The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most successful franchises in the NFL, and Canton, Ohio, may soon reflect that. Since their first season in 1960, Dallas won five Super Bowls with countless players living up to the star on their helmets. Even so, the Pro Football Hall of Fame credits the team with only 23 HOF players.
Weirdly, playing one season with a team is enough for them to receive credit, but that’s another conversation. The 23 players in Canton rank eighth in the NFL; however, the youngest team ahead of Dallas is the San Francisco 49ers, who have four more players but 14 more NFL seasons.
Up as finalists in this year’s class are four former Cowboys—senior finalist Chuck Howley and modern finalists DeMarcus Ware, Darren Woodson, and Zach Thomas. The team will tie with the 49ers for third place with 27 players if all are selected. While that’s not likely, two is a more realistic bet.
With all eyes on those four respective players, attention is driven away from others that deserve recognition for their outstanding play. Here are some names to watch out for possible inductees down the road.
These Cowboys are poised to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame
First, look at players that retired within the last 25 years. On a positive note, multiple Cowboys are already receiving recognition in this window. These players contributed to the three Super Bowl wins in the ’90s.
Six players from those teams are already inducted, with one more in Woodson remaining a finalist. At least one more name could receive some attention, and it’s often forgotten. That’s left guard Nate Newton.
One reason everyone forgot him was Larry Allen, but before Allen became the dominant left guard he was, it was Newton that held the spot. Allen began on the right side of the offensive line before switching over with Newton’s departure to Carolina.
The Florida A&M product was undrafted but paved the way on the left side for Emmitt Smith from ’92 to ’98. Smith led the NFL in rushing yards and touchdowns three times during that period.
He’s not short of accolades, owning six Pro Bowl selections and two First-Team All-Pro nods to go along with his three Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys. He was a dominant power blocker but also had the footwork to keep a defensive lineman in front of him.
To add to his accolades in the NFL, the lineman was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame in July. Unfortunately, the Pro Football Hall of Fame is actually the NFL Hall of Fame. The recent enshrinement should, but probably won’t, impact Nate’s induction.
Linebackers and defensive linemen feared seeing Newton wind up to throw his hands into their chest. That’s because it would often lead to one looking one hundred pounds lighter. While that was his specialty, the footwork and hand placement enabled him to leverage and control whoever was in front of him.
To be a Hall of Famer, one must impact the game and be very productive. Acting as a snow plow on the left side, clearing the way for arguably the best running back in NFL history, is one way to do that.
The next Hall of Fame class will be the last in which Newton will be considered a modern-era player. Come the Class of 2025, No. 61 will be a senior player.