Gil Brandt has been a fixture around NFL draft rooms for nearly 60 years. Now he’s one vote away from being one in the Hall of Fame.
Brandt and Denver Broncos’ owner Pat Bowlen were the nominees of the Hall of Fame Contributor Committee this year, which for the 82-year-old Brandt came none too soon. Brandt was one of the architects of the Dallas Cowboys’ computerized drafting system that took them from a struggling expansion franchise in 1960 to a team that would go to the playoffs 18 times, win 13 NFC East titles and appear in 12 NFC championship games and five Super Bowls during Brandt’s 30 years in Dallas.
Brandt arrived in Dallas even before the players, being hired as the team’s first personnel director in October, 1959. In those days drafting was so rudimentary, Brandt told Talk of Fame Network, that the two biggest necessities were a copy of the Street and Smith’s College Football annual magazine and “a roll of quarters.’’
“You needed a roll of quarters (to call college coaches for recommendations during the draft,’’ Brandt recalled. You had to deposit $3.75…and rely on people.’’
That all changed in the spring of 1961 when Brandt and Cowboys’ president Tex Schramm decided if a computer was good enough to reveal the speed of an Olympic skier, as it had for CBS when Schramm was an executive there, it might have a use sorting through draft information. That first computer helped build the Cowboys’ first dynasty and allowed Brandt to find future Hall of Fame tackle Rayfield Wright on a basketball court.
“The computer pulled Rayfield Wright out because of his (athletic) characteristics,’’ Brandt tells Talk of Fame this week. “…I like to think the things we did with the computer starting in the early 1960s…kind of revolutionized the way work was done in the NFL both in personnel and in game planning.’’
Gil Brandt was in the forefront of those changes and running the draft rooms in Dallas that netted them nine Hall of Famers, including three with selections after the sixth round – Wright, Bob Hayes and Roger Staubach. Brandt tells the Talk of Fame Network how and why those selections were made, selections that very likely have earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Joining Brandt as this year’s Contributor category nominees is Pat Bowlen not because of the great successes of his team on the field but really because of his efforts in television negotiations that changed the course of pro football. Bowlen has been battling Alzheimer’s for several years and no longer can speak for himself so Talk of Fame Network lined up longtime TV executive and former head of NBC Sports Dick Ebersol to explain why he so passionately supported Bowlen’s nomination.
Ebersol tells out Talk of Fame co-hosts Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge the critical role Bowlen played in the 1993 courtship of Rupert Murdoch that led to Fox-TV entering the NFL by outbidding CBS and NBC for NFL television rights in the midst of a down economy that had convinced many NFL owners to give those two long-time NFL partners the 1994 season for the same fee they’d paid in 1993.
Bowlen and Jerry Jones rebelled and ultimately brought in Fox as a third bidder which ultimately knocked CBS out of pro football for four years and, in Ebersol’s opinion, “changed the course of pro football.’’
Ebersol also tells Talk of Fame’s listeners how in 2003 he proposed a radical idea called “Sunday Night Football.’’ Initially the only receptive ear he found was Bowlen’s. Eventually however Bowlen convinced then Commissioner Paul Tagliabue that there was big money to be made with such a package and eventually an agreement was reached. That, from Ebersol’s point of view, made Bowlen “the Father of Sunday Night Football.’’
It also has made him one of this year’s Contributors Hall of Fame nominee, an honor Dick Ebersol insists Bowlen is well deserving of.
Speaking of well deserving, our Rick Gosselin states the case for the Hall of Fame this week for a likely longshot, five-time Pro Bowl special teams maven Michael Bates. Goose has long been the guru of special teams and a staunch believer that the Hall of Fame needs to enshrine a special teams player. Buffalo’s Steve Tasker is often mentioned as the leading candidate but this week Rick makes the case for Bates.
Our resident Dr. Date is also at it again, pointing out that four teams had a shot at an undefeated pre-season when the final week of exhibition games began. Does winning carry over into the regular season? Well, Dr. Date points out four teams went 4-0 in preseason last year. None made the playoffs. What’s the best preseason record to use as a projector of post-season success? The Doc has the answer.
The guys also get into a debate over the fate of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. Did the punishment fit the crime? Was he even punished? Our guys argue all sides.
Our guys also debate whether preseason games should be played ore replaced by an expanded 18-game regular season. There’s that and a lot more during our two-hour weekly radio show on Talk of Fame Network. You can hear it all on SB Nation Radio stations Wednesday nights from 8-10 p.m. Eastern Time or on our free podcasts at iTunes or on the TuneIn app. You can also hear this and all our past shows and interviews at any time on our website, Talkoffamenetwork.com.