It’s been five seasons since a player was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. Actually, three players were inducted back in 2005, when Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin were all inducted on the same day. Five years is too long to go without a player being inducted. Especially with a team like the Cowboys that is so deep with great players.
It’s time for the Cowboys to start honoring more players in the new stadium and give them their place in history. I can probably name about 15 to 20 players who deserve to be honored, but there are two that always come to mind first. They were great players for the Cowboys through most of the 1970s and early 1980s. They helped make the Cowboys what they are today. They put their mark on the organization as well as the NFL. They dominated their positions around the same time in their careers and received many of the same honors. Those players are Harvey Martin and Drew Pearson.
Harvey Martin, 1973-1983
Harvey Martin was drafted by the Cowboys in the third round of the 1973 draft. In his ten seasons with the Cowboys he was elected to four Pro Bowls (1976, ’77, ’78 and ’79), he was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1977 and was also on the NFL 1970s All-Decade team. In 1977, after helping the Cowboys win their second Super Bowl Championship, Harvey Martin was selected as co-MVP of Super Bowl XII along with Randy White as they dominated the Denver Broncos. Harvey Martin, aka “Too Mean” became one of the most feared defensive linemen in the NFL.
Martin became part of the Cowboys Doomsday Defense II, along with Randy White and Ed (Too Tall) Jones. At the beginning of his career he was able to learn from the great Bob Lilly. Martin led the Cowboys in sacks seven times in his career. Although the NFL did not officially start recording sacks until 1982, it was Harvey Martin who collected 23 sacks during the 1977 season in only 14 games. Those 23 sacks would be the all-time record today over Michael Strahan who had 22 ½ in 2001. Martin had 14 sacks in 1978 as he once again helped the Cowboys to the Super Bowl where they lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII. Martin still holds the record for most career sacks for the Cowboys with 114.
Harvey Martin had his share of problems off the field after his retirement in 1983. Those problems plagued him until the mid 1990s when he was able to turn his life around. Martin gave anti-drug speeches to school children and recovering addicts in hopes that they would listen and not make the same mistakes he made.
Harvey Martin’s life was cut short on December 24, 2001 when he died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 51. By his bedside that day was teammate and good friend Drew Pearson. Martin will most likely never make it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is a disgrace in my opinion. Martin belongs in the Cowboys Ring of Honor because of the kind of player he was and what he did for the Cowboys. His name needs to be displayed with the other Cowboys greats and honored for his ten seasons with the Cowboys
Drew Pearson, 1973-1983
Drew Pearson was signed as a Free Agent by the Cowboys in 1973 and went on to become one of the greatest wide receivers in Dallas Cowboys history. Pearson became known as “Mr. Clutch” in his career for always making the big reception for the Cowboys. In 1974 he caught the game winning touchdown pass from rookie quarterback Clint Longley on Thanksgiving against the Redskins. In the 1975 playoffs he caught the game winning “Hail Mary” touchdown pass from Roger Staubach against the Vikings. In the 1980 playoffs he caught the game winning touchdown pass from Danny White against the Falcons. Pearson finished his career with 489 receptions for 7,822 yards and 48 touchdowns. He was elected three Pro Bowls (1974, ’76 and ’77). Pearson was also selected to the NFL 1970s All-Decade team. Drew Pearson was a member of three Cowboys Super Bowl teams in 1975, 1977 and 1978.
Like Harvey Martin, Pearson will most likely never make it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Pearson’s numbers compare and even go beyond some of his fellow NFL receivers at the time like Lynn Swann (336 receptions for 5,462 yards and 51 touchdowns) and John Stallworth (537 receptions for 8,723 yards and 63 touchdowns). Both Swann and Stallworth have been elected into the Hall of Fame.
Drew Pearson’s career came to an end after the 1983 season when the car he was driving crashed into a truck killing his younger brother. Pearson suffered a lacerated kidney in the accident and had to retire from the NFL. To this day Pearson does not remember anything about the accident.
Harvey Martin and Drew Pearson both belong in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. Jerry Jones and the Cowboys organization need to do the right thing and place their names in Cowboys stadium for all to see. Although Harvey Martin is no longer with us, I’m sure it will make his family, friends and former teammates proud to see him finally make it. Drew Pearson needs to be honored the same as fellow receivers Bob Hayes and Michael Irvin.
Other Cowboys greats in the Ring of Honor…
Bob Lilly, 1975
Don Meredith, 1976
Don Perkins, 1976
Chuck Howley, 1977
Mel Renfro, 1981
Roger Staubach, 1983
Lee Roy Jordan, 1989
Tom Landry, 1993
Tony Dorsett, 1994
Randy White, 1994
Bob Hayes, 2001
Tex Schramm, 2003
Cliff Harris, 2004
Rayfield Wright, 2004
Troy Aikman, 2005
Emmitt Smith, 2005
Michael Irvin, 2005
Harvey Martin, ??
Drew Pearson, ??
Some pictures provided by the following books, “The Super Bowl” and “Dallas Cowboys, Our Story”