Now that the Cowboys have lost most of their inflated egos and high maintenance players, some new leaders are beginning to emerge. I’m not talking about leaders like we had before who dominated the clubhouse by pointing fingers, playing the blame game, and causing division in the locker room. When I say leaders, I’m talking about players like Jay Ratliff who’s voice was drowned out for two seasons because of the presence of more vocal yet less deserving so-called leaders.
Jay Ratliff, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten may not have had much to say in the last 12 months as the last season unfolded and imploded before our very eyes, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Ever since the Cowboys cleaned house this off season, a new theme is resonating throughout the collective minds of all the players. It’s a brand new “team first” mentality, and it’s that kind of thinking that can bring a team together. It’s the kind of stuff that championships are made of.
I read a great article yesterday by Steve Wyche of NFL.com who profiled Jay Ratliff.
Here are some quotes from Jay Ratliff, taken from that article:
“The first thing I did was forget about last season,” Ratliff said. “The Pro Bowl was a reward for last season. After that game was over, I put it behind me. I’m back to being a regular guy.”
The goal, Ratliff said, is for everyone else to realize that they are regular guys. The fifth-year pro admitted that the abundance of egos and occasional petty behavior were disruptive traits that kept Dallas (9-7) out of the playoffs.
If the Cowboys are to live up to their potential, he said individual agendas have to be swept aside.
“We have seen the bad and the ugly,” Ratliff said. “It’s time for some good now. The way I look at it, we have too much talent to just be an average team or not making the playoffs. More than anything, we work too hard. We have to apply it on the field. We have to put egos aside and all the small stuff and whatever you did the year before, whether you have a small name or a big name, and put it aside.
Ratliff is just one of many players on our team that are beginning to emerge as leaders. It is players like Ratliff who can make a real difference “on the field”, by what he says and does “off the field”.
If you want to succeed in the NFL you have to embrace the concept of team spirit and unity, and Ratliff has certainly done that.
“Let’s just be a team more than anything. That’s my goal. I’m going to go out and work hard to produce, but I’m not going to make it about me. We want everybody to be comfortable and approachable and to have a good relationship with each other. Once we get that, we’ll be one of the best teams in the league.”
When I think about what lies ahead for the Cowboys this season, I literally get goosebumps all over. There is a sense of something special going into this season that I haven’t felt in a long, long time.
I am so encouraged by the class of individuals we brought in from the NFL Draft. Solid players, with great skills and a burning desire to make it in the NFL.
I am excited about some of the new players who joined us as free agents this season. No prima donnas, just blue-collar guys with grit who know how to play the game the right way.
I am looking forward to seeing last years part time players step forward in their new roles as starters and meet the challenges that lie ahead. Guys who are ready to step up and become the new faces of the franchise.
We have a wonderful mix of hard working, enthusiastic, young players and a great blend of savvy veterans who are the best at their positions.
The talent has always been there for the Cowboys, but now for the first time since Bill Parcells left, I see a team that is finally ready to blow away all those lofty expectations.
I see a team that is not just playoff caliber on paper, but playoff caliber in dedication, intensity, and team chemistry. This team is driven. I could never really say that about the Cowboys in the last two seasons. However, now I have no problem saying it and meaning it!
This season, the Cowboys are playing to win. So hang on to your seats, get ready to be blown away, and take in all the exhilarating thrills of a new Cowboys season.