Ah football. It’s as refreshing as a cool August afternoon in Texas.
Since the Patriots stunned the Falcons in the Super Bowl six months ago, football fans have waited for this day. The Cowboys and Cardinals, longtime NFC East rivals back when geography was just a suggestion, meet Thursday in Canton, Ohio, for pro football’s annual Hall of Fame game at 7 p.m. on NBC (KXAS/5).
Cue John Facenda! “Professional football in America is a special game, a unique game, played nowhere else on earth. It is a rare game. The men who play it make it so. ...”
Before you clear space on your DVR think back. Who won last year’s game? Here’s a hint: Colts, Packers.
Try neither. That game was canceled right before the scheduled kickoff because of poor field conditions. Not wind, rain or snow — the NFL would play through those — but because of a “hard, almost like plastic” surface, according to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The paint on and around the midfield and end zone logos was “congealing and rubberized, which meant players might slip on it,” Hall of Fame president David Baker told NFL Media.
Disappointed thousands who had traveled many miles to see someone run, throw or tackle were left to spend another night in Canton. Fingers crossed that never happens again.
For history’s sake, this will be the Cowboys’ sixth HOF game. They are 2-3 and here is a look at the previous five:
Aug. 3, 1968: Lost to Bears 30-24
Star of game: It seems only the 14,578 people in attendance that day have the answer. The official Hall of Fame site has no statistics for games before 2000. Chicago did have Gale Sayers, Brian Piccolo and Dick Butkus and would finish 7-7. The Cowboys had Don Meredith, Chuck Howley and Bob Lilly and would go 12-2. Notable: This was the Cowboys’ first game after the Ice Bowl playoff loss at Green Bay. Their 1968 season would end with a 17-13 win over the Minnesota Vikings in the Playoff Bowl, a game for third-place in the NFL that ceased after the 1969 season. HOF inductees: Cliff Battles, Art Donovan, Elroy “Crazylegs” Hirsch, Wayne Millner, Marion Motley, Charley Trippi and Alex Wojciechowicz.
July 28, 1979: Lost to Raiders 20-13
Star of the game: Raiders cornerback Henry Williams returned Rafael Septian’s blocked field goal 63 yards for a first-half touchdown. David Humm shared Raiders quarterbacking duties with Jim Plunkett because starter Ken Stabler was a late arrival to training camp. Humm only completed six passes, but set up Oakland’s first score with two connections to Raymond Chester. Roger Staubach and Ron Springs had 1-yard scoring plunges for the Cowboys. HOF inductees: Dick Butkus, Johnny Unitas, Ron Mix and Fort Worth’s Yale Lary.
Aug. 9, 1999: Lost to Browns 20-17 in OT
Star of the game: Cleveland. It was the Browns’ first game as Cleveland following a three-year absence when then-owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore and created the Ravens. Overall No. 1 draft pick Tim Couch led Cleveland on a first-quarter touchdown drive to set the tone. Notable: Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston had his career ended by a neck injury a month later in Week 1 of the 1999 regular season. HOF inductees: Eric Dickerson, Tom Mack, Ozzie Newsome, Billy Shaw and Lawrence Taylor.
Aug. 8, 2010: Beat the Bengals 16-7
Star of the game: Cowboys rookie linebacker Brandon Sharpe returned a fourth-quarter interception of Jordan Palmer 6 yards with a dive into the end zone for the game’s first touchdown. David Buehler kicked three field goals for Dallas. Sharpe, from Texas Tech, never played in an NFL regular season game. HOF inductees: Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, Dick LeBeau, Floyd Little, John Randle, Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith.
Aug. 4, 2013: Beat the Dolphins 24-20
Star of the game: Cowboys rookie linebacker Devonte Holloman returned an interception of Matt Moore’s tipped pass 75 yards for a touchdown to put Dallas ahead 17-0 in the second quarter. Holloman played in nine games that season, starting two, but never played in the NFL after. HOF inductees: Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Bill Parcells, Dave Robinson and Warren Sapp.