(Photos courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys)
Talk of Fame Network
Cliff Harris, Harvey Martin and Drew Pearson of the Dallas Cowboys were named to the 1970s NFL all-decade team. None of them have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But the Cowboy most deserving of a bust in Canton is a player from the 1960s — at least according to the most recent Talk of Fame Network poll.
Linebacker Chuck Howley was the overwhelming winner on a ballot that also included Harris, Martin and Pearson as the best Dallas Cowboy not in the Hall of Fame. Howley received 70 percent of the vote, followed by the wide receiver Pearson at 12 percent, defensive end Martin at 11 percent and safety Harris at eight.
Howley joined the Cowboys in their inaugural season in 1960 and wound up playing 14 seasons. He was voted to six Pro Bowls and in 1970 was named the Super Bowl MVP — the first player from a losing team so honored.
Howley intercepted 25 passes and recovered 18 fumbles in his career at right outside linebacker. Talk of Fame Network co-host Rick Gosselin agreed with the voters — and Howley already had a stamp of approval from his old coach, the late Tom Landry.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anybody better at linebacker than Chuck Howley,” Landry once said.
But Talk of Fame Network co-hosts Ron Borges and Clark Judge disagreed with the voters. Borges picked Martin, who collected 114 career sacks and was a Super Bowl MVP himself.
“Harvey Martin was a sack machine before they created the sack,” Borges said. “He was the `Doom’ in the Doomsday Defense.”
Judge liked Harris, who went to six Pro Bowls in his 10 seasons.
“This was the toughest call I’ve had to make of all our poll questions,” Judge said, “but give me Cliff Harris in a photo finish. Not only was he one of the game’s top safeties and an all-decade choice; he was a innovator — playing the position as both a safety and linebacker, much as box safeties today do. He could cover, and he was a relentless and sure tackler.
“Called `a rolling ball of butcher knives’ by Hall-of-Fame coach George Allen, Harris would be in the Hall if he hadn’t decided to leave the game at the age of 31. Still, he played in five Super Bowls — one of only 13 guys to do it — and was such a force he has as a collegiate award named after him. Cliff Harris changed the game of football. That pushes him over my finish line.”