Dallas Cowboys: 2014 Hall of Fame

OXNARD, Calif. – No former Dallas Cowboys will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, but the coaching staff has a couple of close connections to men who are being honored in Canton, Ohio.

Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli spent a decade on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers staff during linebacker Derrick Brooks’ career. Head coach Jason Garrett was Brooks’ teammate for parts of the 2004 season and spent the previous four years playing with defensive end Michael Strahan with the New York Giants.

“When you walk into a meeting and you walk out on a practice field and certainly come game day, those guys separate themselves,” Garrett said. “They’re different, and they’re different physically, but they’re also different in their production, their leadership, their impact on their team, their influence on their team. When I went to New York, ‘Stra’ was fantastic. He embraced me. We spent a lot of time together, obviously at the facility, but then away from the facility, and he’s got this amazing way about him, he’s got an infectious personality. He’s very welcoming. When he walks into a room, he lights it up. I really, really appreciate our friendship and the time we spent together. He made my time in New York significantly better.

“With Derrick Brooks, a little bit of a different personality, but wow, what a player. I can remember my first rep in Tampa was in some kind of an OTA and I was throwing a slant in the flat and my eyes went over here and for some reason he was playing over here and somehow he got to a ball that was way over here and I literally turned around and said, ‘What the hell was that coverage?’ And it was him. It was him reading my eyes just being all over the field and just being who he is. If you watch that team play, he stands out, and there are a lot of great, great football players on those Tampa Bay Buccaneer defenses, and he just, he was the bell cow. He and [Warren] Sapp were the leaders, and they were just fantastic and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him.”

Marinelli, the defensive line coach during his Tampa Bay tenure, looks at Brooks as the prototype for the Will linebacker position.

“Speed, right off the bat,” Marinelli said. “Explosiveness. Great awareness. Great team player. He was a great captain. I mean, he was a great captain. And in big games, he got big. That was the best compliment I could give those guys. Big games, he got big and he played big. He’s special. Talk about a relentless motor. He was constantly sprinting to the football. Relentless and a positive influence on everybody in the building. He’s a world champion, that’s what he is.”

Logjam at wide receiver hurts Tim Brown

February, 1, 2014
This logjam at wide receiver might be hurting Tim Brown.

The Dallas native, who played for the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but missed out on election Saturday.

Instead, wide receiver Andre Reed, who played in four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills, got in along with six others. Reed was part of a logjam at wide receiver that involved Michael Irvin, Cris Carter and Brown.

Carter and Irvin are in the Hall, and you can add Reed to that.

But as the years progress, other receivers such as Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt will be added to the mix. Of course Marvin Harrison missing enshrinement this year brings another name to evaluate at the position.

Brown wasn't the greatest receiver who played (Jerry Rice), or one of its biggest winners (Irvin), or a man who noted for scoring plenty of touchdowns (Carter), but he was a dominant force.

Brown is just one of eight players with at least 100 touchdowns in league history. He's also just one of eight men with more than 1,000 catches. Carter and Rice are the only two in the Hall on that list.

When it comes to yards, Brown has 14,934, sixth all-time. that's more than Harrison (14,580), Carter (13,899), Irvin (11,904), and Reed (13,198). However in the next few years when the Hall of Fame voters look at the numbers of Moss (third in yards), Owens (third in touchdowns) and Bruce (fourth in yards), will Brown get lost?

Reed getting into the Hall was well deserved for a man who played on four teams that reached the Super Bowl, and dealt with the frigid conditions of Buffalo late in the season.

Brown didn't deal with poor weather. He just had these great quarterbacks throwing to him: Jay Schroeder, Steve Beuerlein, Todd Marinovich, Jeff Hostetler, Vince Evans, Billy Joe Hobert, Jeff George, David Klingler and Donald Hollas.

Those men were before Brown turned 33, and the Raiders were able to finally stabilize the quarterback position with Rich Gannon.

In 1999, Browns' first season with Gannon as the quarterback, he caught 90 passes for 1,344 yards and six touchdowns.

Brown had nine consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards, that's right, catching passes from guys like Hobert, George and Hostetler.

The career of Brown is wonderful, yet it's twisted around some other receivers whose numbers are comparable to his. Skill set can be debatable, but Brown missed out on the Hall, and given the type of receivers coming up in a couple of years, the logjam will continue to hurt him.

Charles Haley misses the Hall of Fame again

February, 1, 2014
You sit back and try to figure this out.

Charles Haley is a man who won five Super Bowls with two different teams. He won two with the San Francisco 49ers and three with the Dallas Cowboys. Haley wasn't some scout-team player backing up an elite player.

Haley wasn't some starter that was taken off the field on certain downs.

Haley was an every-down pass-rush specialist who dominated games. Yet, Haley was denied entry into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

It's really sad. This is Haley's fifth time being a finalist, and it's difficult to understand why he can't get in.

Let's review the stats of the matter: Haley's teams won 153 of 219 games. In 12 seasons he was part of 10 division titles, seven NFC title games, and of course, five Super Bowls.

He was a five-time Pro Bowler and named to the All-Pro team twice. In his career, Haley had 100.5 sacks.

Those are the numbers from an impressive resume.

Now, let's review the intangibles.

Haley changed the balance of power in the NFC when the 49ers tired of his antics and traded him to the Dallas Cowboys.

Getting Haley meant Dallas defensive end Jim Jeffcoat was either out of a job or had to come off the bench.

If you don't believe Haley made a major difference, this is what Jeffcoat said in the book "Boys Will Be Boys" about the Cowboys' dynasty in the 1990s, after hearing the Cowboys acquired Haley: "The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. Charles was a great player who needed to start, and I was comfortable being a sixth man. If anything, it would extend my career."

Jerry Jones' teams needed a defensive presence to go along with the Triplets. Haley was it. He was the driving force behind what the Cowboys needed. Haley won Super Bowls with a driving personality that can turn you off.

His antics are legendary and just embarrassing.

However, there is no disputing what he meant to a football team.

But I hope Haley's issues in the the locker room, and there were many, didn't affect voters on Saturday.

It's just hard to believe a man with his resume would get bypassed for the Hall of Fame.

There are eight Hall of Famers with more sacks than Haley. Does that mean they're better than him?

You can't tell me Rickey Jackson (128) and Derrick Thomas (126.5) were more dominant than Haley. Chris Doleman is fourth all-time in sacks with 150.5.

Is Haley better than him?

Simeon Rice (122) and Clyde Simmons (121.5) are not in the Hall and most likely will never get there. Rice is a three-time Pro Bowler and went five consecutive seasons with double-digit sacks. You can't tell me Haley isn't better than him.

Maybe one day, Haley will walk across the stage in Canton, Ohio.

One day.

Charles Haley a finalist again

January, 29, 2014
On Saturday night in New York, Charles Haley will discover if he's going to be elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Haley is a finalist for a fifth time since his retirement.

Former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan and Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks are favorites to get in from the defensive side.

Could those two men push Haley out?

Haley won five Super Bowls, three with the Cowboys and two with the San Francisco 49ers.

He was a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All Pro. Haley was considered one of the top players during his era.

His off-the-field issues, fights with teammates and members of the media, are well-documented, yet, there is no denying how much of an impact he had in the NFC when he joined the Cowboys.

Haley is tied for 28th in league history in sacks with 100.5; eight Hall of Famers are ahead of him in sack totals. Kevin Greene and Strahan have more sacks than Haley, and when Jason Taylor becomes eligible, he will too.

Three other Hall of Famers -- Warren Sapp, Howie Long and Andre Tippett -- have fewer sacks than Haley. Yet there is no disputing the impact Sapp and Long had on the game.

Tippett had a fantastic career and his defensive résumé is somewhat similar to Haley's. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and a two-time All Pro.

So maybe, just maybe, Haley gets in.