MEET AMERICA’S TEAM CENTENARIAN: Troy Aikman surprises lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan Evonne Morgan | 100th Birthday visit delights adorable True Blue fan
The Dallas Cowboys have legions of fans, of all ages, in the U.S. and around the world.
Evonne Morgan stands out. Continue reading →
WALL OF SHAME TO HALL OF FAME: Flashback–Change of scenery worked for Charles Haley; he thinks Dallas will help Hardy | Counseling was key to smarter decisions, funneling rage and leaving aggressiveness on the field
Greg Hardy isn’t the first player the Dallas Cowboys have ever brought in with baggage.
“Bags?” Charles Haley mused, “I had suitcases. Full suitcases.”
Haley was one of the NFL’s best pass rushers at the turn of the 1990 decade. He hit double figures in sacks in four of his first six seasons and went to three Pro Bowls. He was San Francisco’s dominant pass rusher on back-to-back Super Bowl champions in 1988-89.
But Haley had issues. Anger issues. There were confrontations with his coaches and teammates. Continue reading →
HAPPY TRAILS COWBOY: DeMarcus Ware to put his boots under someone else’s bed | Dallas legend sacked after nine seasons
IRVING, Texas – The Dallas Cowboys’ leader in sacks is no longer a member of the franchise.
DeMarcus Ware, who’s gone to seven Pro Bowls and compiled 117 sacks in nine seasons with the Cowboys since being selected by Dallas in the first round of the 2005 draft, was released Tuesday.
“A decision like this, involving a man who is a cornerstone player in the history of your franchise, is extremely difficult,” said owner/general manager Jerry Jones in a statement.
Ware’s multiple restructures led to a $12.25 million base salary and $16 million cap hit for the 2014 season. By releasing Ware, one of the most decorated players to ever don a Cowboys jersey, the team saves $7.4 million in cap space.
The Cowboys were already $2 million under the cap after cutting Phil Costa, reworking the deal of Mackenzy Bernadeau and restructuring Tony Romo, Orlando Scandrick and Sean Lee. Ware reportedly wanted a decision made on his future before free agency began, and the Cowboys weren’t going to have him play on his current deal.
This move gives the Cowboys, who are set to lose Jason Hatcher and Anthony Spencer to free agency, much more room to work with to bring one of their own players back or to make a move in free agency. But it also means losing an icon who will go down as one of the all-time great defensive players in the game.
That doesn’t mean a return to Dallas is completely out of the question, according to Jones. But as free agency begins, Ware will get to test the market and the many options around the league.
“After meeting this afternoon, DeMarcus and I agreed on an understanding that would allow him to explore the options he will have for the 2014 season and beyond,” Jones said. “We were also in very strong agreement that playing for the Dallas Cowboys would be one of the options we would both be exploring.”
Ware had a couple of hefty streaks snapped last season. He’d compiled seven straight double-digit sack seasons before falling down to six sacks in 2013, and he’d played in all 16 games in each of his first eight seasons before missing three games last year.
Injuries have been the story for Ware in recent seasons. He’s dealt with a plethora of different ones, including quad, hamstring, elbow, shoulder, neck and back problems the last two years alone. He’s undergone elbow and shoulder surgeries the last two offseasons and missed the first three games of his career with a quad strain.
The 2013 season began promisingly for Ware after a tremendous training camp. He was easily the standout defensive player in Oxnard, Calif., and he followed that up by compiling four sacks in the first three games of the regular season, becoming the team’s all-time sacks leader in the process. Then the injuries kicked in, and he had just two more sacks the rest of the way.
The Cowboys wanted to keep him for the 2014 season, but only at a reduced rate. His cap hit in 2014 would have been twice what it was the year prior. His base salary was just $840,000 and his cap hit was $8 million in 2013. The Cowboys decided to part ways with Ware and save cap space after a meeting between the two sides. They can save another $5.5 million in room if they designate Miles Austin, who’s set to count $8.25 million against the cap, a post-June 1 cut.
Ware’s release gives the Cowboys more money to work with, but they currently have no proven talent to replace a player on the outside of Ware’s caliber.
Among Ware’s many accomplishments and accolades are a 20-sack season in 2008, when he was named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year, and a 19.5-sack year just three seasons ago in 2011. Ware and Mark Gastineau are the only two players in league history with two seasons of 19 or more sacks.
“DeMarcus Ware, through his performance on the field and his outstanding character, is someone who is held in the highest regard within the Dallas Cowboys family,” Jones said. “He is worthy of our greatest respect, and we want what is best for him and his family.”
The Cowboys save cap space but lose a player many consider to be the face of the franchise. Even with Ware’s career-low six sacks, he still finished third on the team in the category in 2013.
With Spencer set to become a free agent, no other Dallas defensive end currently on the roster for the 2014 season has more than 10 career sacks. George Selvie would be the leader with exactly 10 after last year’s seven-sack season.
ARKADELPHIA, Ark. — Ouachita Baptist University has demolished its home football stands to make way for a new structure expected to be in place by next season.
The new stadium will be named for Cliff Harris, who attended OBU and later played in five Super Bowls for the Dallas Cowboys. Harris was present for Friday’s demolition.
The school’s sports information director, Kyle Parris, said the demolition took longer than expected when the stadium’s press box remained intact after much of the rest of the stadium came down. It eventually was dismantled.
A.U. Williams Field dates to 1912 but the seating torn down was erected in the 1960s and 1970s.
PHOTO: Former NFL Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris, left, and Ouachita Baptist University President Rex Horne walk past the stands at A.U. Williams Field in Arkadelphia, Ark., Friday, Feb. 14, 2014. Part of the stands at the NCAA college football stadium were demolished Friday to make way for construction of a new facility to be named for Harris who played at the school in the 1960s.
Former Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris drives a power shovel at A.U. Williams Field at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. Harris, who played for the school in the 1960s, participated in the demolition of part of the stands at the field. A new stadium named for Harris is to be built in time for the 2014 season.
NO EXECUTIVE DECISION: Unlikely that Troy Aikman will move into Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon
IRVING, Texas – It doesn’t appear that Troy Aikman will be in the Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon.
The former Cowboys star quarterback and current television sportscaster’s interest in a front office job has been a topic lately (Super Bowl week rumor related to John Elway’s success after being hired by Denver as the Broncos General Manager), but Aikman quelled some of those notions and mentioned how Dallas would be an unlikely fit if he eventually decides to work his way into a managerial role with a team.
“I answered the question on Sunday and it’s just, ‘Oh, that’s an easy question, that’s an easy story, let’s go ask Troy about this.’ It just continues, and there’s not a story there,” Aikman said Thursday on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7 FM The Ticket. “As it relates to Dallas, which is where everyone here in the Metroplex goes with it is, ‘Oh, OK, Dallas.’ Well that’s not going to happen in Dallas because of the structure of this organization. I think everybody knows that.”
Aikman said it’s an easy question and story to ask him about a potential move to the front office and a potential general manager job, but he said his comments on that have remained consistent the last two weeks with his thoughts the last 10 years.
“I think some people maybe hear my comments and they think, ‘Oh, well he thinks he can just step right into a GM role after having been a broadcaster like Matt Millen did,’” Aikman said. “That’s not it at all. In fact, what I have said to many people is that if it were something I wanted to pursue – and I’m not sure that it is and I’m not sure that it’s not – but if it was something I wanted to pursue, now would be the time to start preparing myself for that and get involved with an organization, start learning what has to be learned.”
Before that can happen, he said there are steps that have to be taken. First, the timing has to be right. In addition, he wants to be able to put in the amount of time it would require for him to do his job to the best of his ability.
“I don’t believe there are any shortcuts in anything in life,” Aikman said. “Then the question becomes, well, whenever the timing is right for me to do that, how old am I going to be and how much time do I want to then serve in an apprenticeship-type situation to ultimately go on and do what I’d like to do?
“There’s a lot of factors in there, it’s just, I guess where I could have maybe handled it differently is just said, ‘No, I have zero interest in it.’ But then that’s not being honest. I’ve answered the question as honestly as I could.”
He’s not sure if anything will materialize at this point with him eventually taking a front office position. But any talk of him jumping at a specific job in the near future or him being in talks with a team right now doesn’t appear likely.
With Jerry Jones as the owner, president, and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys and him not relinquishing any of those titles in the near future, and with Jones’ son, Stephen, as the team’s executive vice president, it doesn’t appear likely Aikman’s future in the front office will be in Dallas.
“It’s a little bit like the question every year is, ‘Hey, all right, do you think Jerry the owner should fire Jerry the general manager?’ How redundant is that argument?” Aikman said. “So, it’s a little bit the same way, that nothing like that would happen in Dallas.”
SHAME BY THE FAME: Former Dallas Cowboys DE Charles Haley worthy of Pro Football Hall of Fame induction
NEW YORK — Peyton Manning’s legacy is a recurring theme in the buildup to this Super Bowl. If the quarterback stands victorious Sunday evening, if he helps lead his second franchise to a title …
Well, then he’ll be only three rings behind Charles Haley.
The night before Denver and Seattle take the field, the Hall of Fame will announce its class of 2014. Haley is a finalist for the fifth time.
Two of those rings came as a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers. The final three came as a defensive end for the Dallas Cowboys.
Receiver Michael Irvin and quarterback Troy Aikman played with Haley on those Super Bowl teams. Both have busts in Canton.
They believe it’s time for Haley to join them.
“I think Charles should be in,” Irvin said. “We’re willing to give Peyton Manning credit, so much credit, if he wins this game because we’re going to say he led two different teams to Super Bowl championships. He deserves the credit.
“But we won’t give Charles Haley any of that credit? He led two different teams to Super Bowls, but we won’t give him any kind of credit?”
Haley was part of 10 division championship teams in his 12 years in the NFL. He played in six NFC Championship Games in a span of seven seasons. He was voted to the NFL Pro Bowl five times, was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year twice and finished his career with 100 1/2 sacks.
Credit isn’t the issue. No one can discredit those numbers. What Haley lacks is the historical affirmation only the Hall of Fame can provide.
Irvin is no stranger to off-the-field issues. Those didn’t prevent him from enshrinement in his third year as a finalist.
But Irvin can’t help but wonder if Haley’s well-documented troubles have worked against him in the committee’s discussions. Haley’s abusive behavior during his playing days won few friends in the media.
Aikman has the same questions.
“I don’t like the process,” said the quarterback who joined the Hall in 2006 in his first year of eligibility. “I don’t like the way that it’s done.
“I do believe he should be in the Hall of Fame. I’ve said that. I’m biased because I watched him every weekend. I’m amazed that he’s not in the Hall of Fame.
“I’m sorry, but if him being rude to some writers or not being accommodating to those in the media keeps him from being in the Hall of Fame, then I really disagree with the process, because that’s not what this is about. I don’t know what happens, but I know he was largely responsible for a big amount of the success that we had during those years.”
Former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson is curious as to why Haley has yet to be enshrined.
“I’ve said many, many times that Charles Haley should have been in the Hall of Fame a long time ago,” Johnson said. “No offense to any of the players in there, but I coached and coached against a lot of the players that are in the Hall of Fame, and Charles Haley is better than them.
“Again, I don’t know the rhyme or reason by some of the voting.”
Aikman, Irvin and Johnson hope someone is listening to them when it comes to Haley.
“A man that holds as many rings as digits on a hand,” Irvin said, “he should be in the Hall of Fame.”
PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME: Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Charles Haley a finalist for the fifth time
IRVING, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Charles Haley is once again one of the finalists for the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Haley, a finalist for the fifth time, joins four first-year eligible nominees among the 15 modern-era finalists to be considered for election to the Hall of Fame when the selection committee meets in New York City on Feb. 1.
If Haley made it this year, he’d be the 15th Cowboys player to be elected to the Hall of Fame, joining Troy Aikman, Larry Allen, Tony Dorsett, Bob Hayes, Michael Irvin, Tom Landry, Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Deion Sanders, Tex Schramm, Emmitt Smith, Roger Staubach, Randy White, and Rayfield Wright.
Haley played 12 seasons and in 169 games and is the only player in NFL history to play on five Super Bowl winning teams between his time in Dallas and San Francisco.
He began his career as a linebacker in San Francisco, where he recorded four double-digit sack seasons. He’d later get traded to the Cowboys, where he’d record two more double-digit sack seasons in 1994 and 1995 as a defensive end. Haley finished his career with 100.5 total sacks, getting named to five Pro Bowls and garnering two All-Pro selections.
Former Dallas Cowboys head coach Jimmy Johnson, who was a semifinalist this year and won two Super Bowl titles during his time in Dallas, didn’t make the list of finalists.
The 15 modern-era finalists will be the only ones considered for Hall of Fame election when the 46-member selection committee meets. A finalist must receive a minimum positive vote of 80 percent to be elected.
To be eligible for election, players and coaches must have last played or coached more than five seasons ago. Derrick Brooks, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison and Walter Jones are the four first-year eligible nominees. Haley and Kevin Greene have both been eligible for 10 years.
All the finalists were determined by a vote of the selection committee from a list of 126 nominees, which was reduced to a list of 25 semifinalists. In addition, Ray Guy and Claude Humphrey were selected as senior candidates by the Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee, leaving 15 modern-era and two senior nominees among the full list of finalists.
Here’s a list of all the finalists:
Morten Andersen, Kicker
Jerome Bettis, Running Back
Derrick Brooks, Linebacker
Tim Brown, Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner
Edward DeBartolo, Jr., Owner
Tony Dungy, Coach
Kevin Greene, Linebacker/Defensive End
*Ray Guy, Punter
Charles Haley, Defensive End/Linebacker
Marvin Harrison, Wide Receiver
*Claude Humphrey, Defensive End
Walter Jones, Tackle
John Lynch, Free Safety
Andre Reed, Wide Receiver
Will Shields, Guard
Michael Strahan, Defensive End
Aeneas Williams, Cornerback/Safety
NFL LIVING LEGEND: Dallas Cowboys lineman Larry Allen inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame (Special Feature)
Larry Allen chases down an interception (watch Video | listen to Audio)
“This guy’s got a rocket booster strapped to his back!”, proclaimed Dan Dierdorf (puke) as 325 lb. Larry Allen chased down a Troy Aikman tipped interception during his rookie year.
Larry Allen bench presses 700 lbs. (watch Video | listen to Audio)
Watch as Dallas Cowboys guard Larry Allen works his way up to a 700 lb. bench press during the spring of 2001.
Dallas Cowboys legends speak about what made Larry Allen so great, as he is announced as a member of 2013’s NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
SPAGNOLA: In the beginning of this remarkable L.A. story
OXNARD, Calif. – Here is exactly what we know about Larry Allen.
He will become the 14th true Dallas Cowboys member inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday in Canton, Ohio, and just the second offensive lineman in the expansion franchise’s 53-year history.
While playing for the Cowboys from 1994-2005, he was named to the Pro Bowl 10 times (seven consecutively), one short of the team’s all-time record of 11 held by Bob Lilly, a Hall of Famer himself, and as many as Hall of Famer Mel Renfro but more than the likes of Hall of Famers Randy White, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Tony Dorsett.
Twice he was named to the NFL All-Decade Team, in the 1990s and the 2000s, quite a feat to have played so long at such a high level during his 12 years with the Cowboys and final two seasons with San Francisco, which included his 11th Pro Bowl selection.
He was a member of the Dallas Cowboys’ 1995 Super Bowl championship team and played in consecutive NFC title games his first two seasons in the NFL.
He had the speed to once run down a New Orleans linebacker from way behind who certainly thought he was taking his interception to the house, and yet strong enough to bench press 700 pounds one day at The Ranch.
Allen, along with Charles Haley and Drew Pearson, were the last inductees to the Dallas Cowboys’ 20-member Ring of Honor.
Whew, that’s a ton, appropriately so since he was a ton for opponents to handle during his career.
But for the rest of the story, or maybe it’s the first of the story, we have to know how in the world a guy who went to Butte Junior College in Oroville, Calif., and then to Sonoma State, a Division II school, winds up getting drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, who at the time were the two-time defending Super Bowl champs.
You will discover a lot of luck and tireless research by many were involved.
Current director of scouting Tom Ciskowski first turned the Cowboys on to this massive offensive lineman. At the time, the Cowboys were members of BLESTO, the national scouting combine service teams used around the league which had written a report on this Allen guy.
“I was the West Coast scout,” Ciskowski said of his role back then with the Cowboys, “so was responsible for all the schools in that area.”
Even tiny Sonoma State, north of San Francisco, past Petaluma, and east of the 101 that runs right through the current Cowboys training camp site. Yet, it’s hard to evaluate players like Allen because of the level of competition he’d been playing against. You just don’t know if he’s throwing guys around because they are two levels below Division I.
Ciskowski made his dutiful school call, and the coach set up a meeting with Allen. “He was fighting for him,” Ciskowski said, a scouting term for endorsing. Then once he had the meeting and put the tape on, he gained enough confidence to recommend Allen to the Cowboys’ higher-ups because “you could see he had something.”
The Cowboys, and many other teams, could see Allen had something, too, when he was invited to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game.
“Sure you are concerned,” Ciskowski said of evaluating his play against other D-II schools, “until you saw him against the Penn States, Ohio States, Michigan States in that game.”
That is where then scouting director Larry Lacewell first got a glimpse of this guy going like 6-4, 330 pounds, who was strong as a bull.
“Frankly, looking at a guy from Sonoma State is not real exciting,” Lacewell says, “until you saw him practicing against Division-I guys.
Lacewell, still around at training camp these days, remembers seeing Allen in a pass-rush drill, the first guy trying to rush around him.
“He punched him,” said Lacewell, meaning reaching out and pass blocking with two hands to strike the guy in the chest, “and you could hear ka-baam.”
Then in a full-speed team drill Allen drilled a linebacker, “and I saw him rolling on the ground,” Lacewell said. “Just stuck him. I just remember how strong he was.”
That convinced the Cowboys to push him up the draft board. Ciskowski, Lacewell and offensive line coach Hudson Houck saw what they thought could be, because as Lacewell said after watching film of Allen playing at Sonoma State, “It was unfair,” L.A. against those D-II opponents.
Even at that, there still was another hurdle to overcome. Somewhat of a defective shoulder was discovered at the NFL Combine, or as Cowboys trainer Jim Maurer, then an assistant to then Cowboys trainer Kevin O’Neill, remembers, a rotator cuff problem. As the story goes, there was another problem: Allen was so wide across the chest he couldn’t fit into the MRI chamber, so whatever doctors were worried about couldn’t be confirmed by an imaging picture.
Also there was this: Scar tissue from multiple stab wounds in the shoulder sustained during his formative years growing up in Compton, Calif.
“It was a pretty significant issue as I remember,” Maurer says of the shoulder, “a lot of questions about it.”
Bryan Broaddus, then working in the Green Bay scouting department, remembers Allen, and remembers the Packers were so worried about the shoulder that he was taken off their draft board for medical reasons.
But O’Neill didn’t take the easy way out he could have when the Cowboys front office came to him for an opinion. You know, cautiously downgrade Allen just to cover himself if the shoulder curtailed Allen’s career.
Ciskowski remembers O’Neill saying “the shoulder could be rehabbed” instead of needing surgical repair.
So the Cowboys had Allen on the on board, so on board Lacewell says that they had a first-round grade on the man-kid from Sonoma State. But on draft day, Allen began falling, falling, falling. Look, guys like Heath Shuler, Trent Dilfer, Shante Carver (Cowboys), Eric Mahlum, Kevin Lee, Bruce Walker, Marcus Spears (seriously, an OT) and David Palmer already had been drafted in the first and early part of the second. But Allen? Still was on the board.
“So we’re sitting there, and you know you hear rumors, you heard about the shoulder problems,” Lacewell said, “and we’re asking ourselves, ‘What are we missing?’”
So Lacewell, Ciskowski and Houck went into the room next to the Cowboys war room with the draft in progress and Allen falling out of the first round and into the second. They put the film of Allen on one more time “to make sure we were seeing the right thing,” Lacewell says. “Maybe we were wrong, and you just don’t do that or have the time (during the draft).
“But Hud, Tom and I, particularly Tom – I give him all the credit in the world, because it’s easy to waffle or lose your guts on a guy from Sonoma State – we were confident he was the guy. No doubt we were holding our breath (when he was falling) until he got to us.”
And with the 17th pick in the second round, 46th overall, the Dallas Cowboys select offensive guard Larry Allen, Sonoma State.
Who? What? From where? Thought they produced wine out there in Sonoma not football players?
Oh, and there was one more flashback for Lacewell. When time came for the rookie Allen to take his conditioning test, Lacewell says, “He was pitiful. He couldn’t finish anything.”
But brother, could he finish a block, and as the stories go, finish a guy’s career, too, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones remembering how one opponent lambasted by Allen retiring from football the very next day and how several opponents would develop what became known as the “Allen flu,” turning up sick/hurt the day they would have to take on the Cowboys offensive lineman.
And Saturday, Larry Allen, the man of few words, from tiny Sonoma State will officially finish his NFL career with a bronzed bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preceded by potentially the shortest acceptance speech in the history of the Hall’s enshrinement ceremony. But that’s OK. They don’t judge these guys on words, just production.
“Over my years I like to name the few really great ones,” said Lacewell, who’s been around a whole lot of great ones, first starting his coaching career under Bear Bryant at Alabama and having then coached at Oklahoma, Iowa State, Arkansas State (head coach for 11 years) and Tennessee before spending 13 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys (1992-2004) in their college and pro scouting departments.
“And Larry Allen is the very best offensive guard I’ve ever seen, phenomenal. I’ve known Cortez Kennedy for quite some time. Recruited him. Cortez Kennedy told me once when Larry would hit you, he said, ‘It felt like a boulder had.’ I remember a linebacker once trying to run from him, he’d punch the guy and the linebacker started rolling on the ground.”
Imagine that. Imagine all of this.
And then you have the rest of this L.A. story.
The National Football League today launched its Legends Program, the newest step in a series of programs designed to help former NFL players connect with each other, their former teams and the NFL.
Nineteen former players, including two Hall of Famers, form the first class of NFL Legends who will participate in this multi-faceted program developed by NFL Player Engagement and the league’s Marketing Department. The Legends will develop, foster and manage national and local alumni relations to deepen the relationship and communication between the league office, teams and former players. They also will participate in the league’s calendar events and fan platforms as additional ways to remain connected to the game.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Senior Vice President of Player Engagement Troy Vincent kicked off the program on Monday, the first of two days of training at the NFL office in New York City.
“Based on our peer-to-peer model, the Legends Program will reach out to our former players, and let them know that their contribution to the game we love is appreciated and their voice is welcome,” said Vincent. “We are a brotherhood, a family. We need to strengthen our relationships across the generations of our alumni, stay connected, and continue to contribute to this game and to each other.”
The Legends Program is built on a peer-to-peer model used in other NFL Player Engagement programs, fostering deeper relationships between generations of NFL players. Legends commit to a three-year term during which they will work to connect the 32 teams and the league with more former players. Legends will work closely with existing club-designated alumni directors, communicate with groups representing former players, and help develop and participate in team and league events.
The 19 former players participating in the Legends Program are:
|Lavar Arrington||Chad Pennington||Mark Bruener||John Randle|
|Mark Brunell||Ed Reynolds||Donovin Darius||Ron Rice|
|Warrick Dunn||Mike Rucker||Keith Elias||Will Shields|
|Rocket Ismail||Leonard Wheeler||Patrick Kerney||Aeneas Williams|
|Hardy Nickerson||Rod Woodson||Jay Novacek|
The NFL Legends Program is an extension of NFL Player Engagement programs designed for former players. The NFL Ambassadors program involves former players who are committed in the development of high school, college, and professional (both current and former) players and facilitate life skills and professional development seminars. In addition, the Transition Coaches program trains and certifies former players to help both current and former players in the areas of mental and behavioral health. The Legends will be the latest group of former players to continue the tradition of representing their teams at annual league events such as the NFL Draft and NFL Kickoff.
Sam Dana, a running back for the NFL’s 1928 New York Yankees team
IRVING, Texas – As the Cowboys focus on the offseason, training camp is just days away.
With just four days until the Dallas Cowboys take the field in Oxnard, Calif., one question centers on DeMarcus Ware closing-in on the team’s sack record and where that might put him among the franchise’s best players.
Where does DeMarcus Ware rank among Dallas Cowboy greats?
Barring any significant injury – and if 2012 showed us anything it’s that it takes a lot more than just an average injury to sideline DeMarcus Ware – at some point early this season the Cowboys will have a new all-time sack leader.
The late Harvey Martin has held that distinction since he retired in 1983, sitting at the top of the charts with 114 sacks. Ware currently has 111, meaning he needs just four more sacks this year to surpass Martin as the Cowboys’ all-time leader.
Officially, according to the NFL, Ware already holds the mark because the league didn’t start registering sacks as an official stat until 1982. But the Cowboys have kept the correct stats and Martin has had the lead for 30 years. That will likely change this season, considering Ware hasn’t been held under double-digit sacks since his rookie year of 2005.
So when that happens, what will it mean for DeMarcus Ware’s legacy with the Cowboys? Will it even change at all?
Martin holding the club’s sack record hasn’t been enough to land him a spot in the Ring of Honor. Many pundits believe Martin is the biggest snub of the Tom Landry era and is the most deserving to get into the Ring. However, Ware is seemingly a lock for the Ring of Honor when his playing days are done.
But even if he never plays for a championship team, is it possible for Ware to be considered one of the best defensive players in Cowboys history? Stats-wise, he’ll be more accomplished than Bob Lilly or Randy White and Martin. But those guys have Super Bowl rings.
Just how far does Ware have to stretch the sack record to overlook his lack of team success? Then again, Ware turns 31 next month. He still has a few good years in him and who knows what the Cowboys will do as a team over the next few seasons.
With four sacks, Ware will be considered the very best Cowboys player to rush the quarterback. But just how many sacks will he need to be considered the best defensive player in franchise history?
Sticking with our numerical journey to training camp, let’s take a closer look at the number 4:
- DeMarco Murray had just four rushing touchdowns last season to lead the team. Kevin Ogletree also had four receiving touchdowns, which ranked him third behind Dez Bryant (12) and Miles Austin (six).
- The only player drafted No. 4 in franchise history was Scott Appleton, a defensive tackle in 1964. Appleton never suited up for the Cowboys, who traded his rights to the Steelers.
- Only four players have donned the No. 4 for the Cowboys: Mike Saxon, Toby Gowin, Micah Knorr and Shaun Suisham.
- Isaac Holt is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in blocked punts with four, all occurring in a four-year span from 1989-92.
- Dennis Thurman and Dexter Coakley are tied for the most interception returns for touchdowns in team history with four each.
- Bob Hayes (1970) and Terrell Owens (2007) are the only two players in Cowboys history to record four touchdown catches in a game.
The path Danny White took from Arizona State to becoming the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys made San Francisco’s Lombard Street look like a drag strip.
Selected in the third round of the 1974 NFL draft, the odds White would see much playing time under center as a rookie were lessened due to the presence of veteran quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Craig Morton.
If anyone ever needed a Plan B …
“It was just pretty obvious that I wasn’t going to be playing anytime soon. And then it kind of came down to money,” said White. “John Bassett, who was one of the founders of the World Football League and the owner of the Memphis team, called and basically offered twice what the Cowboys had offered. So between the money and the opportunity to play it just seemed like the best thing to do.”
After two seasons, the WFL closed shop, and White discovered he was still in Dallas’ plans as well as its Rolodex.
“The Cowboys immediately called after the league folded and basically doubled their offer,” White said. “I had the experience and Craig Morton had just been traded, so everything just kind of fit. It was almost like it was kind of meant to be.”
Eventually. After signing with Dallas in 1976, White took over the punting duties and watched Staubach from the sideline. Did he find it tough to be in No. 12’s shadow?
“By the time I had been backing him up for four years, it was getting difficult,” said White. “I had a meeting with Coach Landry and told him that I was to the point where I felt like I needed to play. I was six years out of college and if I wasn’t going to be playing there soon I wanted him to consider trading me.
“I loved being with the Cowboys, so I had mixed feelings about it. But I knew that my time was running out. I needed to start competing. Roger always made it seem like I was competing with him. To his credit, he’d always say things like, ‘I can’t let you get in a game or I’ll never get back in.’
“And he would compete. It wasn’t like he was just there and it was his job. He never took on that kind of an attitude. He treated me like a competitor, like an equal. He was a great mentor for me in that respect.”
Playing with the Cowboys for 13 seasons, White passed for 21,959 yards, 155 touchdowns and 132 interceptions, and was chosen for the Pro Bowl in 1982. He led Dallas to three consecutive NFC Championship Games [1980-82] and to the playoffs on two other occasions before retiring in 1989.
“My favorite memories were things that happened as a result of being a Dallas Cowboy with my teammates,” said White.
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White catches a touchdown pass from Ron Springs in this Oct. 23, 1983, game against the Los Angeles Raiders at Texas Stadium
“As far as games go, that first season (as a starter in 1980) was a dream season for me. I inherited a great team and all the pieces were there. I remember thinking, ‘This is easy. It is like shooting fish in a barrel.’ Of course, that would change by the end of my career, but at least those first few years were.
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White and the plays AFTER ‘The Catch’
“The Atlanta playoff game [1980: 30-27 win] was a great game. The 49ers game with ‘The Catch’ was a great game, too [1981: 28-27 loss]. It was just great being part of that. I wish we would have come back and won that. We should have, but it was still a great experience.”
Video: Dallas Cowboys quarterback Danny White fake punt vs. Washington Redskins
“I would have to say the highlight of my career was being a Dallas Cowboy. Being a part of that era and playing for Tom Landry. Things like that you don’t appreciate until many years later. I look back on that now and realize how lucky I was to play for that team and that coach at that time.”
Following a successful career as a head coach, general manager and team president in the Arena Football League, White is set to begin his third season as the radio analyst for Dallas’ games on Compass Media Networks.
“They approached me and I kind of thought twice about it and said, ‘You know what? I haven’t been real close with the Cowboys mostly because I live in Phoenix and here’s a chance to kind of get back in the fold,’” White said. “I loved what Jerry Jones had done with the new stadium and everything that had happened, so why not? Let’s do it for a year and see what happens.
“And so I did and I just loved it. I love being back in the Cowboy family. I love working with [play-by-play announcer] Kevin Burkhardt and the Compass people, Michelle Salvatore, who is our producer. Everything just kind of clicked.”
Having played in 166 regular-season games with the Cowboys, White has an on-the-job advantage in the broadcast booth. It’s that he’s done the job on the field.
“Knowing what’s going on in a quarterback’s head can be a huge, huge advantage,” said White. “Everyone is so quick to say, ‘Well, the guy was open and the ball was thrown over his head.’ Just knowing, you say, ‘Wait a minute. Maybe there’s a reason that the ball was thrown over his head.’ And you go back and look and sure enough there was a defensive lineman right in his face as he throws the ball. He can’t follow through. There’s always more to the story.
“Everybody’s so quick to judge the quarterback. The quarterback isn’t good one day and bad the next day. There are reasons for it and I think more than anything else that one single advantage of having played quarterback just gives you a whole different perspective on the game. You can counter some of those lazy critics that just want to say, ‘The ball was overthrown,’ or whatever the obvious is on the field.”
White and his wife, Jo Lynn, make their home in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert, Ari. They have four children, Ryan, Geoff, Heather and Reed, and 13 grandchildren.
Former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly announced today (Monday) that he has been diagnosed with cancer.
The Hall of Fame signal-caller is battling Squamous-cell carcinoma of the upper jawbone, and he is scheduled to undergo surgery Friday.
“This past couple of weeks has been difficult for me and because of the nature of social media I thought it would be best to share with everyone what has been going on with my health,” Kelly said in a statement on the Bills’ official website. “I was recently diagnosed with Squamous-cell carcinoma (cancer) of the upper jawbone.
“I have undergone tests which have shown that the cancer is isolated to my upper jaw and has not spread to other parts of my body. Surgery is scheduled for June 7th and doctors have told me that the prognosis for my recovery is very good.”
Kelly knows there’s a long road ahead, but he expressed optimism Monday that he’ll be OK.
“When you hear the word cancer, it automatically scares the crap out of you,” Kelly told reporters Monday. “I know it not only scared me, but it scared my family. Like everything, it’s just another river to cross and another stumbling block.
“I’ve been to the top many, many times, and I’ve been to the bottom. It’s just one of those roller-coaster rides I’ve been on throughout my life; it’s just another challenge for me. I know I’ll beat it — that’s the bottom line.”
Kelly was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002 and is the Bills’ all-time leading passer with 35,467 yards. He also led the Bills to four consecutive Super Bowls from 1990 to 1993.
Our thoughts are with Jim and the entire Kelly family. All of us here at NFL.com and NFL Network wish him a speedy recovery.
Click HERE to watch the video – Duration – 5:07
FIGHTING HIS OWN BATTLE: Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg suffering from Parkinson’s disease, won’t sue NFL
GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. — Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg says that while he and his neurologist blame concussions for his Parkinson’s disease, he’s not going to sue the NFL like thousands of other former players.
The 79-year-old says he doesn’t begrudge those who have joined the lawsuits but he has his pensions from his playing and coaching days and “I don’t need anything from anybody but what I earned.”
He said he’s an “independent type” and doesn’t believe in holding others accountable for his well-being.
“And my experience in the National Football League was good,” said Gregg, who is promoting UCB, Inc.’s “Parkinson’s More Than Motion” campaign during Parkinson’s Awareness Month.
Gregg said he’s doing well 18 months after his diagnosis and credits medicine, exercise and daily phone calls from his son and former teammates to reminisce about the good ol’ days, which keeps his mind sharp.
The former offensive lineman known as “Iron Man” said he wants to help others recognize the signs of Parkinson’s and seek treatment early enough to delay the degenerative effects of the chronic, debilitating disease on both mind and body.
When Gregg was diagnosed, his neurologist, Dr. Rajeev Kumar, a Parkinson’s expert and medical director of the Colorado Neurological Institute’s Movement Disorders Center in Denver, said the many concussions Gregg suffered during his playing days may have served as a trigger for Parkinson’s.
More than two dozen Hall of Famers are among the 4,200 former players who contend the league misled them about the harmful effects of concussions.
In recent years, scores of former NFL players and other concussed athletes have been diagnosed after their deaths with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, including popular Pro Bowler Junior Seau and lead plaintiff Ray Easterling. Both committed suicide last year.
About one-third of the league’s 12,000 former players have joined the litigation since Easterling filed suit in 2011. Some are battling dementia, depression or Alzheimer’s disease, and fault the league for rushing them back on the field after concussions. Others are worried about future problems and want their health monitored.
“I have been asked to join these lawsuits and my gut feeling, first thought is no,” Gregg said. “I’ve always been an independent type, I never believed in somebody else being responsible for my life and for my well-being.”
Gregg praised the NFL for its crackdown on illegal hits and enhanced protocol on concussions and said he applauds Roger Goodell for saying his top priority as commissioner is reducing head trauma in the game even though it’s changing the sport that he played and coached.
At the owners meetings last month, the NFL barred ball carriers from using the crown of their helmets to make forcible contact with a defender in the open field and also eliminated the peel-back block everywhere on the field.
The game looks different from the one Gregg played from 1956-71 with the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys and later coached, but Gregg said he doesn’t mind that.
“Anything that can be done to help in that respect, in that regard, I think is good, any time you prevent an injury by changing the rules,” Gregg said. “I know it’s not easy because these players are going to have to relearn how to play the game.
“Right now if I was coaching defensive linemen, it would be a hard matter for me to tell my linemen where to tackle the quarterback. If you tackle him above the shoulders, you hit him in the head and that’s a penalty. You tackle him below the hips, that’s illegal. Or if you have a hold of him and you slam him down to the ground, that’s illegal. So, what’s left? Maybe his belt buckle, that’s about it,” Gregg said.
“And I don’t say that’s wrong, because anything that can prevent injuries to ball players is good.”
Gregg said he was taught in high school in the 1950s that “the helmet was part of the weaponry.”
“My high school coach said if they try to run you over, you give them some plastic,” he recalled. “That was just the game, it really was. Nobody thought anything about getting hurt.”
Gregg sustained so many concussions he lost count, although he recalls one time he was so dazed he sat on the other team’s bench and when he came to with an ice pack on his neck, players on the other team told him he’d been “gone for a while.”
Gregg said he would still have chosen to play the sport even if he’d known there would be a price to pay later in life, however.
A guard and tackle, Gregg is one of three NFL players to win a-half dozen NFL championships, including the first two Super Bowls with the Packers. Gregg finished his career with another Super Bowl title with the Cowboys in 1971. He went on to coach the Bengals, Browns and Packers.
There is no cure for Parkinson’s, but a combination of drugs, exercise and physical therapy can delay the effects of the disease that strikes more than 50,000 Americans every year.
Gregg said he first went to the doctor when he noticed his left hand trembling in 2011. Although his motor symptoms began to show up over the year or two before that, Gregg’s wife, Barbara, said he began acting out his dreams about 15 years ago. Kumar said this phenomenon, known as REM sleep behavior disorder, was a possible early warning sign of Parkinson’s.
One time he dreamed he was trying to strangle a snake and his wife had to sock him to get him to let go of her wrist. Another time he dreamt he was back blocking for Bart Starr and knocked her out of their bed.
Sleep problems, memory loss and fatigue are some of the possible symptoms of Parkinson’s along with the typical motor aspects such as slowness or tremors.
The Greggs are sharing their story through a reality-style video series that is part of “Parkinson’s More than Motion” Facebook community and follows the couple as they cope with the disease and its treatment.
“I’ll tell you what, it’s emotional. You have to fight getting down,” Gregg said. “And I’ve been on the physical regimen. In fact, I think I was working out too much. I forget I was 79 instead of 39. And so I had to back off a little bit and now I don’t worry if I miss a day working out. The main thing is to continue to work out, try to keep a good attitude.”
Before capping the 1996 season by leading the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl victory, Brett Favre was 4-3 in playoff games. Not bad for a 26-year-old who at the time probably didn’t know he’d play another 15 NFL seasons.
The four wins came against the Atlanta Falcons, San Francisco 49ers and twice against the division rival Detroit Lions. The losses? Well, they all came at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys. And all were played at Texas Stadium.
The Cowboys, who were favored by at least nine in each of those games, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, won 27-17 in 1994, 35-9 in 1995 and 38-27 in 1996.
“I remember what the biggest issue was, we couldn’t get past Dallas,” Favre said Friday before a SMU Athletic Forum luncheon at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas. “Now, they were good. They were good. Each year we felt like we were gaining. But I always felt like, if we don’t get them at our place, we’re always going to be second fiddle.”
Favre completed 56 percent of his passes in those games, averaging 283 passing yards per contest and totaling five touchdowns and five interceptions.
The following season when Favre and the Packers went on to defeat the New England Patriots, 35-21, in Super Bowl XXXI, the Cowboys lost to the Carolina Panthers, 26-17, in the divisional round of the playoffs.
Although some of his teammates wanted their Super Bowl run to go through Dallas, Favre admitted that he was rooting for the Panthers to knock off the defending Super Bowl champs.
“I was thinking, ‘Please, please, beat them.’ I just had enough,” Favre said. “Other guys were saying, ‘I want them again.’ I’d had them enough. That was the biggest issue, we just couldn’t get past Dallas.
“It’s just hard to stay on top. It’s hard to get to the top. What they did was really amazing.”
Following his 10 minutes with the media and some time to eat lunch, Favre sat down with the voice of the Cowboys, Brad Sham, to entertain the guests with stories of his career. While sitting center stage, Favre said although growing up in Kiln, Mississippi made him want to see the New Orleans Saints do well, their lack of success turned him into a Cowboys supporter.
“I grew up a Dallas Cowboys fan. I loved Roger Staubach,” he said. “That was back when teams kept the same players on the roster for a long time. Drew Pearson, Randy White, Charlie Waters, Danny White, Robert Newhouse, Tony Dorsett, Billy Joe DuPree, I could go just on and on. I always dreamed of playing for the Cowboys, playing in the Super Bowl.”
Favre is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, no doubt about it. But it’s unlikely that the Cowboys would’ve had more success in the 1990s with Favre than they did with Troy Aikman.
Now, how Favre could’ve helped the Cowboys from 2001 and beyond is a different story.
Rayfield Wright, Fort Valley State
1967, seventh round (No. 182 overall)
Wright’s career as an offensive lineman landed him in the Hall of Fame. It’s an honor that would have been impossible to predict from his start.
The Cowboys bounced Wright between tight end, tackle and defensive end during his first three years in the league before establishing him at right tackle. Once there he became a fixture with six consecutive Pro Bowl selections. Wright was named All-Pro four times and earned a spot on the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1970s.
Larry Allen, Sonoma State
1994, second round (No. 46 overall)
He is the second Cowboys offensive lineman to earn a bust in Canton and will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame later this year.
Allen is arguably the most dominant lineman of his era. His 10 Pro Bowl appearances with the Cowboys is the most of any offensive player in club history. Allen was named to the Pro Bowl as a right guard, a left tackle and a left guard, something no one else has done.
Honorable mention: Herb Scott (13th round, 1975), Mark Stepnoski (third round, 1989), Erick Williams (third round, 1991), Flozell Adams (second round, 1998).
Howard Richards, Missouri
1981, first round (No. 26 overall)
Until Tyron Smith with the ninth overall pick was selected in 2011, this was the last time the Cowboys have used a first-round pick on an offensive lineman. Richards was primarily a backup for five of his six seasons with the Cowboys. He started 16 games during a disappointing, injury-prone career.
Robert Shaw, Tennessee
1979, first round (No. 27 overall)
This is the first time the Cowboys used a first round pick on an offensive lineman. Shaw began his career backing up John Fitzgerald at center and showed promise. But two months deep into his third season, a season that saw the only three starts of his career, Shaw blew out his right knee in a loss to San Francisco. He tried to come back for 20 months but was never able to pass his physical and retired.
Roger Staubach, with his wife Marianne at his side, takes to the microphones at Texas Stadium Monday, March 31, to announce his retirement as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys. DMN file photo
ROGER HANGS ‘EM UP – March 31, 1980
Roger Staubach, the man who became the yardstick to measure the success of the Dallas Cowboys during the ’70s, announced his retirement from football Monday at one of the largest news conferences ever held in Dallas.
Roger and Marianne Staubach (backs to camera) are shown at Texas Stadium as he announces his retirement from football. DMN staff photo by John F. Rhodes
12 Roger Staubach
Good things come to those who wait, and certainly the Dallas Cowboys’ patience in the mid-60’s was supremely rewarded, landing one of the best players in franchise history because they were willing to wait for Roger Staubach to fulfill his military commitment.
For that five years of patience, the Cowboys landed the guy who became better know as “Roger The Dodger” over the next 11 years when he was selected to six Pro Bowls – including five consecutively – and was named the NFL Players Association Most Valuable Player in 1971. Staubach led the NFL in passing four times and was selected to the All-NFC team four times.
“He is one of the finest to ever play the game,” Green Bay Packers Quarterback Bart Starr once said of Staubach. “I think if I had some of that Staubach competitiveness, I’d have been much better.”
Staubach was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1964 from the Naval Academy, but did not join the team until 1969 due to his Navy commitment. Former president and general manager Tex Schramm signed Staubach to a futures contract in a hotel room in 1964, actually scribbling out the details on a legal-sized tablet that would have Staubach paid annually to participate in training camp practices when he had enough leave built up.
The 1963 Heisman Trophy winner showed up in Dallas as a 27-year-old rookie, but in those 11 seasons still managed carve out the franchise’s all-time leading quarterback rating of 83.42 and became a five-time NFL passing champion. But Staubach almost became better known for his scrambling ability, and to this day ranks eighth on the Cowboys’ all-time rushing list with 2,264 yards.