The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its 2022 induction class Feb. 10, and former Dallas Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware did not make the cut. Even though Ware tallied 138.5 career sacks, made the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team, led the NFL in sacks twice, earned nine Pro Bowl selections and four All-Pro honors, it wasn’t good enough to go into the Hall of Fame.
While there is understandable indignation from Cowboys (and Denver Broncos) fans about Ware, he wasn’t the only snub from the Hall of Fame this go-around.
Remember Darren Woodson? The three-time Super Bowl champion, and the franchise’s all-time leading tackler with 1,350, failed to make it out of the semifinalist stage. Consider that Woodson has been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 2008 and has been consistently overlooked, whereas Ware made it to the finalist stage in his first year of eligibility.
Woodson’s snub was especially underscored by the elevation of former Green Bay Packers safety LeRoy Butler. While Butler was able to net such accomplishments such as placing on the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, Woodson had him beat in other significant categories.
Super Bowl winner? Try three.
Pro Bowl selections? Woodson had five to Butler’s four.
Tackles? Butler recorded 989 and isn’t the all-time leader in Packers history.
Don’t take it from just anyone, take it from a Hall-of-Famer. Jimmy Johnson, who won two Super Bowls with Dallas in 1992 and 1993, used his induction speech as a chance to campaign for Woodson, along with former Miami Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, who he coached from 1996-99.
“Looking back, I counted, I drafted or recruited 13 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Johnson said on Aug. 7, 2021. “And let me tell you what: Zach Thomas belongs up here. Darren Woodson belongs up here. They were two players — they were key factors. We led the NFL in defense in Dallas. We led the NFL in defense in Miami. And those two players were key parts of it, and they need to be Hall-of-Famers. That way I’ll have 15 of them or whatever.”
Part of what keeps Cowboys out of the Hall of Fame is the great teams they were on, or the superstar talent they played alongside. It is spurious to think Woodson was the result of cornerback Deion Sanders’ presence. In 1994, Woodson had already distinguished himself as a Pro Bowler and an All-Pro. From 1995-98, when Woodson continued his streak as a Pro Bowler, he missed two games while Sanders missed 15. The eventual Cowboys Ring of Honor member was a great player in his own right.
Ware will get more shots as he endeared himself to two fan bases who will continually sing ballads of his accomplishments come Hall of Fame time. For Woodson, there are fewer chances remaining to get inducted.