This Sunday, ESPN NFL analyst Darren Woodson – a three-time Super Bowl champion, five-time Pro Bowler and 13-year NFL veteran, all with the Dallas Cowboys – will be the 21st member inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor. The former safety, who joined ESPN in 2005, tells Front Row his thoughts before he’s honored during the Seattle Seahawks-Dallas Cowboys game at AT&T Stadium.
What does it mean to be inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor?
I’m full of so much gratitude and thanks to the people that surrounded me in my time of playing: my mother being there for me, my siblings Monica, Randy and Todd always supporting me. Going through college and having a guy like Don Bocchi, who was recruiting coordinator for Arizona State and Lovie Smith, who was my position coach. These guys transformed me into a man and they molded me and sharpened me to be who I was.
Then I get drafted by the Cowboys and I see all these big names in the rafters at Texas Stadium [the Cowboys’ former home]. [Former Cowboys coach] Jimmy Johnson brought all the rookies to the middle of the field and he was talking about the history and the culture of the organization. . . I can still remember being there and saying I just want to be up there in those rafters at Texas Stadium, and here we are twenty-some years later.
What role have the Cowboys played in making you who you are?
So many great players on the defensive side of the ball sharpened me and allowed me to become the player that I was. And the relationships I had with them allowed me to be the man that I was off the field. I’m a big believer that if you want greatness or if you’re trying to get to the next level and push yourself to success, you have to be around people who are willing to push you. . . I always consider the Cowboys family because the relationships I built within that organization made me the person I am today.