Dallas Cowboys: Darren Woodson To The Ring Of Honor


The Dallas Cowboys will add another name to their historic and prestigious Ring of Honor this coming season. Former all-world safety Darren Woodson, also known in the locker room as “Woody,” will become the 21st member of the franchise to be immortalized in Arlington, Texas.

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Woodson becomes the first player to enter this exclusive club since the trio of Drew Pearson, Charles Haley and Larry Allen were inducted back in 2011 – those last two names were teammates of Woodson during Super Bowl-winning seasons back in the 1990s. He’ll go into the ring on November 1 when Dallas plays host to the defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahawks.

Woodson entered the NFL with little fanfare as an early second-round selection in the 1992 NFL Draft. Great timing for a rookie to join America’s Team just as the franchise’s second decade of dominance was about to commence.

But in this particular case, Woodson was a critical part of the equation in a secondary that needed youth and talent to support a defensive front that had just been topped off with the pass-rushing prowess of Haley. Along with fellow rookie cornerback Kevin Smith out of Texas A&M, the two youngsters were highly instrumental in elevating the Dallas defense to the top spot in the NFL in ’92 en route to the third Super Bowl win for the Dallas Cowboys.

Woodson was a guy who played linebacker at Arizona State University, and did so at a size that wasn’t exactly typical. Let’s just say he was quite small for the position.

Nonetheless, Woodson became known as a serious hitter that also found his way to the ball-carrier at will.

It should have come as no surprise that Dallas, a team utilizing smallish linebackers at the time, had an interest in Woodson – but not as a linebacker.

Then-defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt moved Woodson to safety, a position where he’d have a starting job locked up by his second season in the NFL in 1993. The Cowboys won their second-straight Super Bowl that very season.

Woodson had a skill set that’s rarely seen in football. Here was a guy who not only played linebacker in college, but also played in safety while also playing the equivalent of a third cornerback at times while covering slot receivers.

For example, he’d be charged today with shutting down Cowboys third wideout Cole Beasley – and he would handle that chore with minimal sweat.

Opposing tight ends?

Forget that.

Woodson was clocked, unofficially, at 4.3 when running the 40-yard dash heading out of college.

For a guy who’s 6’1” and played around 220 for most of his career, this is a stunning combination of strength, speed and athleticism.

Further, Woodson was about as classy as it gets off the field, although you’d never guess this much by watching exactly how opposing receivers and running backs crumpled to the ground after taking one of his hits.

David Moore of Dallas Morning News quotes Woodson with the following from Dallas training camp in Oxnard, California upon learning of his upcoming induction:

"I’m proud to be a Cowboy. I’m proud to be in the Ring of Honor. I’m proud to go up with those names like Bob Lilly and Lee Roy Jordan, so many guys, Roger Staubach. My big brothers, The Triplets. So many great players that are in that ring and it’s an absolute honor to be on that same list and go up there in the rafters."

Yes, as head coach Jason Garrett might say, Woodson was the right kind of guy.

Looks like he still his, too.

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