Woodson’s ring of honor nod boosts unsung Dallas D of 1990s
OXNARD, Calif. (AP) — Darren Woodson is going into the Cowboys’ ring of honor, a nod to the unsung Dallas defenses on the Super Bowl-winning teams of the 1990s.
The safety who spent all 12 of his seasons with the Cowboys will be the sixth player — and second defender — from an era that produced three championships in four seasons, the only time that’s happened in NFL history.
The team’s all-time leader in tackles with 1,350, Woodson will be honored when Dallas plays Seattle on Nov. 1. The 20 current names are displayed on a strip that runs below the upper deck at AT&T Stadium, a tradition that started at old Texas Stadium.
The Cowboys of Woodson’s time were known for “the triplets” — quarterback Troy Aikman, all-time NFL rushing leader Emmitt Smith and receiver Michael Irvin. All three of those are in the ring of honor along with lineman Larry Allen.
The other defender is Charles Haley, who goes into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. The defensive end’s induction leaves Woodson as the only one of the six not in the hall.
“You had a lot of young guys that were fast, quick to the ball,” said Woodson, a four-time All-Pro. “A lot of no-name guys, but guys who had urgency to who they were. And it meant something. There was a pride to get out there and practice with one of the best offenses in the league.”
Woodson will be the first player inducted into the ring of honor since Haley, Allen and former Dallas receiver Drew Pearson in 2011.
“He was a difference maker off the field and he was a difference maker on the field,” owner Jerry Jones said Tuesday at training camp while making the announcement. “We were a different defense because he was out there.”
The 46-year-old Woodson will be the eighth defender among the 19 players in the ring of honor. The others are former coach Tom Landry and former president and general manager Tex Schramm.
Woodson was a second-round pick out of Arizona State in 1992, when Dallas’ run of Super Bowl titles began. He started 162 of his 178 games and had 23 interceptions, 11th in club history.
“He always early on in my career was great and taught me a lot,” said tight end Jason Witten, whose rookie season in 2003 was Woodson’s last. “More than anything, he motivated me to get better because he had some hands on him that you just couldn’t get off the line with him. He was a rare breed. He could play slot and be a safety and that’s hard to do.”
Now that his spot in Dallas history is secure, Woodson’s place in Canton will be the next question.
“I haven’t thought that far — I really haven’t,” said Woodson, who made five Pro Bowls. “I’m thinking about today. I’m thinking about the guys that are on that special list.”
Woodson’s name is next.
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