The Ring of Honor Finally Opens For Drew Pearson

Under pressure from a legend, Jerry Jones finally agrees to induct another Cowboys great into the Ring of Honor.

Before Dez Bryant was number 88, there was Michael Irvin.

Before Irvin, there was Drew Pearson.

And before Pearson, there was an incomplete, insufficient Cowboys Ring of Honor.

Drew Pearson is going in the Ring. It’s about time.
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Drew Pearson is going in the Ring. It’s about time.

Not anymore.

Owner Jerry Jones has a history of eventually righting his wrongs, and he'll do it again when he belatedly inducts Pearson into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor this season. The legendary receiver will become the first player enshrined since the team moved into Cowboys Stadium, and the first into the Cowboys' exclusive team Hall of Fame since Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin went in together at Texas Stadium in 2005.

Over the weekend in Canton, Ohio, where he attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement ceremonies, Jones reiterated a decision he initially announced early in training camp to re-open the Ring of Honor in 2011. Pearson isn't the only deserving Cowboy, but he's next in line and long overdue.

'Bout damn time.

"I don't want to get ahead of myself because I've heard rumors for years now, but it would obviously be the highlight of my career," Pearson says. "I've basically been in a holding pattern, hoping and waiting. If it were to happen ... for me and my family, it would be an incredible honor to go up alongside the greats of this great organization."

Iconic Cowboys radio voice Brad Sham puts it more bluntly: "Let's be honest; he belonged in there a long time ago."

Jones shied away from inducting a player in 2009 because he didn't want to overshadow the opening of his $1.2 billion stadium in Arlington. Last season he was preoccupied with Super Bowl XLV coming to town. Now, finally, the time is right. Jones has settled personal differences with Pearson. And as a one-man judge and jury, the owner will also apparently bend his rule about inducting only those Cowboys who are first recognized by the Hall of Fame.

"Tex Schramm made it clear that I should keep the Ring of Honor very exclusive and that's what we're doing," Jones said during Super Bowl week in February. "You've always got to consider your Hall of Fame players when you're talking about the Ring of Honor."

But the Cowboys' newly minted Hall of Famer, Deion Sanders, was little more than a mercenary in Dallas. He helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl XXX but then quickly flamed out because of foot injuries. All other Cowboys in the Hall of Fame already have their immortality secured around the field in Arlington: Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Bob Hayes, Rayfield Wright and Aikman, Irvin and Smith. Also in the Ring are former coach Tom Landry, founding father Schramm and five players who never made it to Canton: Don Meredith, Don Perkins, Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan and Cliff Harris.

"Drew should probably be in the Hall of Fame, too," Sham says. "He's on the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s but not in the Hall of Fame. Come on, what are we talking about here?"

The problem in Dallas was actually a lack of talking. Until recently, Jones and Pearson had not been speaking to each other. At all.

Pearson is the CEO of Drew Pearson Companies, a manufacturer of licensed caps since 1985. He and Jones engaged in a legal battle over logos and apparel in the '90s. Multiple sources tell me those wrinkles have now been smoothed over. Pearson has also offered biting commentary on radio and TV post-game shows in recent years, including chastising Jones for "tarnishing the star" by signing free-agent receiver Terrell Owens in 2006. The fractured relationship became a source of comedy for Pearson, who joked last season that when the two cross paths, Jones mistakenly calls him "Preston Pearson," a running back on Drew's Cowboys team in the '70s.

"My stats are my stats, I'm not going to add to them," Pearson said during Super Bowl week. "I like to think I belong up there, but it's not up to me."

Along with an olive branch from Pearson, Jones might have been motivated by public pressure and a significant push from Drew's former teammates, especially his influential quarterback. When none other than Roger Staubach starts a petition, even billionaire bullies like Jones are forced to listen.

"Drew will be in the Ring of Honor," Staubach said back in February, between his duties as North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee Chairman. "He's why the Ring of Honor was created. I believe that and Jerry believes that, too. I'm not big into politicking, but I've just got a really good feeling that the hole in the Ring of Honor is going to be filled."

"I'm serious when I say this," Jones said later. "I take no one's input more seriously or more precious than that of Roger Staubach."

But it never should have required Staubach's input.

We can debate the future Ring of Honor merits of Charles Haley, Larry Allen, Harvey Martin and Darren Woodson. We can waste time squinting at the 2011 roster, trying to envision Jason Witten or DeMarcus Ware one day chiseled into history in Arlington. But Pearson is a no-brainer. He is the franchise's original and best No. 88. Bryant has more raw athletic ability and Irvin played with more outward passion on more successful teams, but no one in franchise history caught more clutch passes than Pearson.

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18 comments
Denise Sherwood Bennett
Denise Sherwood Bennett

Drew, hearty congratulations from an old SRHS classmate! Way overdue for you! You are the only reason I'm a Cowboys' fan! Next, Canton! I cheered you for then, I'm cheering for you now, my friend!

Bob Campbell83
Bob Campbell83

I played college football with Drew at The University of Tulsa. He was never a big statistics guy, but man could he make big plays when you need them. Mant people do not know that Tulsa recruited Drew as a QB. Joe Theisman was his high school QB when he was a Jr. When JT graduated Drew moved to QB his Sr. year. At Tulsa, he played about 1 1/2 years at QB before moving to receiver. What a great story for a free agent to be in the Ring of Honor.

AlexAdam902012
AlexAdam902012

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Kevin
Kevin

I really hope it's Drew, it's the only logical choice at this point and he's overdue. It ticks me off to know that Lynn Swan is in the hof. He wasn't even the best receiver on his own team!

JBL
JBL

I applaud Pearson for standing up to that Egotistical asshole Jones!!!

Brenda H
Brenda H

When I saw Dez Bryant sporting #88 last year, my FIRST thought was "I hope he can live up to Pearson's legacy" Yes, Michael Irvin crossed my mind, OF COURSE HE DID, but Irvin lived up to the legacy, without question, and although he is very deserving of his spot on that Ring, Pearson, without fail, is THE ORIGINAL #88. Congrats Mr. Pearson, I know it's long overdue, but from all of us who watched you play, we've known all along how worthy you are of this honor, so hold your head up with PRIDE and let us salute you at the unveiling ceremony...we've been waiting YEARS to show you our gratitude!! Drew Pearson IS, and ALWAYS WILL BE #88. Thanks for the memories, Drew. You are one of the reasons I fell in love with the Dallas Cowboys. LET'S GO COWBOYS!!! Love ya BLUE!

The Burns
The Burns

I like this - it's about time.I remember watching him play in the 70's and 80's - and he was so exciting because you knew, at any moment, he could make a big play (much like Irvin). But, for me, the biggest reason he belongs in the ring, is because he was ALWAYS a Cowboy - forever and ever - on the field and off. Add his stats and everything he brought to the field, and it's a no-brainer.Congrats Pearson.

Vtwinhawg
Vtwinhawg

while I agree Drew Pearson is an all time great, Hall of Fame, Ring of Honor and top notch person please tap the brakes on the remember the old days Roger and the boys stuff. I've seen both with unbiased eyes and let me tell you, the triplets were sacarey good. In a era of superior athletes they acheived staggering success. Were it not for the egos of Jerry and Jimmy we would not even be talkin about the patriots and steelers as the top all time teams.Congrats to Drew, it is way overdue. Roger, nuff said, Tony D amazing. But Troy, played a SB with a concussion, Irvin changed the rules of the game for recievers, and Emmitt, you may find better backs but not bigger heart and spirit.

Rick de
Rick de

Jerry is an A-hole from way back. Maybe thats why no one came running to put there name on Jerry'sHouse. It maybe Jerry's House, But Drew an other greats set the stone's that builded what Jerry hastoday.Love the Cowboy's , Sorry Tom,but he's trying.

socialist_dictator
socialist_dictator

Without Pearson, Dorsett and Staubach we would not have known Irving, Smith or Aikman as the Cowboy greats they are....Shame once again on Jerry Jones.

Steveraytx
Steveraytx

Long, long, long overdue. We live in a land where justice and doing right have become in increasingly short supply. The reason for this is pride and arrogance. This is the reason the real number 88 is not in the ring of honor. Not only was he a clutch player but a first class human being who never did anything to bring shame to the star, only honor and respect.

Peoplesc
Peoplesc

when we were little kids playing playing sandlot football or in hte streets playing touch football. we were'nt say lynn stallworth or these other star recievers. we had the number 88 on the back of our t-shirts. we were drew pearson the bob hayse rodger the dodger staurbacks. those are the true cowboys. he should have been in before troy emmith or michael. the true number 88 of the dallas cowboys. the others or replicas !!!

Mike S
Mike S

Should have been there years ago. Do it, let the party begin . i just want to know if he pushed off to catch that pass?

Robert
Robert

Cool. Nice to see the real "88" in the ring.

ChrisU
ChrisU

he provided too many classic moments, and Staubach once said he would not have made the Hall of Fame without him.

Ipat Wallis
Ipat Wallis

IT IS ABOUT TIME, HAVING BEEN A SEASON TICKET HOLDER SINC E 1963 AND UNTIL THAT SO CALL MAN MOVED TO HIS NEW DIGS AND CHECK OFF THE LOYAL LONG TIME FANS, DREW PEARSON HAS BEEN THE PLAYER, THE GENTLEMAN, WHO SHOULD HAVE BEEN IN THE RING AT TEXAS STADIUM. YEA FOR DREW. PAT WALLIS

Storm_71
Storm_71

Good story Whitt. Congrats to the original 88 Drew Pearson.

 
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