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Building a Hall of Fame Case For Charles Haley

Charles Haley. Man, what can I say about this guy.

When you think of success, in terms of football, one of the first images that should pop into anyone’s mind is Charles Haley. No player had more success than he did.

To be on five Super Bowl teams and have five Super Bowl rings is an accomplishment that no one has been able to match, and I doubt if anyone else ever will.

The addition of free agency and salary caps have prevented dynasties from surviving in the NFL. “The teams that do stay intact, like the Patriots, are unusual,” to paraphrase my idol, Paul Zimmerman.

Therefore, it is almost impossible for a man to be on five different teams and win the Super Bowl. He’d have to be a mid-level player for one, because teams try to lock up their stars for several years.

He’d also have to be extremely lucky as well.

But, Charles Haley was more than that. Charles Haley was a difference maker. Charles Haley was a man that scared opponents. He made every defensive line he played on a better line. He made every linebacking corp he played with a better crew, and he was probably the most angry and violent man to ever play professional football.

This defensive end/outside linebacker belongs in the Hall of Fame.

To truly understand why this man is a must for a Hall of Fame, you have to look at the player. You can’t just look at numbers. You have to get inside Charles Haley’s head and understand what kind of player was he.

Was he driven? Was he a leader? Was he a locker-room cancer? Was he someone who made clutch plays? Was he a constant threat to other teams? Did his teammates respect him?

All of those things come into perspective now. We are talking about the Hall of Fame here. Charles Haley is on a list with 14 guys, and only a maximum of five of those men are going into Canton this year, and with two slots being locks for Emmitt Smith and Jerry Rice, that means Charles Haley will have to beat out a minimum of ten players for a bust in Canton.

For voters to choose Charles Haley, they will need to judge every aspect of Charles Haley besides the statistics he has on football websites.

Charles Haley was born in Gladys, Virginia on January 6, 1964. He went to James Madison University and is the best player to ever come from there.

Since James Madison is not relatively known for its NFL talent or has what one would call a high competition level, Haley’s success there was overlooked.

However, arguably the greatest talent judge of all time, Bill Walsh, saw something in Charles Haley.

In 1986,  Bill Walsh realized that the 1986 draft really was weak in terms of talent. “One of our chief scouts after the draft said to other people, “That’s the worst draft I’ve ever seen.””

Walsh realized that he could make trades and accumulate multiple draft picks in order to really build depth to the 49ers. He turned eight draft picks into 14 through a variety of trades.

Out of those 14 picks, he drafted eight starters for at least one Super Bowl, most started two, in the 88-89 Super Bowls.

Walsh and his assistants saw Charles Haley in the fourth round, and Walsh knew that Haley was something to get.

Haley had very long arms that could extend and get to the passer. He was 6-5, around 250 lbs and very fast. An ideal defensive end.

Combine physical talent with Haley’s almost Viking-like warrior persona and an intense dedication that was rivaled by few, and you get a great football player.

Haley was frequently used as a pass-rusher his rookie year, and he compiled 12 sacks, despite the fact that he was playing linebacker instead of his college position of defensive end.

His second year, he only played in 12 games, and the Niners were upset by the Vikings in the playoffs.

However, in Haley’s first year as a starter at left outside linebacker, he was elected to the Pro Bowl with11.5 sacks, and the Niners won their third Super Bowl title.

Remember that the left outside linebacker is really, to the quarterbacks point of view, on the right. So, Haley managed to record 11.5 sacks with the quarterback able to see him coming most of the time since most quarterbacks are right-handed.

I’d like to know how many sacks he would have gotten if he had rushed on the quarterback’s blind side.

Not only was Haley crowned a champion, he also was recognized as a great player by one of the game

“Charles is one of the greatest players of our era,” said 49ers Vice President/General manager/Head Coach Bill Walsh. “At one point he was considered the best pass rusher in all of football. He’s been a credit to the game and very well could be a Hall of Fame candidate.”

Bill Walsh understood Charles Haley and how to deal with a man like Haley. Haley was… I can’t spin it or try to fudge the facts, he was crazy. The guy was nuttier than a cuckoo clock.

He was a manic-depressive. He could be happy and sweet as well as helpful with other players, and down and mean as a mother-in-law the next.

One of the most common similes used today to describe someone when they’re mad is to compare them to a volcano. I think that simile is used as a hyperbole too often.

Yet, that simile is what one can use to perfectly describe Charles Haley. He had so much anger in him that it did come out like ash and lava out of a volcano when he lost his temper.

He even wrote an autobiography entitled, All The Rage, which was a first person perspective of the thoughts and words of Charles Haley himself.

It really is a book that I would recommend because it can help one understand how an NFL player would think, and how to handle people with severe psychological problems.

He also was a guy who would ride you. You could not have thin skin or sensitive feelings around Haley. He was always testing you. He made fun of Joe Montana’s nose, he went after Troy Aikman’s crooked smile, he messed with Deion Sanders’ uniforms, and he even went after Jimmy Johnson’s hair.

Haley accepted teasing as well. People would talk about his head, how it was pointy and shaped like a bullet.

Some could take it, some couldn’t. Matt Millen, a highly talented linebacker for the Raiders joined the 49ers in 1989, and he said, “Now, I get to the 49ers.Within a week, I want to kill him.”

No one was safe from Charles Haley. The players needed to have thick skin or he’d eat them alive.

One of Haley’s closest friends and largest supporters is Hall of Fame cornerback/safety Ronnie Lott. Ronnie Lott was the guy that could keep Haley from going over the edge whenever Haley started pushing it too far and becoming a locker room chaos.

After the 1988 season, Bill Walsh retired from the 49ers. Defensive coordinator George Seifert was chosen to replace Walsh, and Haley was not happy with the transition.

Seifert did not know how to talk to Charles Haley. Seifert was not a good choice for a mediator, and as a coach, you have to be able to talk to your players, especially with guys like Charles Haley.

An excerpt of Haley’s book tells of what George Seifert was like as a communicator.

“When I was in San Francisco, Seifert’s way of dealing with black players was to bring in Harry Edwards. Dr. Edwards is a professor of sociology at Cal-Berkeley. He used to be a radical, but now I think he’s all about the money. Give him a check and he’ll help your team solve its racial problems. It was kind of pathetic, really. He’d come around, acting like he belonged, telling stories about how he used to be with the Black Panthers and shit. Most guys would just try to ignore him. We all knew why he was there: to be the mediator between the coaching staff and the black players. It was like Seifert said, “I’ll handle the white guys, you talk to the black guys.” What kind of bull**** is that?”

Bill Walsh was not that kind of coach. He talked to all of his players, and Haley respected him for it, but Seifert did not make that effort.

Since the 49ers were such a dominant team to begin with, the 89 season was really a breeze for them to repeat. They were 14-2 and blew out the Broncos in  Super Bowl XXIV 55-10.

One signature play in that game was when John Elway throws an interception to Michael Walter, and that would not have happened had Charles Haley not been in his eyesight. Elway could not see Walter because Haley’s pass rush prevented him from seeing that Walter was in a position to intercept the ball.

Charles Haley was the owner of two Super Bowl rings with that victory. Things did not go well after that though.

After losing the 1990 NFC Championship game to the New York Giants, the 49ers did not resign Ronnie Lott, and Lott went to the Los Angeles Raiders instead.

Matt Millen said, “It was like the ship was rudderless, and that drove Charles crazy. And so, when Ronnie left, they lost Charles Haley at the same time.”

Charles Haley said in an NFL Films interview, “Just seeing the anger and hurt in his (Ronnie Lott’s) eyes man, and that hurt went over into me and uh, because I’m a loyal friend, I could not deal with it, I could not deal with it. It just festered into everything. I just started hating being here, hated wearing the uniform.”

Forget money, strength, physical attractiveness,  and all that other stuff; my main criteria for the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with great play is great character and there is no greater measure of character than loyalty to one’s friends.

The bond that Haley shared with Lott is one that I can describe best by another use of Haley’s book.

It was 1991. The Raiders had Ronnie Lott on their team. The 49ers were in Los Angeles, and the Raiders are a decent team that finished 9-7, but the Niners should have beaten them.

The Niners didn’t even score a touchdown. They lost 12-6 in what I would definitely call an embarrassing fashion with Steve Young throwing two interceptions.

Losses like this happen though, right? This was more than just a “loss,” this was the final blow to the already unstable and frustrated Charles Haley.

“My frustration reached a peak in the fifth week of the ‘91 season, when we lost to the Los Angeles Raiders, Ronnie Lott’’s new team. After the game I had a slight nervous breakdown–or whatever you want to call it. Basically I lost control and gave the 49ers reason to believe that I really was crazy. It just seemed like I was the only guy out there playing hard, and I went up to George and told him, “You know, you’ve got to start coming down on these guys.” Everybody had big contracts, everybody was fat, with full pockets. They weren’t playing hard anymore. They weren’t hungry. But when you try to point out something like that, when you try to express your opinion, coaches always think, You’re a dumb-*** football player and you can’t tell me anything.

I tried, though. Man, did I try. When the game ended those motherf****** came in, and I really gave it to them. I started cussing out the whole team. George got sick of listening to me, I guess, so he grabbed my arm, and when he did that I just lost it. I took a swing right at his smug little head. Fortunately, I missed. But I did hit the wall, and it hurt so much–left a big knuckle print–that I got even more pissed off. I started bouncing around, cursing, yelling, throwing s***. Then I put my hand through a window and cut it to pieces. They had to stitch me up in the locker room.

I don’t know what I was thinking. My temper had gotten me in trouble before, but this was like nothing I’d ever experienced. I was in a complete f******* rage. Some of the other players tried to hold me down after a while, but I wouldn’t let them. Finally, they tracked down Ronnie in the other locker room, and he came running in. I remember he was half-naked–shorts, no shirt, no shoes. He sat down next to me, held my hand, and kept telling me everything would be all right. I just sat there shaking, crying. It was so emotional. I can’t really explain what happened, except to say that I felt like they were trying to destroy me…and they almost succeeded.”

That is as close to brotherhood as you will find. To find a man like Charles Haley, who is one of the toughest men to ever step on a football field and is willing to let another man hold his hand as he is crying is the ultimate symbol of trust.

That was the beginning of the end for Charles Haley. After the 91 season, the 49ers made a deal with the Dallas Cowboys, exchanging Charles Haley for a pair of second and third-round draft picks.

You can quote me on this. It was the trade that finished the championship roster for the Dallas Cowboys.

In 1991, the Cowboys had allowed 310 points to finish 17th in the league in defense. After Haley showed up in 1992, the Cowboys were 5th in defense and allowed only 243 points for the season.

The only change to the defensive starting roster was Charles Haley. He brought a championship attitude. A guy who had two rings in the Niners dynasty and was still as hungry as fox in a chicken house. His strength and leadership made the defense dominant enough for the Cowboys to win Super Bowl XXVII.

One play that really changed the momentum of the Cowboys in that game was when Jimmie Jones caught a fumble in mid-air on the two yard line and he dived into the endzone as fast as he could.

The only reason that play happened was because Charles Haley got his hand on Jim Kelly and forced the fumble.

Dallas got the lead with that play and never gave it back. It was one of the biggest blowouts in Super Bowl history with a score of 52-17.

A year later, they won it all again. The Cowboys beat the Bills again with a score of 30-13.

Charles Haley became one of the few players in NFL history to have four Super Bowl rings. It is hard to get one ring, but four?

Who would have thought that he’d be getting one for the thumb in two years when the Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers, 30-20 in Super Bowl XXX.

That would be the end of championships, but not challenges for Charles Haley. He would later face a challenge that you cannot defeat by working out or sacking the quarterback or winning a Super Bowl. He would have to face the challenge of a father.

His daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. Nothing hurts more to a man than when he sees his little girl in pain, and he cannot do anything to stop it. That and an injured back led Charles Haley to retire from football in 1996.

He was there for her and her fight to overcome it made him realize that he could come back to football. At the age of 35, he came back to football in 1999. He would rejoin his former team, the 49ers, who now had Bill Walsh back in charge as the Vice President and General Manager. Haley was welcomed with open arms.

It is strange though when you think of it. He’s got injuries, he has five Super Bowl rings, he definitely had done enough to be considered for the Hall of Fame. Why come back?

It is the same reason as a lot of people. For the love of the game, he came back and played.

Another oddity about Haley is that he doesn’t wear his rings. He said, “I believe that if I put it away, then I’d always keep driving and trying to get another one.” He doesn’t even remember where he put them. That’s the kind of man he is.

And you know what? He’s right. It is human nature for us to have goals and a lot of the times as we get closer to our goals or once we complete them, we lose our will to keep climbing the mountain. Charles Haley never would let that happen to him. That’s why he was a part of five championship teams.

He never wanted to stop winning, and he never did stop. After the 1999 season, he retired. He realized that he would probably end up in a full body cast if he kept playing.

Despite all the things that he may have done off the field (I’m not going to get into details because this is a PG-13 case at most), he’s a Hall of Famer. Even Jeff Pearlman, the author of the tell-all book “Boys Will Be Boys” that states all the activities, legal and illegal, of the 1990s Cowboys, believes the man belongs in the Hall of Fame which he stated on the Jim Rome Show.

If this guy, who knows everything good and bad, Charles Haley has done says he belongs, how can anyone argue he doesn’t belong?

Please view the rest here: http://www.nfltouchdown.com/building-a-hall-of-fame-case-for-charles-haley/

Make Some Room in the HOF for Emmitt Smith

It was April 22, 1990 and the Dallas Cowboys were about to make the 17th selection in the NFL Draft after trading up. With their pick they selected running back Emmitt Smith from Florida. The so-called experts called Smith too slow and too small to be a Pro runner. What the Cowboys got was a player that loved the game and played it with heart, determination and a passion that could never be equaled.

Emmitt James Smith III was born in Pensacola, Florida on May 15, 1969. When the Cowboys drafted Emmitt Smith I don’t believe anyone knew what kind of player he would turn out to be. Smith quickly started to make a name for himself in 1990. Smith scored his first rushing touchdown in Week 3 of the 1990 season against the Redskins. He went on to rush for 937 yards and scored 11 touchdowns in his rookie season. That first season was just the start of Emmitt Smith’s amazing NFL career.

What the Cowboys got in Smith was the NFL All-Time leading rusher with 18,355 yards as he played 13 seasons for the Cowboys before being released after the 2002 season. He then played two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before retiring as a Dallas Cowboy in 2005. He is now onto the next step and that is the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This Saturday the announcement will be made and it is certain that Emmitt Smith’s name will be on that list.

Emmitt Smith quickly became my favorite Dallas player. The way he played the game every week was unlike I have ever seen before. Smith took control of games, hardly ever went down on first contact, always seemed to get stronger as the game went on. Smith wanted to win at all costs, but at the same time he respected the game and his fellow players in the NFL. Even people I knew who hated the Cowboys would always tell me that they couldn’t hate Emmitt Smith because he was such a class act.

Emmitt Smith went on to lead the NFL in rushing in 1991, ’92 and ’93, then again in 1995. He also rushed for over 1,000 yards in 11 straight seasons from 1991 to 2001. He has 164 rushing touchdowns and 175 total touchdowns in his NFL career. He earned the NFL MVP after the 1993 season and went on to win the MVP in Super Bowl XXVIII. His Super Bowl MVP happened after he took control of the game against Buffalo in the second half and ended up with 132 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Smith was also selected to eight Pro Bowls in his career.

On October 27, 2002 against Seattle in Texas Stadium Emmitt Smith broke Walter Payton’s All-Time rushing record. Although the Cowboys lost the game it was still an incredible moment for Smith and the Cowboys organization. What really stands out to me is the moment that Smith and Daryl Johnston had on the sideline after he broke the record. It was a touching scene that really showed the emotion and love that teammates have for each other.

With Emmitt Smith going into the Hall of Fame this year it will complete the third part of what was known as the triplets for the Cowboys in the 1990’s. Troy Aikman entered the hall in 2006 and Michael Irvin entered in 2007. Along with the Hall of Fame the triplets were inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor together during the 2005 season.

I had the good fortune of meeting Emmitt Smith after the 1994 season at an autograph signing. He was such a nice guy and took the time to talk as he signed my jersey. Actually because he was talking to us he never heard the guy he was with say that I wanted him to sign my jersey in silver ink on the back number. After he signed it in black ink the guy told him again and Emmitt asked me if I really wanted silver ink. I said that it was fine, but Emmitt went ahead and signed it a second time for me.

I will be gathering some of my most remembered games from Emmitt Smith’s career for my next post. Until then I want to congratulate Emmitt Smith, the best running back of all time for an outstanding career and for making it to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I also want to thank Emmitt Smith for being the type of player that he was. The type of player that kids can look up to and want to be like.

Emmitt Smith: The Road to Canton 2010

Taken in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft, Emmitt Smith was grabbed by the Dallas Cowboys at pick 17. The Cowboys had to trade up to take Emmitt Smith who continued to fall down the draft order. In hindsight, those teams are probably still beating themselves up over passing him up.

Emmitt Smith, one of the most decorated players in NFL history, finally becomes eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot in 2010. The NFL’s all-time rushing leader is most definitely a lock to be inducted in Canton, Ohio following the footsteps of his teammates Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin.

Cowboy fans are so sure that Emmitt will be inducted, some have begun making their plans to head to Canton in support of Emmitt Smith next summer. A sea of #22 jerseys will fill the crowd as Smith takes the stage in what is surely to be an emotional moment for all.

Emmitt’s amazing list of credentials is topped with a prominent title that he holds alone, all time leading rusher with 18,355 career yards. He dons three Super Bowl rings, along with a Super Bowl MVP title. Smith is 2nd all time in touchdowns with 175, plus a record 11 straight 1,000 yard seasons and holds the record for most touchdowns in a single season with 25 in 1995 and most career rushing touchdowns with 164. The list goes on and on.

In this day and age when football news is covered with scandals and criminals its good to remember the men who lived for the game and did everything right. Every time Emmitt Smith put on his helmet and went on the field he gave it his all no matter the circumstances.

Emmitt SmithOne of the hardest things for Cowboys to ever watch came at the end of his career when Smith left Dallas and played in Arizona for a year.

At the end of the 2005 season just before the Super Bowl, Emmitt Smith announced his retirement. He left the Cardinals and signed a one day contract with the Dallas Cowboys so that he could retire a Cowboy.

The retirement press conference video will still bring a tear to your eyes.

“It’s been a tremendous ride,” said Smith. “My 15 years, my 15 minutes of fame, is up.”
“You don’t know how much this star really means to me.”
“I’m moving on to another chapter in my life,” he said. “That’s a chapter I’m looking forward to.”

“It’s been a tremendous ride,” said Smith. “My 15 years, my 15 minutes of fame, is up.”

“You don’t know how much this star really means to me.”

“I’m moving on to another chapter in my life. That’s a chapter I’m looking forward to.”

The great Emmitt Smith will always hold a special place in the heart of Cowboys fans.

These days while the Cowboys are running an effective three-back attack with three different styles, it really makes you realize how amazing #22 was to do it all alone.

His legacy will live on forever and there is no debate that it will be permanently enshrined in Canton, Ohio on Saturday August 7th, 2010.

Roger Staubach will present Bob Hayes at HOF Ceremony

It was announced on the Pro Football Hall of Fame web site that Roger Staubach will present Bob Hayes at the Ceremony on August 8, 2009. Janice Hayes Mohl who is the ex-wife of Bob Hayes has said that there will not be any acceptance speech. There will be a video tribute instead and I for one can not wait for that. It’s been too long of a wait for Bob Hayes to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. It’s just too bad that “Bullet” Bob Hayes is not around to enjoy what he deserves. Bob Hayes Jr. will join Staubach on stage for the unveiling of Hayes’ Hall of Fame bust.

Bob Hayes will become the 11th member of the Dallas Cowboys to make the Hall of Fame joining…Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach, Tom Landry, Tex Schramm, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Mel Renfro, Troy Aikman, Rayfield Wright and Michael Irvin. Emmitt Smith will be eligible for the first time in 2010.

Other presenters for this years Hall of Fame class…

Randall McDaniel selected O.K. Fulton who was his high school athletic director and assistant principal.

Bruce Smith selected his former defensive coordinator with the Buffalo Bills Ted Cottrel.

The family of Derrick Thomas has asked Carl Peterson the former President of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Ralph Wilson has selected ESPN personality Chris Berman.

Rod Woodson selected his good friend and business associate Tracy Foster.

Who Should Be In the Ring of Honor Next???

I have tried to debate this for awhile now with people that I know, but can’t seem to get anyone to bite back. Maybe now is the time. Who should Jerry Jones put in the Ring of Honor in the new stadium? It has been a long time since the Triplets where inducted into it. I have my opinions, which I don’t think a lot of people will agree on, but it is my opinion. I will throw out a few names for you and see if you agree.

My first choice is Danny White. Yes, I know he never took the team to the Super Bowl but he had some really big shoes to fill with the retiring Roger Staubach. He did take them to some Championship games but never really over the hump. He also played another role in punting for the Cowboys. I think he has been given a bad rap for not getting the boys the Super Bowl. But most people think, Danny will always but the butt of jokes for not being the QB that Roger was.

My second choice is Drew Pearson, the original 88. I kind of forgot about him but the Top Ten Cowboys List on NFL Network reminded me that he isn’t in the Ring of Honor. Who was Roger’s go-to guy? Drew. Who made the most famous Hail Mary catch? Drew. When Roger needed some yardage good ole 88 was there. Shoot, I think he should be in the Hall of Fame. What a great talent he was.

Who would you choose for the Ring of Honor with the current roster? Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware? Who knows. Tony won’t if he doesn’t win it all, just like Danny. That’s why I hear some fans put Tony and Danny in the same sentence. Jason is a solid TE for the Boys. If he keeps playing the way he has it shouldn’t be a debate about that one. And then there is DeMarcus ‘Sack Master’ Ware. Out of the three he should be the next great who is put up around the ring of the stadium.

You could agree or disagree with some of my choices or have some of your own. But in the end we have had some great teams and players throughout the years. Enjoy the memories and the future seasons to come. And last but not least – How ’bout them Cowboys!!

Michael Irvin is OK

Today I was on the Cowboys website and could not belive this when I seen it and I thank god Irvin is ok.

Former Cowboys great Michael Irvin apparently avoided a dangerous situation at a redlight in North Dallas Monday night.

 Irvin filed a police report stating a passenger in an adjacent vehicle flashed a gun after he rolled down his window. Recognizing the Hall of Fame recevier, the men instead began talking about the cowboys with Irvin and eventually drove away peacefully.

 On his radio show Wednesday (ESPN 103.3 FM) Irvin shrugged off speculation that the police report was merely a publicity stunt.

 “I was a little bit worried – I was a lot bit worried – about what else was going to happen with those guys, what else they were doing,” Irvin said. “The way they got back on the highway said to me, ‘Maybe we’ll find somebody else since we couldn’t do that there.’ So yeah, I went ahead with it (the report).

 “I don’t have another strike to give. So trust me, I wouldn’t fill out a false police report.”

 Who could have ever guessed that Irvin’s ball play on the field would eventually save him from some dangerous car-jackers who just happened to be Cowboys fans. I myself am very pleased that Irvin is ok and was able to come away from this situation unharmed.

WE ARE “AMERICA’S TEAM” AND YES, WE HAVE THAT SWAGGER AND YES, WE HAVE THAT SUCCESS

Good afternoon Cowboy fans,

I was going to write about the upcoming matchup this week between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers, but after further thinking I decided that I needed to get something off my chest. I decided to write an article regarding all the Dallas Cowboy “haters” and the beliefs they have.

Many, Many Dallas Cowboy fans like me grew up calling the Cowboys “America’s Team” but some fans say that calling your-self something does not make it so. I heard a fan compare the Cowboys to an old Smith-Barney commercial in which John Houseman said, “We make money the old-fashioned way…we earn it”? Then he followed that up by saying that the Cowboys need to earn that title and wear it with the respect and dignity it rightfully deserves.  

Some people say that being a professional football is something very special. Hall of Fame guard, Jerry Kramer, of the Green Bay Packers was quoted as saying in 1958 when I first began playing, a lot of players in the league chewed tobacco and, to tell you the truth, they were not very professional, either in appearance or attitude. As a matter of fact, professional football was not really all that professional then, either”.

There is a perception that is drawn by many NFL fans that the Dallas Cowboys of the last 20 years have lost that professionalism and gave way to the glitz and glitter of big business and the “show-time persona”. It has been said that the ideals of Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi that were taught on the fields of Texas Stadium and Lambeau Field no longer exist. Those two famous coaches believed that you had to bring a degree of class and a degree of professionalism to the game. They would hold America’s great corporations-IBM, General Motors, etc.-up as example to their respective teams, telling their players they had to perform like them. So much so those, in the end, the great corporations were holding them up as an example – in preparation, commitment, and discipline.

The Cowboy players of yesteryear – the Tom Landry Cowboy’s of Don Meredith, Bob Lilly, Lee Roy Jordan, Roger Staubach and etc., were a wonderful group, one possessing quality and dignity. And as such, they represented the true virtues of the cowboy in our culture, the ones we became familiar with every time we saw John Wayne up there on the silver screen portraying one with his quiet strength, honesty, integrity, pride, selflessness and all the other attributes of the hardworking cowboy.

Many people hate the Cowboys of today because they say they put off an image on the field of acting like fools and reinforcing the image so many of the earlier players has tried so hard to change. All those years of working hard to re-make an image they say is being destroyed in a few taunting seconds. And every time they are seen dancing and prancing around, and conducting themselves in that manner, they are an embarrassment to themselves and to what a professional football player should represent.

Well, as much as I loved the Tom Landry days and all the famous players that carved the Cowboy franchise, I have to now stand up and say “ALL THAT TALK IS A BUNCH OF CRAP”!!

This is big business and to a large extent it is entertainment. If T.O. wants to fly like and Eagle after scoring a touchdown so be it. It fills the grandstands week after week and if I am not mistaken, the Cowboys-Eagles game last Monday night was the highest rated Monday night game in NFL history with an astounding 18.5 million viewers.

Yes, we are “America’s Team” and damn proud of it!!

So, I say to all the Cowboy “haters”, don’t judge us because we slam dunk a football over the goal post after scoring a touchdown or pull a sharpie out of our sock in the end zone and sign an autograph. Judge us because the Cowboys are the most successful franchise in all of professional sports history. So what if we have some “me-ism” on our team? We also have Jason Whit that is very involved in youth activities and the United Way. We also have a great owner, Jerry Jones that brings Hispanic youth to Valley Ranch to celebrate their culture, not to mention the 100’s of charities he is involved in, or a Roy Williams that builds playgrounds all over the Dallas metro-plex for kids to enjoy.

Hell, we have a 68 million dollar QB that stops in the middle of the night to help total strangers fix a flat tire and still finds time to hold football camps for kids that want to learn the game!! I could sit here and write all day of the great things this era of Cowboy players do off the field in their communities to help others. Unfortunately, to a lot of people all they see is what the Cowboys do on the field and that is just unfair.

The professional football player of today is not even close in comparison to the players of the Tom Landry era. It is big business now and fans have to change with the times. So Sunday night when the Cowboys and Packers take the field, don’t judge a Packer player if he does the “Lambeau leap” into a waiting fan’s arms and don’t judge the Cowboys because of who we are. 

Just remember this, “We are “America’s Team” and Yes, we have that “swagger” and Yes, we have that success”!!!

Remembering Buddy Dial

January 17, 1937 – February 29, 2008

Gilbert Leroy “Buddy” Dial passed away on Friday, February 29th, at the age of 71.  Dial was a star wide receiver who played 8 years in the NFL, first for the Pittsburgh Steelers and then for the Dallas Cowboys.

Dial played with the Steelers from 1959-1963 and was then traded to the Cowboys per his request in 1964 and remained with the Cowboys until his retirement in 1966.  During his career Dial made 261 receptions for a total of 5,436 yards and 44 touchdowns.  His best year was in 1963, with the Steelers, when he caught 60 passes for 1,295 yards and 9 touchdowns.  His per catch average remains the second-highest in NFL history at 20.8 yards per catch.  Dial made the Pro Bowl in 1961 and 1963, and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the National High School Hall of Fame.

The bulk of Dial’s productivity came during his years with Pittsburgh. In his final three years with Dallas, Dial was not as productive due to nagging injuries that eventually left him largely disabled after his football career was over.

Dial passed away Friday, February 29th in a Houston Hospital after being recently admitted for treatment of cancer and pneumonia.

Rayfield Wright: An Inspirational Star

Last night as I lay in bed, I was flipping through the channels and something caught my eye. Now I’m not one to watch TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) or any other religious channel, but I stopped because I seen a picture of a football player in Cowboys uniform flash on the screen. I knew who it was from his jesey number and the picture looked familiar. In fact, last year we did a bio on him in our Legends of the Star series. It was Rayfield Wright.

I never knew much about Rayfield. I knew he was a great tackle and was enducted into the hall of fame the same time as Troy Aikman. He played football before I was even born. But as I listened to him tell his story, I gained so much respect for the man. He spoke very well, he seemed very educated but also grateful for the life God had given him.

The host of the show asked Rayfield to tell the story of how he became to be a Dallas Cowboy. He said that he never really wanted to play football. He didn’t play football in high school, he played basketball. He was a tall skinny kid who didn’t look like a football player at all. He went to Fort Valley State College in Georgia on an athletic scholarship for his basketball talent. He played basketball and had to choose one other sport and chose football.

Rayfield was asked to leave college to go to the NBA early, but turned down the offer stating he made a commitment to get his education and that’s what he intended to do. His senior year he was contact by someone from the Dallas Cowboys and told they were looking to draft him. This was a surprise to Rayfield because he considered himself a basketball player not football. He said football training camp was in July and basketball camp was in August. He decided to go to Dallas and see what it was all about, then he never looked back.

He became very close with coach Tom Landry. He respected Landry a great deal and said Landry’s priorities in life were in this order: God, Family, then Football. I don’t think many would think that of one of the best football coaches of all time, but I suppose maybe that’s what made him so successful and such a great leader.

It was a short interview and I’m pretty sure it was a rerun, but I’m glad I stopped on that channel and got the pleasure of getting to know more about Mr. Wright. It’s great to know that someone can start off in this world with nothing, and live his life to the fullest with nothing but love, respect and the power of prayer.

Rayfield Wright’s Athletic Accomplishments

Dallas Cowboys 1st Anniversary Team—1985.
Dallas Cowboys All Decade Team of the 1970s.
Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor—Texas Stadium—Inducted 2004.
Hall of Faith Award—Athletes International Ministries—1977.
Hall of Fame—Griffin, Georgia. Inducted 1974.
Hall of Fame—Fort Valley State College. Inducted 1983.
Hall of Fame—State of Georgia. Inducted 1988.
Heroes of Football—Inducted 2000.
NFL All Super Bowl Team—1990.
NFL Legends Award—1990.
NFL Alumni “Ring of Honor” Dallas Chapter—2003.
Pat Summerall & John Madden’s—Best of the Dallas Cowboys 1995.
Received 12 game balls during his career as an Offensive Lineman.
Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame—Inducted 2002.
Texas Sports Hall of Fame—Inducted 2005.


“Although he was a long shot in the 1967 draft, Rayfield’s superior athletic ability and competitiveness carried him to six straight Pro Bowls and four All-Pro seasons, making him the most honored offensive lineman in Cowboys history. Rayfield was an integral part of all five of our Super Bowl teams. He was always a team player whose solid character contributed to a winning atmosphere. It was an honor to coach Rayfield Wright.” COACH TOM LANDRY in a letter to the State of Georgia Hall of Fame
 

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Rayfield Wright has a website: www.rayfieldwright.com and has also written a book titled "Wright Up Front" about his life which you can purchase from his website.

 

The Media Distraction Factor: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

I am tired you guys. Tired of all the naysayers saying Dallas is going to lose. Tired of all the Romo bashing. Tired of all the Jessica Simpson backlash. Tired of all the skeptics. Just plain tired and I gotta vent. Vent because, never in my 31 years on earth have I seen a team so disrespected. Never have I seen a team be so low-balled as my and your Dallas Cowboys.

This team is 13-3 yet the media portrays them as a 7-9 team who had divine intervention in making it to the playoffs. We have a quarterback who broke almost every team record this year. Romo surpassed Hall Of Fame quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman and even Danny White in the you name it stats. Yet, Romo will choke under this barrage of pressure on Sunday come game time as stated by hundreds in the media frenzy.

No R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

We have two of the games premiere players in Terrell Owens and Jason Witten, who were selected All-Pro’s this week, yet we get no R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We have one of the games premiere defensive players in Demarcus Ware, an All-Pro at that as well, yet we get no R-E-S-P-E-C-T. I could go on and on guys about how good or great a team we are but it isnt gonna matter. Not matter to anyone outside the Cowboys fan Brotherhood and Sisterhood(for all the lovely ladies out there).

I know what this team is capable of. I know what this team can do when it clicks on all cylinders. I know for a god-given fact that this team can and will steamroll through the playoffs and to Superbowl 42 in Arizona and make you and I proud. There is too much tradition and history in this team.This team is the epitome of Sports Franchises globally. People on all corners of the world know who the Dallas Cowboys are. They are America’s Team. They have a Stadium with a hole in the roof so god can watch his Cowboys play.

Now grant it, I know that the Dallas Cowboys of the 70’s and 90’s and the success that came during those eras have been missing here lately, but I know it’s coming. It’s coming in a huge way and I hope America is ready for it. I honestly believe that Jerry Jones has this team primed to dominate the NFC for the next 5-10 years. We are not a elite team by any standards, I am not naive, but we are a good if not great team at the moment. Can this team turn it up a level?

Well according to one of the All-Pro players on this team, who shall remain nameless at this time, they know of all the doubters and disrespect that has been given to them this week.

"We have 12 Pro Bowlers, 5 All-Pro’s, should of been 6 with Tony, and an NFC best 13-3 record. I have never been on a team that has been this disrespected and we are gonna show the world come Sunday, believe it!"

Thats the exact quote I got from this Cowboys All-Pro. Thats why I decided to write this letter here on StarStruck. So if your going to the game on Sunday, wear white and scream to lungs out. Lose your voice and bring the house down on the G-Men because now it’s US against the world.

Contributed by Fredooch

 

Even Troy Agrees That Romo Is Among The Elite

The Cowboys will be in D-Town to face the Lions on their home turf, Ford Field. Last year the Cowboys almost beat the Lions on December 31, 2006, but the Lions won 39-31 at Texas Stadium. This was the last game of the season, and after once being 8-4 and riding a four-game winning streak, the Cowboys limped to the regular-season finish line, winning one of the last four games and finishing with a 9-7 record for the second straight year. But unlike last season, at least the Cowboys aren’t completely finished….

They’ve had an awesome season thus far with the help of Wade Phillips. The chemistry has been phenomenal and just like last year the Cowboys are heading into the playoffs once again. Only this time they have finally gained the respect they deserve. They’ve proven to everyone that they are and will always be America’s team!

With an incredible record of 11-1 this season, and the only loss they had was to the spy cheating Patriots. Nothing would satisfy me more than watching my Boys take on the Patriots one more time for a head to head match up. Oh, wouldn’t that be sweet!

Have you heard what Troy Aikman recently said about Tony Romo?

When it comes to analyzing great quarterbacks, there aren’t many who do it better than Troy Aikman. After all, he was one for more than a decade. So when Aikman is ready to put another quarterback into the category of "great," it carries more weight than the average guy. And on the subject of Tony Romo, Aikman has simply seen enough.

The Cowboys Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor legend was at Valley Ranch on Thursday and will call Sunday’s game between the Cowboys and Lions (noon, CST) for Fox. Aikman spoke on several NFL topics, but the conversation kept going back to Romo.

Not only is Aikman ready to place the greatness tag on Romo, but he doesn’t understand why Romo’s name isn’t mentioned more with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning. Here is what he said…

"Over the last several weeks, there’s always the debate – who do you take, Brady or Manning?" Aikman said. "Somewhere in there is Tony Romo… why is anyone reluctant to put Romo up there with those guys?"

"He’s playing at as good a level as anyone in the league. Granted, you have to do it over a period of time. I get that part. But he’s a terrific player."

Romo is having an even better season. In fact, he’s on pace to have the best season in Cowboys history, as far as statistics. One might argue that a season should only be judged on the outcome at the end, but even Aikman said it’s hard to argue with what Romo is doing this season. He has already shattered Danny White’s single-season touchdown record of 29, by piling up 33 touchdowns with four games still left to play.

Most important, Aikman said he doesn’t expect the Cowboys to lose another game in the regular season, which would give them an unprecedented 15-1 record. The Cowboys have never finished better than their 13-3 record in 1992, Aikman’s first of three Super Bowl seasons in a four-year span.

All the signs point to Tony Romo having the best season of any Cowboys quarterback, and Troy Aikman certainly agrees.

I will be at the game on Sunday and I am counting on all of you my friends to cheer our Cowboys on and make some noise…and ya better get ya popcorn ready!!

Go Cowboys!!!

Submitted by Mayra Amaro

 

The Inspiration of the Playmaker

Michael Irvin accepted his induction to the Hall of Fame with heartfelt tears and the biggest smile you ever seen. I found myself crying, then laughing, smiling and cheering, what an emotional rollercoaster.

Jerry Jones’ introduction of Michael Irvin was simply perfect. You could tell he was so proud and honored to be there. He took Cowboys fans back to the 90’s and showed us how dedicated Michael Irvin really was. He gave everything on the field, up until his final game in 1999.

As Michael Irvin stepped up to the mic, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it would be an emotional speech, but I had no idea how he would touch everyone who was listening.

Irvin covered everything, from family to fans, to his faith and even the meaning of the game. He talked about his highs and his lows. He admitted that he had made some bad decisions in life and believed he did not belong amongst these great men in Canton, Ohio. But then he went on to say one of the most inspirational quotes that I will remember forever: Look Up, Get Up and Don’t Ever Give Up!

I know every Cowboy fan watching was proud of Michael, but I guarantee every single person watching, fan or not, was moved by that speech. He really stepped up and showed what a great heart he has despite the bad reputation that has followed him throughout his life.

Yes, you are right Michael, it’s more than just a game, and believe me when I say you are more than just a player, you’re an inspiration. May God bless "your latter days more than your former".