*(Editor's Note: From the home office in Irving, Texas, DallasCowboys.com has this week's top 10 list, a ranking of Ring Of Honor Candidates as selected by the website writing staff - Nick Eatman, Rob Phillips and Josh Ellis. A new countdown will debut each Friday.) *
While the Pro Football Hall of Fame is obviously the ultimate honor for any NFL player past or present, the Cowboys' Ring of Honor has become a rather elite destination in its own right.
Since Jerry Jones purchased the Cowboys in 1989 and took over the decision-making on the Ring of Honor, he was advised by Tex Schramm to keep it as exclusive as possible. Jones has certainly done that, putting just 11 people in the Ring in 22 years.
Obviously, it's a select group and don't expect things to change in that regard. But what if it did? What if Jerry Jones suddenly had a change of heart? What if he decided that not only is it time to add more players into the Ring of Honor, but to loosened the grip on the exclusivity?
So that leads us to today's Top 10 list. We've ranked the waiting list of the Ring of Honor, putting the 10 most worthy players to go into the Ring of Honor. It's not exactly a list of the next 10 who will make it, but the Top 10 if Jones decided to open up the doors.
We've excluded this list to players only. Obviously, Jimmy Johnson would have a say in that, having won two Super Bowls, and even Jerry Jones himself will probably one day make it up there as well.
This is a players-only list based on their achievements and deservingness for this honor - not exactly who has waited the longest.
We have some honorable mentions to dole out first. The hired-guns of Charles Haley and Deion Sanders, and even Jay Novacek were all beneficial in winning Super Bowls. But they just didn't have the years of service with the Cowboys to make the list. John Niland made six Pro Bowls in six seasons with the Cowboys, but comes up the short on the list as well. And even Danny White got some recognition for his time with the Cowboys as not only the starting quarterback, but the punter as well.
But let's get to the list and start with No. 10, where we have a tie for the last spot.
10(a). Bill Bates
While one might argue that a player who spent most of his career as a special teams player shouldn't deserve such an honor, at least Bates did it as well as any other player of his time. Let's not forget Bates' ability to cover kicks was a big reason the NFL added that spot in the Pro Bowl, where Bates was a recipient in 1984. And among anything else, Bates was and still is one of the biggest fan favorites of all time. Bates is tied with Ed Jones and Mark Tuinei for the longest years of service, each playing 15 seasons with the Cowboys.