Ed “Too Tall” Jones, a member of the Dallas Cowboys’ famed “Doomsday Defense,” was one of the many retired NFL players in downtown Dallas on Monday to support the launch of the National Football League Players Association’s new program, Healthy Huddle.
Roy Green, Isiah Robertson, Derek Kennard, Bradie James, Mark Clayton, Preston Pearson and Byron Williams, president of the NFLPA’s Dallas Chapter, were among those at the Hickory Street Annex to show their support.
Healthy Huddle is a premium dental service for retired players and their families. It also provides the players an opportunity to give back to their community through the Healthy Huddle Community Smile Project and Smile Brands Group, Inc., programs that benefit underprivileged youth in Dallas and surrounding communities.
Jones was a 6-foot-9 defensive end for the Cowboys from 1974-89. He was voted to the Pro Bowl three times and named All-Pro three times. He played in 16 playoff games, including three Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl XII against the Denver Broncos. Jones was joined on an imposing defensive line by Harvey Martin, Jethro Pugh and Randy White.
What does it mean to you to support this cause?
It means a lot because it helps so many people. And like Byron expressed, when he grew up he didn’t have dental care. If you look around, a lot of that, too much of that, has happened. So for these people to offer their help and assistance, it’s absolutely phenomenal and I’m so glad they chose the NFL alumni.
How important is it to get young people involved?
Sleep apnea, dental care, both of those things are very important. ... A lot of dental problems trigger sleep apnea so it’s just a win-win situation. We’re all excited about it and looking forward to launching this thing.
Will the Cowboys get back to the playoffs?
I’m like any average fan out there. I’m hoping for the best. It’s been a while, we’re not used to being in a drought like this, going this long without playoff wins. I remember the good old days. If you wanted to make it in the NFC, to the Super Bowl, you had to go through Dallas. I want those glory days to come back. They have so many new people, especially on the defense, I don’t know what to expect. I just hope a few playmakers surface. All it takes is a few playmakers on each side of the ball to make a difference.
Are all the new rules and penalties good or bad for the NFL?
They’re just coming up with different ideas to do anything they can to protect these guys that make the game. They are also focused on the equipment make-up to protect these players. I think in the long run, it’s the real key there ... the equipment being light enough and protecting these players so they can play a long time.
What do you tell fans who think there are too many rules and penalties?
I say give it a chance. The guys are still learning what’s really legal and what’s not. I know when I watch it ... I’m still kind of confused, so the players are dealing with that themselves. Give it a chance. The bottom line is that these guys are born to play football. They’re still going to make the game exciting, still going to give 110 percent effort and if they’re doing that, you’re going to love the game.
Has the game changed much since you played?
It’s no different. You still have good coaching that boils down to good players. ... When I played, we were just as fast or faster, strong or stronger, and loved the game. I think it was more team bonding when I played because a lot of guys played with the same team for a long time. I played 15 years, but I played with several guys that played 12, 13, 14 years. You have a lot of free agency now and players moving so people aren’t as close, but the game is still exciting.
Do people still refer to you as “Too Tall” out in public and does it ever get old?
They do. That’s all they know. Some of them don’t know my real name, but that’s fine. I love the fans here. The fans here love winning and I gave everything I had when I played and fans appreciate that. [Being called Too Tall] never gets old. I always look forward to someone coming up, meeting you for the first time and just wanting to thank you for all the years. That makes me feel good.
Are you the same height (6-foot-9)?
I’m afraid to measure.
Who will be the next player to go in the Ring of Honor?
No idea. That’s totally out of my control. One man [owner Jerry Jones] controls that, not a committee. One man and that’s his choice.