Will Larry Allen and Charles Haley get the call?
FEB 01, 2013 10:44a ET
And they would be forgetting one very important item that must be covered in this space. At least, one of my favorite portions of Super Bowl week every year and something I never get tired of discussing: Hall of Fame induction Day.
I feel like the other sports have rather random ways of announcing their Hall of Fame inductees and often announce them in their offseason on a day when you aren't really thinking about that sport.
But, not my football. Oh, no.
Football properly takes advantage of having its universe all located in the same city for the Super Bowl and makes the day before the big game one where they ask their exclusive voters to assemble for an all-morning-and-much-of-the-afternoon voting session that will end in that year's class. They will be inducted at the dawn of the next season in Canton for the first preseason game, but the year ends as the new class is announced. It is perfect in its symmetry if you ask me.
So while many are typing up their game previews, I will get after this year's Hall of Fame vote.
There was a time from a Cowboys perspective that Dallas was wildly under-represented in Canton. Sure, there were some players who were in the Hall of Fame who played a small portion of their career in Dallas like Lance Alworth, Herb Adderley, Forrest Gregg, Tommy McDonald, Mike Ditka and Jackie Smith.
But none of those guys would be considered Cowboys by visitors of the Hall. Smith may have had his biggest moment with the Cowboys, but he only played one season in Dallas and had a bigger career than one moment in the endzone of Super Bowl 13 would suggest. Google him and be impressed.
But for a team that had such a great track record of success, as of 2004, the only actual Cowboys' players who were in the Hall of Fame were Bob Lilly (inducted in 1980), Roger Staubach (1985), Tony Dorsett (1994), Randy White (1994) and Mel Renfro (1996).
That number was nice, but frankly, when the Houston Oilers could boast a similar number, it did not seem to properly reflect the amount of winning the franchise had done over the years.
Look at Pittsburgh and Oakland. They were able to get significantly more players into the Hall from their dominant teams of the 1970s and 1980s. But the Cowboys hit a wall for almost a decade.
In Miami in 2006, the wall came tumbling down. That year, it was Troy Aikman and Rayfield Wright. In 2007, Michael Irvin got the call. In 2009, Bob Hayes was honored. In 2010, it was Emmitt Smith and in 2011, Deion Sanders.
Sanders, of course, is likely remembered more for playing with several teams, but everyone else were clear Cowboys. So in just a handful of years, the number of Cowboys went from 5 to 10. Things seemed to be equalized. The cries of the "Anti-Cowboys bias" had been quieted.
That doesn't mean all the cases are closed. There are still many around here — including me as I have written several times — who believe Drew Pearson needs to be in. At this point, he will need to go the route of Bob Hayes with the senior committee, but I still can't believe that a guy with moments as big as his would not eventually get in.
Harvey Martin also seems like a worthy inductee. We could make quite a list of others while we're at it, but there are two more who might get in tomorrow when the committee convenes for the 2013 session.
Larry Allen is one of those no-brainers who will be in either this year or next year. He is one of those "it is simply a matter of time" guys because no offensive lineman has been his equal in the last 20 years.
A giant human with even larger feats of strength than guys his size, Allen dominated his opponents with ease and routine. Having played left tackle, left guard, right guard and right tackle, it was pretty clear Allen could fix any positional issue the Cowboys had over his long career, and in his prime was the best of the best.
He was named to both the All-Decade Team of the 1990s and the All-Decade Team of the 2000s. At the end of his stay in Dallas he wasn't at his peak, but if you consider his 14 years as a whole, Allen is exceeded at guard only by one player — John Hannah — for All-Pro teams. Hannah made 10, while Allen made seven, which tied him with Gene Upshaw (Jim Parker had eight as a tackle/guard).
This season, three offensive linemen are up for induction. Will Shields is in his second year of eligibility and has credentials that indicate his wait won't be long either, and Jonathan Ogden is in his first year. The belief is that two of them will get in, so while I feel Allen is in this class, there is no predicting the voters' choice.
The other Cowboys interest is for Charles Haley, who has five Super Bowl victories: 23, 24, 27, 28 and 30. That is fantastic, and he was in on at least one sack in four of those Super Bowls. He also had 100.5 sacks; although 100 seems like a magic number for Hall of Fame consideration, don't be so sure.
Leslie O'Neal has 132, Simeon Rice has 122, Sean Jones 113, Greg Townsend 109, Trace Armstrong 106, and yes, even Jim Jeffcoat has 102.5. And if you knew that Jeffcoat had more career sacks than Charles Haley, then I congratulate you. Because that surprised me.
Now, guys like Howie Long (84) have fewer sacks than Haley and are in the Hall of Fame, but Greg Ellis also has 84, so we must assume that sack totals do not tell all. Which likely lead us back to seven championship games and five Super Bowl rings.
The other oddity of Haley's career was that on those 1992 and 1993 Cowboys teams that are considered among the greatest single-season teams of this lifetime, he only finished third and fourth in sacks. In 1992, Jeffcoat had 10.5, Tony Tolbert 8.5 and Haley had six. In 1993, Tolbert had 7.5, Jeffcoat six, Jimmie Jones 5.5 and Haley just four. Those numbers are hard to process.
Now, having just viewed Super Bowl 27, I will attest to the fact that Haley was a monster that day and All-Pro tackle Will Wolford was beaten badly. So when the chips were down, he performed, but there are some production numbers that are problematic.
Meanwhile, for all of Howie Long's points earned as a personality who endeared himself to the public with smiles and television time, Haley will have a hill to overcome in that department as well. As we know, the media votes, so if you spent most of your career trying to scare the media or at least be difficult, then hopefully the media is not vindictive.
My best guess at the class — which means who I expect to get in, not who I believe SHOULD be voted in — is Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Art Modell, Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson and Michael Strahan.
I figure that this prediction will be about as reliable as the Patriots beating the Packers on Sunday, but just know that I will be locked in on Saturday as the new class is announced.
I personally hope Charles Haley gets the call, but I assume that Strahan will vault past with his 141 sacks, New York personality and big Super Bowl moment. But perhaps I am wrong. And that doesn't even consider Bill Parcells, Warren Sapp, Tim Brown or Andre Reed.
As you can see, there are more worthy candidates than there are spaces available. And that won't change, as a new crop is eligible every year.
I still look forward to the day when this process is fully televised, but the voters think this would irreparably damage the ability for them to speak freely. That may be the case, but it sure seems like transparency is one way to take away vendettas or at least make people with them be accountable.
Either way, the discussions are fun for those of us who are not hanging on every vote. Pity the players who must, until their day arrives — if, in fact, it ever does.
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