Sports Outside the Beltway

Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson on HOF List

Several Dallas Cowboys, most notably owner Jerry Jones and former coach Jimmy Johnson, are on the long list of candidates for the 2008 class at the Hall of Fame.

Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson on HOF ListCowboys owner-general manager Jerry Jones and former head coach Jimmy Johnson are among 124 modern-era players, coaches and contributors who comprise the preliminary nominees list for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008.

The preliminary list will be trimmed to 25 semifinalists next month, and 15 modern-era finalists eventually will be selected by mail ballot along with previously announced senior nominees Marshall Goldberg and Emmitt Thomas.

Other notable Cowboys nominees include former vice president of personnel development Gil Brandt; defensive ends Charles Haley, Jim Jeffcoat and Ed “Too Tall” Jones; tight end Jay Novacek; wide receiver Drew Pearson; running back Herschel Walker; and quarterback Danny White.

Johnson was Jones’ first head-coaching hire upon taking ownership in 1989. The two enjoyed consecutive Super Bowl titles from 1992-93 before Johnson’s departure following the ’93 season.

To be considered for election, players and coaches must be retired at least five years. Contributors such as Jones may still be active in the NFL.

One could make a strong case for all of these players except perhaps Jeffcoat and White. Both were excellent players but neither was a truly dominant, great player.

Charles Haley and Drew Pearson should certainly be in the Hall already. Pearson was a more dominant wide receiver than either Lynn Swann or John Stallworth; unfortunately for him, they got the national spotlight of four Super Bowl wins. He’s also in the same boat as Art Monk, great players from a different era whose stats no longer seem impressive. Haley was a dominant player on five Super Bowl champions. ‘Nuff said.

Gil Brandt was the GM of the Cowboys during the entire Landry era, building an expansion team — from the days when they didn’t even get draft picks their first year — into a perennial championship contender. He certainly deserves to be in Canton.

Two years ago, I’d have said Johnson didn’t coach long enough to make it. Then John Madden, who was a head coach only ten years and who won only one Super Bowl, got voted in. If that’s the standard, Johnson, who coached two Super Bowl champions and built the core of the team that wo a third under Barry Switzer, should qualify.

As for Jones, he’s a lock for Canton. He’s transformed the League’s business model and made it much more profitable. It’s a matter of when, not if. My guess is “when” is several years from now.

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