How Hall-of-Famer Gil Brandt reminded us that, yes, time can heal all wounds
That didn’t take long.
This week’s annual NFL scouting combine was supposed to produce headlines, and it delivered on its first day. Only this news has nothing to do with Kyler Murray, instant replay or some yahoo testing positive for a banned substance he’s never heard of.
It has to do with Gil Brandt.
The former Dallas executive, a combine fixture for decades, announced Wednesday that he’ll have Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones present him at Canton when the Class of 2019 is inducted in August. And, OK, big deal, right?
Well, yes, as a matter of fact, it is.
It’s not the equivalent of Tom Brady dining with Goodell or the Berlin Wall coming down, but it’s close. Because Jerry Jones isn’t the guy who promoted Gil Brandt in Dallas. On the contrary. He’s the guy who fired him.
You heard me. After Jones bought the club in 1989 he fired Brandt and head coach Tom Landry and accepted the resignation of GM Tex Schramm.
All are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
As you might expect, Brandt wasn’t happy about the decision – especially considering that triumvirate was responsible for an NFL-record 20 consecutive winning seasons, 12 conference championship-game appearances and two Super Bowl victories. In fact, immediately after Jones notified him he was no longer wanted, Brandt told reporters the new owner was “in over his head.”
That was three decades ago. Since then Jones has won three Super Bowls and been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Brandt evolved into an NFL ambassador, resource and historian at NFL.com, and, like Jones, was elected to the Hall of Fame.
But more than that has transpired. There’s been a reconciliation best evidenced by Brandt’s decision to have the man who fired him … the guy who was supposed to be “in over his head” … present him for his crowning NFL achievement.
And that’s not just remarkable. It’s astounding.
Because it wasn’t until last fall that Jones and the Cowboys finally recognized Brandt when they named him the 22nd member of their Ring of Honor -- a move that looked more like a preemptive strike after Brandt two months earlier was chosen as one of two contributor candidates for the Hall-of-Fame’s Class of 2019.
“Through my three decades with the Cowboys,” Brandt said Wednesday on NFL.com, “we aspired to be forward-thinking, innovative and successful on and off the field. Jerry has honored that foundation in a way that displays great respect for what we were all about.
“He continues to carry the torch, not just for the franchise but also the NFL on so many levels. To me, we are very similar with regard to our passion for this team and this league, as it relates to the past, present and future.”
In accepting Brandt’s invitation, Jones noted that Brandt oversaw the acquisitions of 15 of the 19 players in the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor. But he didn’t stop there.
“In his 30 years with the Cowboys,” Jones said, “Gil distinguished himself at the top of his profession – as an innovator and someone who set the standard for excellence in the area of player personnel.”
OK, then, just one question: Why did it take him and the Cowboys 30 years to include Brandt in their Ring of Honor? I’m sure Brandt wondered the same thing. But it doesn’t matter now because he has what he deserves – an exclamation point on a Cowboys’ career Jones cut short.
There’s a lesson there, and maybe it’s that Gil Brandt is proof that your Mom was right; that time really does heal all wounds. Or maybe it’s more like what Hippocrates told us when he said, “Healing is a matter of time. But it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.”
Well, there was time. There was opportunity. And now there is healing.
But there’s something more. There’s Gil Brandt standing in the middle of it all, punctuating his career with a happy-ever-after ending. And good for him.
Follow on Twitter @ClarkJudgeTOF