PLANO Now that defensive end Charles Haley and his five Super Bowl rings are finally in the Pro Football of Fame, could this might finally pave the way for other long overlooked Dallas Cowboys defensive players from the Super Bowl teams of the 1990s to finally get their just due?
And not only with enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, but also the team’s hallowed Ring of Honor.
That is certainly the hope of former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson, who won three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s and finished his career as the team’s all-time leading tackler.
Woodson was a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame in 2015.
Haley’s enshrinement might have put Woodson a step closer.
“I hope so. I hope I’m in the discussion,” said Woodson, who was one of the guest speakers at the Hublot’s partnership strategy of sports and luxury dinner at Boardwalk Ferrari. “Charles and I had this talk the other day whether I fit in and he said ‘I’ve known for years you fit in with this group.’
“But it was an unbelievable feeling to see Charles finally go in. I felt he was a guy who should have gone in years ago. And it’s just an honor because that represents what he did here with the Cowboys, getting us over the hump as a defense and getting a Super Bowl ring because of his talents and skills.”
Woodson said the famed Triplets of receiver Michael Irvin, quarterback Troy Aikman and running back Emmitt Smith were great, but the Cowboys wouldn’t have won those three Super Bowls without the contributions from so many great players on defense.
Now an NFL analyst for ESPN, Woodson said history has done an injustice to the Cowboys defenses of the 1990s.
He’s hoping Haley’s enshrinement can break the logjam for some long overlooked defenders.
“I didn’t know we played defense in the 90s,” said Woodson. “I don’t think they realized we had like nine turnovers in the first Super Bowl. And were a team with a top-five defense. We have never been recognized that way. I think it’s an injustice and a slap in the face to the guys who played in the 90s. The list goes on and on about the great football players on the defensive side of the ball that never got that recognition.”
The Cowboys can go along way toward repairing the perceived injustice by putting Woodson in the team’s hallowed Ring of Honor. That was a step owner Jerry Jones used in helping Haley get into Hall of Fame.
There is no player and certainly no defender from the 1990s more deserving than Woodson, considering he made five Pro Bowls, recorded more tackles than anyone in team history and served as a team captain from 1994 until he retired in 2004.
Woodson wants the Ring of Honor as bad, if not more than, the Hall of Fame.
“I think about the Ring of Honor all the time,” said Woodson. “I didn’t put much into it when I was playing. I wasn’t ever in the moment.
“Now that I look back at my career and the guys I have played with and all the success that we have had, being a captain since 1994. Yeah, I want to be in the Ring of Honor. It’s an honor to be up there with Roger Staubach, Randy White and Lee Roy Jordan. I would love to up there on that list.”
The Cowboys have not inducted anyone in the Ring of Honor since 2011 when Haley, Drew Pearson and Larry Allen went in.
The time might be now for Woodson, as well as tight end Jay Novacek and guard Nate Newton, who was a six-time Pro Bowler and twice named first-team All Pro.
Clarence E. Hill Jr., 817-390-7760