The 52-17 drubbing of Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVII wasn’t as close as the score indicated. It should have been 59-10. Buffalo’s Frank Reich was beyond the line of scrimmage when he released the ball completing the pass to Don Beebe for 40 yards and a touchdown. Beebe later stripped Leon Lett of the ball at the last second on a 64 yard fumble return. The ball rolled through the end zone for a touchback. Dammit.
The offseason between ’92 and ’93 was pretty sweet. Cowboys fans were smiling and smiling big. Super Bowl XXVII was in the books, the Cowboys were on top again. The planets were finally aligned once again. There was no doubt this team would repeat. Who could possibly beat them?
In 1993 Free Agency was a new thing. I don’t think fans had a real grasp on how it would change the game. Most players no longer spent careers with one team. But rest assured agents DID know how Free Agency would impact things, especially their own bank accounts. A bitter contract dispute between Emmitt Smith and Jerry Jones was immanent. Most headlines read things like "Trouble In Paradise" and basically predicted a team headed for self-destruction. Smith was offered $2.2 million. He wanted $4 million. He held out. There were rumblings about egos. Mainly Jerry Jones’ and Jimmy Johnson’s egos. Out of the gate Dallas was 0-2. How could this be happening??
January 2, 1994. Anyone remember that day? Last game of the 1993 regular season. Giants vs. Cowboys. Meadowlands. Winner is NFC East Champs. Ring a bell yet? In the second quarter Emmitt separated his shoulder after a long run. I think it was about a 40 yarder. None of us knew the severity of the injury at the time. But as the game progressed it was very obvious. He couldn’t even get up after a tackle without help from his teammates. He was in tears on the sideline. His arm just hung beside his body. He never stopped running. He never stopped fighting.
At the end of that game Emmitt Smith had taken over the game offensively. My memory of that day is pretty vivid but I could be wrong about exacts. I’m sure I have it on video somewhere. Bottom line is, Emmitt was a warrior. The game went into overtime because of Emmitt. The game was won because of Emmitt. The Cowboys didn’t lose another game that year(actually they didn’t lose another game after Thanksgiving). They started 0-2 WITHOUT Emmitt.
I remember 3 years earlier, Emmitt Smith, the rookie, was holding out in training camp. I sent a letter to The Dallas Cowboys Weekly saying things like "Who does this guy think he is??".. "He’s unproven!" You get the gist of it. At the time it felt totally justified. He WAS unproven! Sure he broke like a million records as a Florida Gator but this was the NFL baby! He was not worth the money he was asking! Obviously I didn’t have a crystal ball. The letter was printed in the following week’s "Letters to the Editor". Therefore I’m immortalized, IN PRINT, saying Emmitt Smith isn’t worth the money.
Well, 18,355 yards and 164 touchdowns later, I’m pretty sure Emmitt Smith was worth the money.
The moral of this story is this:
We’re now asking ourselves is Marion Barber worth the money. Again, I have no crystal ball. I can’t compare him to Emmitt Smith. That’s not fair to Marion. Smith is a once-in-a-lifetime back. But Marion Barber has earned respect of Cowboys fans across the nation. His reckless style is both scary and inspiring to watch. His desire is unquestionable. His refusal to go down without a serious fight deserves recognition.
Is Marion Barber worth more than $30 million? I don’t know. But I don’t think the Cowboys can win that 6th trophy without him. With him, I think the Cowboys can not only win a 6th, but probably a 7th as well. Would that be worth more than $30 million? We would all ,in unison, say "YES!!". But Jerry Jones has the bankbook. What we should do as fans is not speculate what Barber is "worth" and just hope an agreement is met and we have "The Barbarian" for many years to come.