IRVING, Texas – Josh Brent is no longer on the Cowboys’ 53-man roster. After several discussions with the NFL this week, the Cowboys have now officially removed him from the roster, placing him on reserved/non-football illness list (RNFI).
That keeps him with the team and able to be at the complex. It’s unclear how restricted he will be in terms of meetings or other team functions. Not only is his legal status uncertain, but Brent also has physical injuries as well. He attended the memorial service for Jerry Brown on Tuesday with a small cast on his right wrist.
Garrett reiterated Wednesday how much support the Cowboys have and will continue to have for Brent.
“Josh is part of our family. We have unconditional love for him,” Garrett said. “And we’re going to make sure that we support him in every way we can. Players, coaches, our organization, and make him feel that support every way … having him be here, and knowing that people are around him to help him and he can call us, he can just be around us, he can cry, he can laugh – he can do whatever he needs to do – and we’ll be there to help him.”
The Cowboys have used Brent’s spot on the roster to sign defensive tackle Brian Schaefering, who has played in Rob Ryan’s scheme in Cleveland. In fact, Schaefering (6-4, 292) played all 16 games, including nine starts for the Browns in 2010, Ryan’s last season there as defensive coordinator.
Schaefering, as mentioned in a previous The Boys Are Back post, played all 16 games for the Browns last season, has been out of the league this year, but after a workout with the Dallas Cowboys this morning (Wednesday), was officially signed to the roster.
The race to the postseason presses on, with some teams vying for playoff spots while others deal with the walking wounded and the disappointment only a lost season can bring.
That’s the basis of the NFL — competition. So it should come as no surprise that when it comes to celebrating the all-time greats of the game, a certain level of competition exists before determining just who those "greats," or, as it were, Hall of Famers, are. This competition doesn’t take place on the playing field; rather, it’s a game of survival of the fittest in the Hall of Fame voters’ hearts and minds. Who will make the cut?
Well, much as with the playoffs, there’s an elimination process. A giant initial list is reduced to 25 (plus two Senior Committee nominees), with the next big cut paring the group down to 15 finalists early next month. With that in mind, evaluate the field to determine who makes the next jump.
Here are a couple of notes to get you in line, with regard to handicapping the field of outstanding former players looking to don the coveted yellow jacket:
» Only consider what occurred on the field. Can’t guarantee that same stipulation is made by every voter.
» Pro Bowls mean very little, especially in the Y2K era, when a trip to Hawaii was more about reputation and popularity than it had ever been.
» Some guys dominated for a short period of time; others excelled for more than 10 years. Both types of legacies are valuable to these eyes.
Semifinalists are broke up the into five categories, according to their likelihood of making it to the next stage. Here goes …
Larry Allen (G/T, 1994-2007) and Jonathan Ogden (T, 1996-2007): Both are first-ballot Hall of Fame players all the way. It would be shocking if both don’t make it to Canton right away. Allen was dominant at two line positions and has a Super Bowl ring. So does Ogden, who, along with Walter Jones, was the dominant left tackle in pro football during the Y2K era.
Tim Brown (WR/KR, 1988-2004): A finalist last year, Brown, who retired with more than 1,000 career pass receptions, has gotten some juice in the media. What shouldn’t be forgotten is what a good returner he was out of the gate. He’ll be a finalist again this year.
Cris Carter (WR, 1987-2002): Like Brown, Carter was a finalist last year and also has more than 1,000 catches to his credit. This is the year the former Minnesota Vikings great gets in. Of all the Hall of Fame "injustices," Carter is the new Art Monk, i.e., the guy who must not wait any longer.
Bill Parcells (head coach, 1983-2006): Parcells should be a shoo-in. Winning two Super Bowl rings and taking four franchises to the playoffs should be enough. And what about spawning Bill Belichick’s career? He’ll be a finalist again this year. (Prediction: The Tuna goes all the way.)
Andre Reed (WR, 1985-2000): So many fans feel sorry for Reed, particularly those in Buffalo. He’ll make the finalists’ cut again, but I’m not convinced he’s a Hall of Fame player. Evidently, the voters aren’t, either. The wide receiver tally reads Carter, Brown … and then Reed.
Warren Sapp (DT, 1995-2007): One of the dominant defensive tackles, if not the dominant DT of his era, he should be a finalist in his first year of eligibility. Bear in mind the fact that Sapp won a Super Bowl on a team known for its defense. That’s key.
Will Shields (G, 1993-2006): This guy was about as premium a player as a club could have on the offensive line. Take a look at Priest Holmes’ insane numbers from 2001 to 2003, or Larry Johnson’s campaign in 2005, when he gained 1,750 yards. During Shields’ last season, Kansas City ranked ninth in the league in rushing. The year after? The Chiefs finished 32nd. He was a great offensive lineman, but with Allen and Ogden locks, this might not be his year.
Jerome Bettis (RB, 1993-2005): Bettis is a sure bet to make the finalist list, due to his popularity and his status as the NFL’s sixth all-time leading rusher. He’s a 50-50 proposition for enshrinement this year.
Edward DeBartolo, Jr. (owner, 1977-2000): The recent "A Football Life" documentary gave DeBartolo some run, but the concern here stems from the well-documented issues surrounding his involvement with former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards and a river-boat casino controversy. He makes the finalists’ list. DeBartolo was too influential — and too successful (five rings) — not to be considered a strong candidate.
Kevin Greene (LB/DE, 1985-1999): Like Bettis, Greene is probably a 50-50 proposition to make the Hall, if his odds aren’t a little lower. The man with 160 sacks (third all-time) was a finalist last year and should be again.
Charles Haley (DE/LB, 1986-1996, 1999): If there’s one guy you can’t believe is not yet in the Hall of Fame, it’s got to be Charles Haley. Haley has five Super Bowl rings, and he was a disruptive force, the linchpin that pushed the Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s to the highest levels of success. Those factors easily push Haley into the finalists’ group … again.
John Lynch (S, 1993-2007): Lynch was an incredibly popular player. His pedigree and affable nature, and the fact that he — like Sapp — was a key cog on a Super Bowl-winning team known for its defense, will easily be enough to get him on the finalists’ list. Lynch brought a Ronnie Lott-type mentality to the safety position.
Aeneas Williams (CB/S, 1991-2004): The NFC’s second-best corner (behind Deion Sanders) of the 1990s will eventually get in the Hall of Fame, because there aren’t many corners of his ilk not already in.
Don Coryell (head coach, 1973-1986): Coryell was a master innovator whose tweaks to offensive football, as well as the numbering system used for route trees, made the modern passing game simpler for quarterbacks. He turned around two franchises – the Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers — and will eventually have a bust in Canton. It’s a matter of when, not if.
CLOSE … BUT NOT THIS TIME
Morten Andersen (K, 1982-2004, 2006-2007): The NFL’s only player to be the all-time leading scorer of two franchises, Anderson probably won’t make it — rightly or wrongly — because he was a kicker.
Steve Atwater (S, 1989-1999): Atwater would knock your lights out. Sometimes, he’d inadvertently destroy his fellow DBs in the process. The former Denver Broncos great was impactful from his first training camp on, something that can’t be said about everyone on the semifinalists’ list. Projection: Atwater’s votes are cannibalized by another heavy hitter, John Lynch.
Terrell Davis (RB, 1995-2001): This is Davis’ seventh year of eligibility. That should tell you something. All those Mike Shanahan-coached running backs who’ve gained 1,000 yards — like Alfred Morris — aren’t helping Davis’ cause. It’s unfortunate.
Joe Jacoby (T, 1981-1993): Teammate Russ Grimm was inducted into the Hall in 2010. Grimm is still coaching in the NFL, which probably kept him on the radar. The pantheon of Washington Redskins greats includes a few names before we get to Jacoby, despite the fact he was quietly effective for the better part of 13 years.
Art Modell (owner, 1961-2011): The recently deceased owner will probably fall short. The fear is that when he moved his team from Cleveland to Baltimore, where they became the Ravens, will never be overlooked. Modell did much for the league in six decades of service. It won’t be enough.
Michael Strahan (DE, 1993-2007): Strahan’s popular, he’s in the public eye, and he was an outstanding pass rusher with 141.5 career sacks. This is the toughest former player to project, but with Haley and Greene still waiting, Strahan may be the odd man out.
Paul Tagliabue (commissioner, 1989-2006): Back in the public eye due to the New Orleans Saints’ bounty fiasco, the former de facto CEO will eventually reside in Canton. Voters haven’t been impressed enough by Tagliabue’s contributions to push him forward in the selection process.
Steve Tasker (ST/WR, 1985-1997): The greatest special teams player in the modern history of the league, Tasker’s viability doesn’t improve … because he is the greatest special teams player. The reason he could be a possible Hall of Famer is the same factor that keeps him out. Odd.
George Young (contributor, 1968-2001): "Contributor" is hard for some fans to contemplate and, at the end of the day, appreciate. The former New York Giants general manager drafted Phil Simms and Lawrence Taylor, and built excellent football teams in the 1986 and 1990 Giants. Still, is he among the top 15 names mentioned? Don’t imagine the voters lean that way.
HALL OF VERY GOOD
Roger Craig (RB, 1983-1993): Craig was a fantastic all-around player and, ultimately, a Hall-of-Very Gooder. He was a three-dimensional running back, much like Walter Payton, but without the far-reaching numbers. With just three 1,000-yard rushing seasons (and another receiving), Craig faces a long road to enshrinement.
Karl Mecklenburg (LB, 1983-1994): Versatile and consistent, Mecklenburg was the kind of player who could play with his hand in the dirt, stand up at outside linebacker, or play inside, like Sean Lee. Call him an athlete who defensive coordinators in 2012 could wrap their arms around. Nonetheless, the Hall of Fame is for the elite of the elite.
Albert Lewis (CB, 1983-1998): Albert Lewis was a remarkable football player. At 6-foot-2, he could lock up with the giants of today, like Brandon Marshall. Besides having 42 career interceptions, and starting at corner until he was 38 — 38! — Lewis blocked an astounding 11 kicks in his career.
Courtesy: Elliot Harrison
IRVING, Texas – With Josh Brent out for the season and Jay Ratliff’s availability still in question because of a lingering groin injury, the Cowboys have brought in veteran Brian Schaefering for a workout.
“We need somebody to help us right now,” executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “Jay’s a question mark, so we’re down to five guys. If we get an injury we’re down to four, so we’ve got to get someone in here getting ready to play in case somebody gets injured.”
Schaefering played for defensive coordinator Rob Ryan in Cleveland. From 2009-11, he had 72 tackles in 37 games, but he was cut by the Browns on Aug. 31.
Jones said he was not sure if Ratliff could return this week from a groin injury that has kept him out of the last three games. Ratliff went for a second opinion on his injury, which concurred with the team’s medical staff, according to Jones.
Without Ratliff and the impending move of Brent to NFI, the Cowboys have Jason Hatcher, Marcus Spears, Sean Lissemore, Tyrone Crawford and Robert Callaway on the defensive line.
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant wants to play Sunday with a fractured left index finger. If there is any way he can play, he will be in the lineup against the Steelers. Bryant is seeking a second opinion today, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said (Wednesday).
"We don’t anticipate Dez practicing today, and we’re just going to see where he is," Bryant said. "We’re going to get that information. One of the things that we know about Dez is that he’s a tough guy, and he loves playing football. He’s going to give himself and our team every chance possible to play in this ball game and continue to play this season. We just need to get more medical information about how to handle the situation right now, the best way to handle it for now and the future."
Bryant was injured on a 6-yard catch in the fourth quarter. He sat out five plays before returning and ended up catching a 27-yard touchdown after getting his index finger taped to his middle finger. After the game, Bryant’s finger was in a splint, and Bryant said it was a sprain. But X-rays showed a fracture, and Bryant will need surgery. Bryant hopes to delay the surgery until the off-season, but the Cowboys won’t risk damaging it further.
"I would say that [the risk of more harm] is an overriding question with all injuries and certainly the willingness of the player to play, the ability of the player to function like he needs to function are big questions as well," Garrett said. "But certainly his health now, his health going forward are huge factors in making this decision."
Bryant has 33 receptions for 525 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in the past five games. He has his first 1,000-yard season with 75 catches for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns.
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys claimed cornerback Michael Coe off waivers from Miami to get a more veteran backup and waived Vince Agnew.
Coe played in one game with Miami before his release and in seven games with the New York Giants. Coe has played in 35 games with 19 tackles, four pass deflections and two fumble recoveries with the Giants, Indianapolis, Jacksonville and Miami.
Agnew played in four games after he was called up from the practice squad.
The Cowboys have also re-tooled their practice squad, adding tight end Andre Smith, defensive lineman Robert Rose, linebacker Brashton Satele and cornerback Micah Pellerin. The Cowboys released cornerback Reggie Jones and tight end Chase Ford from the practice squad.
Satele spent part of the offseason with the Cowboys before his release in May.
DALLAS — Dallas Cowboys nose tackle Josh Brent stands accused of killing teammate Jerry Brown in a fiery drunk-driving accident, but the mother of the deceased practice-squad linebacker refuses to view him as anything but her son’s best friend.
Stacey Jackson made that clear with her actions before, during and after the memorial service for her son Tuesday afternoon.
In a striking display of forgiveness, Brent and Jackson arrived together at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in South Dallas. They also sat in the same row during the hour-long service and left together.
Jackson spoke to the team, encouraging them to support Brent. The massive player was charged with intoxication manslaughter after Irving police say he lost control early Saturday morning of his speeding 2007 Mercedes with Brown as a passenger.
The private tribute on a sunny but chilly day was closed to the media.
“We won’t have any comment because of the sanctity of the service,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said afterward.
But during his radio show Tuesday morning, Jones said Jackson requested Brent meet her and her family at the airport so they could ride together to the memorial after they arrived from St. Louis on the owner’s private jet.
“What happened is so tragic,” Jones told KRLD-FM. “But (Jackson) wanted to be right with Josh and to express in every way she could how much they loved him and didn’t want to have him grieve for his friend without being included in their family.”
Brent, 24, and Brown, 25, were teammates and roommates at Illinois from 2007-09. When Dallas signed Brown, he began rooming again with Brent.
Brown played for the Arena Football League’s San Antonio Talons before being signed by Indianapolis in May. The Cowboys signed Brown after the Colts cut him in October.
“Josh was elated when Jerry came on the team,” Jones said.
“I was upset, but I realized our youth today are young and stupid, and we were all once that age, and we’ve all done things we’re not proud of,” Jackson said.
“I realized everyone thinks they’re invincible, and everyone thinks, ‘It’s not going to happen to me.’ I know Josh Brent, and he’s been part of our family since Jerry went to Illinois. All I can do is to pray for him and his family. I know (Brent) is hurting just as much as we are, because (he) and Jerry were like brothers.”
Free on $500,000 bail and with his right hand wrapped in a white bandage, Brent wore a white long-sleeved shirt and gray pants to the memorial, where Brown’s framed No. 53 Cowboys jersey was displayed.
In what was surely an emotional moment, Jackson received the football (game ball) coach Jason Garrett posthumously awarded Brown after Dallas rallied to defeat Cincinnati on Sunday.
The program for the memorial had a picture of DeMarcus Ware carrying Brown’s jersey onto the field Sunday after Dan Bailey kicked the winning field goal as time expired.
Two buses transported some players, coaches and club staffers to the service. Others, including Tony Romo and his wife Candice, arrived in their own cars.
Jay Ratliff was visibly emotional, holding his hands to his face for several seconds.
Tony Evans, senior pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, delivered a sermon. Cowboys chaplain Jonathan Evans read scripture.
Even though he was with the Cowboys only a short time, Brown had an effect, Garrett said Monday.
“He had really bright eyes, a great smile,” Garrett said. “He was very passionate about football, and that’s one of the things we really liked about him. He poured it all out there every day. I wrote in my notes several times: Jerry Brown, exclamation point, give this guy a chance.”
A funeral service for Brown is set for Friday in St. Louis, followed with his burial on Saturday.
Related photographs featured on The Boys Are Back blog …