Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry is carried off the field on the shoulders of his players after they defeated Miami Dophins 24-3 to win Super Bowl VI in New Orleans, La., Sunday, Jan. 16, 1972. The players are Bob Hayes (22), Rayfield Wright (70) and Mel Renfro (20). (AP Photo) ORG XMIT: APHS155

Football

Texas countdown to football: 6 Longhorns in a hall of fame

Posted August 11th, 2016

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University of Texas player Doug English - University of Texas Athletics Department photo
University of Texas player Doug English – University of Texas Athletics Department photo

The football season is approaching fast, and Texas fans are getting excited. Counting today, there are 24 days until the start of the football season. To help celebrate, we’re counting down five things every day until the start of the season.

Bret Favre and a handful of others were inducted into the Hall of Fame last week, It was supposed to be capped off with the first NFL preseason game, but Canton had other plans.

But the speeches made us think: Who are some Longhorns in a football hall of fame? Well, there are 18 Longhorns in the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta. There are four Longhorns in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and there countless Longhorns in the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame. 

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But how many are in at least two of these halls of fame? This answer is 11, with two in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the College Football Hall of Fame and the Texas Football Hall of Fame. We’re going to single out six players, but first here are five players enshrined in both the Texas and college football halls of fame:  Chris Gilbert (UT from 1966-68), Harrison Stafford (1930-32), Jerry Gray (1981-84),  Roosevelt Leaks (1972-74) and Steve McMichael (1976-79).

6. Doug English,  1972-74

The defensive lineman from Dallas Bryan Adams High School is in the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame after being a two-way all-district player and a high school All-American. In college, English was a force for a talented defense that helped Texas to two Southwest Conference titles. He was an All-American in 1974 and was named the team MVP. In 2011, English entered the College Football Hall of Fame.  English played for the Detroit Lions from 1975-79 and 1981-85 and went to four Pro Bowls. He is in the Lions Hall of Fame. 

5. Jerry Sisemore, 1970-72

Sisemore played high school football at Plainview High School where he was a two-time All-District player on both sides of the ball. He went onto become an All-American offensive lineman for the Longhorns and helped the team to the 1970 National Championship. Then Sisemore was drafted by the Eagles in 1973 and played 12 years for the Eagles and earned two Pro Bowl appearances. He is member of the College and Texas football halls of fame as well as the Eagles Hall of Fame.

4. Tommy Nobis, 1963-65

9/27/08 Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN; Texas legendary players Bobby Layne and Tommy Nobis had their numbers retired in a ceremony at halftime before a large crowd in the Horns victory over Arkansas 52-10. Nobis accepts his jersey at right as Layne's son Alex Layne, left, accepts for the Layne family.
9/27/08 Ralph Barrera/AMERICAN-STATESMAN; Texas legendary players Bobby Layne and Tommy Nobis had their numbers retired in a ceremony at halftime before a large crowd in the Horns victory over Arkansas 52-10. Nobis accepts his jersey at right as Layne’s son Alex Layne, left, accepts for the Layne family.

A few posts ago I made one Longhorn fan in the office roll their eyes when I floated the idea that Derrick Johnson could make a case for “greatest Longhorn linebacker ever.” As this Longhorn fan pointed out, most fans who know Longhorn history consider Tommy Nobis to be the greatest UT linebacker ever. And it’s hard to top Nobis. The San Antonio Jefferson High School alum known as “Big Red” averaged 15 solo tackles game as a senior and was All-District, All-City and All-State player. He was named the top high school lineman in the state of Texas during the 1960s by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine. At Texas, Nobis helped the Longhorns to the 1963 National Championship and won the Maxwell and Outland awards. He was named to Sports Illustrated’s College Football All-Century Team.

Then he was drafted No. 1 overall by the Atlanta Falcons. In Atlanta, Nobis went to five Pro Bowls in 10 seasons and earned the nickname in “Mr. Falcon.”

It’s unsurprising that Nobis is in the Texas and college football halls of fame. Nor is it surprising that Mr. Falcon is a member of the team’s Ring of Honor, being apart of the organization’s first class in 2004. What is surprising is that  Nobis is a member of the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade Team but not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame (more eyerolls from my aforementioned Longhorn fan co-worker).

3. Tom Landry, 1946-48

Hailing from Mission High School, Landry was “All-Regional.” He went to Texas, then the war happened so he joined the Air Force, returned to Austin and went on to be a co-captain of the football team in 1947 and 1948. He was the punter and a defensive back. Then he gave coaching a try and went on to become one of the greatest and most influential football coaches in the history of the game, leading the Dallas Cowboys for decades until Jerry Jones… we won’t mention it.

Landry is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining the hall in 1990. In 29 seasons as a coach, Landry won two Super Bowls, won 270 games and had 20 straight winning seasons. He was the coach of the Cowboys from 1960-1988.

2. Earl Campbell, 1974-1977

UT photo of Texas' 1940s quarterback, Bobby Layne. Photo credit: The Univerisity of Texas at Austin. Pic received on 9/2/05. ORG XMIT:
UT photo of Texas’ 1940s quarterback, Bobby Layne. Photo credit: The University of Texas at Austin. Pic received on 9/2/05. ORG XMIT:

One of two Longhorns to make the hall of fame at every level. Campbell is a Heisman Trophy winner and was the all-time leading rusher at Texas for more than 20 years until Ricky Williams surpassed him. He rushed for 4,443 yards in college. In high school, the “Tyler Rose” led Tyler High School in rushing and went for 2,036 yards rushing during John Tyler High School’s 15-0 state championship season in 1973. He was named the high school football player of the decade for the 1970s.

In the NFL and after being drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Oilers, Campbell rushed for 9,407 yards and 74 touchdowns, making five Pro Bowls and winning Rookie of the Year. He needed just eight season to have a Pro Football Hall of Fame career. In 1999 (really, it took 14 years for this to happen?) Campbell was inducted into the Tennessee Titans/Houston Oilers Hall of Fame.

1.Bobby Layne, 1944-47

I’ll go out on a limb and say that the only reason Layne, a quarterback, isn’t as more well-known by Longhorn fans as some other contemporaries is because he played in the 1940s. But Bobby Layne just may be the greatest Longhorn football player of all-time. He’s certainly one of the most decorated. Layne was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1968, the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967 and is a member of the Detroit Lions hall of fame. Oh yeah, he’s also in the Texas Football Hall of Fame.

Layne came from Highland Park High School where his teammate was Doak Walker, the Doak Walker. He became a star player for the Longhorns in the 1940s, where he helped Texas to a conference title.  The All-American left campus holding 11 team records.

In the NFL he led the Lions to four division titles and three NFL titles in the 1950s (think of him as the 1950s version of Tom Brady) in 1952, 1953 and 1957. His last-second touchdown pass in the 1953 NFL title game against the Cleveland Browns is one of the most famous plays in Lions history as the team won 17-16. He was the NFL scoring champ in 1956 and was All-NFL two times and second team four times. He played 15 seasons in the NFL.

 

 

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