The Battle Is On!

The Dallas Cowboys are known for signing undrafted free agents and making them Superstars.  They may have another  in the making when they signed former Oklahoma State standout kicker Dan Bailey.

The 2010 Lou Groza Award winner as the best kicker in college football, Bailey was tabbed as the Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Year.

Dan Bailey wears the #5, and was born January 26, 1988 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He attended Southwest Covenant school in Yukon, Oklahoma.  His frame is a good size for a kicker at  6ft and weighing in at 197 pounds.

He entered the OSU program as a walk-on and left as the school’s all-time leading scorer with 370 career points. He set a single season school record with 27 field goals.  Bailey ranked second in the nation in scoring his Senior year and set a school record by hitting his first 182 extra point attempts.

After not being drafted and months of down time he is now in training camp with the Dallas Cowboys trying to win the starting spot for the teams placekicker.  Bailey, who missed only two extra points during his career at OSU, appears ready to take on the challenge. ” I am excited,” Bailey said ” I think it is a good opportunity.”

With Brown being being cut that leaves Bailey and David Buehler.  Buehler struggled at times last season with field  goals inside the 40 yard line.

“If it works out, great,” Bailey said. ” If not, it’s still a great experience.”

In his first practice, he made 4 of 4 , but his 35 yarder hit the left upright and  went in when a rusher flew at him.

We all know kickers don’t get all the fanfare the other players get, but they suddenly become the single most important person in the stadium when the game is tied with seconds left on the clock.

Brad Johnson Comes Home and Gives Back

Cowboy quarterback Brad Johnson came home to the Asheville area this past weekend to give back to a community that takes a lot of pride in calling him one of her favorite sons.

Brad attended Owen High School here in Black Mountain, NC from 1983-1987.  He was an all-American quarterback for Owen and an all-state basketball player on a team that featured future UNC Tarheel standout and NBA center Brad Daugherty.

He came home to participate in the Brad Johnson/Verizon Wireless Celebrity Golf Classic and the Night of the Legends Auction.  These events together are expected to raise as much as $400,000.00 for Eblen Charities – which exists to reach out to the many children, adults and families in Western North Carolina who are battling the effects of illnesses and disabilities.  At the auction, Johnson donated both a signed Cowboys helmet and one of his signed jerseys. He also spoke for the cause and visited with those in attendance, gladly posing for pictures and signing autographs.

Brad begins his 17th season in the NFL this year.  He will turn 40 on September 13th and once that happens, he will enter some elite company.  He will become only the 16th player in NFL history to play quarterback at age 40 or older.

While Brad is apparently going to finish his career as a backup QB for Tony Romo, we shouldn’t forget his past accomplishments:  From 1996-2006 he was starting QB for the Vikings, Redskins, and the Buccaneers when he was healthy. During that 11 year span, Brad started 122 of 136 games and was a member of the Buccaneers Superbowl XXXVII Championship team in 2002.

Throughout his career Brad has been known as a man with a tremendous work ethic both in football and in various community causes.  He’s another one of those Cowboy players who realizes that it’s not all about him and is willing to work for the betterment of others around him.  By the way, that outstanding work ethic is probably why, at nearly age 40, he is still playing in the NFL while I, on the other hand, already at age 40, get winded just typing here at the keyboard.

I just wanted to take a minute and tip my hat to Brad.  True heroes aren’t made just on the football field.  We all love great plays and championships for sure, but it’s important to remember the need to give back to others when we ourselves have been blessed abundantly.  So Brad, thanks for coming home and giving back.