This week is a pretty notable one for a pair of key defensive players from the Dallas Cowboys’ dynasty teams of the 90’s that won three Super Bowls (and should have won four, though that’s a discussion for another time).
Charles Haley will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this Saturday, something that’s been a long time coming, but well worth the wait. Then Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced on Tuesday that safety Darren Woodson will be added to the franchise’s Ring of Honor on November 1 when Dallas hosts Seattle.
“I remember looking up in the rafters in the old stadium and seeing names like Bob Lilly, Randy White, Lee Roy Jordan, Roger Staubach – all big names,” Woodson said. “That’s where I wanted to be; that’s the kind of impact you want to have on the football team. That’s being special, that’s laying it on the line for the organization.”
Woodson certainly lived up to his own expectations; he only went on to become the Cowboys’ all-time leading tackler and was named to the Pro Bowl five times.
Meanwhile, Haley finally gets his long overdue date with a hall-call in Canton this weekend. It still amazes me that the only man in the world with five Super Bowl rings has taken this long, but it really doesn’t matter now. He’s in.
Haley was out at Cowboys camp over the weekend in Oxnard, showing youngster Randy Gregory a thing or two about playing on the D-line in the NFL. Never mind that Gregory wasn’t even in grade school when Haley was terrorizing NFL quarterbacks and probably never saw him play live. Haley stressed to Gregory that the key was hunger – a hunger to be the best.
“I’ve often said we didn’t know how to spell Super Bowl, in a tongue in cheek way, without Haley,” Jones said, “The same can be said for Darren Woodson and his contribution to our defense.”
The offensive stars of the 90’s Cowboys always got the limelight. Aikman, Smith, Irvin, Novacek, Moose; the list goes on. The truth is – Dallas gets nowhere near one Super Bowl, let alone three, without that defense led by Haley and Woodson. Dallas led the NFL in total defense in 1992, their first Super Bowl in that run.
Woodson’s inclusion into the Ring of Honor isn’t surprising, but a later nod to join Haley in the Hall of Fame would be. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve it, but when you think of the great safeties who should be in front of him – Brian Dawkins, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, among others – Woody is probably not going to make the cut. At least for a while.
Then again, he wouldn’t be the first Cowboy safety to be in the Ring of Honor and not sniff the Hall of Fame. Just ask Cliff Harris, possibly the best player not in the Hall. But that’s yet another column.
Haley gets his just due this week, a Cowboys Ring of Honer enshrine himself. Whether Woodson ends up in Canton one day remains to be seen. But he deserves to be listed forever among the best to ever wear the star on his helmet.
Not a bad week for a couple of guys with eight Super Bowl rings between them. Now, about that Cliff Harris argument…