Tuesday night the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its finalists for the class of 2017. In were John Lynch and Don Coryell. Out were Darren Woodson and Jimmy Johnson.
The Hall of Fame voters did select a “Cowboy” if you will in receiver Terrell Owens, who was with the team from 2006-08, his second-longest tenure with any of the five NFL teams he played with from 1996-2010.
Don’t get me wrong: Owens is a Hall-of-Famer in his own right. He is currently eighth in the NFL in all-time receptions, second in receiving yards, and third in touchdowns. He earned five All Pro selections and was voted to the Pro Bowl six times. Nine times did he record a 1,000-yard season and eight times he caught 10 or more touchdowns in a season.
But he is no more a Cowboy than any of the other hired guns owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones has signed to the franchise in his 28 years running everything from socks to jocks.
In Owens’ three seasons with the Cowboys, he was good for a guaranteed 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns a year. However, the Cowboys were never able to break the playoff win drought in his tenure being bounced out of their first postseason appearances in 2006 and 2007. He averaged three catches for 38 yards and a touchdown in each loss.
Dallas has had hired guns or castoffs come to America’s Team and meet such embrace from the fans that one would think they were drafted by the club. Think of Super Bowl V MVP Chuck Howley and out-of-his-mind defensive end Charles Haley, who can get away with retaining affection for the San Francisco 49ers, his first team. Then again, he’s Charles Haley. Who would want to confront him?
Owens isn’t even in the category of Herb Adderley and Deion Sanders. The two cornerbacks who came to the Cowboys in 1970 and 1995 helped the Cowboys win a Super Bowl. Adderley was a Green Bay Packer teaching a young team how to be champions. Prime Time came to a two-time Super Bowl champion Dallas squad in need of a defensive back after Kevin Smith went down. The results were the same — Dallas Cowboys: Super Bowl champions.
The only hardware the Cowboys have to show for the T.O. tenure is a 2007 NFC East title, which are nothing more than doorstops at The Star. The Cowboys are a franchise all about the Lombardis. And with that being the case, Owens belongs more in the category of a Mike Renfro or Jackie Smith.
The unfortunate reality to come out of early January is genuine Cowboys who helped add more sheen to the Blue Star failed as semifinalists in their Hall of Fame bids. Johnson and Woodson were multiple-Super Bowl winners and couldn’t get any more consideration than a one-time Super Bowl winner (Lynch) and someone who never saw a Super Bowl (Coryell).
Johnson took over a Cowboys team in 1989 that went 3-13 the previous year. He took over for a legendary coach in Tom Landry and matched his Super Bowl win total in less time than it took Landry to get his team to a .500 season. His ’92 team set the NFL record for most takeaways in a Super Bowl with nine. Only George Halas, Grease Neale, Buddy Parker, Weeb Ewbank, Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Mike Shanahan, and Bill Belichick have ever led a team to back-to-back NFL titles. And Lombardi, Shula, Noll, Shanahan, and Belichick were the only ones in the Super Bowl era.
Sounds like a Hall-of-Fame finalist to me.
Woodson was a five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All Pro. More importantly, he was a three-time Super Bowl champion. The second-round pick out of Arizona State was so athletic that he went from playing defensive end for the Sun Devils to a nickel back for the ’92 Cowboys. Eventually, he settled at strong safety in 1993 and finished his career as the Cowboys all-time leading tackler with 1,350. He also picked off 23 passes, returned two for touchdowns, forced 17 fumbles, and notched 11 quarterback sacks.
Not to pick on Lynch, but he only bested Woodson in the interception and sacks category, and only by three and two respectively. Consider that Woodson played 12 seasons to Lynch’s 15 — Woodson did more in less time than it took Lynch to accomplish with two different clubs.
Woodson is in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor, but it would be a shame if that is the extent of the legacy his career will have. But they did it to Cliff Harris. What’s to say it won’t happen to Woody?