 NFL preseason schedule announced today

EDITORS NOTE: This information is continually updated. Click HERE for the latest scheduling news.

2013 preseason national TV schedule
Date
Game
Network (time ET)
Sunday, Aug. 4
Cowboys vs. Dolphins ( Hall of Fame Game)
NBC (8 p.m.)
Thursday, Aug. 8
Bengals at Falcons
ESPN (8 p.m.)
Thursday, Aug. 15
Chargers at Bears
ESPN (8 p.m.)
Friday, Aug. 16
Buccaneers at Patriots
FOX (8 p.m.)
Sunday, Aug. 18
Colts at Giants
FOX (8 p.m.)
Monday, Aug. 19
Steelers at Redskins
ESPN (8 p.m.)
Thursday, Aug. 22
Panthers at Ravens
ESPN (8 p.m.)
Friday, Aug. 23
Seahawks at Packers
CBS (8 p.m.)
Saturday, Aug. 24
Rams at Broncos
CBS (8 p.m.)
Sunday, Aug. 25
Saints at Texans
FOX (4 p.m.)
Sunday, Aug. 25
Vikings at 49ers
NBC (8 p.m.)

The NFL’s 2013 preseason schedule is out. The preseason kicks off with the Hall of Fame Game on Aug. 4 on NBC, featuring two of 2013 Hall of Fame inductee Bill Parcells’ former teams in the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

.

NFC

Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

Washington Redskins

vs. Miami (HOF)at Oakland

at Arizona

Cincinnati

Houston

No Gameat Pittsburgh

Indianapolis

New York Jets

at New England

No GameNew England

Carolina

at Jacksonville

at New York Jets

No Gameat Tennessee

Pittsburgh (ESPN)

Buffalo

at TampaBay

.

Editors note: As of the date of this post, only date ranges were announced (below). 

Hall of Fame Game — Aug. 4 in Canton, Ohio;

Week 1 — Aug. 8-11;

Week 2 — Aug. 15-19;

Week 3 — Aug. 22-25;

Week 4 — Aug. 29-30

Editors Note: To keep up with the most recent, up-to-date information regarding the Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 NFL Schedule and 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys NFL Calendar click on the button below:

TBAB Button - NFL Schedules

TOP 10 FRANCHISE HISTORY: Ranking the best Dallas Cowboys Safeties

Dallas Cowboys Top 10 Safeties - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

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.

Dallas Cowboys safety Bill Bates started 47 games, mostly from 1986-88 - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

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.

Mike Geachter – A seven-year starter for the Cowboys in the 1960's, Gaechter had 21 career interceptions, good for 13th in club history - The Boys Are Back blog

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.

Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams - He started off on fire, making five Pro Bowls - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

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 →

FIVE GAME PRESEASON: Jerry Jones excited about Cowboys being in Hall of Fame game, early camp

The Dallas Cowboys got their wish and will play in the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game on August 4 in Canton, Ohio, against the Miami Dolphins.

Cowboys guard Larry Allen is being inducted this year along with former coach Bill Parcells clearing the way for a Cowboys-themed weekend. Allen played for the Cowboys from 1994-2005. Parcells coached the team from 2003-2006.

The Cowboys last played in the Hall of Fame Game in 2010 when Emmitt Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones will present Allen, a first-ballot selection in this year’s class. Jones was also Smith’s presenter.

Being in the game means the Cowboys will play five preseason games and will this have an earlier start to training camp. The Cowboys plan to report to camp in Oxnard, Calif. July 19 with first practice set for July 21.

Jones and coach Jason Garrett also wanted the game so they could have the extra practice time as they transition from the 3-4 to the 4-3 defense under new coordinator Monte Kiffin.

“We will start camp early,” Jones said. “Excited, because we’re going to go to Canton. Jason’s excited, we’re excited. … we’ve known the possibility for two or three weeks.”

Why do you want to do it other than you’re there presenting?

“Well that’s a reason, I’d like the free ride to Canton,” Jones “Always nice to have one you can be going anyway. But the other thing is I like the extra game. I like the extra game, the fifth game, I like the extra practice.”

And because you’re going to 4-3?

“Just in general. But that’s also good reasoning,” Jones allowed. “The more practice we can get here, the better off we are.”

THROWBACK GAMES: Dallas Cowboys past trips to Canton

nfl pro football hall of fame - fifty years - the boys are back blog
1968 – Chicago Bears 30, Dallas Cowboys 24

Aug. 3, 1968 – This was a game of big plays. Five out of the seven touchdowns scored came from 47 yards or longer. The scoring began right from the opening kickoff. The Cowboys were forced to retry that kickoff due to a penalty. Cecil Turner then fielded the retake and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown.
Dallas responded midway through the second quarter when quarterback Don Meredith connected with Hall of Fame wide receiver
Bob Hayes on a 68-yard touchdown catch and run. Following a second TD throw from Meredith to Lance Rentzel, Turner struck again when he caught a 74-yard touchdown reception from Jack Concannon to tie the game 14-14.
Dallas then took the lead on a field goal, before Hall of Famer
Gale Sayers grabbed a short pass from Larry Rakestraw and ran it 47 yards for the score and the lead. Chicago added to their margin with a 32-yard field goal near the end of the third period.
The Cowboys tied the game at 24 on a 15-yard TD pass from Craig Morton to Rentzel at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The game’s final score came with 6:13 left when Dallas punted the ball away and Chicago’s return man Willie Dearion found a seam up the right sideline and returned it 62 yards for the game winning score.

1979 – Oakland Raiders 20, Dallas Cowboys 13

July 28, 1979 – The 1979 Hall of Fame game featured four Hall of Fame players on each of the sidelines. The Cowboys lineup included Tony Dorsett, Roger Staubach, Randy White and Rayfield Wright and was coached by another future Hall of Famer in Tom Landry. Meanwhile, the Raiders had Dave Casper, Ted Hendricks, Art Shell and Gene Upshaw on their roster.
Oakland scored the first 10 points of the game on a one-yard run from running back Art Whittington and a 27-yard field goal by Errol Mann in the first quarter. Dallas got on to the scoreboard in the second quarter with a one-yard plunge by Staubach, but the point after attempt was no good.
Following another field goal by Mann, the Raiders went up 13-6 and as the Cowboys attempted to cut into the deficit before halftime their field goal was blocked by Charles Philyaw and recovered and returned 63 yards for a touchdown by Henry Williams to put the Raiders in front, 20-6. Dallas tacked on a touchdown in the fourth quarter with just over 6 minutes remaining to make it interesting down the stretch. With 25 seconds left the Cowboys had three shots to tie the game from the Raiders 30-yard-line. The final pass from Danny White to Drew Hill fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.

1999 – Cleveland Browns 20, Dallas Cowboys 17 (OT)

1999 Hall of Fame game – Cleveland Browns 20, Dallas Cowboys 17 OT - The Boys Are Back blogAug. 9, 1999 – After a three-season hiatus, the Cleveland Browns franchise was back in the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game provided a great stage for fans to welcome them back. Extra seating was brought into Fawcett Stadium to accommodate the record crowd.
The fans got their money’s worth as the game needed an overtime period to decide the contest. It remains the only sudden death contest in Hall of Fame Game history.
The game’s first score came early when Terry Kirby plunged in from one yard out to put the Browns up 7-0. The Cowboys knotted up the score at 7-7 early in the second quarter when quarterback Jason Garrett connected with MarTay Jenkins on a 35-yard touchdown pass.
Cleveland struck next and claimed the lead 14-7 with a Tim Couch to Kevin Johnson 24-yard touchdown pass. Dallas responded by scoring 10 points in the last 4 minutes of the first half to take the lead 17-14 into halftime.
Browns kicker Phil Dawson booted a 23-yard field goal in the third quarter to tie the game at 17-17. Both offenses struggled to move the ball in the fourth quarter and with five seconds remaining the Browns tried to win the game in regulation with a 46-yard field goal attempt. But, backup kicker Danny Kight missed wide right and the game was sent to overtime.
The Browns got great field position in the extra period after Daylon McCutcheon intercepted Mike Quinn at the Dallas 49-yard-line. Following a 20-yard pass interference penalty and a few runs up the middle, the Browns sealed the victory with a 20-yard field goal by Dawson at the 8:06 mark of the extra quarter.  

2010 – Dallas Cowboys 16, Cincinnati Bengals 7

Aug. 8, 2010 – Through the first three quarters of the game the only points on the scoreboard came from three David Buehler field goals (20, 34, 23 yards). With Dallas leading in the fourth quarter 9-0, they essentially shut the door on any comeback chance for the Bengals when linebacker Brandon Williams stepped in front of a Jordan Palmer pass and returned it 6 yards for a touchdown.
Cincinnati would tack on seven points with 51 seconds remaining in the game after Jordan Shipley returned a punt 63 yards to the Dallas two-yard line. From their Palmer hit Darius Hill for the score.
The big story coming out of this game was the play of both teams’ defenses. Both the Cowboys and Bengals harassed each other’s quarterbacks throughout the evening. Dallas defense racked up four sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and the pick-six.
Cincinnati amassed five sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. 

2013 NFL HALL OF FAME GAME: Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys to meet in Canton

Dallas Cowboys OL Larry Allen - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

We still aren’t sure what teams will open up the NFL regular season, but we know how the preseason will start now.

The Miami Dolphins and Dallas Cowboys will play in this year’s Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on August 4 at 8 p.m. ET. The Cowboys organization will be on hand the day before to see one of their great players, guard Larry Allen, get inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Dolphins also have a connection to this Hall of Fame class: Bill Parcells finished his career as Executive Vice President of Football Operations. (Parcells also coached the Cowboys to the playoffs in Tony Romo’s first season as a starter.)

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin spoke about the game on NFL Network’s “NFL AM” on Tuesday.

“We have 11 draft picks, we have a young football team, so I think this will be a good opportunity for us to get a little more game experience for some of our guys, get a chance to evaluate our rookies one extra time in a game atmosphere.

“It’s a privilege, it’s an honor for our organization to take part in the festivities surrounding the 50thanniversary of the Hall of Fame Game,” Philbin said.

The game will be the first chance to see Mike Wallace and all the other Miami signings as the Dolphins play in Miami’s new uniform for the first time. (The new uniform and logo will be unveiled officially on April 18.)

Playing in the Hall of Fame Game means that the Cowboys and Dolphins will play five preseason games in 2013, instead of the usual four. They will also be allowed to start training camp early.

HALL OF FAME DUEL: Dallas Cowboys vs. Miami Dolphins

NFL 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony - The Boys Are Back blog

The Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins will kick off the 2013 preseason in the NFL/Hall of Fame Game. Tickets to the 2013 edition of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. The nationally televised NFL preseason classic is scheduled for an 8:00 p.m. EDT kickoff at Fawcett Stadium on Sunday, August 4th and will be broadcast by NBC.

The Cowboys return to Canton for the fifth time. Dallas holds a 1-3 record in the Hall of Fame series. Their last appearance came in 2010 with a 16-7 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. That game was preceded by an overtime loss, the only sudden death occurrence in Hall of Fame Game history, to the Cleveland Browns in 1999. Dallas’ two other appearances were against the Oakland Raiders in 1979 and the Chicago Bears in 1968.

This year’s contest marks the Dolphins’ fourth journey to Canton. Miami is 0-3 in previous visits. Miami suffered losses in the Hall of Fame Game to the Bears in 2005, St. Louis Rams in 2001, and the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978.

The game will be played just one day after the newest class of enshrinees is formally inducted into the Hall of Fame on Saturday, August 3. Three of the seven members of the Class of 2013 have ties to the participating teams.

Guard Larry Allen is the 14th longtime member of the Cowboys franchise to earn election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He starred for the team from 1994 to 2005 during which time he was named All-Pro seven times. Bill Parcells finished his Hall of Fame coaching career with four seasons in Dallas from 2003-06. He also spent time in the Dolphins front office after his coaching career as the club’s Executive Vice President of Football Operations from 2007-2010. Wide receiver Cris Carter closed out his playing career with the Dolphins in 2002.

Joining Allen, Carter, and Parcells in the Class of 2013 are defensive tackles Curley Culp and Warren Sapp, tackle Jonathan Ogden, and linebacker Dave Robinson.

The demand for tickets for this year’s NFL/Hall of Fame Game is expected to be substantially higher than previous years. This year’s game will serve not only as the culminating event of the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival, but as an exclamation point for the Hall of Fame’s 50th Anniversary Golden Reunion Celebration. More than 120 previously elected members of the Hall of Fame are expected to be in Canton to celebrate the Hall of Fame’s 50th Anniversary. It will be the largest gathering of Hall of Famers in one place at the same time.

In addition to recognizing the members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2013 during the game, plans are being formulated to also recognize many of the returning Hall of Fame members.

FIVE FINGER FAMELESS: Former Dallas Cowboys DE Charles Haley missed out on HOF again

Former Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley and his five Super Bowl rings belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Former Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley and his five Super Bowl rings belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He was denied again this year, largely because of the logjam of first-time eligible, shoo-in candidates like Larry Allen, Warren Sapp and Jonathan Ogden.

But with former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison and Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks as the only big name first-time candidates up next year, Haley, a four-time finalist, should finally get his gold jacket in 2014.

He finished his career with 100.5 career sacks, was a five-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro twice.

All that pales in comparison to being a key member of five title teams, two with the 49ers and three with the Cowboys.

As much as the Cowboys were about the Hall of Fame triplets on offense in Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, they didn’t sniff the Super Bowl and become champions until they made the trade with San Francisco for Haley.

He was the final piece to the Cowboys’ dynasty team of the 1990’s and very much deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame.

That should come next year. 

NFL PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Projecting the finalists for the Class of 2013 (Special Feature)

NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame - Fifty Years - The Boys Are Back blog

The race to the postseason presses on, with some teams vying for playoff spots while others deal with the walking wounded and the disappointment only a lost season can bring.

That’s the basis of the NFL — competition. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to celebrating the all-time greats of the game, a certain level of competition exists before determining just who those "greats," or, as it were, Hall of Famers, are. This competition doesn’t take place on the playing field; rather, it’s a game of survival of the fittest in the Hall of Fame voters’ hearts and minds. Who will make the cut?

Well, much as with the playoffs, there’s an elimination process. A giant initial list is reduced to 25 (plus two Senior Committee nominees), with the next big cut paring the group down to 15 finalists early next month. With that in mind, evaluate the field to determine who makes the next jump.

Here are a couple of notes to get you in line, with regard to handicapping the field of outstanding former players looking to don the coveted yellow jacket:

» Only consider what occurred on the field. Can’t guarantee that same stipulation is made by every voter.

» Pro Bowls mean very little, especially in the Y2K era, when a trip to Hawaii was more about reputation and popularity than it had ever been.

» Some guys dominated for a short period of time; others excelled for more than 10 years. Both types of legacies are valuable to these eyes.

Semifinalists are broke up the into five categories, according to their likelihood of making it to the next stage. Here goes …

SHOO-INS

Larry Allen (G/T, 1994-2007) and Jonathan Ogden (T, 1996-2007): Both are first-ballot Hall of Fame players all the way. It would be shocking if both don’t make it to Canton right away. Allen was dominant at two line positions and has a Super Bowl ring. So does Ogden, who, along with Walter Jones, was the dominant left tackle in pro football during the Y2K era.

LIKELY FINALISTS

Tim Brown (WR/KR, 1988-2004): A finalist last year, Brown, who retired with more than 1,000 career pass receptions, has gotten some juice in the media. What shouldn’t be forgotten is what a good returner he was out of the gate. He’ll be a finalist again this year.

Cris Carter (WR, 1987-2002): Like Brown, Carter was a finalist last year and also has more than 1,000 catches to his credit. This is the year the former Minnesota Vikings great gets in. Of all the Hall of Fame "injustices," Carter is the new Art Monk, i.e., the guy who must not wait any longer.

Bill Parcells (head coach, 1983-2006): Parcells should be a shoo-in. Winning two Super Bowl rings and taking four franchises to the playoffs should be enough. And what about spawning Bill Belichick’s career? He’ll be a finalist again this year. (Prediction: The Tuna goes all the way.)

Andre Reed (WR, 1985-2000): So many fans feel sorry for Reed, particularly those in Buffalo. He’ll make the finalists’ cut again, but I’m not convinced he’s a Hall of Fame player. Evidently, the voters aren’t, either. The wide receiver tally reads Carter, Brown … and then Reed.

Warren Sapp (DT, 1995-2007): One of the dominant defensive tackles, if not the dominant DT of his era, he should be a finalist in his first year of eligibility. Bear in mind the fact that Sapp won a Super Bowl on a team known for its defense. That’s key.

Will Shields (G, 1993-2006): This guy was about as premium a player as a club could have on the offensive line. Take a look at Priest Holmes’ insane numbers from 2001 to 2003, or Larry Johnson’s campaign in 2005, when he gained 1,750 yards. During Shields’ last season, Kansas City ranked ninth in the league in rushing. The year after? The Chiefs finished 32nd. He was a great offensive lineman, but with Allen and Ogden locks, this might not be his year.

Jerome Bettis (RB, 1993-2005): Bettis is a sure bet to make the finalist list, due to his popularity and his status as the NFL’s sixth all-time leading rusher. He’s a 50-50 proposition for enshrinement this year.

Edward DeBartolo, Jr. (owner, 1977-2000): The recent "A Football Life" documentary gave DeBartolo some run, but the concern here stems from the well-documented issues surrounding his involvement with former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and a river-boat casino controversy. He makes the finalists’ list. DeBartolo was too influential — and too successful (five rings) — not to be considered a strong candidate.

Kevin Greene (LB/DE, 1985-1999): Like Bettis, Greene is probably a 50-50 proposition to make the Hall, if his odds aren’t a little lower. The man with 160 sacks (third all-time) was a finalist last year and should be again.

Charles Haley (DE/LB, 1986-1996, 1999): If there’s one guy you can’t believe is not yet in the Hall of Fame, it’s got to be Charles Haley. Haley has five Super Bowl rings, and he was a disruptive force, the linchpin that pushed the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s to the highest levels of success. Those factors easily push Haley into the finalists’ group … again.

John Lynch (S, 1993-2007): Lynch was an incredibly popular player. His pedigree and affable nature, and the fact that he — like Sapp — was a key cog on a Super Bowl-winning team known for its defense, will easily be enough to get him on the finalists’ list. Lynch brought a Ronnie Lott-type mentality to the safety position.

Aeneas Williams (CB/S, 1991-2004): The NFC’s second-best corner (behind Deion Sanders) of the 1990s will eventually get in the Hall of Fame, because there aren’t many corners of his ilk not already in.

Don Coryell (head coach, 1973-1986): Coryell was a master innovator whose tweaks to offensive football, as well as the numbering system used for route trees, made the modern passing game simpler for quarterbacks. He turned around two franchises – the Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers — and will eventually have a bust in Canton. It’s a matter of when, not if.

CLOSE … BUT NOT THIS TIME

Morten Andersen (K, 1982-2004, 2006-2007): The NFL’s only player to be the all-time leading scorer of two franchises, Anderson probably won’t make it — rightly or wrongly — because he was a kicker.

Steve Atwater (S, 1989-1999): Atwater would knock your lights out. Sometimes, he’d inadvertently destroy his fellow DBs in the process. The former Denver Broncos great was impactful from his first training camp on, something that can’t be said about everyone on the semifinalists’ list. Projection: Atwater’s votes are cannibalized by another heavy hitter, John Lynch.

Terrell Davis (RB, 1995-2001): This is Davis’ seventh year of eligibility. That should tell you something. All those Mike Shanahan-coached running backs who’ve gained 1,000 yards — like Alfred Morris — aren’t helping Davis’ cause. It’s unfortunate.

Joe Jacoby (T, 1981-1993): Teammate Russ Grimm was inducted into the Hall in 2010. Grimm is still coaching in the NFL, which probably kept him on the radar. The pantheon of Washington Redskins greats includes a few names before we get to Jacoby, despite the fact he was quietly effective for the better part of 13 years.

Art Modell (owner, 1961-2011): The recently deceased owner will probably fall short. The fear is that when he moved his team from Cleveland to Baltimore, where they became the Ravens, will never be overlooked. Modell did much for the league in six decades of service. It won’t be enough.

Michael Strahan (DE, 1993-2007): Strahan’s popular, he’s in the public eye, and he was an outstanding pass rusher with 141.5 career sacks. This is the toughest former player to project, but with Haley and Greene still waiting, Strahan may be the odd man out.

Paul Tagliabue (commissioner, 1989-2006): Back in the public eye due to the New Orleans Saints’ bounty fiasco, the former de facto CEO will eventually reside in Canton. Voters haven’t been impressed enough by Tagliabue’s contributions to push him forward in the selection process.

Steve Tasker (ST/WR, 1985-1997): The greatest special teams player in the modern history of the league, Tasker’s viability doesn’t improve … because he is the greatest special teams player. The reason he could be a possible Hall of Famer is the same factor that keeps him out. Odd.

George Young (contributor, 1968-2001): "Contributor" is hard for some fans to contemplate and, at the end of the day, appreciate. The former New York Giants general manager drafted Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, and built excellent football teams in the 1986 and 1990 Giants. Still, is he among the top 15 names mentioned? Don’t imagine the voters lean that way.

HALL OF VERY GOOD

Roger Craig (RB, 1983-1993): Craig was a fantastic all-around player and, ultimately, a Hall-of-Very Gooder. He was a three-dimensional running back, much like Walter Payton, but without the far-reaching numbers. With just three 1,000-yard rushing seasons (and another receiving), Craig faces a long road to enshrinement.

Karl Mecklenburg (LB, 1983-1994): Versatile and consistent, Mecklenburg was the kind of player who could play with his hand in the dirt, stand up at outside linebacker, or play inside, like Sean Lee. Call him an athlete who defensive coordinators in 2012 could wrap their arms around. Nonetheless, the Hall of Fame is for the elite of the elite.

SENTIMENTAL CHOICE

Albert Lewis (CB, 1983-1998): Albert Lewis was a remarkable football player. At 6-foot-2, he could lock up with the giants of today, like Brandon Marshall. Besides having 42 career interceptions, and starting at corner until he was 38 — 38! — Lewis blocked an astounding 11 kicks in his career.

Courtesy: Elliot Harrison

More coverage on Profootballhof.com
Learn all about the illustrious careers of the 2013 Hall of Fame semifinalists, including highlights from hopeful enshrinee Warren Sapp.More … 

» Hopefuls photo gallery 
» Semifinalists by year
 
» Selection process

CANTON COWBOYS: Larry Allen joins Charles Haley on 2013 Hall of Fame ballot

Former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Larry Allen was among the 27 Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalists announced Friday.

Allen was joined on the list by former Cowboys defensive lineman Charles Haley and former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, both finalists last year.

Allen is among six first-year eligible candidates, joining kicker Morten Andersen, safety John Lynch, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and defensive end Michael Strahan.

In addition to the six first-year eligible nominees, one other previously eligible candidate, cornerback Albert Lewis, is a semifinalist for the first time.

Each of the remaining 20 nominees on the selection committee’s list has been a semifinalist at least once before this year.

Charles Haley 1

Haley, who played for the Cowboys from 1992-96, has been eligible eight years and a finalist the past three years. Parcells, who coached the Cowboys from 2003-06, was a finalist last year.

Flashback 2006 - Tony Romo's first start as Dallas Cowboys QB - Bill Parcells - The Boys Are Back blog

The list of 27 semifinalists will be reduced by mail ballot to 15 modern-era finalists. That list increases to 17 finalist nominees with the inclusion of senior committee nominees defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson.

The results of the modern-era reduction vote to 15 finalists will be announced in early January 2013.

The Class of 2013 will be determined at the selection committee’s annual meeting Feb. 2, the day before Super Bowl XLVII, in New Orleans. The Class of 2013 will be enshrined Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio.

THE ELITE LIST: Dallas Cowboys DeMarcus Ware making his mark on history

DeMarcus Ware teamed up with Jason Hatcher to take down Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden - The Boys Are Back blog

DEMARCUS WARE STACKS UP AGAINST THE ALL-TIME GREATEST PASS RUSHERS:

When DeMarcus Ware teamed up with Jason Hatcher to take down Cleveland QB Brandon Weeden in the third quarter of Sunday’s game, Ware became just the fifth player in NFL history to record seven consecutive seasons with 10 or more sacks. So just how elite is the group Ware just joined? Well, the other four men on this list all currently sit in the top 10 of the NFL’s career sacks list and were all first-ballot Hall of Famers. Yeah, it’s that good. Here’s a look at the names Ware now sits aside in NFL history.

Reggie White - Philadelphia - Green Bay - Carolina - The Boys Are Back blog

Reggie White – Phi/GB/Car – Double-digit sack seasons: 12 – Career sacks: 198

White entered the league as a 24-year-old and wasted absolutely no time in establishing himself as the greatest defensive end to play the game. He recorded 13 sacks as a rookie with the Eagles, then followed with 18, 21 and 18 in his next three seasons. In fact, White had at least 11 sacks in each of his first nine NFL seasons, all but one of which came in Philly. Most amazing of all, Smith is the only man on this list who played on the strong side, meaning opposing quarterbacks usually had a great view of the freight train coming at them.

John Randle - Minnesota - Seattle - The Boys Are Back blog

John Randle

Minnesota/Seattle

Double-digit sack seasons: 9

Career sacks: 137.5

John Randle started his career out with eight-straight seasons of double-digits sacks, including an NFL-leading 15.5 in 1997.

He finally snapped his streak in 2000, when he recorded just eight sacks with the Vikings, before moving onto to Seattle for the final three years of his career.

Randle would have one more double-digit sack season with the Seahawks — at age 34 — before retiring in 2003.

He finished fifth on the all-time sacks list.

(though he’s since been passed by Michael Strahan and Jason Taylor).

 

.

Lawrence Taylor of the New York Giants - The Boys Are Back blog

Lawrence Taylor – NY Giants – Double-digit sack seasons: 7 – Career sacks: 132.5

LT didn’t have the staying power in the NFL that some others on this list enjoyed, but Taylor did manage to become just the second player in NFL history to record a 20-sack season (at least, since sacks became an official stat in 1982). Taylor dropped the QB 20.5 times in 1986, and he would go on to post seasons of 15.5 and 15 sacks before hitting a wall at age 32. Taylor’s prime was a bit short, but he was still the most fear pass rusher in football in the mid-80s.

Bruce Smith - Buffalo - Washington - The Boys Are Back blog

Bruce Smith – Buffalo/Washington – Double-digit sack seasons: 13 – Career sacks: 200

Here’s an amazing stat from Smith’s legendary career: the NFL’s career sacks leader never once led the NFL in sacks in any given season. But Smith was among the most consistent pass rushers in NFL history, and the only thing that kept him from having 12 straight double-digit sack seasons was a problematic knee that kept him out much of the 1991 season. Smith entered the league the same year as Reggie White, and while White usually earned the nod as the more feared player, Smith lasted three more seasons than White, giving him just enough time to become the first player ever to 200 sacks.

DeMarcus Ware - Dallas Cowboys - The Boys Are Back blog

DeMarcus Ware

Dallas Cowboys

Double-digit sack seasons: 7

Career sacks: 109.5

Of the men on this list, only Reggie White got to seven double-digit sack seasons faster. And while catching White or Smith on the career sacks list will be a tall task, Ware’s numbers match up with anyone’s at this stage in his career.

Through his first eight seasons in the NFL, White had 124 sacks; Smith had 92; Randle had 85.5; Taylor had 114.5 (counting years 2 through 9, because sacks weren’t recorded his rookie season). Ware? He’s currently at 109.5, and he’s on pace to finish the year with 117.5. That would put him behind only Reggie White on this elite list.

DALLAS STAR WATCH: Trent Richardson hopes idol Emmitt Smith will be in Dallas

Trent Richardson named SEC Player of the Week - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Trent Richardson named SEC Player of the Week

BEREA, OHIO — Trent Richardson attended the same high school as Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. The talented rookie also owned a No. 22 Cowboys jersey with Smith’s name on it.

Trent Richardson, talking with high school students - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Trent Richardson, talking with high school students

On Sunday afternoon, Richardson hopes to play in front of his idol for the first time as a professional when the Browns travel to Dallas.

Trent Richardson idol Emmitt Smith - The Boys Are Back blog

“I’m one of Emmitt’s biggest fans, so it would mean a lot to me if he’s at the game,” Richardson said Wednesday following practice. “He’s someone who I’ve gotten to know pretty well and he’s a great man.

“We talk probably two or three times a month, and the thing I appreciate the most is he’ll be straight with you. He’ll tell me exactly how I’ve been doing and what I need to do to get better.”

Smith regularly attends Cowboys home games and resides in North Texas, but team officials couldn’t guarantee his attendance this weekend. The Pensacola Escambia High graduate is completing on the all-star edition of “Dancing With The Stars,” which airs live from Hollywood each Monday.

Not surprisingly, Richardson said he is tuning in each week to watch Smith strut his stuff in the ballroom.

“Definitely, he got moves, man,” the third overall draft pick said, laughing. “He’s a champion in all phases; dancing, playing football, everything.”

Smith still sits atop the NFL’s all-time rushing list with 18,355 yards (eight years after his retirement), while Richardson leads Cleveland with 575 yards through nine games this season.

Trent Richardson Cleveland Browns running back - The Boys Are Back blog

Though Richardson is quick to say he hasn’t earned the right to be compared to his mentor, it’s worth noting that he is on pace to eclipse Smith’s rookie rushing total of 937 yards with Dallas in 1990.

“He’s the person I wanted to be like the most when I was growing up,” Richardson said. “I watched him all the time, just like I go back and watch tapes of Walter Payton and Jim Brown.

“How can you be a great running back if you don’t watch tapes of guys like that to learn from?”

Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith - NFL all-time leading rusher - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith – NFL’s all-time leading rusher

Richardson added that his ailing ribs feel much better after the Browns’ bye week, but he still isn’t close to 100 percent healthy. The 5-foot-9, 230-pounder suffered torn cartilage during Cleveland’s Oct. 14 victory over Cincinnati.

“He says he’s healthier, but I haven’t like punched him in the ribs or anything to check,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur joked. “But he’s going to be out there practicing and said he feels good. That’s a positive sign for our team.”

Courtesy: Brian Dulik | Chronicle-Telegram (Ohio)

Editors Comment: It should be noted that while Emmitt Smith is his idol and mentor, Cleveland’s stud running back Trent Richardson sports a jersey of another famous Dallas Cowboy … Tony Dorsett.

ON THIS DAY–TEN YEARS AGO: Emmitt Smith made NFL history

10/27/02---DIGITAL IMAGE--- Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks at Texas Stadium -- Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith celebrates setting the all-time career rushing record in the game against the Seattle Seahawks in Irving, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2002. Smith broke the record with an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter. CREDIT:  Dallas Morning News Photo by Irwin Thompson 
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Saints quarterback Drew Brees recently broke Johnny Unitas’ streak of 47 consecutive games with a touchdown pass, a record that had stood since 1960. It was considered the league’s most untouchable record.

Ten years ago today, Emmitt Smith broke Walter Payton’s record for career rushing yards. He retired after the 2004 season with 18,355. No active running back is close since LaDainian Tomlinson retired after last season, with 13,684 yards. Rams running back Steven Jackson is the NFL’s leader among active players with 9,473 yards.

“Records ultimately always seem to get broken,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said. “Some of those ones that are untouchable and last a long time at some point seem to be eclipsed, but because the way the league is, it doesn’t seem like we have these bell cow rushers who get the ball 25-30 times a game like they did years ago.

“Of all of Emmitt’s greatest traits, and he had thousands as a player –- as instinctive a player as I’ve been around, great balance, great power, explosiveness, feel, vision all that stuff -– I think at the end of the day, his most redeeming quality was his durability. Because he was a marked man ever since he was probably 13, 14 years, and everybody knew who Emmitt Smith was going into every game. Every defense wanted to stop him. And week in and week out, year after year after year, he showed up and was so productive. It’s hard to find that in this era of football. …I don’t think anybody might be able to eclipse what he accomplished.”

Smith’s marketing team released a statement from Smith about the 10-year anniversary of his record.

“It was certainly a milestone for me and was difficult to accomplish,” Smith said. “Football is the ultimate team sport; one that’s not really about breaking records. My accomplishments throughout my career were due not only to my abilities, but also certainly to the efforts and sacrifices of others. I can’t take all the credit. We did this as a team and that is something I’ll always cherish.”

VIDEO: Emmitt Smith’s historic run, career highlights, and Jerry Jones’ induction speech to the NFL Hall of Fame crowd in Canton, Ohio.

SPORTS MEDIA FAMILY NEWS: Longtime Dallas Cowboys beat writer Frank Luksa passes away

Former Dallas Morning News columnist Frank Luska - The Boys Are Back blog

When Frank Luksa wrote, folks read.

When Luksa spoke, folks listened.

Luksa was a long-time member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. Having covered the Cowboys from the 1960s, he was the perfect Dallas representative on the panel, having seen all the players and coaches in franchise history.

Mel Renfro was one of the best Luksa had seen. A second-round pick in 1964, Renfro went on to become both a Pro Bowl cornerback and safety, intercepting a franchise-record 52 passes. He went to 10 Pro Bowls and three Super Bowls.

Renfro was a Pro Football Hall of Famer if Luksa had ever seen one. Renfro retired after the 1977 season, then waited the mandatory five years before becoming eligible for induction in 1983.

Frank Luska will be missed - The Boys Are Back blog

But his wait lasted 10 more years before Renfro become a finalist for the first time in 1993. But the committee passed him over that year – and also in 1994 and 1995.

So in his fourth Renfro presentation to the committee in 1996, Luksa voiced his frustration.

“If you’re not going to do it for Mel, do it for me,” Luksa told the committee. “I’ve got to get this thing over with. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and you’re making me look bad. People are wondering why I can’t get him in.”

The committee voted Renfro into the Hall of Fame that day.

Luksa’s words were powerful, both those spoken and in print. His words will be missed.

One of Luksa’s two daughters, Elise Daniel, said her father died peacefully at a Plano rehabilitation center. Luksa had triple heart-bypass surgery in August, Daniel said, and had been in and out of medical facilities since then.

Luksa had long and distinguished careers at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News. He retired from The News in 2004.

The photo that appeared with Frank Luksa's columns - The Boys Are Back blog

Luksa was a longtime voter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which, in 1992, bestowed Luksa with the Dick McCann Memorial Award. The award is annually presented by the Pro Football Writers of America in recognition of long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football.

During the week of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium, Luksa, Pat Summerall and Dan Jenkins were presented with the Blackie Sherrod Award for their long and distinguished careers in North Texas covering pro football.

Elise Daniel said that a memorial service for her father has been set for 2 p.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church in Dallas, on 1928 Ross Avenue. Luksa is survived by his wife, Henrietta, daughters Elise Daniel and Laura McMillin, and five grandchildren.

88 ON 88: Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant’s route running is limited

Drew Pearson (left) and Dez Bryant - The Boys Are Back blog

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.”

ROAD TRIP: NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame going on the road

Pro Football Hall of Fame - Canton, Ohio - The Boys Are Back blog

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is taking some of its show on the road, sharing parts of its shrine in Canton, Ohio, with fans around the country.

Barry Sanders’ jersey from the 1997 game in which he reached the 2,000-yard rushing mark, the Vince Lombardi Trophy and an authentic interactive instant replay booth are among the hundreds of items that will be on display in Gridiron Glory.

The 5,000-square-foot traveling exhibition will make its debut Oct. 6 in Pittsburgh at the Heinz History Center.

"The coolest thing is the replay booth," Hall of Famer and Gridiron Glory ambassador Sanders said. "You step into it and can review a play and make the call to see if you can get it right."

Will the infamous ending of the Green Bay-Seattle game be a reviewable play for fans?

Green Bay Packers vs Seattle Seahawks game-ending call sparks outrage - The Boys Are Back blog

"That would be ideal for this," Sanders said. "You figure that play is going to make it into NFL history books."

Gridiron Glory will move to New Orleans — where the next Super Bowl will be — this winter before going on to St. Louis next summer, the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey, Detroit and Minneapolis.

"It really gives people a good taste and feel for what they can see in Canton," Sanders said. "This will reach people who haven’t been to Canton and might give them even more motivation to make the trip. They’re going to tailor it to each city they’re in, so there will be things that will really appeal to fans in each city."

NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton - The Boys Are Back blog

Someone visiting the exhibit might even run into Sanders, who was inducted in 2004, and share a laugh about how he was an elusive player to interview and has become a spokesman in retirement.

"I think it’s pretty ironic," he acknowledged. "I wouldn’t figure I’d be at the top of their list."

Barry Sanders rushed for over 2,000 yards in 1997 - The Boys Are Back blog

PHOTO: Barry Sanders’ jersey from the 1997 game in which he reached the 2,000-yard rushing mark against the Chicago Bears.

13 FOR ’13: Pro Football Hall of Fame announces nominees for new class

CANTON, Ohio — John Lynch, Michael Strahan, Steve McNair and Morten Andersen are among 13 first-year eligible players for the Pro Football Hall of Fame .

Safety Lynch, defensive end Strahan, quarterback McNair and kicker Andersen join offensive linemen Jonathan Ogden and Larry Allen, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and 121 other total nominees for induction. The list will be whittled to 25 semifinalists in late November.

Fifteen finalists from the modern era will be announced in early January, with elections taking place Feb. 2, 2013, the day before the Super Bowl.

Between four and seven new members will be selected, with inductions next August.

Other first-time nominees are running back Priest Holmes, wide receiver Keenan McCardell, center Tom Nalen, defensive tackles Sam Adams and Ted Washington and defensive end Bryant Young.

Among the contributors nominated are former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and longtime team owners Bud Adams of the Tennessee Titans and Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots . Former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell, who died this month, also is a nominee.

Other holdover nominees include receivers Cris Carter, Andre Reed and Tim Brown, running back Jerome Bettis, guard Will Shields, defensive end Charles Haley, linebacker Kevin Greene and defensive back Aeneas Williams, all finalists for the 2012 class.

LASTING LEGACY: Steve Sabol, NFL Films president, dead at age 69

Steve Sabol - NFL FILMS - The Boys Are Back blog

With the eye of an art history major, Steve Sabol filmed the NFL as a ballet and blockbuster movie all in one.

Half of the father-son team that revolutionized sports broadcasting, the NFL Films president died Tuesday of brain cancer at age 69 in Moorestown, N.J. He leaves behind a league bigger than ever, its fans enthralled by the plot twists and characters he so deftly chronicled.

“It is with tremendous sadness that we learned of the legendary Steve Sabol’s passing," FOX Sports Media Group chairman David Hill said. "He was a terrific man and a skilled and talented artist. Steve and his father Ed built NFL Films from nothing and were pioneers in sports television and filmmaking, and after taking the reins from his father, Steve put his own stamp on NFL Films, and its ability to capture football’s nuance and subtlety. When we started FOX Sports, no one was more helpful than Steve, and in a short time he became a great, great friend. He was always there to listen to one of my idiotic ideas. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Steve, and no one, absolutely no one, could rock a pink shirt while talking about the NFL as well as Steve. He was greatly respected and will be missed by everyone at FOX and the entire NFL community.”

Sabol was diagnosed with a tumor on the left side of his brain after being hospitalized for a seizure in March 2011.

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”Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement from the league confirming Sabol’s death. ”Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”

When Ed Sabol founded NFL Films, his son was there working beside him as a cinematographer right from the start in 1964. They introduced a series of innovations taken for granted today, from super slow-motion replays to blooper reels to sticking microphones on coaches and players. And they hired the ”Voice of God,” John Facenda, to read lyrical descriptions in solemn tones.

Until he landed the rights to chronicle the 1962 NFL championship game, Ed Sabol’s only experience filming sports was recording the action at Steve’s high school football games in Philadelphia.

”We see the game as art as much as sport,” Steve Sabol told The Associated Press before his father was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year. ”That helped us nurture not only the game’s traditions but to develop its mythology: America’s Team, The Catch, The Frozen Tundra.”

Steve Sabol - The Autumn Wind - The Boys Are Back blog

The two were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2003. In his career, Steve Sabol won 35 Emmys for writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing – no one else had ever earned that many in as many different categories.

”Steve Sabol leaves a lasting impact on the National Football League that will be felt for a long time to come,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said. ”His vision and innovation helped make him a pioneer the likes of which the NFL has never seen before and won’t see again.”

He was the perfect fit for the job: an all-Rocky Mountain Conference running back at Colorado College majoring in art history. It was Sabol who later wrote of the Raiders, ”The autumn wind is a pirate, blustering in from sea,” words immortalized by Facenda.

The Sabols’ advances included everything from reverse angle replays to filming pregame locker room speeches to setting highlights to pop music.

”Today of course those techniques are so common it’s hard to imagine just how radical they once were,” Steve told the AP last year. ”Believe me, it wasn’t always easy getting people to accept them, but I think it was worth the effort.”

His efforts extended beyond his work as a producer, including appearances on screen and in public to promote NFL Films’ mission.

An accomplished collage artist, Sabol exhibited at the ArtExpo in New York, the Avant Gallery in Miami, the Govinda Gallery in Washington, the Milan Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Garth Davidson Gallery in Moorestown, N.J.

”Steve was a legend in this business – a dynamic, innovative leader who made NFL Films the creative force it is today,” ESPN President John Skipper said. ”The work he and his dedicated and talented team create every day is one of the many reasons why so many more fans love the game of football today.”

Sabol is survived by his wife, Penny; his son, Casey; his parents, Audrey and Ed; and his sister, Blair. The NFL said there would be a private funeral.

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We are honored to link to an excerpt from "Ed Sabol’s Last Football Movie" (courtesy of NFL.com), the ultimate illustration of the master’s vision and passion for the game.

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Steve Sabol - NFL network - The Boys Are Back blog

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GOOD COMPANY: DeMarcus Ware’s career sack milestone keeps him on Hall of Fame track

Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware (94) pursues New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning - The Boys Are Back blog

After the game, Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware called it "an honor" to reach the 100 sack milestone in his career and do it faster than any NFL player other than the late Reggie White since sacks became an official NFL statistic in 1982.

Ware had two sacks in Wednesday’s 24-17 victory over the New York Giants, giving him 101.5 for his career and making him the 28th player in league history to hit triple digits in the sack department. The kicker: Ware did it in his 113th career game. Only White, who played for the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers during a Hall of Fame career, reached 100 sacks faster. White did it in 96 games.

The five pass rushers in NFL history who needed the fewest number of games to reach the 100-sack plateau: Reggie White (96), DeMarcus Ware (113), Bruce Smith (115), Jared Allen (122) and Leslie O’Neal (127).

It should be noted that the two guys bracketing Ware on that list — White and Smith — are both in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

    FLIGHT OF FAME: Pro Football Hall of Fame to help Flight 93 memorial

    Flight 93 National Memorial

    CANTON, Ohio (AP) — The Pro Football Hall of Fame plans to raise funds and awareness for the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pa.

    The 911 Flag being displayed at the Flight 93 Memorial - The Boys Are Back blog

    The hall announced Thursday that it will donate $9.11 from every adult admission from Sept. 9-12 to the memorial, which was established on the site where the United Airlines flight crashed on Sept. 11, 2001, after passengers attempted to take back the jet from terrorists. The memorial is the only national park dedicated to the events of 9/11 and serves as a place of remembrance as well as education.

    United States of America Flight 93 National Memorial - The Boys Are Back blog

    Neil Mulholland, president and of the National Park Foundation, is grateful for the hall’s support and said "the story of Flight 93 and the tragic events of September 11, 2001 must never be forgotten."

    Pro-Football-Hall-of-Fame-Canton Ohio - The Boys Are Back blog

    NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame – Canton, Ohio

    DALLAS LEGACY TRADITION: Current, former Dallas Cowboys bond for the second straight year

    Dallas Cowboys America's Team - The Boys Are Back blog

    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.”

    Dallas Cowboys - Americas Team -Five super bowl rosters - The Boys Are Back blog

    DALLAS COWBOY HALL OF FAMER: Roger Staubach sees the ‘Boys in playoffs

    Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach - The Boys Are Back blog

    Roger Staubach admits he sometimes doesn’t always see straight when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys because of his loyalty to the team and the people he has gotten to know over the years.

    When the Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback looks at the 2012 version of the squad, he sees a playoff team.

    “I say it’s either going to be 10-6 or 11-5,” Staubach said after Thursday’s practice at Cowboys Stadium. “That’s not bad. That gets you in the playoffs … If you stay healthy and get people healthy at the end of the year, Dallas will be in the hunt.”

    Staubach admits concern about the team’s overall depth, especially at wide receiver behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.

    “They have a great quarterback,” Staubach said. “I think Jason (Garrett) is growing to be a heckuva coach. Last year we were hurting in the secondary and I think hopefully we’ve solved some problems there. Keep the run game healthy. Make sure the wide receivers, Miles, he’s got to stay healthy, and Dez, on paper if we keep people healthy, we’ll be in thick of it.”

    Staubach has never hidden his affinity for Tony Romo.

    Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo Troy Aikman Roger Staubach - The Boys Are Back blog

    “How do you not? I don’t get it,” Staubach said. “To be honest, this guy is one heck of a quarterback. He doesn’t have all the ammunition around him. I’m a big (Troy) Aikman fan and I think Troy will say he had pretty good people around him. I know I did. But Romo, they’re fortunate to have one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL.”

    NFL LEGACY: Steve Van Buren, Hall Of Fame running back dies at 91

    Steve Van Buren - RB - Philadelphia Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

    PHILADELPHIA — Steve Van Buren, the square-jawed Hall of Fame running back who led the Philadelphia Eagles to NFL titles in 1948 and 1949, has died. He was 91.

    The Eagles said Van Buren died Thursday in Lancaster, Pa.,of pneumonia.

    The former LSU star, nicknamed “Wham-Bam” for his quick and punishing running style, joined the Eagles in 1944 as a first-round pick. He led the NFL in rushing four times and finished his eight-year career with 5,860 yards rushing and 77 TDs.

    The five-time All-Pro player was selected to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team in 1994, and was the first Eagles player elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Steve Van Buren 1948 Philadelphia Eagles - The Boys Are Back blog

    “I’ve seen them all –Jim Thorpe, Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski,” Greasy Neale, Van Buren’s coach with the Eagles, told the Philadelphia Daily News in 1957, “but he’s the greatest.”

    The 6-foot-1, 200-pound back sustained a leg injury in training camp before the 1952 season and retired as the NFL’s career rushing leader. The Eagles later retired his No. 15.

    “On the field and off, as a player, a leader and a man, Steve Van Buren embodied the finest characteristics of our city and our sport,” said Jeffrey Lurie, the Eagles’ chairman and CEO. “He was a friend and an inspiration to generations of fans, and the model of what an Eagle should be.”

    Van Buren set the Eagles’ single-game rushing record with 205 yards against Pittsburgh in 1949, and is second in team history with his 77 touchdowns. He also holds the club record for most consecutive games with a rushing touchdown with eight in 1947.

    “Watch those old films and you know that Steve Van Buren was something special,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “He was special in person, too, humble about his own accomplishments and encouraging to others. His memory will be with Eagles fans for as long as this team takes the field.”

    One of his most memorable plays came in the 1948 NFL championship game, played in a driving snowstorm at Shibe Park. He scored the only touchdown of the game on a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter and the Eagles beat the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 for the franchise’s first title.

    Nearly a year to the day later,this time in mud and torrential rain in Los Angeles, Van Buren ran for 196 yards and the Eagles beat the Rams 14-0 to become the first –and only –team to shut out opponents in consecutive championships.

    Van Buren was born in La Ceiba, Honduras. His parents died when he was 10, and he moved to New Orleans to live with his grandparents. He failed to make his high school football team as a sophomore,but played well enough as a senior to earn a scholarship at LSU.

    With the Tigers, Van Buren was used primarily as a blocking back until his senior season, when he led the nation in scoring with 98 points and rushed for 847 yards.

    Van Buren is survived by three daughters.

    HALL OF FAMER VIEW: Emmitt Smith urges Dallas Cowboys to show mental toughness

    10/27/02---DIGITAL IMAGE--- Dallas Cowboys vs Seattle Seahawks at Texas Stadium -- Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith celebrates setting the all-time career rushing record in the game against the Seattle Seahawks in Irving, Texas, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2002. Smith broke the record with an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter. CREDIT:  Dallas Morning News Photo by Irwin Thompson 
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    Dallas Cowboys legendary Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith discussed the Cowboys’ mental toughness during an ESPN interview. Afterwards, Tony Romo said the team has proven its mental toughness more than once this season.

    "We had a big game at San Francisco earlier in the year," Romo said. "It felt like a must-win at that time, and we went out there and laid it on the line, and the team won, and we were trailing late in that game. So there was a lot of mental toughness in that game. I think we went up to Washington in a game that was big for us there and showed a lot of mental toughness there. This football team just has a way of keep coming back and keep grinding. Obviously, it comes down to a game like this. That’s why you play sports. That’s why you play this game, is to be involved in games that can allow you to keep going on and playing. I know it’s fun for us to prepare for a game like this."

    The Cowboys have had fourth-quarter leads in five of their seven losses. That includes double-digit, fourth-quarter leads against the Jets, the Lions and the Giants.

    Smith points to those close games as reasons for questioning mental toughness.

    "Talent-wise, I think they have it," Smith said in an ESPN interview. "Leadership-wise, they have some good leaders on the ball club. Do they have enough? Probably not. Can they go up to New York and be mentally tough in this situation? I think Jason [Garrett] has done a very good job of preparing the guys to be physically and hopefully mentally tough, but I think mental toughness is the thing needed in games like this. 

    "Mental toughness for four quarters or five quarters, if you have to go that far. But that’s something our Cowboys have not been able to do in close games. And that’s where mental toughness comes into play."

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