“They broke my heart.''
Drew Pearson has been waiting 30 years for good news from the Pro Football Hall of Fame regarding the induction of Dallas Cowboys icon who was named by the NFL itself one of the handful of best receivers in not one but two decades.
On Wednesday morning came the Hall's announcement of its expanded 100-year-anniversary "Centennial Class'' ... and Pearson is left waiting still.
“We thought we were gonna have a good moment,'' Pearson said to family, friends and media gathered at his Plano home. "We deserve that moment. Can’t do nothing about it.''
As a player, Pearson did everything he could, as a centerpiece of a Super Bowl-winning Cowboys team in the 70's - and truly, as a centerpiece of a team that was in Super Bowl contention almost perennially during a career that took the 1973 undrafted free agent out of Tulsa to three Pro Bowls and to first-team All-Pro status three times as well.
Pearson's 11-year career was highlighted by his 50-yard “Hail Mary” catch from Roger Staubach to seal a 1975 playoff victory over the Vikings.
The Centennial Class has recognized coach Jimmy Johnson and Pearson's old teammate Cliff Harris, the standout safety. But for Drew? This expanded class may have seemed like a final opportunity.
“Can’t catch no more damn passes,'' said a visible upset Pearson. "Can’t run no more routes. It’s there! ... What upsets me more is when they say you don’t deserve it, they (voters) talk negative about you. There’s nothing negative about my career in the NFL. Nothing!”
“You put your fate in the hands of people and you trust them to do it right,'' Pearson said. "It hurts. They broke my heart.''
Here’s a full list of the Centennial Class, who will be joined by the standard five-member inductees from the normal voting process and announced the day prior to the Super Bowl. (*Deceased)
Jimmy Johnson – 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins
Bill Cowher – 1992-2006 Pittsburgh Steelers
*Steve Sabol, Administrator/President – 1964-2012 NFL Films
Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
*George Young, Contributor/General Manager – 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League
Cliff Harris, S – 1970-79 Dallas Cowboys
Harold Carmichael, WR – 1971-1983 Philadelphia Eagles, 1984 Dallas Cowboys
Jim Covert, T – 1983-1990 Chicago Bears
*Bobby Dillon, S – 1952-59 Green Bay Packers
*Winston Hill, T – 1963-1976 New York Jets, 1977 Los Angeles Rams
*Alex Karras, DT – 1958-1962, 1964-1970 Detroit Lions
Donnie Shell, S – 1974-1987 Pittsburgh Steelers
*Duke Slater, T – 1922 Milwaukee Badgers, 1922-25 Rock Island Independents,1926-1931 Chicago Cardinals
*Mac Speedie, E – 1946-1952 Cleveland Browns [AAFC/NFL]
*Ed Sprinkle, DE/LB/E – 1944-1955 Chicago Bears