State Your Case: Why Gil Brandt deserves a place in the Hall


Photo courtesy of the Dallas Cowboys

 

When the Pro Football Hall of Fame three years ago created the contributor category, it opened its doors  to those who helped make the NFL a better place — and not necessarily by what they did on the field, but by what they did in their buildings. And not necessarily by what they did for their teams, but by what they did for the NFL.

Few, then, are more qualified for a contributor nomination than former Dallas executive Gil Brandt.

Brandt has been and around the game for most of the past six decades, first as personnel chief of the Dallas Cowboys for nearly 30 years and, later, as a draft expert, analyst and contributor to NFL.com and commentator on Sirius Radio.

In short, he’s been almost everywhere, with his fingerprints all over today’s NFL … and the roll call, please:

It was Brandt and the Cowboys, for instance, that developed a revolutionary new scouting and evaluation system so effective that former Giants’ GM Ernie Accorsi said George Young later used it to help build the arch-rival New York Giants into a Super Bowl champion.

It was Brandt and the Cowboys that used a computerized system to make those evaluations, a previously unexplored practice with measurable qualities and specific traits programmed into numbers that computers could translate.

“I think everybody probably (uses that system now),” Brandt told MMQB.com, “and they are too proud to admit it.

It was Brandt and the Cowboys that thought outside the box … as well as outside the country … looking to other sports and nations to find potential football players. Safety Cornell Green, for instance, was a Utah State basketball star who never played a down of football. He became a five-time Pro Bowler. Wide receiver Bob Hayes was a track star and Olympic gold medalist with unrefined football skills.  He became a Hall of Famer. Kicker Toni Fritsch was discovered during a 1971 European tour and, though never playing a down of American football, lasted 14 years in pro ball.

It was Brandt and the Cowboys that developed psychology tests to identify the mental and personality makeup of prospects. It was Brandt and the Cowboys that helped develop the NFL scouting combine, which today is considered the stepping stone to the league. And it was Brandt and the Cowboys that weren’t afraid to made blockbuster trades to collect future high draft picks nor to gamble in lower rounds on players who may not be NFL eligible (Roger Staubach and Herschel Walker).

Bottom line: It was Brandt and the Cowboys that were pioneers, changing the face of the NFL.

“I have always admired Gil Brandt because of what he accomplished with the Cowboys,” said Hall-of-Fame GM Ron Wolf.

But why stop there? After leaving the Cowboys in 1989, Brandt stayed in and around the league as an analyst and ambassador, there at every Super Bowl and combine to serve as a media ally – both as an expert and as an historian. His contributions cannot be undersold, with Brandt keeping players, coaches and the league alive through anecdotes, evaluations and opinions that are relayed to millions of listeners and readers.

In essence, he is the ideal candidate for the contributor category. He didn’t win games. He didn’t win Super Bowls. And he wasn’t named to any All-Pro or Pro Bowl teams. But he contributed to all of them through innovative techniques that continue to be used and unconventional practices that have become the norm. Moreover, at 84, he continues to contribute, be it through commentary on NFLmedia.com, interviews on Sirius Radio or assistance to NFL personnel or NFL media.

The Texas Sports Hall of Fame did the right thing in 2015 and made Gil Brandt an inductee. It’s time the Pro Football Hall of Fame does the same and puts him where he belongs.

In Canton.

Previous Why a Hall of Famer chose a start-up league over Johnny U.
Next Look for the Broncos in a bounce back in 2017

11 Comments

  1. Rob
    May 30, 2017
    Reply

    Hey Clark, Do you expect the Contributor Nominee to be a personnel guy such as Gil, Bobby Beathard etc this year? When will the Contributors and Seniors Nominees be announced?

    • May 31, 2017
      Reply

      I do expect that to happen. The nominees should be announced in late August. I think I’m due to go in for a contributor meeting then but will know more later. As of now, I’d say that’s a safe guess. Good to hear from you again.

  2. Rasputin
    May 30, 2017
    Reply

    Good article.

  3. Martin Sexton
    May 31, 2017
    Reply

    Clark, We have had this discussion in the past and I still agree with you. Gil is the epitome of a contributor for all the reasons you lay out and for his continued promoting of the draft and the players involved in it every year. Gil makes it a point to get to know the players and their families and shares his vast knowledge of the draft in as many venues as he can. No one has meant more for the evaluation of players. In my opinion, in the contributors category, he is more than worthy and long overdue.

    • May 31, 2017
      Reply

      Martin, you’re right. The problem is that we have only one contributor nominee this year. My guess? He may be one of the two candidates for 2019. Think there’s plenty of support, but, just taking a straw poll, I believe there’s more for at least one other. Nevertheless, you’re dead on when you say he’s qualified. To me, he’s what this category is all about. Thanks for writing.

      • Rasputin
        June 4, 2017
        Reply

        Do you have a line on the most likely senior player nominees?

        • June 5, 2017
          Reply

          I don’t. Rick and Ron might. They’re on committee. One of these days they’re going to have to bring Kramer out. Just don’t get that one.

  4. Mark Gorscak
    June 4, 2017
    Reply

    Bill Nunn is deserving also. So is Gil!!

    • June 5, 2017
      Reply

      Right about Nunn. Hear that all the time when I’m in Pittsburgh.

    • bachslunch
      June 7, 2017
      Reply

      Good name to bring up, but it also raises a major question. Is the best pure scout Nunn, C. O. Brocato, or someone else?

  5. bachslunch
    June 7, 2017
    Reply

    Fine article, Clark. Agreed that Gil Brandt definitely belongs in. He and Tex Schramm (already elected) were the two major talent evaluators for those excellent Cowboys teams over the years.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.