OXNARD, Calif. – The Cowboys had it on the books in 2015 to put Darren Woodson into the Ring of Honor. But the "when" and "where" of the announcement and induction ceremony was yet to be finalized.
But on Sunday afternoon at training camp practice, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones decided to clarify the situation. Standing in the middle of the two fields up in the scouting tower, he saw Woodson down on the sidelines, in between his on-air segments for ESPN.
Jones asked the five-time Pro Bowler to come up into the tower for what Woodson that would be a fun chat.
Without wasting any time or small-talk, Jones got straight to the point.
"Darren, would you accept being in the Ring of Honor," Jones said to his former star safety.
Woodson said he was definitely "surprised" and wasn't sure how to react, although he gladly accepted, considering it has long been a dream to see his name in the Ring of Honor.
"It's an absolute honor because this has always been my family," said Woodson, who made sure to thank many of his teammates, but also several behind-the-scenes members and coaches along the way. "So many people who have just been a part of my family and the fabric of what I am and made me the guy that I am that it's just been special. It's really been special."
It has often been said that Jones leads the one-person committee in determining the Ring of Honor inductees, such as the case of former Cowboys GM Tex Schramm. Jones said Woodson's addition was a no-brainer for several reasons.
"He has without a doubt all of the credentials," Jones said. "In my visits with Tex in the early years, his vision of what the Ring of Honor was supposed to be, and it was supposed to be an individual in his own way did something special for the franchise of the Dallas Cowboys. That seems simple in definition but it covers much a lot more than the 1,350 tackles. I want to be the first to publicly say to Darren Woodson what an honor it is, and what an honor it is for the people who are in the in the Ring of Honor, for the fans who watched him play, and for all of us that call ourselves being a part of the Cowboys organization, what it is to have Darren Woodson in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor."
Woodson, who retired from the Cowboys in 2004, is the club's all-time leading tackler with 1,350 stops. He broke Lee Roy Jordan's record in a 2002 game against Seattle – the same game in which Emmitt Smith set the NFL. It wasn't the only time Woodson was overshadowed by some of his high-profile teammates.[embeddedad0]
But when the Cowboys face the Seahawks on Nov. 1 this season, Woodson will get his day to shine, as he becomes the 21st player inducted into the Ring of Honor, and the 19th player. Woodson will be the first induction since the Cowboys added Drew Pearson, Larry Allen and Charles Haley at once in 2011, also against the Seahawks.
A five-time Pro Bowler, Woodson is the only player in Cowboys history to play for five head coaches (Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and Bill Parcells.) He finished his career with 1,350 tackles, surpassing Lee Roy Jordan (1,236) in 2012.
Woodson is the eighth defensive player inducted into the Ring of Honor, and just the second who played in the 90's era, along with Haley.
But unlike Haley, and even Allen, Woodson played his entire career with the Cowboys, something he takes pride in,
"Absolutely, I talked to Brian Dawkins back in Philly at times, and he has always said the same thing -- how special it is that I remained a Cowboy my entire career," Woodson said. "I don't think there was any point in my career that I wanted to leave this organization – any point in my career that I had any doubts about the ownership that wanted to win and was passionate about winning. Yeah, it's special."
And now Woodson is about to get a special achievement.