3 Cowboys Among Hall of Fame Finalists

Three former Dallas Cowboys, wide receiver Bob Hayes, safety Cliff Harris, and offensive tackle Rayfield Wright, are among the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

To be elected, a finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80%. At least three candidates must be selected with a maximum of six. The 2004 Hall of Fame class will be announced on January 31 in Houston.

Hayes played on Cowboys teams winning one Super Bowl, appearing in two, playing in four consecutive NFC Championship games and two NFL title games prior to the merger. Harris and Wright appeared in five Super Bowl for the Cowboys, winning two.

If elected, Harris, Hayes, and/or Wright would be the 8th, 9th, and/or 10th Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame members. Tony Dorsett, Tom Landry, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Tex Schramm, Roger Staubach and Randy White are the current Cowboys Hall of Fame members.

Among the 15 finalists are first-year eligible candidates John Elway and Barry Sanders, seemingly shoe-ins when the Hall of Fame's Board of Selectors meet in Houston on Jan. 31, the day before Super Bowl XXXVIII, to pare the list down to at least the mandatory three inductees but no more than a maximum of six, which will include one senior member. Hayes, who passed away in September of 2002 from liver and kidney ailments, and Brown, the former Eagles, Rams and Raiders offensive tackle, were selected as senior candidates by the Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee at the August 2003 meeting.

One of the NFL's first great receivers, Hayes revolutionized his position and redefined the way NFL defenses were forced to defend against the pass. Equipped with the speed to win two gold medals in the 1964 Summer Olympics, Hayes was a threat to score from anywhere on the field.

He finished an 11-year NFL career with 71 touchdown catches, a 20-yard average per catch and three trips to the Pro Bowl. When Dallas won the Super Bowl after the 1971 season, Hayes became the only athlete to win an Olympic gold medal (100 meters and 4x100 relay) and a Super Bowl ring. More than 30 years later, he's still the only person with that distinctive double.

Harris was a four-time All-Pro selection and six-time Pro Bowler, and is a member of the Sports Illustrated All-Century team, selected by senior writer Paul Zimmerman, a member of the Hall's Selectors Board.

Harris went from an undrafted rookie from Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) to starting nine of his 10 NFL seasons, finishing with 29 career interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries. Only 15 defensive backs are members of the Hall of Fame, and Harris and Raiders cornerback Lester Hayes are the only two finalists this year.

Wright came to the Cowboys as a tight end, but left the team and the NFL as one of the most dominating offensive tackles of his time. From 1971-76, Wright earned six consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl, which still ranks near the top for the most Pro Bowl trips by Cowboys players.

Only five Cowboys players have appeared in more Pro Bowls, and Larry Allen is the only offensive lineman with more appearances (seven). During Wright's 13 seasons, the Cowboys qualified for the playoffs 12 times and earned five trips to the Super Bowl. Wright is one of 11 players, including six other Cowboys, to have played in five different Super Bowls.

The Hall of Fame includes just 13 offensive tackles, but there are three finalists this year: Wright, Brown and former Broncos tackle Gary Zimmerman.

CowboysHQ Top Stories