It started out as a simple conversation on a Sunday afternoon about 6 years ago while standing at a Torchy’s Taco Stand, waiting to order my typical plate of 3 avacado tacos. A Man notices my class ring, asks where it was from. He had graduated from Baylor, but got his MBA at East Texas State in 1988, taking classes in the ETSU Mesquite Campus, the same one where my Dad did his grad work. He had heard about the good things going on in Commerce. We started to talk Lion Football History. Wade Wilson, Sam McCord, Curtis Buckley, Kyle Mackey, among others, then the two biggest ones came up.
“Wow, so little East Texas State has produced 2 NFL Hall of Fame members?”
“Well, they should be, but they are not.”
“You mean to tell me neither Harvey Martin nor Dwight White are in the Hall of Fame? I could have sworn they were!”
“No, they are both on the all decades team and have every other accomplishment you can think of, but no, neither are in the Hall of Fame.”
The conversation switched to a mutual dislike of Jerry Jones and how Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw were lucky to have won 4 Super Bowls and other things. Then to the whole Art Briles situation, but it got me thinking.
Why are neither White nor Martin in the Hall of Fame?
First, in order to get into the Hall of Fame, there is a lot of politicking that goes into it, and I mean a lot. People who hold sway and influence make the decisions. Harvey Martin has more credentials on the professional level than Dwight White does, but White has been treated better by his NFL team. White is in the Steeler Hall of Fame, but Martin does not even make the Ring of Honor by Dallas. So, let’s take a look at what they have credential wise-
Super Bowl XII Champion
Super Bowl XII MVP
3 Time NFC Champion (Played in 3 Super Bowls)
NFL Defensive Player of The Year (1977)
First Team All-Pro (1977)
3 Time Second Team All-Pro (76, 79,82)
4 Time Pro Bowler (76, 77, 78, 79)
NFL Sacks Leader (1977)
NFL All Decade Team (1970’s)
4 Time Super Bowl Champion
Second Team All-Pro (1975)
Pro Bowl (1972, 1973)
Pittsburg Steelers All Time Team
Pittsburg Steelers Hall of Honor
Now, while you look the set of honors, Harvey Martin’s entire career, as one of the best players on the best teams in the NFL, should easily get him in Canton, Ohio. However, there is this problem, and like so many of the Cowboys problems it has to do with a self absorbed egomaniac who happens to own the team. I am of course talking about Jethro (excuse me, Jerry) Jones. The Owners of the teams are what drives players to the NFL. We all know that Jones is all about pushing guys that he (or Jimmy Johnson) has drafted into the Hall of Fame. I mean, pushing DeMarcus Ware over Harvey Martin and not even mentioning Harvey Martin? Seriously? (No offense to D-Ware, who was amazing).
Then, there is Dwight White. The Rooney family, who own the Pittsburg Steelers, are a true shining example of what an ownership team should look like. Dan Rooney said that White was “one of the best players to ever wear a Steelers Jersey.” He often lobbied for White to be considered to be in the NFL Hall of Fame and the family continues to do so.
Either way you slice it, both of these Men were two of the best defenders on two of the best teams in the 1970’s. They both won and played in multiple Super Bowls, both put a stamp on the franchises they played for, and both were well known in the NFL during the 1970’s. The deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Period.
What we need to do now as ET/TAMUC fans, is to start pushing this. And push. And push harder and even louder. We are so far behind in truly celebrating our rich history, and that has been the fault of previous gatekeepers who, as I have said before, were simply here today and gone tomorrow and not really invested in our institution. Perhaps moving to Division I will give us more of a spotlight that we have never really enjoyed. Either way, it is time to see how our allies are in this, along with who is indifferent, and then make a push to put both of these Men where they belong, in Canton, Ohio.