First off let me start out by saying that I have nothing against Darren Woodson and what he has meant to the Dallas Cowboys organization over the years. In my 13 years of working in the National Football League, I had five players that were my personal favorites for what they meant on and off the field and Darren Woodson was in my top five. It truly was an honor to have worked on the same team that he was on.
One day, Darren Woodson will get his day in the sun with that Ring of Honor opportunity there is no doubt in my mind but where my problem lies is in the process with Charles Haley going before Harvey Martin.
In my view Harvey Martin is the greatest defensive end to have ever worn a star for this franchise. I respect what Haley has done in his career with the Cowboys and to be a part of three Super Bowl winning teams is quite an accomplishment. But where I get lost with Haley is that he was selected by Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers, not the Dallas Cowboys. Haley’s sample size is a small but productive one as compared to what Harvey Martin did for this franchise during the 1970’s and into the 80’s.
Harvey Martin was one of our own. He was raised in Dallas, played his high school football here and went on to college in Texas. He was drafted by the Cowboys in the third round and quickly worked his way into the starting lineup. Martin was one of the most feared defensive ends of his time not only reeking havoc in the passing game but setting the edge in the running game. He was a force and opposing quarterbacks knew where he was at all times. Martin was a nightmare for opponents to prepare for not only because of his God given ability but his relentless pursuit of the football. Some of the greatest offensive tackles of this era struggled while having to deal with Martin. Guys like Ron Yary in Minnesota, Jackie Slater with the Rams and Dan Dierdorf with the Cardinals all had their hands full dealing with Martin
Harvey Martin was every bit the player that Charles Haley was and if you take a look at their careers, they were very similar. Haley had 100.5 career sacks, he was selected to five Pro Bowls and he was on the NFL All Pro Teams twice. Haley was never a NFL Defensive Player of the Year or was he an MVP of a Super Bowl team but Martin was all of these things and he is not in the Ring of Honor.
When you look at the career numbers for Harvey Martin they are staggering.
· 114 sacks in 158 career games
· In 1977, he had 23 sacks in 14 games. The NFL started keeping sack numbers in 1982. Michael Strahan currently holds the NFL record with 22.5 sacks in 16 games.
· In seven of nine seasons, Martin led the team in sacks despite having teammates like Ed Jones and Randy White.
· Martin played in 22 playoff games for the Cowboys and was the starter in 20 of them at defensive end.
· Selected to four straight Pro Bowls from 1976 – 1979.
· Was named to the NFL All Pro Team in 1977 and was named AP Defensive Player of the Year that same year.
· In Super Bowl XII against the Denver Broncos, Martin was selected Co-MVPs along with Randy White. It was a pressure from Martin that led to the first turnover of the game, an interception by Randy Hughes. In game the Cowboys defense held Denver to 61 yards passing mainly because of White’s and Martin’s constant pressure.
Every time I visit Cowboys Stadium I look at the names of those Cowboys’ greats that appear between the decks of seats and remember how truly wonderful they really were. Names like Landry, Staubach, Dorsett, Smith and Aikman. Men that shaped this franchise into what it means to so many people. Its names of a very select group in NFL history some even in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In my travels around the league I have seen other stadiums with their version of the Ring of Honor but it seems like there are too many names and maybe the players weren’t as great. In Dallas it’s a select group and I respect that but there is one name that is truly missing to make that a special group, Harvey Martin. Jerry Jones has a firm understanding of this franchise and what it means to its fans, as someone who grew up watching this team play, my hope is that one day Harvey Martin’s name will be there where it belongs.