The NFL announced the 2023 Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists on January 4, and the list includes three Cowboys stars from decades past.
Fifteen finalists have been selected, but only four to eight players will make the final cut and be announced the Saturday before the Super Bowl.
The players selected to join the Hall of Fame will be enshrined during the week leading up to the first preseason games of 2023, highlighted by the Hall of Fame Game played on the first Thursday of the preseason in Canton, Ohio.
Among the players selected as finalists are three former Cowboys players who left indelible marks on the franchise. The biggest names from Cowboys lore to get a shot at joining the 362 existing Gold Jacket members, which includes 29 former Cowboys, are DeMarcus Ware, Darren Woodson, and senior finalist Chuck Howley.
Zach Thomas — who spent most of his time in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins but wrapped up his career as a member of America’s Team — is also a finalist this year.
The Cowboys drafted Darren Woodson in 1992 out of Arizona State. The rangy safety made a name for himself as someone who could cover both run and pass situations and was known as one of the NFL’s hardest-hitting players.
Woodson could tackle with purpose and tremendous speed, clocking a 4.35-second 40-yard dash. The five-time Pro Bowl player contributed to the Cowboys winning three Super Bowls in his first four seasons.
Woodson was first selected as a nominee for the Hall of Fame in 2011, three years after becoming eligible. He was selected to the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 2015.
He was inducted into the Arizona State University Hall of Fame in 2005 and became a member of the Arizona Sports Hall of Fame in 2009.
DeMarcus Ware was selected in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Troy University. He would become one of the most dominant linebackers ever to play the sport and still holds numerous league and franchise records.
He played nine seasons with Dallas before spending two seasons with the Denver Broncos, where he was a member of the Super Bowl 50 winning team.
Ware finished his career with 117 sacks (Cowboys franchise record), 32 forced fumbles (Cowboys franchise record), 145 tackles-for-loss (Cowboys franchise record), and 185 QB hits (Cowboys franchise record).
He led the league in sacks two times in his career and missed just three games while a member of the Cowboys.
Howley began his career with the Chicago Bears but starred for the Cowboys from 1961 to 1973. The linebacker was the most valuable player of Super Bowl V — the Cowboys’ first title game appearance — and earned five consecutive first-team All-Pro honors in addition to six Pro Bowl selections. Howley is the only player to win a Super Bowl MVP on a losing team.
Other notable finalists include tackle Joe Thomas, cornerback Darrelle Revis, and defensive end Dwight Freeney.
Thomas was a 10-time Pro Bowl selection and a six-time first-team All-Pro while playing his entire 11-season career with the Cleveland Browns.
Revis was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a four-time first-team All-Pro whose coverage skills launched the “Revis Island” moniker. He played for four teams in his 11-year career, winning a Super Bowl in 2014 with the New England Patriots, but he is most known for his time with the New York Jets.
Freeney was a seven-time Pro Bowl selection and a three-time first-team All-Pro who was part of the Indianapolis Colts’ 2006 Super Bowl-winning team. He also led the NFL in sacks in 2004.
Voting for the Hall of Fame selections is done through a selection committee comprised of 33 sports writers representing each of the 32 teams, plus one additional voter and 16 at-large delegates.