Countless D-Line Options Available for Cowboys in Upcoming Draft

As the 2011 Scouting Combine comes to a close in Indy, prospects are getting rearranged and reshuffled on countless draft boards, mock drafts are getting retooled, value charts and “big boards” are getting redone. It’s getting to be that time of year when we start the wild speculation about the 2011 NFL draft and start coming up with the names that we could see on the backs of those famous white Cowboys jerseys.

Since defensive line is undoubtedly the deepest position in the 2011 draft, and maybe even the best defensive line class we’ve seen in several decades, it is only fitting to start with them. Defensive line is also very much a need in Dallas this year and what a great year it is to be in the market for a stud on the defensive line. So with that, let’s take a look:

 

Nick Fairley – Defensive Tackle, Auburn

Nick Fairley is without a doubt the most impressive prospect of this very talented bunch. Anyone who watched SEC football in 2010 saw Fairley completely take over games against elite competition all season. At 6’4″ and 291 pounds, he is a player that can be plugged in at any position on the defensive line, in any defensive scheme, for the next ten years. In Dallas’ case, Fairley would probably project as a 3-4 defensive end. He ran a 4.87 40-yard dash at the combine, which is amazingly fast for a man his size. With 11.5 sacks in 2010 and a staggering 24 tackles for loss, Fairley has the skill to get into the backfield and disrupt plays and get to the quarterback. He has a non-stop motor and a nasty streak that I personally have not seen since Warren Sapp was in his prime in Tampa Bay. You can bet your bottom dollar that this guy is at the top of the wishlist in Jerry’s war room come draft day, though he is almost certain to be gone by pick #9.

 

Marcell Dareus – Defensive Tackle, Alabama

Another SEC player who turned heads in 2010 was Marcell Dareus. Though he didn’t have the eye-popping numbers that Nick Fairley did, he still produced solidly for the Crimson Tide. In the Capital One Bowl against Michigan State, Dareus was virtually unblockable the entire game. His skills are very similar to Fairley’s and the two have been compared non-stop for months. Though Dareus is a tad shorter (6’3″), and a bit heavier (319) than Fairley, I think he still projects nicely to the 3-4 defensive end spot. Though heavier than Fairley, Dareus still ran a moderately fast 40-yard dash at 4.93. I don’t know that Dareus’ pass-rushing skills are as refined as Fairley’s, but his skill set is definitely better than what the Cowboys got out of Igor Olshansky last year. I’ve heard several reports that Dareus reminds some people of Marcus Spears when he came out of LSU. While that is somewhat worrisome, I think Dareus showed at the combine that he is worthy of a top ten pick. Unlike Fairley, I think Dareus could be on the board when Dallas goes on the clock and if that’s the case, he may just become a Cowboy.

 

Cameron Jordan – Defensive End, Cal

Not many people get to watch the Pac-10 as much as the SEC during football season, and for that reason, Cam Jordan may be the best kept secret in the entire draft. Like Dareus, Jordan produced solid numbers all season. He is another guy that can easily be plugged in at a 3-4 defensive end and contribute immediately. Since he played in a 3-4 scheme at Cal, he may have a leg up on guys who have not worked in a traditional 3-4 previously. Jordan is a freakish athlete at 6’4″, 287 pounds, and ran an impressive 4.78 40-yard dash at the combine. He also has NFL bloodlines as his father Steve was a 6-time Pro Bowl tight end for the Minnesota Vikings. While I think Jordan may be a reach at #9, I could see him being a real possibility for the Cowboys if they decide to trade back to the middle of the first round.

 

Cameron Heyward – Defensive End, Ohio State

Heyward is a guy who has had the “underachiever” and “lazy” tags attached to his name throughout his college career, but anyone who watched him in the Sugar Bowl knows what kind of potential he has. Against the #8 Arkansas Razorbacks and potential first day offensive tackle prospect Demarcus Love, Heyward was completely dominant and had his name called throughout the entire game. He has a non-stop motor and like Cameron Jordan, has the skills to be a dominating force in the NFL. He has ideal 3-4 defensive end size at 6’5″, 294. He didn’t run the 40 at the combine, but look for him to post a time similar to Nick Fairley’s during Ohio State’s pro day. He is a relentless competitor when motivated and also has NFL bloodlines as the son of “Ironhead” Heyward. I can only see Heyward getting picked by Dallas if they trade down to the late first round, or if he is still available in the early second round by some amazing stroke of luck.

 

J.J. Watt – Defensive End, Wisconsin

J.J. Watt is another guy who’s stock has been soaring since the Rose Bowl against TCU. Like Dareus, Fairley, and Heyward, he looked simply unstoppable against a very talented Horned Frogs offense. Watt is extremely athletic as a converted tight end and also has the impressive measurables at almost 6’6″ and 290 pounds. He is another 3-4 defensive end that ran the 40-yard dash stunningly fast at 4.84 seconds. He posted tremendous stats for the Badgers last year with seven sacks and 21 tackles for loss, and both numbers are a tribute to his pass-rushing skills and quickness. He is a instinctive player with great intangibles who would be a fantastic fit in Dallas. Like Jordan, I can only see Dallas drafting Watt if they trade back into the middle of the first round, but I certainly don’t expect him to be available in the second round.

 

Other Prospects

 

De’Quan Bowers – Defensive End, Clemson

Bowers had a superb year for the Clemson Tigers with 25 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks. Unfortunately he projects to be a defensive end in the 4-3 and is probably too small to be a defensive end in the 3-4. Will likely be gone in the first five picks.

 

Robert Quinn – Defensive End, North Carolina

Like Bowers, Quinn is a smaller defensive end at only 6’4″, 265 and projects better as a 4-3 defensive end or possibly a 3-4 outside linebacker. Didn’t play in 2010 and has a bust factor about him. Nevertheless, he is still a top 15 pick.

 

Stephen PaeaDefensive Tackle, Oregon State

Paea set the record for most bench press reps ever at the combine with 49. He’s a bit on the short side at 6’1″ and is also fairly light for a defensive tackle at 303 pounds. Regardless of size, Paea has great versatility and strength and if he lasts into the second round, Dallas may be interested in him as a player to move around and utilize along the defensive line.

 

Muhammad Wilkerson – Defensive End, Temple

Wilkerson is an enormous athlete at 6’4″ 315 who ran a fast 40 at the combine at 4.96. Was very productive in college and projects well as a 3-4 defensive end. He could be a possibility for Dallas in the 2nd or 3rd rounds.

 

 

 

 

 

Latest from Cowboys Land with CBA about to expire

Welcome to the off-season. Here we are a week and a half away from the end of the CBA and there has been no news on the negotiations. What we do know is that the owners and players association have been meeting with federal mediator George Cohen the last few day, but have all agreed on a code of silence as far as what has been happening behind those close doors.

While the negotiations are on going for a new CBA, things with the Cowboys coaching staff have been finalized. New defensive coordinator Rob Ryan has finally spoken about his new position and has come off saying all the right things from what I’ve heard. I believe the Ryan hiring will be a positive because the Cowboys defense needed a change. I believe they became too comfortable with Wade Phillips the last few years and things became stale and predictable. With Ryan I look for an attacking defense and for him to do different things during different situations, unlike Phillips.

Other coaches joining the Cowboys are Jimmy Robinson (Asst. Head Coach/Wide Receivers), Matt Eberflus (Linebackers), Brian Baker (Defensive Line) and Mike Woicik (Strength and Conditioning). Head Coach Jason Garrett believes they have put in place the best possible coaches to get the Cowboys to the next level. From everything I’m hearing from the new coaches I’m excited to see the team in action. It was time for the Cowboys to make some changes and to get some new blood.

As far as the players, the Cowboys have some important free agents like Doug Free, Jason Hatcher, Marcus Spears, Kyle Kosier, Bryan McCann, Stephen Bowen, Allan Ball, Gerald Sensabaugh and Sam Hurd. I’m sure not all of these players will be back for the Cowboys in 2011 and a lot also depends on the new CBA and when the new deal is signed. Come March 4th no players that are scheduled to become free agents can be signed until a new deal is signed. I believe the Cowboys top priority is Doug Free and they need to get him signed. He made big strides in his first season as the starting left tackle. The offensive line needs a lot of work and Free is a good starting point.

Now, I will never claim to be an expert as far as free agency or the salary cap or anything on the business side of football, but with Sensabaugh and Ball both being free agents and neither being the answer at safety in my opinion, my question is why aren’t the Cowboys doing anything right now? Or maybe they are and the public just doesn’t know it. Three safeties were just released and can be interviewed and signed anytime between now and March 3rd. OJ Atogwe, Eugene Wilson and Bob Sanders are all on the open market right now. Why not bring them in? Atogwe was also a free agent last off-season and the Cowboys showed no interest. Again, in no way am I an expert with the business side and maybe the Cowboys have a plan, but from what I’ve seen from the safety play is that the position needs to be addressed. I can name all kind of players that I would like the Cowboys to sign, but is just me being a fan and thinking how great it would be to go on a signing spree.

One thing that is certain is that even if a new CBA agreement is not reached in the coming weeks or months is that the NFL Draft will be held April 28-30. The Cowboys currently hold the 9th overall pick. Do the Cowboys draft for need or best player available?

When it comes to the Cowboys free agents, other NFL free agents or the draft, none of that will matter if a new CBA is not signed because there won’t be a 2011 NFL season. As a fan I have gone through the 1982 strike, which wiped out seven games from the regular season schedule and the 1987 strike, which brought in scab players for three games. Both were not fun at all and I would rather not go through a third strike. Let’s hope the owners and the players can come to an agreement quickly so the Cowboys and the rest of the NFL can get back to doing what they normally do during this time of year.

Can You Guess This Cowboy?

Here’s a new feature I’d like to have some fun with this offseason. Try and guess who the Cowboys player is each week.

To get things started, this first one is very easy. In addition to the blurred image hint, you also get two other hints.

Lets see how good you are!

Hint Number One

Hint Number Two

He won the  Fred Biletnikoff Award as the best college receiver in his sophomore year, becoming only the second NCAA player ever to do it.

Hint Number Three

A spectacular touchdown catch he once made on national TV, was voted that season as the “Catch of the Year”.

I smell wood burning…

24 Larry Brown – Cornerback – 1991 – 1998

Sometimes, a great player will always be remembered because of a particular game or moment, sort of like Bobby Thomson and the Shot Heard ‘Round The World. This might be the case for this Legends of the Star, cornerback Larry Brown.

Nobody expected Larry Brown to make the team when he was originally drafted by the Cowboys in the 12th round of the 1991 NFL Draft. The smallish cornerback hailed from Texas Christian University and his numbers while in college were good, but not spectacular.

However, Larry Brown will always be remembered for his big game during Super Bowl XXX. Trailing 13-7 in the third quarter, Brown intercepted Steelers quarterback, Neil O’Donnell at the Cowboys’ 38-yard line and returned it all the way down to Pittsburgh’s 18. It was his second interception and it led to a touchdown run by Emmitt Smith.

Larry Brown’s two interceptions led to 14 second-half points and helped lift the Cowboys to their third Super Bowl victory in the last four seasons and their record-tying fifth title overall. For his efforts, he was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXX and became the first cornerback ever to win the award.

Brown became a free agent immediately after his MVP performance and signed with the Oakland Raiders, but returned to Dallas for the 1998 season, which would be his last. He retired with 14 career interceptions, 2 touchdowns, 2 fumble recoveries and was named to 2 Prow Bowls.

Larry Brown is now the co-host of “Countdown to Kickoff” on Sports Radio 1310 The Ticket, the flagship station of the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network.

21 Deion Sanders – Cornerback – 1995-1999

When you ask any football fan to name one of the most exciting, colorful, entertaining and outspoken players ever to play in the NFL, the one name that is sure to come up is that of Deion Sanders.

Neon Deion was, and still is, one of the most brightest and entertaining personalities in the NFL, only these days he does most of his entertaining straight from the broadcast booth.

Deion was destined for stardom from day one. He started out his career in 1988 when he was drafted by New York Yankees. He was then drafted the following year by the Atlanta Falcons with the fifth overall pick in the 1989 NFL Draft. He showed up wearing thousands of dollars of diamonds and gold including a flashy silk shirt embroidered with the words “Prime Time.” The name stuck with him.

Sanders had a very successful baseball career and went on to have an even better football career. He became a rare two sport star who made headlines with his play as well as his very controversial comments. He was loved and hated by millions of fans across the country.

For his first five seasons in the NFL, Deion Sanders played for the Atlanta Falcons and was the best cornerback in the league and one of the best return specialists in NFL history. He was as dynamic a player as there ever was in the game. He then signed a one-year deal with San Francisco, and became the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. His four tackles and interception helped the 49ers beat San Diego 49-26 in Super Bowl XXIX.

Soon after that, in 1995, Sanders signed a huge contract to play with the Dallas Cowboys. He was to get a $13 million dollar signing bonus, but because Jerry Jones was superstitious, he received $12,999,999.99, a penny less. With that contract, Sanders became the highest paid defensive player in the NFL and he earned every single penny of it. He could have signed for more money with the Eagles and the Raiders, but he chose the Cowboys because Jerry Jones promised Sanders that he would be able to play on offense as well as defense, the one thing Sanders wanted more than anything.

“Playing in the NFL is the ultimate high. When I get my hands on that football something crazy comes over me, it electrifies me. When I get on that field, I don’t ever want to come off that turf until the game is over and I scored the winning touchdown. I’m prime time, baby.”

Sanders was an immediate sensation on both sides of the ball. His speed and elusiveness was too much for opposing teams to handle. He was a game-breaker and helped the Cowboys march to another division title. His presence at cornerback helped the Cowboyss win the Super Bowl that season.

In that game, he became the only player in NFL history to catch a pass and make an interception in the Super Bowl.

In 1996, Sanders started all 16 games at cornerback and eight at wide receiver to become the first two-way NFL player in 34 years. But make no mistake, with eight Pro Bowl selections as a cornerback, defense is where Sanders really shined.

During his 14-year NFL career, Deion Sanders was a perennial All-Pro and one of the most feared pass defenders to ever play the game. He is still the only player to have appeared in a Super Bowl and a World Series.

On February 5, 2011, Deion Sanders reached the pinnacle of his football career and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was his first year of eligibility.

The following day, at Super Bowl XLV in Cowboys Stadium, the NFL chose Deion Sanders to perform the pre-game coin toss. Needless to say, as soon as he emerged to perform the honor, the Cowboys Stadium crowd went wild and he nearly brought the house down.

“They almost did it. They almost made old Deion cry.”

He will forever be remembered as one of the greatest athletes in all of sports, and one of the most electrifying players the NFL has ever seen. Sanders certainly lived up to his name – he was and will always be “Prime Time”.

22 Emmitt Smith – Running Back – 1990-2002

The Cowboys have had no shortage of legendary players and all-time NFL greats in their history, but only one of them comes to mind when you are asked to name the greatest player ever to wear the Dallas Cowboys uniform – yes, I’m talking about the legendary running back, Number 22, Emmitt Smith.

Easily one of the fiercest competitors of his era, Smith was the ultimate warrior on the gridiron. He was epic in stature and unsurpassed as a player.

The NFL’s all time leading rusher had it all and I’m not just talking about his enormous athletic ability. He was a great and charismatic leader, a passionate player who loved the game, a positive influence who made those around him better, and one of the classiest players that football has ever known.

Emmitt Smith burst onto the national scene while playing running back for the University of Florida. He set many school records as a Gator including their single game and season rushing records, and all of their scoring records. After three years at Florida he had scored 37 touchdowns, had 23 100-yard rushing games, was a NCAA All-American and still holds 58 school records. Emmitt opted not to complete his senior year and decided to enter the NFL draft.

After posting the worst record in franchise history at 1-15, the Cowboys drafted Emmitt Smith in the first round of the 1990 draft. Head coach Jimmy Johnson felt that Emmitt was the kind of player who could be the cornerstone of the team’s offense. He was right.

Over the next twelve seasons, Emmitt captured the hearts of Cowboy fans everywhere with his intensity and hard-nosed style of play. Together with Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman they formed the most lethal offensive punch that the game had ever seen. Emmitt Smith had real nose for the end zone and was nearly unstoppable inside the ten-yard line. During his career in Dallas, he was able to help lead the Cowboys to three Super Bowl Championships, lead the NFL in rushing four times, was the league MVP in 1993, and MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII. He was selected to eight Pro Bowls and was the first player in NFL history to rush for over 1,000 yards in 11 consecutive seasons.

Emmitt Smith now holds the NFL record in career rushing yards with 18,355, breaking the previous record held by his childhood idol, and former great, Walter Payton. Besides this prestigious record, Emmitt holds over a dozen other NFL records including the all time career rushing touchdown record with 166 scores. He is one of only two non-kickers to score over 1000 points in his career, the other being Jerry Rice.

On September 19, 2005, Emmitt Smith was enshrined in the Cowboys Ring of Honor along with his former teammates Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin – The triplets.

However, the ultimate honor would come five years later when Canton came calling and Emmitt Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2010. His legacy and his greatness will now be etched in the annals football immortality.

48 Daryl Johnston – Fullback – 1989-1999

Mooo-ooose… That was the sound that filled a packed Texas Stadium whenever Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston got his hands on the ball or laid down a key block for Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith. Johnston was built like a moose and as strong as one too.

He first gained national attention while playing for Syracuse University. He rushed for 1,830 yards and caught 46 passes during his collegiate career and once gained 138 yards rushing, the most by a Syracuse running back since Larry Csonka rushed for 154 yards in 1967. He was an All-American and All-East pick in 1988.

Johnston was drafted by the Cowboys in the second round of the 1989 NFL Draft.

On the day he arrived for his first mini camp, he was nicknamed “Moose” by former teammate Babe Laufenberg. Babe remarked, who’s that big ol’ moose over there during his first team meeting and the name stuck.

Johnston started out as a reserve, but became a full-time starter in 1991 and was a key member of the Cowboys’ three Super Bowl winning teams in 1993, 1994 and 1996. He played 12 seasons for the Cowboys before retiring in 2000. He was a fierce ball carrier but was best known for being the lead blocker for all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith.

He was also a true iron man, having never missed a game in his NFL career, playing in 143 straight games. Every time Johnston touched the ball, “Moose” chants can be heard resonating at Texas Stadium.

He finished his career catching 294 passes for 2,227 yards and 14 touchdowns, as well as 232 rushes for 753 yards and eight touchdowns. He had a career-high, 50 receptions in 1993.

In 2010, when Emmitt Smith gave his Hall of Fame induction speech, he saved his highest praise for Daryl Johnston while trying to fight back the tears and the emotion of explaining just how important Johnston was to Smith’s career.

I was happy for both Emmitt and Daryl during that emotionally charged speech that tugged on our collective heart-strings. It felt like they were both being enshrined in Canton, Ohio on that very memorable and unforgettable day.

Congratulations Neon Deion!

Deion Sanders was honorably elected to the Pro Bowl Hall of Fame last night. I don’t believe there was ever a question that he wouldn’t go on the first ballot of eligibility.

Sanders played for the Dallas Cowboys from 1995-1999. One of the best cover corners the game has ever seen as well as an explosive return man and even a wide receiver, he amazed us with his skill on all sides of the ball. While we were living high in the mid 90’s, Neon Deion helped contribute to that spectacular show we looked forward to every week.

Oh what we wouldn’t do to find a modern day Cowboy with the skills and excitement of the great ‘Prime Time’ himself! They just don’t make ’em like that anymore.

Career History

  • Atlanta Falcons (1989–1993)
  • San Francisco 49ers (1994)
  • Dallas Cowboys (1995–1999)
  • Washington Redskins (2000)
  • Baltimore Ravens (2004–2005)

Career Highlights and Awards

  • 8× Pro Bowl selection (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999)
  • 6× First Team All-Pro selection (1992, 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998)
  • 2× Second Team All-pro selection (1991, 1999)
  • 2× Super Bowl champion (XXIX, XXX)
  • AP Defensive Player of the Year (1994)
  • 2× NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1993, 1994)
  • Pro Bowl Record in Interceptions in career (4) tied with Everson Walls
  • Jim Thorpe Award (1988)
  • NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
  • 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee

Congratulations Mr. Sanders! Enjoy being back in the spotlight as we know you will, but it’s okay you deserve it!

74 Bob Lilly – Defensive Tackle – 1961-1974

Many great players have worn the Dallas Cowboys uniform with pride and distinction during the teams glorious 50 year history. None however, can lay claim to the ultimate team nickname, “Mr. Cowboy” save one, the great Bob Lilly.

Though there are many current and former Cowboys who deserve their due recognition for helping the Dallas Cowboys become and maintain the title of “America’s Team”, a strong case can be made that if not for Bob Lilly, it may have never happened.

Bob Lilly is considered by most fans to be the best Defensive Tackle in Cowboy history. A fact that cannot be disputed.

That said, it’s only a small part of Lilly’s amazing legacy and the impact he made on a young franchise that would soon become one of the juggernauts of the NFL.

Bob Lilly was born in 1939 and went to Texas Christian University where he became a star defensive end and was named to the All-America team. As part of this honor he received a camera as one of his awards, a gift that would surely impact the rest of his life.

In 1961 Bob was drafted with first overall pick by the Dallas Cowboys, thus becoming the first ever draft pick in franchise history. He would not disappoint.

Though he was originally drafted as a defensive end, in his third year with the Cowboys, coach Tom Landry switched his position to defensive tackle where he would become one of the best at his position in the NFL for many years to come.

“The competition is what I love,” Lilly once said. “That makes me a lot more intense. Personalities don’t enter into it at all. My objective is to get the man with the ball. Nobody better get in my way.”

Lilly was a punishing defender and his tough demeanor and sheer determination made him the undisputed leader of the Cowboys’ famous “Doomsday Defense’. Lilly was so unstoppable, that he was regularly double and triple teamed for the majority of his career.

He was selected to the Pro Bowl a then record 11 times between 1962 and 1973, and Lilly was also a seven time first team All Pro selection.

During his long 14 year Hall of Fame career he was as durable as they came missing only one game to a leg injury.

Lilly was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, his first year of eligibility, and was the first player who spent his entire career with the Cowboys to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He is a member of the All Century Team and in 1999 was ranked number 10 on the “100 Greatest Football Players” by the Sporting News. Sports Illustrated calls him the greatest Defensive Tackle in NFL history.

In addition to being the Cowboys’ first ever draft pick, when all was said and done, “Mr. Cowboy” would also become the first player ever to be inducted into the “Ring of Honor”. He is the only Dallas Cowboy to wear the #74, and is the only number unofficially retired by the team.

“A man like that comes along once in a lifetime,” late Cowboys head coach Tom Landry once said. “He is something a little bit more than great. Nobody is better than Bob Lilly.”

A true iron man, Lilly is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in consecutive games played at 196, is tied for second with 14 seasons played and second all-time with 194 games started. Lilly led the Cowboys in sacks three consecutive years, beginning with his rookie season. No player ever to wear the Cowboys uniform was more deserving of the name Mr. Cowboy.

Cowboys Fans Supporting Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium

Are you still mad about the 2010 Cowboys season? Well, a great friend of mine said something the other day that really stuck with me.

She said:

I am really excited for our metroplex and what hosting a Super Bowl means for the local economy. Really hoping it turns out so well we can win another SB bid. I am the biggest Cowboys Fan you can find but I am happy to host these fans of these other teams who earned their way to this game and wish them all good luck.

I would like to see other people around here thinking the same way and being grateful for what this is doing for our community and for our stadium. Let’s be good sports and welcoming hosts. We are Dallas Cowboys fans and we have class and pride. Let’s show it.

So we didn’t make it (not even close), but we still have the responsibility of hosting the biggest game in the business. We can be proud and still be respectful and show good sportsmanship.

Hey, I don’t want the Steelers to win another trophy either and I’m not saying we have to root for them to win but we can be civil and not act like our rivals up in the city of brotherly love… yeah, you know who I’m talking about.

Everyone has the right to their own opinion, this is just mine (and my buddy Tiffany’s). If you share our view on this year’s Super Bowl, here are some buttons for you to use as you please. Use them as your profile picture on your favored social network or IM, use them on your own blog, or any other way you choose.

Share and enjoy!

A New Season, A New Era

The playoffs are over, the big game is set, and honestly, I wish it was already over.  We all had big hopes for this season and although we didn’t get to see our dream come true…playing in the Super Bowl in our own house, we did finally get a few changes made that were desperately needed.  Wade is gone, Garrett is in…a new era, a new time, a new passion, and much needed discipline. 

Garrett brings in a Johnson-esque style of discipline requiring the players to be more responsible; they actually have to show up on time for practice, no more wandering in whenever they feel like it.  No more showing up or traveling in clothes that are unbefitting America’s Team, they now once again have to look the part.  Full pad practices during the regular season, and big new flashing red digital clocks installed to remind the players the importance of being on time and that there are consequences if they’re not.  Garrett has put a work ethic back into the team and let the players know that the lazy days under Wade are gone, and if they want to play for this team, they had better start earning it.

Since Garrett took over the team, also gone is the average of 20 points per game and fans wondering where their team was and when they would show up.  We all got a glimpse of the team we know and love and were able to cheer on their average of 32 points per game, giving us all hope for the future.

There are a lot of questions and rumors flying about why Garrett didn’t make some of these changes to his offense, since he was in charge of them before he was promoted to the head coach position.  You have to look at the big picture to find that answer.  Although he did call the plays and hope for the execution, he can’t do it all himself.  The players have to want to make it better, want to make it work, and care about their team again.  That has come from the culture change that has been instilled since Garrett took over.  With players showing up to actually play and wanting to make a difference and keep their job, the level of play on offense and defense goes up.  Turn overs are down, penalties are down, allowed sacks are down, and big plays are up.  Now that’s a change we needed to see.

All of this gives us hope for the new season and the future of our team, America’s Team, now and forever!  I say bring it on!!

70 Rayfield Wright – Offensive Tackle – 1967-1979

Many people never thought Rayfield Wright had any chance of making it in the NFL. For Rayfield, this was nothing new. He has been defying the odds ever since he was a child growing up in poverty in the deep south.

After lettering in basketball in high school, he went to Fort Valley State University where he was named All-American. In 1967, he was drafted by the Cowboys in the 7th round and his prospects of making the team were slim at best. However, he forced his way onto the team through his hard work and sheer determination, and for the first three years of his career, he was used in a variety of roles that included tight end, defensive lineman, and offensive tackle.

In 1969 he got his big break when he replaced an injured Ralph Neely at offensive tackle. He would never look back. For the next 11 seasons Rayfield Wright started at right tackle and became one of the best players at his position ever to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

He was selected to the Pro Bowl for six straight seasons, but Cowboys fans best remember Rayfield for helping to lead the team to five Super Bowls and winning two of them. Only one other player in NFL history has appeared in more Super Bowls than Wright, and he is one of only 13 players in NFL history to have played in five Super Bowls.

While he was on the team the Cowboys led the league in offense five times. He was the co-captain of the Cowboys for seven years and helped the team win ten division titles and six conference titles.

In 2004, the Dallas Cowboys inducted Rayfield Wright into the Ring of Honor, and two years later in 2006, he was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.