The Next Triplets

IRVING, TX. -- And now maybe another set of Triplets gets its due. Are you ready for the Ring of Honor Class of Not-Soon-Enough: Ed "Too Tall'' Jones, Charlie Waters and Drew Pearson?

No, this annoucement doesn't come from judge-jury-and-executioner Jerry Jones, the only man with the authority to induct one, two, all or none of the above. Nor is this discussion meant in any way to take away from the Monday night glory of Aikman, Emmitt and Irvin, who will get their much-deserved moment in the sun (except from ABC/ESPN/Disney, the conglomerate that apparently doesn't own enough TV stations to televise the halftime party). It is instead a nudge of Jones, courtesy of me and some of the players and observers who come before my Dallas time, who believe the greatness of Cowboys teams preceeding the Jones Era would be properly and maybe even fully observed with the inclusion of Jones, Waters and Pearson.

I'll rely on veteran sportswriter Frank Luksa to do the campaigning and the storytelling here. Luksa was there for all of their heroics, and for the next generation work of the Triplets, too. A sage Cowboys historian, he's as qualified as anybody, and as respected, too. (Years ago he began his campaign to persuade Jones of the Ring worthiness of Rayfield Wright and Cliff Harris, inducted last year).

"Yes, I'd think you just about would,'' when I ask Frank if the inclusion of those three old-timers would essentially close the book on allegations that Jones is overlooking past generations. "You would be left to consider Harvey Martin, the fastest pass rusher to ever come through here, and Tony Hill, whose numbers were just as good as Drew's, and a terrific lineman in John Niland, and Everson Walls and Cornell Green and people like that. ... But yes, those three get in, I would say 'Hooray!'

Luksa tells me about the "cornerstone'' trio he believes should be next:

DREW PEARSON: "He caught just about every clutch pass, every memorable pass, in the history of the franchise, from the Hail Mary on down. Not a quantity receiver, but a quality receiver.''

CHARLIE WATERS: "A lot of people don't remember what a big-play player Charlie was. He had 41 regular-season interceptions and then a club-record nine more in the playoffs. He was always in the middle of the turnover. He was too slow to play corner, and when they tried him there, Harold Jackson burned him for four touchdowns in a half. Charlie said, 'If you really learn from your mistakes, I should be a genius.' He was a natural at strong safety, though.''

ED 'TOO TALL' JONES: "Here's a guy who played more games than anybody in Cowboys history, he started more games than anybody in Cowboys history, he's third in sacks, and while no one ever kept a statistic on this -- gosh, I wish I had -- oh, the number of passes he deflected and batted down! He's coming at you at 6-9, and you're a quarterback? It was like trying to throw a pass out of the the bottom of a well.

"Ed's personality may impact why he's not perceived in a brighter light. He was a very quiet player, with a regal bearing. He made no noise. He did not attempt to draw attention. He just did his job, day after day, year after year.

"Here is quintessential Ed Jones: I was in Mexico City at the airport, and I was talking with the great Cardinals offensive lineman Dan Dierdorf. And I said, 'You and Ed played 10 or 12 years against each other twice a year. He was pretty quiet, huh?'''

And Dierdorf answered, "We played all those years together, all those games. And we had one conversation. End of my career. I got down in my stance. First play of the game. I said two words to Ed, 'I'm retiring.'

"Ed said, "I know. I'm glad.'' Between the two of us, a dozen years and six words. And that was it.''

As Luksa summarizes, "And that was sum and substant of Ed Jones. All about character. A professional player, instead of a professional peacock.''

When the planned induction of Aikman, Emmitt and Irvin was announced, somebody got ahold of Ed Jones to ask him about his Ring of Honor candidacy. True to form, "Too Tall'' refused to campaign for himself, instead saying something about wanting to avoid detracting from his association with the Cowboys, about wanting to celebrate the honor that it is to have been a Cowboy.

Here's hoping the "association'' is made official again, sometime soon. Here's hoping another set of "Triplets'' gets to celebrate another honor, sometime soon.

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