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.