By Lenny Moon
This may not be the textbook definition of what constitutes the qualities of a candidate for Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration, but merely through the lens of a journalist that’s covered the game since the 80s and been a fan since pre-school. Here goes; if a player of pro football was an impact player during his active era or as a contributor ascended the game to new heights as a result of said individual’s “contributions”. Or maybe perhaps an individual that “contributed” to the betterment of the NFL in a multitude of capacities. Enter the dignified gentleman that’s worn several hats during his 50-plus years of service to the NFL by the name of John Wooten.
Following an All-American career at the University of Colorado, Wooten was drafted in 1959 by the Cleveland Browns, where he performed until 1967 and finished with Washington in 1968 as an active National Football League player. And by the way, the all-pro offensive lineman blocked for three Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs in Cleveland (Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly). Other involvements with the NFL include Director of Pro Scouting with Dallas (1975-91) and the creation of Player Programs/ Player Development programs for the NFL in 1991. It was his work with Dallas where he assisted greatly in consummating the famous “Herchel Walker Trade” that postured the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles during the 90s. Additionally, the Riverview, Tx native served as VP/ Player Personnel for Philadelphia in 1992 and also Assistant Director, Pro/ College Scouting for Baltimore until his retirement in 1998. He would go on to serve as Co-Founder/ first Chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance in 2003. It was Wooten who brought all parties together (over 100 coaches, scouts and front office personnel of color) following the findings from a study spearheaded by famed attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri at the NFL combine that same year. For consideration of allotted space, this is only a small capsule of the massive contributions of John Wooten. Below, we provided some clips of several gentlemen that know Mr Wooten better than most including NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell, Co-Founder of the Black College Football Hall of Fame and retired NFL executive James “Shack” Harris, Pro Football Hall of Fame member Harry Carson who also served as Executive Director of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. Also, former teammate and business partner, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown (see videos below)