According to sources close to the Cowboys, in a long overdue tribute, former Dallas wide receiver Drew Pearson will be inducted into the Ring of Honor some time during the 2011 season. This is a long time coming: Pearson, who played for the Cowboys from 1973-83, was a three-time All-Pro and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1970s. He finished his career in Dallas as the career leader in catches (489) and yards (7,822) and third in touchdowns, with 48. In 1980, the Cowboys selected Pearson as their nominee for NFL Man of the Year.
Although he was only third in touchdowns, Pearson had a propensity for the key scoring grab when the team needed it most. He was on the receiving end of Roger Staubach's famous "Hail Mary" pass against the Vikings in the 1975 playoffs, caught Clint Longley's game-winning heave in an equally famous Thanksgiving comeback against the hated Redskins, and held onto two fourth-quarter throws from Danny White to secure a thrilling comeback against the Falcons in the 1980 playoffs. As a result of these and numerous other third-down and touchdown catches, Pearson earned the nickname "Mr. Clutch."
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For almost a decade now, Pearson's former teammates have been pushing him for induction into the Ring of Honor. Several media folk have suggested that Roger Staubach, in his capacity as the chair of the North Texas Super Bowl XLV Host Committee, had the opportunity to lobby Jerry Jones for Pearson's inclusion. As Staubach was integral both to Dallas' earning a Super Bowl bid and the success of the event, Jones certainly owed him a favor and, as ESPN Dallas' Tim McMahon notes, "There would be no better way for Jerry to pay his debt of gratitude than to give Staubach’s go-to guy his rightful place in the Ring of Honor."
Frankly, it shouldn't have had to come down to that: Pearson's class and toughness defined the great Cowboys teams in the late 70s. Pearson began his football career at South River High School, in New Jersey, where he succeeded Joe Theismann as quarterback. He attended the University of Tulsa, where he had played quarterback in a run-heavy offense. With mediocre numbers, he went undrafted, but made the Cowboys in 1973 as a free agent wide receiver conversion project. He made the conversion very quickly; in his second year, he caught 62 balls for 1,087 yards--in a 14-game season, garnering the first of four consecutive all-NFC selections as well as Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
Pearson will join fifteen other Cowboys greats, as well as Tex Schramm and Tom Landry, in the famed Ring. He's going to be the first player to be inducted since 2005, when the "triplets," Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, were brought in together during halftime of a Monday night game.