Drew Pearson woke up the crowd one week ago at the NFL draft. Here’s hoping he woke up the Pro Football Hall of Fame, too.
The former Dallas Cowboys’ wide receiver is … and has been … Hall-of-Fame worthy, yet his candidacy has never gained traction. Forget that he’s the only first-team choice from the 1970s’ all-decade offense not in Canton. Forget that he’s one of two first-teamers from that club not to be included, too (former teammate Cliff Harris is the other). And forget that he’s one of two wide receivers from any all-decade teams of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s (Harold Carmichael, a 1970s’ second-teamer, is the other) not in the Hall.
Drew Pearson is one of only two first-team position players from all-decade teams of the 1970s, 80s and 90s (former Bears’ tackle Jimbo Covert is the other) never to be discussed.
You heard me. Never. The two not only haven’t been finalists; they’ve never been semifinalists … and that’s more than inexplicable. It’s downright wrong. You know it. I know it. And Drew Pearson knows it.
Yet while Terrell Owens bashes the Hall and its voters for failing to enshrine him as a first-or-second-ballot choice, Drew Pearson sat still for three decades and waited patiently on a call that never came.
Well, he didn’t sit still last week in Philadelphia, and hallelujah. It’s about time we started talking about Drew Pearson, and that’s precisely what football fans everywhere were doing on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, you name it, following his performance at the NFL draft.
Now, maybe, just maybe, we can start talking about his career, too, because it deserves nothing less.
Hopefully, I get in the room where I can have the discussion of ‘Why not?’ Or ‘Is he?’ Or ‘Should he be?’ Or ‘Shouldn’t he be?’ That didn’t happen before, and, hopefully, this will provoke that.
Unlike Owens, Drew Pearson wasn’t a second-team all-decade selection. He was a starter … on a unit that Hall-of-Fame voters choose. Unlike Owens, Pearson won a Super Bowl. Owens went to one. Pearson went to three. Plus, Pearson saved some of his greatest moments for the biggest stages — one reason he was nicknamed “Mr. Clutch” — with NFL Films in 1994 choosing three of his catches, including the “Hail Mary,” among the Top 75 Plays in league history.
Drew Pearson had a knack for doing what was needed when it was needed, and never was that more evident than last Friday when, in a two-minute shout out that was as uproarious as it was passionate, he did what his career could not the past 30 years: Wake people up to who he is.
And maybe who … and what … he was.
“I never intended it to be that for that reason,” Pearson told the Talk of Fame Network this week. “But if it turns out for that, it’s OK. If it brings attention to the name Drew Pearson and gets people a reason to revisit what I’ve done individually as a player for 11 seasons in the NFL — and how those individual stats meshed with team success … hopefully, they see that and say, ‘Hey, why isn’t this guy in the Hall of Fame?’
“Hopefully, I get in the room where I can have the discussion of ‘Why not?’ Or ‘Is he?’ Or ‘Should he be?’ Or ‘Shouldn’t he be?’ That didn’t happen before, and, hopefully, this will provoke that.”
That’s the hope. The reality is that there’s a gridlock of senior candidates — former players out of the game for over 25 years — and Drew Pearson is one of those candidates. Like Pearson, too many have been forgotten, with 96 all-decade choices through the year 2000 waiting on Canton. But they didn’t appear on a national stage and shake up an audience that had fallen asleep on them.
Yes, Drew Pearson was forgotten. Maybe he was just overlooked. Or maybe he was ignored, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. Because he’s not now.
Let’s keep it that way.