The recent list of semi-finalists for the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame was recently revealed, and once again the name of Darren Woodson was not on that list. Many of us here at Blogging The Boys feel that Woody should be a lock to receive the honor, but that he is being denied the recognition that he earned due to the fact that he is a Dallas Cowboy. In my opinion, there is a lot of support for that arguement. There is a history of deserving Cowboys who have gotten the cold shoulder from Canton including Drew Pearson, Harvey Martin, Cliff Harris, and until perhaps this coming class; Larry Allen. In any case, it is tough to make it into the Hall of Fame and it should be. The guys who are inducted truely are football's immortals. What isn't right is that men who played for certain teams have an even harder road to Canton. One of those teams is our beloved Dallas Cowboys.
As if being a Cowboy didn't make the journey tough enough for Woodson; there is also another bias at play here. The selection committee has shown over the years that it does not place as high a value on safety play as it does some other position. Safety is not generally regarded as a high stats position. According the the Hall of Fame's own website, there are currently 23 defensive backs who have been enshrined in Canton. Of those players 14 are cornerbacks, two more who played both safety and corner during their career, and just seven pure safeties. That 2:1 ratio shows a clear bias against the safety position. The last pure safety to be inducted was Ken Houston, who played his final game in 1980. Some fans may counter that with the name of Ronnie Lott. Along with our own Mel Renfro, Lott is one of the two CB/S honorees.
Further proof of an anti-safety bias is supported by the fact that of the 20 players selected as members of the NFL All-Decade Teams as safties, 11 of those are still awaiting induction into the hall. Granted the All Decade players for 2000-2009 are likely still playing or are not yet eligible, but only one member of the team for the 1990's, Lott, has been selected. A futher travesty is that no member of the 80's time has been honored. That was a group that included DeRon Cherry and Kenny Easley. Our own Cliff Harris from the 70's team is also on the outside looking in.
Safety in the NFL is a tough place to play. During every game the player is forced to play in the box and essentually become an extra linebacker, slip over and cover the #3 receiver as a slot corner, and act as the centerfielder to take away the deep threat. Few have done this as well as Darren Woodson, yet he is not in the Hall of Fame and quite honestly, to the shame of the selection comittee, he has not received serious consideration for induction. Due to the dual biases that work against him, I am not holding my breath waiting for that to change anytime soon.