NFL, Cowboys Great Drew Pearson Hurt, Broken-Hearted by Hall of Fame Snub

Pearson named a finalist in Hall of Fame voting but not selected to join Hall's Centennial Class

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Two more Dallas Cowboys legends are headed to Canton, but there's still one glaring omission on the list of those to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Ohio.

This year Drew Pearson, the Original 88, was elected a finalist in Hall of Fame voting for the first time. As the names of those to be enshrined were read on the NFL Network Wednesday morning, Pearson was surrounded by family and friends who had gathered to help him celebrate what should have been an incredibly special day.

Dallas Cowboys legend Drew Pearson reacts after realizing he wasn’t selected to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Centennial Class of 2020.

But his name was never called; Mr. Clutch had been snubbed by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee. Teammate Cliff Harris was selected along with nine other senior players, three coaches, including former Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson and three contributors.

“Those guys that got it, God bless them, they deserve it, each and every one. But man, it hurts. They broke my heart. They broke my heart. And they did it like this! They strung it out like this, ” Pearson said.

Watching Pearson's reaction as he learned he'd not been picked was heartbreaking. With his head down, the NFL legend simply shook his head, looked up, dismissed a piece of paper and tossed his hands up in disgust before leaving the room. His friends and family, stunned silent.

In a radio interview on 105.3 The Fan, Pearson said Wednesday morning, "Being selected to the Hall of Fame would’ve been icing on the cake. Let me tell you something, being a former Dallas Cowboy, that’s the cake … Hall of Famer would’ve just added to that."

Pearson, a frequent target of the legendary Roger Staubach, is widely considered one of the greatest receivers of his era. However, he is now the last member of the NFL's 1970s All Decade Team to NOT be in the Hall.

Former teammate Cliff Harris, who also played for the Cowboys in the 1970s, was selected for enshrinement Wednesday.

Pearson, ever the teammate, cheered for Harris as he was selected and said, "Man, that almost makes it all right."

Harris was one of the hardest-hitting defensive backs in the NFL, a major part of the Dallas defenses of the 1970s who made three All-Pro teams and six Pro Bowls. He played in seven conference title games and five Super Bowls, winning two. Harris is also on the NFL's 1970s All Decade Team along with Staubach, Harvey Martin, Bob Lilly and Rayfield Wright. All are on the first team and in the Hall of Fame except for Harvey Martin, who was on the second team and is not in the Hall.

Second team wide receivers Harold Carmichael (Eagles) and Paul Warfield (Dolphins/Browns) both have busts in Canton.

Pearson was among 20 senior players named as finalists for this year's class -- a larger than normal group who would be part of the Hall's special Centennial Class of 2020. The 20 players named finalists, along with eight contributor finalists and eight coaching finalists, made up a 36-member group from which the final 15-member class would be selected.

Being passed over this year doesn't mean Pearson will never see his bust in the Hall. Each year senior players (those out of the league more than 25 years) are considered for enshrinement and anyone may nominate any eligible player. Those nominations are then considered by a committee who votes on the finalists and then the eventual members. Anyone who wants to nominate Pearson for the 2021 class can send a letter to the Hall at the following address:

Attn: Selection Process
Pro Football Hall of Fame
2121 George Halas Dr. NW
Canton, Ohio 44708

Players in Centennial Hall of Fame Class

  • Jim Covert, OT, 1983-1990 Chicago Bears
  • Winston Hill, OT, 1963-1976 New York Jets/1977 Los Angeles Rams
  • Harold Carmichael, WR, 1971-1983 Philadelphia Eagles/1984 Dallas Cowboys
  • Duke Slater, OT, 1922 Milwaukee Badgers/1922-25 Rock Island Independents/1926-1931 Chicago Cardinals
  • Ed Sprinkle, DE/LB, 1944-1955 Chicago Bears
  • Alex Karras, DT, 1958-1962, 1964-1970 Detroit Lions
  • Bobby Dillon, S, 1952-1959 Green Bay Packers
  • Donnie Shell, S, 1974-1987 Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Cliff Harris, S, 1970-1979 Dallas Cowboys
  • Mac Speedie, End, 1946-1952 Cleveland Browns

Coaches in Centennial Hall of Fame Class

  • Jimmy Johnson, Cowboys 1989-1993, Dolphins 1996-1999
  • Bill Cowher, Steelers 1992-2006

Contributors in Centennial Hall of Fame Class

  • Steve Sabol, Administrator/President, 1964-2012 NFL Films
  • George Young, Contributor/General Manager, 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League
  • Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner, 1989-2006 NFL
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