Gil Brandt picks Jerry Jones to be his Hall of Fame presenter

INDIANAPOLIS -- Gil Brandt has been asked hundreds of times over the years who his favorite player was during his three decades with the Dallas Cowboys. It was a question that always had the same answer.

"It's like choosing between your own children," Brandt would say. "Who can do that?"

So, when it came time to choosing the person who would present him at his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August, Brandt applied the same sort of logic. Instead of picking from players he brought into the Cowboys organization, countless numbers he considers close friends, he went with the man who has carried the torch from what he helped build in Dallas, the man who once fired him, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

"When your career has been touched by so many great players, coaches and associates for several decades, I found it very difficult to select just one person from that list to be a Hall of Fame presenter," said Brandt, who served as the Cowboys' VP of player personnel from 1960 to 1989. "I have been blessed to work closely with so many wonderful players for so many years, and as a result, this decision was not easy. After a great amount of thought and consideration, I have asked Jerry Jones to be the presenter for my induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

"Jerry is a friend, a confidant and someone who is a leader in the National Football League. He is also a man who took the foundation and philosophies of what we built with the Dallas Cowboys and expanded the organization's original vision and visibility to higher levels that no one could have ever imagined."

When Jones purchased the Cowboys in 1988, he fired Brandt and coach Tom Landry, and accepted GM Tex Schramm's resignation. At the time, Brandt was furious over the decision to break up a front office and coaching staff that had won seven conference championships and two Super Bowls. Directly after exiting a meeting in which Jones told him the news, Brandt famously told reporters that Jones was "in over his head," a moment the two often joke about today.

As the years went by, Brandt saw his dismissal as the best thing that could have happened because it opened for him other successful pursuits that ultimately paved a clearer path for him to Canton. His accomplishments within the league after he left the Cowboys, including his efforts in helping to create the NFL scouting combine and overseeing player invitations to the draft, were as important to his Hall of Fame resume as the 29 years he spent with the Cowboys, where he introduced computers to aid in talent acquisition and developed scouting techniques that are still used by teams today.

During his Hall of Fame induction speech in 2017, Jones gave special mention to Brandt, Landry and Schramm, saying he was "deeply indebted" to all of them. In November, the Cowboys owner put Brandt into the team's Ring of Honor.

"Through my three decades with the Cowboys, 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" Brandt said. "He continues to carry the torch, not just for the franchise, but also for 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, the present and the future.

"I am thrilled that he has accepted my invitation, and I will be proud to share this moment in Dallas Cowboys history with Jerry."

For Jones, this is the fourth time he has been asked to present in Canton. Previously, he presented for former Cowboys greats Michael Irvin (2007), Emmitt Smith (2010) and Larry Allen (2013).

Irvin was a member of Brandt's penultimate draft class in 1988 and is one of nine players Brandt acquired for the Cowboys who are in the Hall of Fame. Overall, Brandt was responsible for bringing into the organization 53 players who earned a combined 178 Pro Bowl appearances.

"Short of being inducted yourself into the Hall of Fame, I believe that being asked to present someone for induction is as great an honor as anyone can accept. I was both humbled and deeply touched when Gil reached out to me with his request," Jones said. "This is a very special moment for the Dallas Cowboys. Gil's enshrinement recognizes one of the main architects of an organization that has figured prominently in the history of all professional sports in this country. He was there from the beginning, and he's still a big part of our family.

"He oversaw the acquisition of 15 of the 19 players who are currently in the Cowboys Ring of Honor. That's a group that includes two undrafted free agents in Cliff Harris and Drew Pearson, a pair of seventh-round selections in Rayfield Wright and Bob Hayes, and a 10th-round draft choice by the name of Roger Staubach. From that group, nine of those men went on to become inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"In 30 years with the Cowboys, 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.

"I am very proud to have the opportunity to share this great and well-deserved milestone with Gil, his family and millions of Dallas Cowboys fans all over the world whose lives he has touched with his contributions to this team and the NFL."

Brandt became the second of the seven newly elected members of the Hall of Fame to announce his presenter. Shortly after being elected earlier this month, Kevin Mawae said his wife, Tracy, would handle his honors.

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