OXNARD, Calif. -- On Saturday, Charles Haley will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the 23rd former player, coach or staffer with the Dallas Cowboys to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio.
Perhaps one day Darren Woodson will be there to join Haley and the others.
In 2011, Haley was inducted into the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in hopes of boosting his Hall of Fame chances. It took a couple more close calls before Haley finally earned enough votes last February.
Woodson has the resume for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a key piece to three Super Bowl winners in the 1990s. He was a five-time Pro Bowl pick. He was a three-time All-Pro pick. He is the Cowboys' all-time leader in tackles. He had 11 sacks. He never came off the field, working as a safety and a slot cornerback. He was a core special-teams player for all five of his Cowboys head coaches.
He has been a semifinalist for the Hall of Fame already and will likely make the list again.
“You know what, I haven’t thought that far. I really haven’t,” Woodson said. “I hope [the Ring of Honor induction does help]. I’m thinking about today. … But I’m thinking about the Ring of Honor right now, I’m thinking about the guys that are on that special list. That’s as far as my mind has taken it.”
Woodson’s career ended after 10 seasons because of a back injury after the 2003 season. Bill Parcells was so taken with Woodson, however, that he contacted him in 2006 to see if he would come out of retirement for the team’s playoff run.
Being a one-team player is something special to Woodson. Emmitt Smith’s career ended with the Arizona Cardinals. Tony Dorsett’s ended with the Denver Broncos.
“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,” Woodson said. “That’s what I wanted to do. I came in in 1992. I was spoiled off the bat. I won a Super Bowl in my first year, and we won it again the next year -- all I knew was Super Bowls. I tell my son all the time -- that’s all I knew. Losing the NFC Championship Game, I didn’t know what to do -- I lost my mind after that game. And the years we didn’t win after that, I always felt like it was a failure unless we won the Super Bowl. That’s just the way we were built as an organization back then. So, yeah, it’s special.”