Jimmy Johnson and Gil Brandt reportedly are “under consideration” as the next candidates for the Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, and, frankly, I don’t get it.
It’s not that Johnson and Brandt don’t belong. They do. But they belonged years ago.
Johnson built the Cowboys into the most dominant team of the 1990s, a three-time Super Bowl winner stocked with players he found. He’s the guy who swung the Herschel Walker deal, acquired Charles Haley, drafted Troy Aikman … and Emmitt Smith … and Darren Woodson … and Russell Maryland …. and Mark Stepnoski … and Erik Williams … and who, in five Dallas drafts, found 18 players who would start in Super Bowls — including 15 Pro Bowlers and three who became Super Bowl MVPs.
In short, he was the architect of one of the NFL’s greatest teams.
Then there’s Brandt. The team’s chief talent scout from its inception in 1960, he helped build the Cowboys into one of the most dominant and marketable franchises of the 1960s and ’70s, finding talent for teams that won two Super Bowls and had 20 consecutive winning seasons.
But that’s not all. He was … and is … held in such high esteem throughout the league that he’s one of the frontrunners for the Hall-of-Fame’s 2019 contributor class.
Without him, there might not be an “America’s Team.”
Jimmy Johnson and Gil Brandt are two of the most significant figures in Dallas Cowboys’ history, and having them “under consideration” for the team’s Ring of Honor is supposed to be an honor. Except it’s not. It’s a disgrace. Both should’ve been in long ago, and, yeah, I know, each was fired by Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones. I don’t care. Jones is a smart man, and he knows what each means to the legacy of the team he owns.
In fact, he mentioned it a year ago when he brokered a détente of sorts with Johnson, the coach he fired prior to the 1994 season, when in his Hall-of-Fame induction speech he called him “a great teammate” and “a great partner.”
“We worked so well together,” Jones said then, “and restored the Cowboys’ popularity with our fans.”
Couldn’t agree more. So why isn’t he already in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor?
Look, I don’t care whom you credit for the team’s success in the 1990s, but I do know this: Without Jimmy Johnson, the Dallas Cowboys don’t win one Super Bowl. He assembled teams that in the 1990s supplanted San Francisco as the league Goliath, winning three Super Bowls in four years — including 1995, or after he’d been fired.
Since then, the Cowboys not only haven’t returned to the Super Bowl; they haven’t been to a conference championship game.
“Isn’t it time to forget how Johnson left and remember what he did the five years he was there?” Talk of Fame Network host Ron Borges asked in his “Borges or Bogus” editorial on this week’s broadcast.
I think you know the answer.
Brandt was one of the key figures behind the meteoric rise of the Cowboys in the 1960s, primarily through innovative scouting techniques and the use of computers for talent evaluations. He was also the guy who looked for talent in other sports, finding stars like Bob Hayes, Cornell Green, Toni Fritsch, Pete Gent and Mac Percival in places others did not. Moreover, he wasn’t afraid to take a flyer on a prospect who might not play in the NFL — with Roger Staubach and Herschel Walker the most noteworthy names.
Then there’s this: He helped create the NFL scouting combine. Check, please.
So what’s not to like … about either of these guys? Each turned the Cowboys from a football franchise into a football brand. They both won Super Bowls. And, no, you cannot write the history of the Dallas Cowboys … or the league, for that matter … without them because they were difference makers.
Yet they’re “under consideration” for the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor? Well, this just in, people: They’ve been “under consideration” for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for years.
So take the hint, Jerry, and do the right thing. Put them both in the Dallas Ring of Honor. Forget that they should’ve been in years ago and put aside emotions. Correct the mistake, and correct it now. You’re in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for a reason, and it’s because of your impact on the game.
But you’re not alone in Dallas. Jimmy Johnson and Gil Brandt had significant impacts on the game, too, and tell me the Dallas Cowboys would be the mega franchise it is today without them … because it wouldn’t. You know it. They know it. And your legions of fans know it.
So put them in the Ring of Honor, and put them in now. Because they deserve nothing less.