FRISCO, Texas – Oh, gosh, here we go again. Second time in two years.
Will Darren Woodson rightfully be selected for induction into the Pro football Hall of Fame?
Almost exhausting to continue beating this drum. Sure it's exhausting for Woody, too, the second time in these pasts two years advancing to the Final 15. The eighth time advancing to the semifinals, meaning the Round of 25.
We find out Thursday night from Las Vegas during the 13th annual NFL Honors show being broadcast live on CBS starting at 8 p.m.
If having been selected to make the case for one of the best Cowboys defenders during his 12-year Cowboys career (1992-2003) that included three Super Bowl rings, five Pro Bowl selections, four All-Pro selections and a Cowboys Ring of Honor induction, here is what would have been my best place to start.
The Cowboys have eight defensive players in the Hall of Fame, now listed in alphabetical order: Charles Haley, Cliff Harris, Chuck Howley, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Deion Sanders, DeMarcus Ware and Randy White. Only Haley has earned as many Super Bowl rings playing for the Cowboys as Woody.
But think about this: With all these HOF luminaries playing for the Cowboys, Darren Ray Woodson, a safety like no other safety has ever played the position with his quality and versatility, has the most tackles in the franchises' 64-season history. Not Lilly. Not the Manster. Not D-Ware. None of them.
Woodson owns 1,350 career tackles, 114 more than Lee Roy Jordan's 1,236 and 246 more than Randy White. So let's think about that for a moment. All these Hall of Fame greats having played for the Cowboys, a franchise winning five Super Bowls, eight conference championships and 36 playoff games, none of these eight Hall of Famers has more.
That must mean something. So must leading the franchise with 787 solo tackles, 563 assisted tackles and second with 134 special teams tackles. Let that sink in. A safety for starters, a safety starting 162 out of 178 games played – eight times starting all 16 regular-season games – and that total would have been more if not for only starting two games his rookie season.
An error Cowboys Hall of Fame head coach Jimmy Johnson once admitted to me, saying one of his biggest mistakes he'd made was not thinking Woody, a hybrid linebacker at Arizona State, could have made the transition to NFL safety as a rookie, having played him basically on the nickel defense and special teams in 1992.
And there should be no excuse for Woody having played in an era when the majority of the 50-member HOF voting committee was too young to have seen him play. By my rough estimation, 38 of those guys were working media members for the majority of Woody's career.
Here's to hoping these guys just do their job.
- More Woody: There is a decent chance the Cowboys announce just who will replace the departed Dan Quinn with the next defensive coordinator by the end of the week. While being interviewed on 96.7 The Ticket Wednesday morning on Super Bowl Radio Row from Vegas, Woodson's choice was emphatic: "Mike Zimmer." No surprise since Woody spent 10 of his 12 seasons playing for Zimmer, first as his defensive assistant, then as his defensive backs coach and lastly as his defensive coordinator his final four seasons. Said Woody, "Mike Zimmer, are you really going to ask me, right? Like, I'm biased. I'm biased but I can tell you, and I'm not saying this team needs to get tougher, but I think there needs to be a change, like a shock. Like someone needs to come in and shock the defense and bring that toughness to them, especially in the middle of that defense. Look, on the edge of this team, on the perimeter, they're lights out. Cornerbacks are great. Edge rushers are awesome. The interior of this team really needs to take a hard look, and I think Mike Zimmer is probably that guy. I played with him for so many years. He's tough. You're not going to like him. He's not going to be your best friend. As he says, I'm going to MF somebody. Somebody is going to get it, but that's the shock you need. Now, I don't know if that lasts forever, but I think there's something about shocking this defense and getting them to understand." That's Zimmer in a nutshell.
- Capital Welcoming: Talk about a grand welcoming, the Commanders sure did so upon Quinn's official arrival for his first day on the job on Monday with a receiving line at the facility. Also on hand to greet Quinn was senior advisor Doug Williams, by the way the first Black quarterback selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by Tampa Bay in 1978, and the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl while with the then Redskins that 1987 season. Quinn had this to say about hiring Cowboys' secondary/defensive pass game coordinator the past three seasons Joe Whitt Jr. as his defensive coordinator in Washington, "Just seeing the detail, the connection, the play style. To play good defense, you'd better be a good tackling team, you'd better take the ball away. Those are two things the units he was charged with have been excellent at over the last three years." Quinn did say Whitt would be calling the defense.
- Super Purdy: Niners quarterback Brock Purdy is trying to become just the fifth quarterback drafted no higher than the seventh round to win a Super Bowl. And he was just one selection away from not even being drafted, the final pick in the 2022 seven-round NFL Draft. The other four? Why, Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach won two Super Bowls after being drafted in the 10th round in 1964. Green Bay's Bart Starr, with two Super Bowl titles, was drafted in the 17th round of 1956. Johnny Unitas was a ninth-round pick in 1955 and is credited for starting Super Bowl V against the Cowboys, though knocked out of the game in the second quarter of the Colts' 16-13 victory. And then there is Brad Johnson, a 1992 ninth rounder.
- Lone Ranger: But having said that about draft choices, Kurt Warner is the only undrafted quarterback to win a Super Bowl, doing so with the St. Louis Rams that 1999 season in Super Bowl XXXIV, five years after the Packers initially signed him to a rookie free agent deal in 1994. The Cowboys were knocking on the door to get there with their undrafted ace Tony Romo, qualifying for the playoffs four times in his career.
- First-Round Gold: But the majority of the previous Super Bowls have been won by 21 quarterbacks drafted in the first round. Those quarterbacks have accounted for 32 Super Bowl titles, Pittsburgh's Terry Bradshaw leading the way with four Lombardi trophies. Next up with the second most by a first round drafted QB is the Cowboys' Troy Aikman with three. And Kansas City's Patrick Mahomes Sunday against the Niners is trying to join Aikman as the second quarterback drafted in the first round to win three Super Bowl titles.
- Super Bowl Mosts: While perusing some Super Bowl records, Cowboys Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith still holds the Super Bowl career record with five rushing touchdowns. Haley, the Cowboys/Niners' Hall of Fame defensive end, is tied for the Super Bowl career sack record with 4½, joined by the Broncos/Rams' Von Miller. Oh, and one more. The Cowboys' 24-3 victory over Miami back the 1971 season in Super Bowl VI remains tied for the fewest points given up in Super Bowl history, along with the Patriots' 13-3 win over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII that 2018 season. And the Cowboys still hold the single-game Super Bowl records from Super Bowl XXVII with nine takeaways, eight forced fumbles and five recovered fumbles in that 52-17 crushing of Buffalo.
- Super Bites: Since Cowboys owner Jerry Jones issued his "all in" proclamation from the Senior Bowl last week, wonder if he might splurge putting together his defensive staff by hiring not only an experienced defensive coordinator replacement for Quinn but also maybe a senior defensive assistant type … Saw this picture of coaches on Mike Shanahan's 2013 Washington coaching staff that included offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur, receivers coach Mike McDaniel, tight ends coach Sean McVay, defensive backs coach Raheem Morris and defensive assistant Bobby Slowik, the son of linebackers coach Bob Slowik, five of those guys now current NFL head coaches … Does Quinn hiring Kliff Kingsbury as his offensive coordinator tip the Commanders' draft hand, suggest hoping to select USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 2 pick in the draft since the former Arizona head coach served as the USC offensive analyst this past season …Interesting cornerback in this past Thursday's East-West Shrine Bowl played at Ford Center named Qwan'tez Stiggers, having played for the CFL Toronto Argonauts this past year after never having played in college, making a tackle and a PBU in two of the first three plays of the game.
For this week's last word, let's go to Jones reacting to World Cup 26 coming to AT&T Stadium for nine games, including a semifinal match in July of 2026 to give North Texas four knockout games during this world-wide soccer celebration. Sure there was initial disappointment over not landing the championship match, but Jerry sure did understand the international perception of New York/New Jersey and Los Angeles compared to that of Dallas. And how some of that can change with so many games located at AT&T Stadium, and the possibility of several international teams being housed here as their base in North Texas as well as the possibility of the International Media Center and officials home base being located here, too.
"You would have to be asleep at the wheel to not recognize the economic impact of the central part of the United States and Texas and the attractiveness of Texas," Jones rationalized. "Look at the exodus that's happening from both coasts, in a manner of speaking. We are so friendly to futures, not only just when they were business friendly, but we are friendly to young people, young being from 20 to 65. We're so friendly to their futures that we're causing opportunities to come here left and right. And part of that is what you'll see in a little at 10,000 feet – you should see some of that when you see the soccer being played here in the World Cup. Should get some of that.
"And I think that's important that we show that. That we had to overcome when people around the world think of America, they think of those skyscrapers up in New York, or they think of those movie stars out in California. We want them to think about where real life and real living and everything is going on here and the way of life here in Texas."