CANTON, Ohio -- Drew Pearson will be the next player inducted into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor, a source confirmed.
The Ring of Honor has 15 players in it, plus Tom Landry and Tex Schramm. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is the sole decision-maker and hasn't added anyone since Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin went in during the 2005 season.
Jones said Saturday that he intends to add a player to the team's Ring of Honor at Cowboys Stadium this season, though he wouldn't name the player.
"We would like to make that announcement separately, but we are; we are planning to," Jones said.
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There has been speculation for a while that Pearson would be Jones' choice. Pearson played for the Cowboys from 1973-83 and had 489 catches for 7,822 yards and 48 touchdowns. He was a three-time All-Pro and was named to the league's All-Decade Team of the 1970s.
Pearson first made the No. 88 famous in Dallas, with more big catches than any other receiver in the team's history. His Hail Mary reception in the waning moments of a 1975 playoff game against the Vikings is one of the most famous in NFL history. He also clinched a '73 playoff victory over the Los Angeles Rams with a touchdown catch, and he was on the receiving end of Clint Longley's pass in the 1974 Thanksgiving Day comeback against the Redskins. He also had two touchdowns in a playoff victory over the Falcons in 1980. Pearson's big catches earned him the nickname "Mr. Clutch."
Pearson said he would welcome inclusion into the Ring of Honor.
"It would mean a lot to me and my family," Pearson said. "It has been 29 years [since his career ended], so we do not get excited over rumors at this point. However, the recognition would be the highlight of my career."
Pearson's former teammates have been pushing him for induction into both the Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sanders also is a candidate to be inducted into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor in the future. In five seasons with the Cowboys, Sanders had 14 interceptions, two defensive touchdowns, one offensive touchdown and four punt return touchdowns.
Sanders recently told ESPN 103.3's Ben and Skin Show that he has no interest in joining the Cowboys' Ring of Honor.
"That's not for me," Sanders said. "I don't want that accolade. I don't deserve it."
Sanders didn't spend even half of his career with any one team. He played for five teams in 14 NFL seasons -- Atlanta for five, San Francisco for one, Dallas for five, Washington for one and Baltimore for two. But Jones said he still will consider Sanders for the Ring.
"He certainly made the contributions," said Jones, who was in Canton on Saturday for the fifth time to see a Cowboys player inducted. "I know that there is a debate, there are at least conversations, about a player who doesn't spend his entire career [with the Cowboys] relative to the Ring of Honor. That's that issue. But that Ring of Honor is supposed to be about a difference-maker for the franchise, and I think he's that."
Jerry for Hall?
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones could find himself in the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day. He has been an innovator and a savvy businessman since buying the Cowboys in 1989 for $140 million. ( Forbes estimates that the Cowboys are the second-most valuable franchise in the world, worth $1.81 billion.)
And his Cowboys also have won three Super Bowl titles.
"I like to think there is time for those kinds of things [like the Hall of Fame] after you've finished," Jones, 68, said. "I don't go there too much. Where I do go is I'd like to win that fourth Super Bowl. I'd really do whatever it takes to have that."
Staff writer Clarence E. Hill Jr. contributed to this report.
Charean Williams, 817-390-7760