Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

As the Cowboys took a 24-10 lead on the NY Jets at the start of the fourth quarter last night all seemed good in the world. After that the world came crashing down as the Cowboys were outscored 17-0 by the Jets and lost 27-24. I understand it’s the first game of the season and I understand that sometimes things like this happen. But Tony Romo has made a habit of making bad decisions at important times during games.

We can start with Romo’s decision to dive short of the goal line on 3rd down when the Cowboys were ahead 24-17 and about nine minutes left in the game. Romo fumbled and the Cowboys came away with no points. I understand he wanted a touchdown on that play, but better decisions need to be made. If nothing was there for him then simply throw it out of the end zone. Then attempt a short field goal, which if made would have put them up by ten points, 27-17.  As the quarterback smart decisions need to be made in that situation. Sure as a fan and a writer I can sit here and say what I thought he should have done, but it has been too often in his career that Romo has made bad decisions that have put his team in bad situations. 

Lets move to when the score was tied 24-24. The Cowboys were sitting at their own 41 yard line with 59 seconds left to play. Plenty of time to position themselves for a game winning field goal attempt. On first down Romo rolls to his right and throws a pass right at Darrelle Revis who easily intercepts the pass in front of Dez Bryant. That of course led to Nick Folk kicking the game winning field goal for the Jets. What would make Romo decide to throw that pass? He must have seen Revis standing there. It wasn’t like Revis made a great play or stepped in front of Bryant. It’s just another example of a bad decision that has plagued Romo for just about his whole career.

I will also add this while I’m at it. Regarding the touchdown pass from Romo to Miles Austin. Let’s be honest! It was a pass that went directly to Antonio Cromartie. If it wasn’t for Austin ripping the ball away from Cromartie it would have been an interception for a touchback.

Tony Romo has had many good games since becoming the Cowboys starting quarterback in 2006, but far too often he has shown that he is careless with the football at crucial times and ends up hurting the team. I’m not going to write that he doesn’t care about winning because I’m sure he does. He’s not out there working hard every day because he has nothing better to do. He is out there because he loves the game and wants to win. He needs to be smarter and make better decisions at important times during games. 

Elite quarterbacks make good decisions that put their teams in a position to win games. They are not careless with the football. Maybe Romo is all he can be at quarterback. Maybe he is at the highest level he can achieve. But how long should the Cowboys stay patient and wait to see if there another level of play?  Does Tony Romo have a championship level like Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Ben Roethlisberger? As a fan it’s beyond frustrating and it’s at a point where you are not waiting to see if Romo makes a bad decision, but wondering when Romo will make a bad decision that will hurt his team again.

The Cowboys Reflect On 9/11

What an emotionally charged evening it will be tonight when the Cowboys take on the New York Jets on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. had a nice tribute piece compete with video that is definitely worth a look.

They also have four narratives from current Cowboys who were very close to the events of that fateful day. Here are two of them.

Jesse Holley, Roselle, N.J.

“I was at school when it happened, and every TV in the school suddenly was on the news. You know how things go, there were whispers all over the school, and every classroom you went into was just complete silence. All the teachers stopped their lesson plans, everybody stopped what they were doing, and we were locked onto the TV in each classroom, just watching and praying for everybody that was there, and checking on your family members that might have been in that area to see if they were OK.

“Being that close to the city, it was a scary situation because you didn’t know when the next one was going to come. You didn’t know where it was coming from. You just hoped that it was the end of the madness for that day.

“That afternoon we went out to the practice field for football practice, and you could still see the smoke coming from the buildings all the way in Roselle, N.J.

“It was hard to concentrate. We had a couple of guys whose moms, dads, brothers actually worked in the city, so we were trying to conduct practice that day, but it was a situation that you just couldn’t even focus on the matter at hand. At that time we just wanted to come together as a group and try to be together, make sure nobody was apart. If you had a situation or problem you were able to get some help and have some guys around you.

“I remember we had one kid on our team whose brother was an FBI agent, and actually worked in the city. He was a really good friend of mine, and he was really down. It just so happened that his brother was running late that morning going to work, and didn’t make it into the city on time, was on his way to work when it happened. And that was a blessing because if he had been at work he would’ve been right there at Ground Zero. He wouldn’t be here today.

“I just remember it vividly. You can still smell the smoke. It’s something that you’ll never forget, a lasting memory that you’ll have forever. It was a horrific situation, one I hope we never have to relive.”

Jason Garrett, Manhattan
“We played Denver on Monday night, in Denver, Sept. 10. My memory of that is it was a rough game for us. Eddy McCaffrey, the receiver for Denver, tore his ACL and was going to be out for the year. Morten Andersen was our kicker, and he missed an extra point because the holder didn’t get the ball placed properly. He came over to me on the sideline and said, ‘You’re holding next week.’

“We got back to the Newark airport at, say, 5 o’clock in the morning, and I was living in the city. So we took a bus from the airport to our complex, and then I drove into the city. My memories are the big story on the radio that morning was Michael Jordan coming back from retirement. I probably got back to my apartment at 7, and my wife and I watched the Today Show for a half hour, and I went to sleep. Now it’s Tuesday, we’re working the next day, I’ll catch up on some sleep on the day off. Probably an hour or so later the sirens going past my windows were just unbelievable.

“We lived at 79th and West End, and West End is a quiet street commercially, even though there’s always noise in New York. But it was just ridiculous, siren after siren. I wake up kind of, ‘What is going on?’ At that time we got a phone call, and Eric Bjornson, who used to play here, a good buddy of mine, called from California and said, ‘Are you guys OK?’ We’re like, ‘What do you mean, OK?’

“‘Turn the TV on.’

“So we did, and probably a half an hour later the second plane went in. You’re watching it on TV, probably four or five miles from the site, and it all feels like a movie. Looking at it on the screen, it doesn’t feel like it’s real life right outside your window. I have a number of friends who worked down in that Wall Street area, in and around those building, so the first inclination is, are those guys OK? You try to make the phone calls and you can’t get through to anybody.

“One of the most interesting memories I have is that the weather was so beautiful that day and that entire week. Just beautiful blue sky, you couldn’t describe it unless you saw it. And then you see people coming from Lower Manhattan north, just walking with their briefcases, north, away from the whole thing. In my mind their suits are kind of tattered. Sometimes your mind kind of conjures those things, but that’s my memory, everybody coming from the south to the north. People were very much in a daze.

“My memory is they didn’t officially cancel or postpone that week’s games until like Thursday, which was ridiculously long given the circumstance. And then when you’re in the city, at different points, you’re not allowed to leave. They’re blocking all the bridges and tunnels. Those logistics of life crept in quickly.

“I played a couple more years with the Giants. Immediately it was an incredibly emotional time. The number of people killed in the tragedy was so pervasive. The firemen, the policemen, all the people you saw on a daily basis were affected by it, and indirectly you were affected by it. It was just really, really emotional and sad.

“But then after that, my memories are of a sense of pride in how people responded to it. I remember immediately afterward there was a call to go give blood. And by the time we went to do it, 24, 48 hours later, they were saying we don’t need any more. People rallied around and were supportive of each other. It’s such a diverse place, but you got the feeling everyone was unified in their response.

“During such a tragic time, the immediate response was just so great, loving and caring and compassionate. Those are my memories as much as anything else. And then it fades from memory a little bit, but I don’t think it faded there. It was in the forefront of everybody’s mind for a long time.”

Cowboys Sign Jason Witten To 5-Year Extension

As first reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Dallas Cowboys have signed seven-time Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten to a five-year contract extension.

The report has now been confirmed by Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.

The Dallas Cowboys on Sunday made sure tight end Jason Witten would be a Cowboy for life with a five-year contract extension. A source familiar with the deal told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter the deal is worth $37 million and includes $19 million guaranteed.

Witten’s deal comes two days after the club signed Jay Ratliff to a five-year extension worth $40 million. The Cowboys and Witten concluded the deal at the team’s Newark hotel late Saturday night.

Like Ratliff, Witten had two years left on his contract and was not scheduled to hit the open market until 2013. He signed a seven-year, $29.5 million deal in 2006 that included $12 million guaranteed, which was the most at the time for a tight end.

Witten commented on the extension via Twitter this morning and said:

“I am blessed to say that I will retire a cowboy!Thx to the jones family, and all the cowboy staff! True honor to put on the star!! #gameday,” he wrote.

Witten, 29, is coming off a 94-catch, 1,002-yard season in 2010 in which he also had a career-high nine touchdowns. By next season, he could become the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receptions.

A Bad Ending for A Great Prospect!

In watching the pre-season games this year a few names have stood out, but the one I was really excited about was Raymond Radway.  It seemed he had what it took to win a spot on the roster and in the final 3 seconds of preseason, his year abruptly ended with a bad break. 

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Raymond Radway was perhaps three seconds away from making the Cowboys’ 53-man roster. Radway, the undrafted rookie wide receiver from McKinney, suffered a broken left fibula and tibia and will have surgery immediately after the team returns to Dallas.

ESPN reports that Radway’s fibula and tibia are broken.  I hate to see anyone on either team hurt in a game I’m watching but in looking at that play, I could tell it was going to be a bad one!  God speed Radway!  We hope you have a fast recovery, and look forward to seeing you out there again in a Cowboys uniform!

Young Offensive Linemen Lead Youthful Influx for Cowboys

What a difference a year (and a lockout) makes.

If there is one position on this football team that has impressed me this preseason, it has been the youngsters along the offensive line.

If you would have told me that, leading into the season opener, Kyle Kosier would possibly be the most experienced player along Dallas’ offensive line, I would have asked you if winning football games was your primary motive.

Jason Garrett and Jerry Jones knew they had to inject some youth into the offensive line, a unit that was embarrassingly pedestrian in a disappointing 6-10 campaign last season.

Enter rookies Tyron Smith, David Arkin, Bill Nagy, and undrafted free agent Phil Costa.

The drafting of three rookie linemen single-handedly pushed two starters from the year before (Leonard Davis and Mark Colombo) off the roster.  That number could turn to three if Nagy and Arkin continue to outplay Montrae Holland.  Now it appears that little-known Phil Costa is set to make all-pro center Andre Gurode a backup, or push him off the roster altogether.

There has been one ever-present flaw on this team the past ten years, and it’s been their inability to draft and develop young talent on the offensive line.  It’s now possible that Dallas has four future starting offensive linemen to groom.

Tyron Smith looks to be exactly what the Cowboys thought he would be when they drafted him 10th overall.  At a young twenty years old, the sky is the limit for him from a talent perspective.

David Arkin seems to be developing nicely since arriving from tiny Missouri State.  If he continues down the path he’s on now, he could turn into the mauler with a mean streak that the Cowboys offensive line desperately needs.

The biggest surprise of this rookie group has to be Bill Nagy.  He has certainly exceeded expectations for a late round pick that never played much at Wisconsin.  It will speak volumes for him talent wise if he is starting at left guard on September 11.

Finally that brings us to Phil Costa.  An undrafted free agent brought in last year as nothing more than a camp body.  Costa quickly impressed, and now a year later has likely fought his way into the starting lineup.

I love what the Jason Garrett regime is doing so far.  They are making it known that no player is a lock to make the roster.  Guys who were previously guarantees to make the team (Keith Brooking, Montrae Holland, Andre Gurode, Igor Olshansky, Tashard Choice) are now in serious jeopardy of becoming expendable thanks to the great training camps of youngsters.

I don’t think anyone expected these young guns on the offensive line to play as well as they have this quickly.  Imagine an offensive line that consists of a 27-year old Doug Free, a 32-year old Kyle Kosier, a 24-year old Phil Costa, a 20-year old Tyron Smith, and some combination of 23-year olds David Arkin and Bill Nagy.  Now that’s what I call an infusion of youth, and a great preamble for the future.

Cowboys Extra Points: Scandrick’s Big Deal, Brooking Okay, Buehler Hates New Rule

Here are some team notes from around the web and ESPN and

LB Keith Brooking is not sure he will play Saturday at Minnesota, but the veteran linebacker would like to. “Is it an absolute necessity? I don’t think so,” Brooking said. “I’m going to feel comfortable either way.” Brooking practiced for the second straight day after missing roughly three weeks with a hamstring strain.

Cornerback Mike Jenkins participated in team drills Wednesday for the first time since suffering a stinger. Jenkins had been limited to walkthroughs and individual drills since he suffered the injury during the second week of training camp. “He looked like he never left today, which is good,” secondary coach Dave Campo said. “That means he stayed on top of things.” The Cowboys are confident that Jenkins, a Pro Bowler in 2009, can bounce back from an extremely disappointing 2010 campaign.

QB Jon Kitna was shaking his right hand and looking at his fingers after a defensive lineman grabbed Kitna’s arm as he was throwing. That’s a major no-no. Quarterbacks are not supposed to be touched.

WR Dez Bryant successfully executed a double reverse with WR Kevin Ogletree. His first two attempts in camps ended up in fumbles because he was flipping the ball too fast and far. WR Dwayne Harris was a big part of the first team offense’s work Wednesday. His best grab came on the sideline when he took in a Romo throw after out-jumping CB Mario Butler for the completion.

David Buehler is not pleased with the rule changes in the kickoffs in 2011. Kickoffs have been moved to the 35, making touchbacks all the more likely. Buehler had 51 touchbacks in his first two seasons. “I think they’re changing the rules too much,” Buehler said. “Football is getting kind of soft with Goodell making all the rule changes and everything like that. It gets kind of boring just seeing touchbacks all the time. I obviously want that but the ideal fan doesn’t want that. They want to see the run out, the big collisions and everything like that.”

CB Orlando Scandrick understands that the expectations increase as his money multiplies. That excites him. Scandrick has consistently performed well throughout training camp, instilling belief in the coaching staff that he’s capable of starting. But he had his best practice Wednesday, blocking a field goal, picking off a deep ball and breaking up several passes. That performance occurred as the ink was drying on Scandrick’s new $27 million dollar extension.

Pre-Season Game #2 – San Diego Chargers at Dallas Cowboys

Howdy Cowboys fans… The Silver and Blue will host the San Diego Chargers tonight at Cowboys Stadium in the second game of the preseason. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM and will be broadcast nationally on NBC.

Updated Injury Report

Status Changed 






Miles Austin 


Out, day-to-day 


Jon Kitna 


Returned to practice  

Status Unchanged

David Buehler 


Out indefinitely 

Montrae Holland 


Out, day-to-day 


DeMarco Murray 


Non-football injury list 


Tashard Choice 


Out, day-to-day 


Keith Brooking 


Expected to practice Tuesday 


Mike Jenkins 


Limited but practicing 


Bruce Carter 


Non-football injury list 


Teddy Williams 


Out indefinitely 

Kai Forbath 


Non-football injury list 


Terence Newman 


Out four weeks 

What To Expect Tonight

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said he expects the starters will receive more work in Sunday’s game with San Diego than they got in the preseason opener last week against Denver.

“They played a long series on each side of the ball against Denver and got into that eight-10-12-play mentality,” Garrett said. “We’ll probably go longer than that. I can’t guarantee you a play number, but we just anticipate them playing longer. Hopefully, they will go into the second quarter and double the snaps.”

Five Things To Look For In Preseason Game #2

Clarence E. Hill Jr. of the Star-Ledger with a good primer on what we should look for.

1. Scandrick’s starting bid

Orlando Scandrick has been the Cowboys’ nickel corner the past three seasons, but he’s in the last year of his contract and understands his future income will increase if he is considered a starting-caliber cornerback. Scandrick certainly sees this as another opportunity to prove he can be a starter on the outside next season, if not this year. Terence Newman will most likely not be brought back in 2012 because of age, injury history and his high salary.

2. A longer look at Romo & Co.

Quarterback Tony Romo and the regulars will play at least a quarter, if not more. It will be Romo’s longest stint since suffering a fractured clavicle last October, forcing him to miss the final 10 games of 2010. “I can’t guarantee you a play number or a time in the game when they’re coming out, but we anticipate them playing longer,” coach Jason Garrett said. “Hopefully into the second quarter, maybe double the snaps.”

3. Offensive line

Seventh-round pick Bill Nagy will get his turn at left guard in place of the injured Montrae Holland. (Fourth-round pick David Arkin got the start in the preseason opener.) The interesting thing is that Nagy was largely a reserve in college at Wisconsin, but now he is in a battle for a starting job with the Cowboys. The Chargers game will also serve as another test for rookie top pick Tyron Smith at right tackle.

4. Dan Bailey gets his shot

Incumbent kicker David Buehler is out tonight with a hip strain, giving rookie Dan Bailey a chance to get a leg up in the kicking competition. Bailey, who will handle all kicking duties tonight, has more than held his own against Buehler in training camp, and tonight he can put some real heat on Buehler.

5. The Rob Ryan defense

The Cowboys’ defense under the new coordinator didn’t get off to a good start in the preseason opener against the Broncos, who marched 74 yards on the opening drive against Dallas’ starters. The Cowboys will be helped by the return of nose tackle Jay Ratliff, who missed the preseason opener with a bad back. Ryan said he expects communication to improve dramatically, leading to better results against the Chargers and their potent passing attack.

Team Notes

Wide receiver Miles Austin missed his second straight practice Friday with a strained hamstring. Although the injury isn’t considered serious, he likely won’t play Sunday.

Defensive end Jason Hatcher was sidelined with a toe injury and is questionable for Sunday. Kicker David Buehler (sore hip) also didn’t participate and likely won’t play Sunday.

It’s been more than two weeks since a groin injury to Terence Newman vaulted Scandrick into the starting lineup. Although the jury is still out as to whether he’s proved once and for all that he’s more than just a slot corner, Scandrick appears to be on the right track to convincing the Cowboys he can play outside in the base package.

Wide receiver Dwayne Harris could be making a push to be the team’s third receiver as he continues to impress with his natural play-making abilities and and intsity on the field. Harris hauled in five passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner in the Cowboys’ preseason home opener against the Denver Broncos. 

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Charles Haley, Larry Allen, Drew Pearson To Be Enshrined In Ring Of Honor

Big news today as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced that Drew Pearson, Larry Allen and Charles Haley will be inducted into the Cowboys Ring Of Honor.

Look for the induction ceremony to take place during halftime of the November 6th game against the Seattle Seahawks, and let me just say how excited I am about this.

As we read here on LSS last week, there were rumors floating around that Drew Pearson was going to be enshrined in the R.O.H., but to learn that the great Charles Haley and future Hall of Famer Larry Allen will be honored right along side Pearson came as a big surprise to me and honestly it’s such a great thrill.

Cowboys fans have been pining for Pearson’s enshrinement for the better part of two decades now, so I’m most happy for him.

“All of these guys were part of some of the greatest moments and were very impactful to having those moments,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “All three of these guys deserve to be here. I don’t have a program of one a year or two a year. I have a program of how it feels and this felt good.”

Congratulations to the three newest members of the Ring of Honor!

A few interesting position battles for the Cowboys

As the Cowboys get ready for week 2 of the preseason against the Chargers, I can’t help but get excited about some of the position battles going on. There seems to be a different feel to the team right now as far as not expecting the same starters to keep their jobs like in past seasons. Competition makes players stronger and in the end hopefully it makes the team stronger. I have my thoughts on some of the battles going on. I would love to find out from others what they think.

David Buehler vs Dan Bailey. I get an uncomfortable feeling when Buehler lines up for a FG and Bailey has shown in camp so far why he was the best kicker in college last season. I’m hoping in the next few preseason games that Bailey gets a chance to kick some field goals instead of just kicking them in practice.

 John Kitna vs Stephen McGee. I understand Kitna is a proven veteran and he did a good job last season when Tony Romo was injured, but he is 38 years old. Do the Cowboys move on and promote McGee to backup? I think playing behind Romo and Kitna has helped his game and has made him confident that he can get the job done. But do the Cowboys feel the same?

Montrae Holland vs David Arkin. The Cowboys are going with rookie RT Tyron Smith, but should they also go with rookie LG Arkin over Holland. Although Holland is a veteran the question is can he stay healthy? If Arkin is a starter will playing between Andre Gurode and Doug Free be enough to help him get adjusted in a hurry?

Anthony Spencer vs Victor Butler. At the end of 2009 Spencer showed some nice things in his game and then he followed that up with a disappointing 2010 season. Victor Butler has always been a favorite of mine and so far in camp and in the first preseason game he seems to always be in the backfield and around the ball. Do the Cowboys promote Butler to the starting lineup opposite DeMarcus Ware?

Some interesting battles for the Cowboys this preseason. I can’t wait to see how everyone votes and I can’t wait to see how these positions work there way through.

Ryan’s Tribute To Landry

In our first pre-season game did anyone notice the defense ran a 4-3 flex defense on the first play?
There were three linebackers on the field and in the middle was a player wearing the No. 54. Cowboys fans were taken back to a time, when the Cowboy’s first and only coach, wearing his suit and his famous hat was standing on the sideline.

On the first play from scrimmage, new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan called for the team’s starters to line up in the 4-3 Flex, a formation conceived by Tom Landry — the legendary coach whose fingerprints are all over this franchise.

“Without living in the past, we try to put that in front of our players to understand what the tradition means, what the star means, what the standard is and all that,” head coach Jason Garrett said. “I think it fits in with all of that. It was Rob’s idea all the way. He brought it up to me and I said I love that. That’s tremendous.”

The Cowboys worked on the formation in practice and didn’t wait long to show it to fans expecting to see one of Ryan’s cutting-edge defensive alignments. Instead, they watched No. 54, reserve linebacker Kenwin Cummings, jump in a three-point stance and play the role of Randy White, the Hall-of-Fame defensive tackle who was the centerpiece of the “Doomsday Defense” that scared opponents in the 1970’s.

It also proved effective. Cowboys outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware batted down Denver quarterback Kyle Orton’s pass at the line of scrimmage. After the game, he beamed when reminded of the play — one that seemed ripped from the Cowboys’ glorious past.

“It was a tribute,” Ware said.

A tribute that I would of never dreamed would come from Rob Ryan. My hats goes off to you Coach Ryan! It shows that you understand the history of the Dallas Cowboys and respect that. That alone makes this Cowboy Fan have respect for you.

LSS Exclusive: An Ultimate Fan Experience

I am in no way a VIP.  But I have had the luck to experience a lot of special memories from the NFL over the years.  I will share a few.

When I was young I had the chance to go see some games with Dad.  And car pool to the games with our family.  Everyone should have a chance to go…at least once.  I received a signed ball from the Super Bowl V Champion Baltimore Colts.  The ball was also signed by several great players (from the 70’s) who were not part of that team.  I also have a briefcase that is blind embossed with the NFL logo.  It came straight from 280 Park Avenue, New York, NY.  And if you do not know the address, it is the league headquarters.  I carry it everywhere.

Additionally, I have had the good fortune to tour team facilities.  On two separate occasions.  And on the second tour, our group was lucky enough to see Ed doing some squats – and Ozzie on the treadmill.  It is a special moment in a fan’s life to have these experiences.  The memories will last a lifetime. 

Recently I was overwhelmed to have the opportunity to cover this year’s Hall of Fame Enshrinement for Lone Star Struck.  And on this occasion I was to be the reporter of record.  Being though I have never had a course in Journalism, I like to consider my part in this role as a “reFANer”.  A new word.  It even has one of those squiggly red lines under it (in my software) that indicate a miss-spelled word.

As the “reFANer” of record, I feel it is my duty to attempt to provide adequate words for the weekend long thrill ride.

In the film “Rudy”, the character Daniel Ruttiger said, (upon entering Notre Dame Stadium), “This is the most beautiful sight these eyes have ever seen!”  And those sentiments are not far off.  I have seen the front entrance to the Hall hundreds of times, but it has never looked quite so “beautiful”.

To add an extra feeling of joy to this journey, I had credentials.  I had access.  But I also had responsibility.  I was to interview Deion Sanders (in a small group) and have a story to tell.  Not too hard for a guy who enjoys any creative outlet.  It actually turned out to be the easiest part.  And I say that because as a reporter, or in this instance a “reFANer”, I had to maintain a sense of dignity…of professionalism…and composure.

I have had some experience in that role from my previous good fortune.  While taking the tours, I had to promise I’d respect the fact that I was given that access – and I was responsible for the group I brought as well.  So this time would be child’s play.  But it wasn’t.  Not in the least.

This time I was exposed to players who were from MY team.  And they were from an amazing time in our team’s history.  My three favorite Cowboys were all on hand.  And I stood about three feet from Emmitt Smith, who ranks at the top in my book.  My family even named a pet after him.

It was all I could do to contain myself and not run up to him to shake his hand.  “I must remember composure and dignity”, I thought to myself.  “Calm down, this weekend I am with the media – a professional…not a fan”.

I would have no respect for some of the great reporters of this game if they acted like a child when a player was around.  So I went with the flow and I acted appropriately.  But it was great to feel that child inside.  The kid who got goose bumps as a 44 year old man.  I smiled from ear to ear and took it all in. 


The whole experience: admission in the Hall; seeing members from my team; being part of a very small group who witnessed the signing of the CBA; attending a Hall Ground Breaking; and interviewing Deion; shaking hands with Chris “back, back, back” Berman and Ed “Too Tall” Jones.  I could go on and on.  Not very far from a fan’s utopia.

I even had the pleasure of being in the same small circle with some of the people who help make this game so great for the fans.  As some of the NFL front office staff were on hand.  I even stood about a foot from Roger Goodell at one point.

Others may have been seeking personal photo opps.  Or autographs.  But not me.  I did my best to be a reporter.

Luck can take you to places you have never been.  So can hard work.  I have experienced both over the past few years and look at where it got me.  Behind a narrow, yellow strip of paper.  Past Security.  Within arm’s reach of some of the greatest men to ever wear a helmet…and take the field.

This reporter didn’t even care that the suit I brought on the trip. The one I was to wear (and did) to the formal dinner presentation of the gold jacket…had a tear in the seam that I forgot about.  It was in the worst possible place.  I remembered while putting it on, a half hour before the event.

I was happy the full time photographer let me crouch in front of him. Now he is a professional.  He got a great look…and he had a great laugh.  I am a giving person after all.  I am so glad I did not pack the neon boxers though.  And that I have never really been a Commando kinda guy. 

Thank you Lone Star Struck…for the most beautiful weekend this football fan’s eyes have ever seen…

LSS Exclusive: Seven Buses to Canton

2011 Hall of Fame Enshrinee Deion Sanders came to Canton, Ohio with TRUTH.

“Truth” in this case is the name that adorned the group’s shirts.  And you could easily locate them making their way around the Hall grounds.  They were in attendance for the Enshrinement Ceremony and they watched the Ground Breaking Ceremony for the Hall’s new addition.

I had a chance to ask several members of the squad exactly what TRUTH stands for.  They responded in unison: “Trust in God, Respect Myself and Others, Understand I have unlimited possibilities, Try my best and never give up, Honor myself and the Truth Creed at all times”.

Coach Ray Elder was with the group and I asked him to share a little more about the program.  He said the boys range in age from 5 to 14.  The team has buses that pick the teammates up for practice and they provide a way home for them as well.  The children/young adults have access to instruction in various sports, however this was the football unit.  He said the organization provides a place for the kids to grow as individuals.  They also provide an alternative to the temptations our youth normally encounter.

The coaches provide instruction to kids first and foremost in life.  But they also value education. They currently have teams for football, baseball, basketball and soccer and they do not discriminate based on gender.  Through visiting their website ( I was able to find that they also work with young women.

The effort is spearheaded by Prime Time Association.  The nonprofit organization founded by Deion and his wife Pillar.  The mission of Prime Time Association is:

Our mission is to serve communities by reaching and teaching our youth through sports and education. We promote positive self images by providing an environment of coaches, mentors and tutors who believe in our youth. We encourage them to embrace the highest values and sense of responsibilities to their families, peers and communities. We invest in the mental, spiritual, physical, financial and overall well being to build stronger kids by reinforcing education.

Their trip to Canton was funded by the parents of the team.  The cost of $325 per child was economical considering the trip.  They started out in Dallas but they had an agenda.  Stops included games at the University of Memphis and Louisville.  In their efforts they like to expose the kids to the college experience.  So they plan their trips accordingly.  In fact their stay in Canton included Malone University.

Word from Deion was they won their games.  From my perspective they have won a great deal more than just a game.