Last year, it was plain outrage. More like, how could they - how could the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee tease the Dallas Cowboys so, voting Bob Hayes and Rayfield Wright into the final six of the process and then voting them both out when it was allowed to select six.
But this year, after the final six selections were read - Harry Carson, Benny Friedman, Michael Irvin, Dan Marino, Fritz Pollard and Steve Young - I simply braced myself, as if I had just bet someone they couldn't knock me out with one swing and I knew the punch was coming.
There was a short pause when the envelop containing the Hall of Fame class of 2005 was being delivered to the podium, giving me time to think, oh God, not again. This can't happen again. Not to the Cowboys.
The only thing more cruel than and unjust than the Cowboys having only five players in the Hall of Fame, especially when there are Steelers galore, is to progress through the voting process as these three Cowboys have over the past two years, from 90 to 25 to 15 to 10 to six and then not hear your named called again.
My mind raced to Hayes and Wright, and even Cliff Harris, who was eliminated on the cut from 10 to six last year. Surely after the backlash following last year's vote this committee wouldn't do the same thing again - not give Michael Irvin 80 percent of the vote to prevent the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver, five-time Pro Bowler and owner of three Super Bowl rings from gaining entry to the Hall of Fame when he was working at Super Bowl XXXIX right here in his home state.
And I thought of you guys, too, how outraged you were last year and have been for so many years that a franchise which has played in eight Super Bowls, winning five, and has been one of the league's most successful in its 45 years of existence, has been so routinely snubbed in this voting process. Thought about all your passionate emails, causing me to quickly conclude this can't happen again.
Then here it came, the names. First Friedman, one of the two Seniors Committee nominations, a quarterback from way back in the 1920's and '30's who I had never heard of until now, but probably should get to know, his career spanning eight years with the likes of the Cleveland Bulldogs, Detroit Wolverines, New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers.
That meant, in this alphabetical order process, Irvin should be next. He was awaiting word just outside this Meeting Room C at the convention center. Knowing Irvin, he probably already had broken out in a sweat. He wanted this. He wanted it bad, even though it was the first time he was eligible to be on the ballot.
And the next words I heard were "Dan Marino."
Nuh-uh. Wait. That's out of order. I is before M. I mean I caught myself, double checking the order. Or maybe they weren't going in alphabetical order. No way.
"Fritz Pollard, Steve Young" is what I heard next.
That was it. No Irvin. Once again, no Cowboy - none since 1996.
Bam - punch delivered.
But wait. This is, after all, Florida. Isn't this the home of hanging chads? Lets at least call for a recount - a hand count. Something, no?
Irvin retreated to his hotel. He, too, was numb. Distraught might not be extreme enough. He didn't want to talk at the time, and that probably was a good idea. No sense alienating at least the eight people who failed to vote yes. They probably will have a say again next year, and God forbid, the next.
But former sidekick James Washington didn't have to be politically correct. Then again, Drive By rarely was when he played those five years (1990-94) with the Cowboys.
"I think it's bull-----," Washington said in a break while doing his national Fox radio show. "And you can write it. James Washington said, 'Bull----."
So James, you thought Michael Irvin, with his club-leading 750 career catches, club-leading 11,904 receiving yards, his 15.9-yard average - ranking sixth all-time among the league's top 20 receivers (catches) - the guy with the most Super Bowl Rings as a starter of any of those six finalists and the fact he was a human highlight film, especially in big games, should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer?
"You tell me Steve Young goes in, and we'll get back to Michael, and Richard Dent doesn't go in?" Washington reasoned, probably knowing Young won only one Super Bowl in San Francisco as a starter and had a 1-3 record in NFC title games as a starter. "When you say Chicago Bears, you say defense. That was Richard Dent - Super Bowl MVP.
"Now Michael Irvin, here is a guy who changed the way you played defense, changed the way teams drafted cornerbacks. Teams would stack against Emmitt and double Mike, and he still makes all those plays.
"Michael changed the way you played football."
He meant teams were forced to start finding bigger corners, guys who could muscle up with Irvin at the line of scrimmage; guys who couldn't be pushed off during routes; and guys who wouldn't be out-muscled on a jump ball.
As we've sat here all week in the media workroom, the NFL Network continuously broadcasted, showing highlights of Super Bowls and playoff games and whatever else, and seemingly every time you looked up, there was 88 with the star on his helmet making another catch - another spectacular, game-changing catch.
What in the world?
After talking with roughly 10 guys on the selection committee - by the way, they all said they voted for Irvin - the only logical explanation, short of leaning on the Cowboys bias, is that not enough of the committeemen thought Irvin was a first-ballot Hall of Famer. That he should not be put in the same category as a Marino or Jerry Rice to come.
"The encouraging thing for Michael is he got to the final six in his first year," said Peter King of Sports Illustrated, who said he voted for Irvin throughout the process. "I think Michael will get in (eventually).
"But in the immortal words of Bill Parcells, they don't sell insurance for these types of things."
You will hear this theory of an Art Monk backlash, that only one of those guys was going to make it to the Final Six, and that those pushing for Monk then took it out on Irvin on the final vote. But don't immediately indict all the Washington writers.
Len Shapiro of the Washington Post said he voted for Irvin, and that he just has a hard time accepting how cruel members of the committee are when they vote somebody out of the final six when the Hall will accept as many as six.
So said Peter Finney of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
"(The Cowboys) aren't the only franchise jobbed over time," King said.
Maybe, but can we talk here? Do you realize that in the past two years, four guys have been voted out of the final six. Three have been Cowboys. What is me supposed to think?
Do you realize, and I'm not going to begrudge Friedman or Pollard, the first black coach in the NFL, their entrance thanks to the Seniors Committee recommendation, but please. Friedman-Hayes, Pollard-Hayes? Where is the justice?
Irvin has to be disillusioned. You have to be disillusioned. And I wish there was something that could be said to make this all seem right.
But there isn't. It's like this bad: Only two of the 17 Hall of Fame wide receivers have more catches than Irvin. Only three have more receiving yards. Only two have more Super Bowl rings, and you don't need me to tell you which two those are.
So you know what? Maybe this is not about Irvin. Maybe indeed this is about the Cowboys. Of the 193 players in the Hall of Fame, only five are Cowboys. Then there is Tom Landry, one of the 20 coaches, and Tex Schramm, one of the 17 contributors. Heck, even the Chicago/St. Louis/Arizona Cardinals have five, and I know they haven't won five Super Bowls.
Now it would be easy to say there is always next year for Irvin. But is there? You know who is eligible next year don't you? No. 8. And after all this, you think this HOF committee is going to elect two Cowboys in the same year? I think not no matter how deserving.
I'd like to tell you Troy Aikman will be a slam-dunk first-ballot Hall of Famer, just like Marino and Young. But I can't. If he is, Irvin will have trouble making the cut next year. And once you start sliding . . . well, ask Art Monk.
And I'd like to tell you wait until next year. But I can't. Just can't. In fact, shudder at the very thought.
Interesting stat. Of the 17 wide receivers in the Hall of Fame, only 2 have more receptions, and only 3 have more receiving yards.
How did Irvin not get in again? Oh that's right, the Hall of Fame committee consists of a bunch of anti-Cowboy punks.
And the off-the-field issues shouldn't be an issue. The voters are told not to consider off-the-field issues, plus guys like OJ Simpson and Lawrence Taylor are in, and they've had just as much if not more issues than Irvin.
I think Irvin should've got in, just began to like the guy since he joined ESPN and don't find him annoying. I think the guy had mad skills, but also a mouth relative to TO's. He should've gotten in, without a doubt.
The Lung wrote:Yes, now the HOF committee is anti-Cowboys.
Next week it will somehow be the Pro Bowl refs that are anti-Cowboys.
In March everyone in the NFL Draft will be anti-Cowboys.
Soon the entire NFL, and then the whole planet, and then the universe (aliens and all) will be anti-Cowboys! Hurry, let's do what we can now to stop this conspiracy from coming to fruition!!!
Hey, get over your dislike for me and actually look at the facts. The Cowboys have won as many Super Bowls (and have been to more SUper Bowls) than any team in NFL history, yet they have a whopping 5 people in the Hall of Fame.
I'm not the only one saying there's an anti-Cowboy bias in the HOF committee. It's pretty obvious at this point, don't you think? Hell the Arizona/St Louis Cardinals have as many people in the HOF as Dallas.
NO, but you're right, there's no bias, it's all just me being me.
bagobonez wrote: (By MICKEY SPAGNOLA) So you know what? Maybe this is not about Irvin. Maybe indeed this is about the Cowboys. Of the 193 players in the Hall of Fame, only five are Cowboys.
OK, I don't get this. I posted this list a few days ago. Some of them played for other teams, too, maybe that's the discrepancy. Then again maybe the author is being a whiny ass. But it looks like he's leaving out Ditka, whose glory days as a player were clearly as a Cowboy.
Cowboy hall of famers
Herb Adderley (1980) - 1970-1972
Lance Alworth (1978) - 1971-1972
Mike Ditka (1988) - 1969-1972
TONY DORSETT (1994) - 1977-1987
Forrest Gregg (1977) - 1971
TOM LANDRY (1990) - 1960-1988
BOB LILLY (1980) - 1961-1974
Tommy McDonald (1998) - 1964
MEL RENFRO (1996) - 1964-1977
TEX SCHRAMM (1991) - 1960-1989
Jackie Smith (1994) - 1978
ROGER STAUBACH (1985) - 1969-1979
RANDY WHITE (1994) - 1975-1988
Maybe it's not that the HOF is anti-Cowboys, maybe they are anti-Michael Irvin. He's not exactly the most likable guy. I could see his brashness in addition to his cocaine problems throughout the years keeping 20% of voters from wanting him to get in.
Should he get in? Based on his numbers and skill... definitley. I just don't know if there are any other underlying factors that serve as a prerequisite to entry. Like character for instance. Anybody know?
You know living in Texas, this just gets beaten to death. Every time there is a vote on this it just gets ridiculous.
I can't really argue the Young and Marino getting in. They deserved it. If you feel Irvin should have been in instead of one of those guys, well...
I actually think the one WR that got snubbed this year was Art Monk. Sorry but if he didn't make it, I don't see why Irvin would have.
I can't speak to the other two that made it since I don't know enough about them. But it gets tiring hearing this 'everyone is against the Cowboys' argument.
It looks like Raymond Berry and Steve Largent are the ONLY first time ballot WRs that ever got in. Actually I heard Don Hutson did too, but not completely sure about it. While Irvin had great stats himself, this is the net result:
Monk has more catches than Irvin.
Monk has more yards than Irvin.
Monk has more touchdowns than Irvin.
Monk also has three rings.
If Monk doesn't make it, I don't see how Irvin does. And Monk hasn't made it the past few years.
Sure hope this doesn't come up next year again, but I reckon it will. Until someday a Cowboy does make it.
yea, except monk was no where near the threat irvin was, and no where near the talent. And irvin was the star wide out for an absoloute dynasty. I don't think monk should get in -- its the hall of fame, not the "hall of pretty good" -- and that is how most people look at him, good, but not great. a lot of those records are solely because of longevity.
And that argument aside -- monk shouldn't have any refelection on irvin. I find it ridiculous that there is a limit each year.
I personally believe irvin got snubbed, and think bag has a point. Emmitt, aikman, irvin and sanders should be no brainers from those teams. I don't see how anyone can argue -- if we all agree that the ultimate goal is to win superbowls -- they were all pivotal to that end, they won 3 straight and are on the short list of nfl dynasties.
The opening scene of the movie "Saving Private Ryan" is loosely based on games of dodgeball Brian Dawkins played in second grade.