Category Archives: AP, Reuters, wire report

AROUND THE NFC EAST – DOWN THE HATCH: Washington Redskins will open 2014 training camp without Jason Hatcher | Former Dallas Cowboys DE sidelined

AROUND THE NFC EAST - DOWN THE HATCH - Washington Redskins open 2014 training camp without Jason Hatcher - Former Dallas Cowboys DE sidelined

RICHMOND, Va. — Washington Redskins coach Jay Gruden says defensive end Jason Hatcher and three other players will be sidelined when training camp practice begins Thursday.

Gruden said today that Hatcher, defensive end Stephen Bowen and receiver Leonard Hankerson are still recovering from knee surgeries, while backup guard Maurice Hurt is out of shape.

Hatcher, acquired as a free agent from the Dallas Cowboys, had arthroscopic surgery last month. He is expected to return quicker than Bowen and Hankerson, who had more significant injuries.

The coach says quarterback Robert Griffin III’s physical condition is “not an issue” 18 months removed from major knee surgery. Says Gruden: “The key for him is to learn from his mistakes.”

Gruden is leading a camp for the first time. He says he’ll have “butterflies” making sure everything’s right.

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2014 NFL DRAFT ORDER: Official round-by-round order including the compensatory draft picks awarded by the league

2014-NFL-Draft - Dallas Cowboys draft 2014 Jerry Jones - 2014 Dallas Cowboys draft - NFL Draft 2014

The official round-by-round order for the 2014 NFL Draft, including the 32 compensatory picks awarded to 13 different teams:

Round 1

1. Houston Texans
2. St. Louis Rams (from Redskins)
3.
Jacksonville Jaguars
4. Cleveland Browns
5. Oakland Raiders
6. Atlanta Falcons
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Minnesota Vikings
9. Buffalo Bills
10. Detroit Lions
11. Tennessee Titans
12. New York Giants
13. St. Louis Rams
14. Chicago Bears
15. Pittsburgh Steelers
16. Dallas Cowboys
17. Baltimore Ravens
18. New York Jets
19. Miami Dolphins
20. Arizona Cardinals
21. Green Bay Packers
22. Philadelphia Eagles
23. Kansas City Chiefs
24. Cincinnati Bengals
25. San Diego Chargers
26. Cleveland Browns (from Colts)
27.
New Orleans Saints
28. Carolina Panthers
29. New England Patriots
30. San Francisco 49ers
31. Denver Broncos
32. Seattle Seahawks

Round 2

1 (33). Houston Texans
2 (34). Washington Redskins
3 (35). Cleveland Browns
4 (36). Oakland Raiders
5 (37). Atlanta Falcons
6 (38). Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7 (39). Jacksonville Jaguars
8 (40). Minnesota Vikings
9 (41). Buffalo Bills
10 (42). Tennessee Titans
11 (43). New York Giants
12 (44). St. Louis Rams
13 (45). Detroit Lions
14 (46). Pittsburgh Steelers
15 (47). Dallas Cowboys
16 (48). Baltimore Ravens
17 (49). New York Jets
18 (50). Miami Dolphins
19 (51). Chicago Bears
20 (52). Arizona Cardinals
21 (53). Green Bay Packers
22 (54). Philadelphia Eagles
23 (55). Cincinnati Bengals
24 (56). San Francisco 49ers (from Chiefs)
25 (57).
San Diego Chargers
26 (58). New Orleans Saints
27 (59). Indianapolis Colts
28 (60). Carolina Panthers
29 (61). San Francisco 49ers
30 (62). New England Patriots
31 (63). Denver Broncos
32 (64). Seattle Seahawks

Round 3

1 (65). Houston Texans
2 (66). Washington Redskins
3 (67). Oakland Raiders
4 (68). Atlanta Falcons
5 (69). Tampa Bay Buccaneers
6 (70). Jacksonville Jaguars
7 (71). Cleveland Browns
8 (72). Minnesota Vikings
9 (73). Buffalo Bills
10 (74). New York Giants
11 (75). St. Louis Rams
12 (76). Detroit Lions
13 (77). San Francisco 49ers (from Titans)
14 (78).
Dallas Cowboys
15 (79). Baltimore Ravens
16 (80). New York Jets
17 (81). Miami Dolphins
18 (82). Chicago Bears
19 (83). Cleveland Browns (from Steelers)
20 (84).
Arizona Cardinals
21 (85). Green Bay Packers
22 (86). Philadelphia Eagles
23 (87). Kansas City Chiefs
24 (88). Cincinnati Bengals
25 (89). San Diego Chargers
26 (90). Indianapolis Colts
27 (91). New Orleans Saints
28 (92). Carolina Panthers
29 (93). New England Patriots
30 (94). San Francisco 49ers
31 (95). Denver Broncos
32 (96). Minnesota Vikings (from Seahawks)
33 (97).
Pittsburgh Steelers (compensatory selection)
34 (98).
Green Bay Packers (compensatory selection)
35 (99).
Baltimore Ravens (compensatory selection)
36 (100).
San Francisco 49ers (compensatory selection)

Round 4

1 (101). Houston Texans
2 (102). Washington Redskins
3 (103). Atlanta Falcons
4 (104). New York Jets (from Tampa Bay)
5 (105).
Jacksonville Jaguars
6 (106). Cleveland Browns
7 (107). Oakland Raiders
8 (108). Minnesota Vikings
9 (109). Buffalo Bills
10 (110). St. Louis Rams
11 (111). Detroit Lions
12 (112). Tennessee Titans
13 (113). New York Giants
14 (114). Jacksonville Jaguars (from Ravens)
15 (115).
New York Jets
16 (116). Miami Dolphins
17 (117). Chicago Bears
18 (118). Pittsburgh Steelers
19 (119). Dallas Cowboys
20 (120). Arizona Cardinals
21 (121). Green Bay Packers
22 (122). Philadelphia Eagles
23 (123). Cincinnati Bengals
24 (124). Kansas City Chiefs
25 (125). San Diego Chargers
26 (126). New Orleans Saints
27 (127). Cleveland Browns (from Colts)
28 (128).
Carolina Panthers
29 (129). San Francisco 49ers
30 (130). New England Patriots
31 (131). Denver Broncos
32 (132). Seattle Seahawks
33 (133). Detroit Lions (compensatory selection)
34 (134).
Baltimore Ravens (compensatory selection)
35 (135).
Houston Texans (compensatory selection)
36 (136).
Detroit Lions (compensatory selection)
37 (137).
New York Jets (compensatory selection)
38 (138).
Baltimore Ravens (compensatory selection)
39 (139).
Atlanta Falcons (compensatory selection)
40 (140).
New England Patriots (compensatory selection)

Round 5

1 (141). Houston Texans
2 (142). Washington Redskins
3 (143). Tampa Bay Buccaneers
4 (144). Jacksonville Jaguars
5 (145). Cleveland Browns
6 (146). Seattle Seahawks (from Raiders)
7 (147).
Atlanta Falcons
8 (148). Minnesota Vikings
9 (149). Buffalo Bills
10 (150). Jacksonville Jaguars (from Lions)
11 (151).
Tennessee Titans
12 (152). New York Giants
13 (153). St. Louis Rams
14 (154). New York Jets
15 (155). Miami Dolphins
16 (156). Chicago Bears
17 (157). Pittsburgh Steelers
18 (158). Dallas Cowboys
19 (159). Jacksonville Jaguars (from Ravens)
20 (160).
Arizona Cardinals
21 (161). Green Bay Packers
22 (162). Philadelphia Eagles
23 (163). Kansas City Chiefs
24 (164). Cincinnati Bengals
25 (165). San Diego Chargers
26 (166). Indianapolis Colts
27 (167). New Orleans Saints
28 (168). Carolina Panthers
29 (169). New Orleans Saints (from Eagles via Patriots)
30 (170).
San Francisco 49ers
31 (171). Denver Broncos
32 (172). Seattle Seahawks
33 (173). Pittsburgh Steelers (compensatory selection)
34 (174).
New York Giants (compensatory selection)
35 (175).
Baltimore Ravens (compensatory selection)
36 (176).
Green Bay Packers (compensatory selection)

Round 6

1 (177). Houston Texans
2 (178). Washington Redskins
3 (179). Jacksonville Jaguars
4 (180). Cleveland Browns
5 (181). Houston Texans (from Raiders)
6 (182).
Atlanta Falcons
7 (183). Chicago Bears (from Tampa Bay)
8 (184).
Minnesota Vikings
9 (185). Buffalo Bills
10 (186). Tennessee Titans
11 (187). New York Giants
12 (188). St. Louis Rams
13 (189). Detroit Lions
14 (190). Miami Dolphins
15 (191). Chicago Bears
16 (192). Pittsburgh Steelers
17 (193). Kansas City Chiefs (from Cowboys)
18 (194). Baltimore Ravens
19 (195). New York Jets
20 (196). Arizona Cardinals
21 (197). Green Bay Packers
22 (198). New England Patriots (from Eagles)
23 (199).
Cincinnati Bengals
24 (200). Kansas City Chiefs
25 (201). San Diego Chargers
26 (202). New Orleans Saints
27 (203). Indianapolis Colts
28 (204). Carolina Panthers
29 (205). Jacksonville Jaguars (from 49ers)
30 (206).
New England Patriots
31 (207). Denver Broncos
32 (208). Seattle Seahawks
33 (209). New York Jets (compensatory selection)
34 (210).
New York Jets (compensatory selection)
35 (211).
Houston Texans (compensatory selection)
36 (212).
Cincinnati Bengals (compensatory selection)
37 (213).
New York Jets (compensatory selection)
38 (214).
St. Louis Rams (compensatory selection)
39 (215).
Pittsburgh Steelers (compensatory selection)

Round 7

1 (216). Houston Texans
2 (217). Washington Redskins
3 (218). Cleveland Browns
4 (219). Oakland Raiders
5 (220). Atlanta Falcons
6 (221). Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7 (222). Jacksonville Jaguars
8 (223). Minnesota Vikings
9 (224). Buffalo Bills
10 (225). New York Giants
11 (226). St. Louis Rams
12 (227). Detroit Lions
13 (228). Tennessee Titans
14 (229). Dallas Cowboys (from Bears)
15 (230).
Pittsburgh Steelers
16 (231). Dallas Cowboys
17 (232). Indianapolis Colts (from Ravens)
18 (233).
New York Jets
19 (234). Baltimore Ravens (from Dolphins)
20 (235).
Oakland Raiders (from Cardinals)
21 (236).
Green Bay Packers
22 (237). Philadelphia Eagles
23 (238). Dallas Cowboys (from Chiefs)
24 (239).
Cincinnati Bengals
25 (240). San Diego Chargers
26 (241). St. Louis Rams (from Colts)
27 (242).
San Francisco 49ers (from Saints)
28 (243).
San Francisco 49ers (from Panthers)
29 (244).
New England Patriots
30 (245). San Francisco 49ers
31 (246). Denver Broncos
32 (247). Seattle Seahawks
33 (248). Dallas Cowboys (compensatory selection)
34 (249).
St. Louis Rams (compensatory selection)
35 (250).
St. Louis Rams (compensatory selection)
36 (251).
Dallas Cowboys (compensatory selection)
37 (252).
Cincinnati Bengals (compensatory selection)
38 (253).
Atlanta Falcons (compensatory selection)
39 (254).
Dallas Cowboys (compensatory selection)
40 (255).
Atlanta Falcons (compensatory selection)
41 (256).
Houston Texans (compensatory selection)

Notes:

Compensatory picks cannot be traded


Larry Allen - Dallas Cowboys, NFL Draft Round 2, NFL Draft Pick No. 46 overall, 1994 NFL Draft

PHOTO: Larry Allen (Dallas, Round 2, Pick No. 46 overall, 1994)

Larry Allen is the only compensatory draft pick in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had quite a career in the NFL, starting 197 of 203 games and making 11 Pro Bowls and seven All-Pro teams. He was voted to both the NFL’s 1990s and 2000s All-Decade Teams.

A total of 32 compensatory choices in the 2014 NFL Draft have been awarded to 13 teams.

Under the rules for compensatory draft selections, a team losing more or better compensatory free agents than it acquires in the previous year is eligible to receive compensatory draft picks. The number of picks a team receives equals the net loss of compensatory free agents up to a maximum of four.

The 2014 NFL Draft takes place on May 8 to 10, and will be televised live on NFL Network.

Here are the teams receiving compensatory picks this year, with the round and overall number of each pick:

Atlanta Falcons: 4th round (139), 7th round (253, 255)

Baltimore Ravens: 3rd round (99), 4th round (134, 138), 5th round (175)

Cincinnati Bengals: 6th round (212), 7th round (252)

Dallas Cowboys: 7th round (248, 251, 254)

Detroit Lions: 4th round (133, 136)

Green Bay Packers: 3rd round (98), 5th round (176)

Houston Texans: 4th round (135), 6th round (211), 7th round (256)

New England Patriots: 4th round (140)

New York Giants: 5th round (174)

New York Jets: 4th round (137), 6th round (209, 210, 213)

Pittsburgh Steelers: 3rd round (97), 5th round (173), 6th round (215)

San Francisco 49ers: 3rd round (100)

St. Louis Rams: 6th round (214), 7th round (249, 250)

Compensatory free agents lost and signed by the clubs that will receive compensatory picks in 2014:

Atlanta Falcons: Lost: Brent Grimes, Luke McCown (did not qualify), Christopher Owens, Will Svitek, Vance Walker. Signed: Osi Umenyiora. Baltimore Ravens: Lost: Dannell Ellerbe, Paul Kruger, Ed Reed, Cary Williams. Signed: None. Cincinnati Bengals: Lost: Josh Brown, Bruce Gradkowski, Manny Lawson, Brian Leonard (did not qualify), Pat Sims, Dan Skuta. Signed: Josh Johnson, Mike Pollak, Alex Smith. Dallas Cowboys: Lost: Victor Butler, Kenyon Coleman, Mike Jenkins, John Phillips. Signed: Justin Durant. Detroit Lions: Lost: Cliff Avril, Gosder Cherilus, Justin Durant, Drayton Florence, Sammie Lee Hill. Signed: Reggie Bush, Jason Jones, Glover Quin. Green Bay Packers: Lost: Greg Jennings, Erik Walden. Signed: None. Houston Texans: Lost: Alan Ball, Connor Barwin, James Casey, Justin Forsett, Donnie Jones, Glover Quin. Signed: Greg Jones, Shane Lechler, Ed Reed. New England Patriots: Lost: Patrick Chung, Donald Thomas, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead. Signed: Danny Amendola, Isaac Sopoaga, Will Svitek. New York Giants: Lost: Martellus Bennett, Chase Blackburn, Domenik Hixon, Osi Umenyiora. Signed: Josh Brown, Ryan Mundy, Brandon Myers. New York Jets: Lost: Yeremiah Bell, Mike DeVito, Shonn Greene, Dustin Keller, LaRon Landry, Matt Slauson. Signed: Antwan Barnes, Mike Goodson. Pittsburgh Steelers: Lost: Keenan Lewis, Rashard Mendenhall, Ryan Mundy, Mike Wallace. Signed: Bruce Gradkowski. San Francisco 49ers: Lost: Ted Ginn, Dashon Goldson, Ricky Jean Francois, Isaac Sopoaga, Delanie Walker. Signed: Craig Dahl, Phil Dawson, Glenn Dorsey, Dan Skuta. St. Louis Rams: Lost: Danny Amendola, Craig Dahl, Bradley Fletcher, Brandon Gibson, Robert Turner. Signed: Jared Cook, Jake Long.

DALLAS COWBOYS LIVING LEGEND: Former safety Cliff Harris to have football stadium named after him

Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris –He made six Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Decade team for the 1970's. Renfro, Harris the only true safety in the Cowboys' Ring of Honor - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

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.

DALLAS COWBOYS LIVING LEGEND - Former safety Cliff Harris to have football stadium named after him - The Boys Are Back website 2014

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.

DALLAS COWBOYS LIVING LEGEND - Former Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris to have football stadium named after him - The Boys Are Back website 2014

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.

DALLAS COWBOYS LIVING LEGEND - Former Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris - The Boys Are Back website 2014

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE: What’s next for former Dallas Cowboys DT Josh Brent (extensive coverage)

LENIENCY GRANTED BY JURY - Former Dallas Cowboys DT Josh Brent sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years probation, now what - The Boys Are Back 2014

IRVING, Texas – Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent was sentenced today to 180 days in jail and 10 years of probation after the jury found him guilty two days prior of driving drunk in a car crash that resulted in the death of his teammate and friend, Jerry Brown Jr.

Brent was ordered to pay a $10,000 fine after being convicted of intoxication manslaughter Wednesday for the December 2012 wreck.

The jurors were sequestered Tuesday before Brent was convicted a day later. The sentencing phase began Thursday to determine the punishment for Brent, who faced up to 20 years in prison. Police said Brent’s blood alcohol level was twice the legal limit at the time of the incident. Brent was driving at least 110 miles an hour on an Irving service road when he flipped his white Mercedes. Neither man wore a seatbelt and the momentum if the crash threw Brown on top of Brent and cushioned Brent from serious injury.

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE - What’s next for former Dallas Cowboys DT Josh Brent - attorneys

Photo: The jury in the Josh Brent intoxication manslaughter trial came in with sentencing after deliberations this morning, January 24, 2014. The former Dallas Cowboys player received 180 days and 10 years probation. Defense attorneys George Milner III, center, Kevin Brooks, left, and David Wells, right, spoke with the media following the jury’s decision. (Mona Reeder/DMN)

Prosecutors Heath Harris, Jason Hermus, Becky Dodds and Gary McDonald are asking jurors for prison time. Brent faces up to 20 years in prison but is also eligible for probation.

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE - What’s next - Assistant District Attorney, Heath Harris, spoke to the media following the sentencing of former Dallas Cowboy Josh Brent.

Photo: Assistant District Attorney, Heath Harris, spoke to the media following the sentencing of former Dallas Cowboys player, Josh Brent. (Mona Reeder/DMN)

Defense attorneys George Milner III, Kevin Brooks and Deandra Grant made a plea for probation.

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE - What’s next - Josh Brent stands with lawyer Kevin Brooks while his punishment for his intoxication manslaughter conviction is read in court

Photo: Josh Brent stands with one of his lawyers Kevin Brooks while the punishment for his intoxication manslaughter conviction is read in court. Dallas, Friday, Jan. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Pool/LM Otero, Pool)

The the jury deliberated less than an hour before being sequestered for the night at a hotel.

The trial has attracted national attention and has lasted longer that most trials in Dallas County except for those where prosecutors are seeking death in a capital murder case. Jury selection began Thursday, Jan. 9. Testimony began the following Monday.

After reading the sentence, state District Judge Robert Burns scolded Brent for his actions. “You are not the first Dallas Cowboy to kill someone with a vehicle,” the judge said, “but I hope you’re the last.”

Dallas Cowboys players Barry Church and Danny McCray were among the people to testify during the trial. Brown’s mother, Stacey Jackson, also testified during the sentencing phase and has repeatedly stated she’s forgiven Brent for what took place.

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE - What’s next for former Dallas Cowboys DT Josh Brent - LaTasha Brent, the mother of Josh Brent

Photo: LaTasha Brent, the mother of Josh Brent, is helped from the courtroom following the punishment decision. (Mona Reeder/DMN)

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE - What’s next - Josh Brent is lead away from court into custody after his sentencing

Photo: Former Dallas Cowboys NFL football player Josh Brent, center, is lead away from the Dallas courtroom into custody after his sentencing. (AP Photo/Pool/LM Otero, Pool)

Brent, who last played with the Cowboys in 2012 and totaled 1.5 sacks in 12 games, has retired since the incident. The Cowboys still retain his rights. Executive vice president Stephen Jones wouldn’t address the possibility of Brent returning to the team as he spoke from a Senior Bowl practice in Mobile, Ala., prior to Wednesday’s conviction.

Linebacker Sean Lee attended the trial Tuesday and was in the courtroom to provide support for Brent. Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett have also offered their support for Brent since the accident occurred.

“We understand the very serious nature of this situation and express our concerns for all of the families and individuals that have been affected by the tragedy of Jerry Brown’s death,” owner/general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement after the conviction.


THE PATH BACK TO VALLEY RANCH: Josh Brent’s to return to the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys rights

THE PATH BACK TO VALLEY RANCH - Josh Brent’s to return to the NFL, and the Dallas Cowboys rights - game

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Josh Brent will have the chance to restart his NFL career one year after he retired if he chooses to pursue professional football again.

And it’s possible Brent could again play with a star on his helmet less than two years after he was responsible for the death of a teammate.

Brent retired from the NFL on July 18 with an NFL suspension looming and less than 24 hours before the Dallas Cowboys were to report to training camp.

Brent could face some hiccups in his path back to the NFL. He’d have to apply for reinstatement, and any request has to be reviewed and approved by the league. If he were reinstated, Brent could still be suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his conviction under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.

Such a decision would hinge on how the league ultimately views Brent’s one year away from football. If Brent returns, he would have missed a year by his own choice, and the league could decide not to pursue a suspension. Or, because Brent is a repeat offender with a previous DWI arrest in Illinois, his suspension could be longer than that of a first-time offender.

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE - What’s next for former Dallas Cowboys DT Josh Brent - will he return to the nfl

The Dallas Cowboys retain Brent’s contract rights, however, and he should be out of jail before the team reports for training camp in late July in Oxnard, Calif. Brent’s time served began Friday, and 180 days from today would put his release date at July 23.

Whether the Cowboys would welcome Brent back isn’t clear. But they’ve fully supported him since the tragic crash, even helping him get a job at a warehouse after he retired from the league. And, on Wednesday, before Brent was convicted of the second-degree felony, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones didn’t exactly close the door on Brent.

Asked if he’d ever consider Brent playing again for the Cowboys, Jones said, “I wouldn’t address that right now.”

The Dallas Cowboys declined to comment today after Brent was sentenced.

Peter Schaffer, Brent’s agent, was asked today if his client has completely closed the door on a future in the NFL.

“Haven’t thought about that,” Schaffer said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Brown family.”

Defense attorneys George Milner III and Kevin Brooks acknowledged that Brent could play pro football again. But Milner said Brent has never mentioned playing again and doesn’t talk about football unless he’s asked about it. They did not know if Brent still worked out.

“That road is not foreclosed,” Brooks said.

First Assistant District Attorney Heath Harris, the lead prosecutor in the case, said he would not begrudge Brent for returning to football. But he said Brent needs to get treatment and serve as an example to other players about the consequences of drunken driving.

“As long as he’s not out drinking and driving, I don’t have a problem with anybody doing his occupation,” Harris said. “Everybody has a right to earn a living.”

Other NFL players have continued their pro careers after being responsible for someone’s death.

Cleveland Browns receiver Donte’ Stallworth struck and killed a pedestrian in March 2009 while driving drunk. Five months later, Goodell suspended Stallworth the entire 2009 season without pay. Stallworth, who received 30 days in jail and eight years’ probation, was reinstated by the NFL the next season and went on to play in 20 games from 2010 to 2012 for three different teams.

After leaving a birthday party in 1998, then-St. Louis Rams defensive end Leonard Little crashed into and killed a woman in St. Louis while driving drunk. Little received four years’ probation before going on to a 12-year career with the Rams.

Brent will spend his 26th birthday Thursday in jail. Though still young, what kind of shape he’s in when he’s released will play a part in teams’ possible interest in him. And he isn’t exactly an ideal fit for the Cowboys since they’ve switched defensive schemes.

Also, he had only 31 career tackles in three seasons with the Cowboys before his arrest.


ATTORNEY’S LIVE INTERVIEW: Testimony from Jerry Brown Jr.’s mother brings leniency in sentencing for Josh Brent

GETTING BACK ON THE SADDLE - What’s next - Josh Brent stands with lawyer Kevin Brooks while his punishment for his intoxication manslaughter conviction is read in court

Photo: A packed courtroom listens to Judge Robert Burns III, right, admonish former Dallas Cowboys Josh Brent as he stands with his lawyers after Brent’s sentencing for his intoxication manslaughter conviction was read in court Friday, Jan. 24, 2014, in Dallas. Brent was sentenced for a drunken car crash that killed his friend and teammate, Jerry Brown Jr. He could have been sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. (AP Photo/Pool/LM Otero, Pool)

One of Josh Brent’s attorneys, Kevin Brooks, joined KRLD-FM today. Here are some highlights from the interview. 

Audio - Josh Brent attorney Kevin Brooks - 1053 the fan krld - The Boys Are Back 2014

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW

On Josh Brent’s feelings right now:

“Josh is not the person that some folks have made him out to be. The people that know Josh will tell you that and if you ever spend any time around him you would see that he’s a very private person. In a lot of ways he’s an extremely shy guy, which would be surprising for someone his size and his physical presence. When we went back in the holding cell after the verdict Josh wasn’t jumping up and down happy. He was still extremely somber. I told him, ‘You’ve got a lot to process,’ because as I said during closing arguments this is something that he has lived with since December 8.”

On how this has changed Josh Brent:

“I can only go — in terms of how he was before this accident — by what people have told me. They described him before this accident as a very upbeat, positive, happy-go-lucky kind of guy. Since then they’ve noticed that he’s become extremely reserved, which is not surprising knowing that he’s had this thing hanging over head for almost a year a half. But he is still a fairly reserved, quiet, private individual.”

On the 10-year probation:

“For him to get probation in this case the jury had to come back with a sentence of 10 years or less. Anything above 10 years, they could not recommend probation so the 10 years was the starting point. And obviously the next point was do they recommend probation, which they did. The judge sentenced him to 10 years of probation. In the state of Texas that’s the maximum amount of time a person can be placed on probation is 10 years. If he were to violate he’s looking at 10 years.”

On returning to football:

“As far as the Cowboys or going back to the Cowboys or anything like that, that’s never been part of our discussions.”

On people saying Josh Brent got off light:

“They weren’t privy to the evidence that the jury saw and heard, particularly during the punishment phase. They were not there to witness the real grace and forgiveness that Jerry Brown’s mom came across with it. It’s pretty clear from here testimony to the jury that she did not want Josh going to prison and Josh was a second son to hear. And then the other thing that I think most citizens don’t know is there are people on probation for that same offense and one of the things that we brought out during the punishment phase is that presently there are 34 people on probation for that offense. One of the things we did not bring out, the year before there was 55 people on probation for that same offense. So in terms of painting this probation as something that’s unusual or unheard of, I think we were able to show that’s simply not the case.”

On the terms of Brent’s probation:

“There are a lot of terms and conditions. Generally there are 17 that are standardized and they can be as simple as pay your probation fee each month, perform a number of community service hours as determined by the judge, attend alcohol or drug treatment classes, restitution payments if necessary. Things of that nature. Any of those things are what you called technical violations. They rarely result in a person’s probation being revoked. The main thing would be continuing to test positive for any drugs or committing a new offense whether it’s alcohol-related or not.”

On what his restrictions are on driving:

“Those are the types of things that fall under terms and conditions of probation for him and those are things that the judge can add or takeaway. I have no doubt that at the point he’s released at the end of the 180 days, he’s going to put him on a monitor. He’s going to put him on what’s called a ‘SCRAM’ which will let the court know if he’s using alcohol. He’s not going to be allowed to drink alcohol while on probation, so there’s going to be a lot of restrictions on him and there’s going to be a lot of technical devices to monitor him and what he’s doing or consuming.”


Media Coverage immediately following the sentencing of Josh Brent

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Try this link for Dallas/Ft Worth breaking news coverage (NBC DFW)


COWLISHAW EDITORIAL: Will fans be as forgiving if Dallas Cowboys bring Josh Brent back?

dallas cowboys josh brent - the boys are back blog

A light sentence handed to Josh Brent on an intoxication manslaughter charge Friday — 180 days in jail plus 10 years’ probation — was no great surprise. This is Texas. If you’re going to be convicted of manslaughter on a drinking-and-driving charge (after you have already been convicted of another DUI), this is one of the better states to avoid doing hard time.

A recent case in which a 17-year-old was basically deemed too spoiled to be responsible for having killed four people while driving drunk — he received no jail time — still boggles the mind. Against that backdrop, finding a jury quick to sympathize with Brent after he had jeopardized the holiest of careers — playing for the Dallas Cowboys — must not have been overly difficult.

And yet I believe the idea of Brent jumping right back into a Cowboys uniform and playing next season — he will be free from jail in plenty of time — would repulse much of the fan base. Cowboys fans have long accepted a reasonable amount of aberrant behavior from their heroes as long as they produced titles. Such a quick willingness to forgive and forget here could be the last straw for many struggling to maintain ties with a team so far removed from its championship glory.

A DMN survey suggests a majority of fans will be ready to see Brent back in cleats this fall. We shall see on that.

The problem for me is that giving Brent probation has proved to be a failed cure. He received probation for a DUI charge at the University of Illinois and, yet, there he was in the wee hours of Dec. 8, 2012, finishing off about 17 drinks (according to the evidence) before climbing into his Mercedes, driving recklessly and killing his friend and teammate, Jerry Brown Jr.

Brown’s mother forgave Brent long ago. Is that really all that matters? If the victim’s family forgives, does that mean a serious crime was not committed?

A disturbing but not overly surprising sentence was handed down by a jury Friday.

Time will tell whether the Cowboys — desperate for anyone to play the role of defensive lineman — forgive as quickly and how their fans cope with that decision.

2014 NFL DRAFT NEWS: Record-breaking number of underclassmen to enter NFL Draft Class of 2014 | Revised

2014 NFL Draft Weekend - Radio City Music Hall - The Boys Are Back blog

A record 98 underclassmen, including Johnny Manziel and Jadeveon Clowney, have made themselves eligible for the NFL draft in May.

The league released the list of early entrants Sunday and said the number has risen six straight seasons. The deadline for underclassmen to apply was Jan. 15.

Last year, 73 underclassmen entered the draft. The year before it was 65 and in 2011 it was 56.

Also, four players who recently graduated and still have eligibility left are joining the draft class but aren’t included in the number. Most notable among those is Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. Southern California defensive back Dion Bailey, Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard are also juniors who have informed the league they have graduated.

Among the early entrants expected to be selected near the top of the draft are Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback, Clowney, the defensive end from South Carolina, and Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins.

The draft is May 8-10 in New York.

LSU for the second straight season had the most players of any school to leave early. The Tigers had seven early entrants this season, including wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., after 11 LSU players left early last year.

Alabama and Southern California each had five leave early, along with California. Cal, which went 1-11, has six players listed among the early entrants, but that includes defensive end Chris McCain, who was dismissed from the team in September.

National champion Florida State lost four players early, including All-America defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan and receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who caught the winning touchdown in the BCS championship game against Auburn. Notre Dame, Florida and South Carolina also had four early entrants.


RELATED: List of underclassmen granted eligibility for 2014 NFL Draft

The NFL announced today the names of 98 players who have been granted special eligibility for the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8-10 in New York.

Each of the 98 players has met the league’s three-year eligibility rule and each has submitted a written application in which he renounced his remaining college football eligibility. The deadline for receiving applications was January 15.

The NFL Draft will kick off in primetime for the fifth consecutive year. The first round will be held on Thursday, May 8. The second and third rounds are set for Friday, May 9. Rounds four through seven will be held on Saturday, May 10.

The number of players granted special eligibility is a new record, up 25 from last year. The number has increased six years in a row.

» Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
» Nick Addison, DB, Bethune-Cookman
» Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
» George Atkinson, RB, Notre Dame
» Dion Bailey, S, USC
» Odell Beckham, WR, LSU
» Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
» Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
» Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
» Alfred Blue, RB, LSU
» Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
» Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
» Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
» Carl Bradford, DE, Arizona State
» Bashaud Breeland, DB, Clemson
» Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
» Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
» Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
» Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB, Alabama
» Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
» Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
» Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
» Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
» Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
» Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
» Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
» Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
» Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
» Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
» Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
» Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
» Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
» Khairi Fortt, LB, California
» Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State
» Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
» Carlos Gray, DT, North Carolina State
» Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
» Terrance Hackney, T, Bethune-Cookman
» Vic Hampton, CB, South Carolina
» Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
» Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
» Kameron Jackson, CB, California
» Nic Jacobs, TE, McNeese State
» Timmy Jernigan, DT, Florida State
» Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
» Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
» Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
» Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
» Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
» Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
» Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
» Marqise Lee, WR, USC
» A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
» Albert Louis-Jean, DB, Boston College
» Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
» Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
» Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
» Marcus Martin, C, USC
» Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
» Chris McCain, DE, California
» Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
» Viliami Moala, DT, California
» Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
» Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State
» Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
» Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
» Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
» Jeoffrey Pagan, DL, Alabama
» Ronald Powell, LB, Florida
» Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
» Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
» Kelcy Quarles, DL, South Carolina
» Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
» Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
» Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
» Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
» Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
» Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
» Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
» Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
» Richard Rodgers, TE California
» Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
» Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
» Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
» Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
» Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
» Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
» Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
» Willie Snead, WR, Ball State
» John Spooney, RB, Brown
» Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State
» Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
» Vinnie Sunseri, DB, Alabama
» De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
» Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
» Trai Turner, OG, LSU
» George Uko, DL, USC
» Pierre Warren, FS, Jacksonville State
» Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
» Terrance West, RB, Towson
» James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State
» David Yankey, OL, Stanford

Stay up-to-date with NFL Draft Picks and NFL Draft Prospects right here … The Boys Are Back website has two pages dedicated to the Dallas Cowboys draft and draft prospects.

TBAB Button - NFL Draft ProspectsBUTTON - NFL Draft Picks - The Boys Are Back blog

NFL INTERNATIONAL SERIES: League doesn’t anticipate London Super Bowl despite U.K. success

NFL INTERNATIONAL SERIES - League doesn't anticipate London Super Bowl despite U.K. success - 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys

LONDON — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the NFL’s overseas success doesn’t mean the Super Bowl is crossing the Atlantic or that the league is going back to continental Europe.

Goodell said the expansion from two to three NFL regular season games starting next season has the league exploring how to continue growing its International Series brand. More games could come to London, which will need a franchise before it can even dream of hosting the Super Bowl. And that is some time away.

NFL INTERNATIONAL SERIES - League doesn't anticipate London Super Bowl despite U.K. success - 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys to play in London

“We don’t have a timetable for (a London franchise). We want to continue building interest, and if it continues to go well we believe a franchise could be here. The Super Bowl won’t be played anywhere where we don’t have a franchise,” Goodell said on Saturday.

“Right now, our focus is on the U.K. since the European fans can get here. We want to build on our success here, and whether it leads to a permanent franchise or not, then we can see. What happens here will dictate that.”

Goodell said demand from NFL teams to play in London was more than it could handle, and that a game could be held in Sunday prime-time hours next year. Monday and Thursday night games in London have been ruled out, as has holding preseason games or the Pro Bowl overseas.

NFL INTERNATIONAL SERIES - League doesn't anticipate London Super Bowl despite U.K. success - 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys to play in London - San Francisco 49ers

Photo: The San Francisco 49ers have arrived in London to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second game of the 2013International Series.

Goodell applauded the Jacksonville Jaguars for embracing the International Series, with the Florida-based team signed up to play four regular season “home” games at Wembley Stadium over four years. The first is on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

“Jacksonville is an interesting experiment. I think fans there see that it’s good for their community, that it’s putting Jacksonville on a global stage,” Goodell said while addressing some Jaguars fans complaints about losing one home game over these four seasons. “Whenever there is going to be change, there is going to be resistance to change.”

NFL INTERNATIONAL SERIES - League doesn't anticipate London Super Bowl despite U.K. success - 2014-2015 Dallas Cowboys to play in London - Joe Montana

Goodell met with a selection of NFL fans alongside 49ers great Joe Montana and former Jaguars offensive lineman Tony Boselli on Saturday.

The enthusiasm of overseas NFL fans was palpable inside the Grand Ballroom of the Landmark Hotel, with a scattering of NFL team jerseys in the audience featuring names such as Brady, Kaepernick, Bettis and even Tebow.

But it was Montana who won fans over when asked what he would do if appointed NFL commissioner for a day.

“I’d put a franchise over here,” Montana said.

WHAT THE–HAIL TO THE CHIEF: President Barack Obama open to Washington Redskins name change

Obama might change (we can believe in) Redskins name if he were owner

President Barack Obama says he would “think about changing” the Washington Redskins’ name if he owned the football team as he waded into the controversy involving a word that many consider offensive to Native Americans.

Barack Obama Washington Redskins Jersey

Obama, in an interview with The Associated Press, said team names such as the Redskins offend “a sizable group of people.” He said that while fans get attached to the names, nostalgia might not be a good enough reason to keep them in place.

“I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things,” he said in the interview, which was conducted Friday.

An avid sports fan, Obama said he doesn’t think Washington football fans are purposely trying to offend American Indians. “I don’t want to detract from the wonderful Redskins fans that are here. They love their team and rightly so,” he said.

President Barack Obama throws a football at Soldier Field - The Boys Are Back blog

But the president appeared to come down on the side of those who have sharply criticized the football team’s name, noting that Indians “feel pretty strongly” about mascots and team names that depict negative stereotypes about their heritage.

Barack Obama playing football

Other professional sports teams have Indian names, including football’s Kansas City Chiefs and baseball’s Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians.

Numerous colleges and universities have changed names that reference Native Americans. St. John’s changed its mascot from the Redmen to the Red Storm, Marquette is now the Golden Eagles instead of the Warriors and Stanford switched from the Indians to the Cardinal.

Barrack Obama might change Washington Redskins name if he was team owner

The Redskins’ name has attracted a fresh round of controversy in recent months, with local leaders in Washington calling for a name change and some media outlets refraining from using the name. The name is the subject of a long-running legal challenge from a group of American Indians seeking to block the team from having federal trademark protection.

Congressional lawmakers have introduced a bill seeking the same goal, though it appears unlikely to pass.

obama-indians-feathers

Opponents of the Redskins name plan to hold a protest Monday outside the NFL’s fall meeting in Washington.

Team owner Dan Snyder has vowed to never abandon the name. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last month that the league should pay attention to those offended by the name — a subtle change in position for Goodell, who had more strongly supported the name in his previous statements this year.

Despite the controversy, an AP-GfK poll conducted in April showed that nationally, “Redskins” still enjoys wide support. Nearly 4 in 5 Americans don’t think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while 8 percent weren’t sure and 2 percent didn’t answer.

Obama might change Redskins name if he were owner

TEAM RESPONSE: The Washington Redskins released a statement through their attorney in response to President Obama’s comments:

“As a supporter of President Obama, I am sure the President is not aware that in the highly respected independent Annenberg Institute poll (taken in 2004) with a national sample of Native Americans, 9 out of 10 Native Americans said they were not bothered by the name the ‘Washington Redskins.’ The President made these comments to the Associated Press, but he was apparently unaware that an April 2013 AP poll showed that 8 out of 10 of all Americans in a national sample don’t think the Washington Redskins’ name should be changed.

“The Redskins respect everyone. But like devoted fans of the Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Chicago Blackhawks (from President Obama’s hometown), the fans love their team and its name and, like those fans, they do not intend to disparage or disrespect a racial or ethnic group. The name ‘Washington Redskins’ is 80 years old – its history and legacy and tradition. The Redskins’ fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ every Sunday as an expression of honor, not disparagement.”

COWBOYS CORRAL RAMS: DeMarco Murray leads 31-7 rout with 175 rushing yards

COWBOYS CORRAL RAMS - DeMarco Murray leads 31-7 rout with 175 rushing yards

ARLINGTON, Texas — DeMarco Murray found the perfect antidote for his recent malaise: the St. Louis Rams.

Murray rushed for 175 yards and a touchdown two years after torching St. Louis with a franchise record as a rookie, and Tony Romo threw for three scores in a 31-7 victory Sunday.

Murray’s first 100-yard game in more than a year started with a 14-yard run on Dallas’ first offensive play, and he had plenty of open space on a 36-yarder to start Dallas’ second drive to a 10-lead late in the first quarter.

Sam Bradford, Murray’s old college teammate at Oklahoma, didn’t have nearly as much room to operate.

The Cowboys (2-1) sacked him four times in the first half and had six in total after St. Louis (1-2) hadn’t allowed a sack in four games dating to last season. It was the longest streak for the Rams since John Hadl was under center for a division champion in 1973.

Bradford still went 29 for 48 and was not intercepted.

DeMarcus Ware had two sacks and broke Harvey Martin’s 30-year-old franchise record of 114.

The Rams, trying for their first 2-1 start since 2006, had just 18 yards total offense in the first half compared to 96 for Murray alone. The Cowboys had 202 yards before halftime.

Romo, who had 217 yards passing, went 2 yards to Dez Bryant for the first Dallas score. He had a pair of 24-yarders in the second half to rookie tight end Gavin Escobar and Dwayne Harris, who bounced back from a muff on the game’s first punt.

When the Rams finally started getting defenders around Murray at the line of scrimmage, Romo found him on the outside for a pair of catches on a drive that ended with a 2-yard run by Murray for a 17-0 lead. Murray, who had 253 yards against the Rams in 2011, went around left end before extending the ball over the goal line right on the pylon, and there was no review. His last 100-yard game was the 2012 opener, and he was coming off a 25-yard performance in a loss at Kansas City.

St. Louis avoided the shutout on Bradford’s 4-yard pass to Austin Pettis on fourth down late in third quarter after an interception by rookie safety J.J. Wilcox was wiped out by a roughing-the-passer penalty against Jason Hatcher.

The Rams had a chance to stay in the game on their next drive, but Bradford threw behind Chris Givens while Givens on fourth down. Dallas scored three plays later for a 31-7 lead when Romo hit Harris in stride in the back of the end zone.

Tavon Austin had an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown called back by a holding penalty. The Rams also were penalized for a blind-side block that laid out Dallas’ Kyle Wilber, who stayed down for a few minutes before leaving the field on his own.

AROUND THE NFL: Father of Cardinals’ Dan Williams killed on way to see son play

AROUND THE NFL - Father of Cardinals' Dan Williams killed on way to see son play - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Arizona Cardinals will take on the New Orleans Saints on Sunday without starting defensive tackle Dan Williams, who is dealing with a terrible personal tragedy.

Team spokesman Mark Dalton told The Associated Press that Williams was excused from the game due to the death of his father, who was killed in a car accident. Williams’ sister and mother also were in the car, but Dalton said they were expected to recover from their injuries.

Dalton told The AP that Thomas Williams was en route from the family’s home in Memphis, Tenn., to New Orleans to watch his son play. The accident occurred near Jackson, Miss.

It’s a heartbreaking story. Our condolences go out to Williams and his family.

THE LEGEND OF BEAR BRYANT: The Vince Lombardi of college football commemorates 100th birthday

Bryant 100th Football

Fred Thompson’s character Arthur Branch once said in an episode of Law and Order that “If it wasn’t for that sonuvabitch Bin Laden, we’d only remember September 11 as Bear Bryant’s birthday.” Today, many people throughout the world of college football—and especially in Alabama—will make Branch proud by not letting Bin Laden spoil the centennial celebration of Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant’s birthday.  

While working on Mama Called, a new documentary of Bryant’s life, I found myself pondering a question which I had asked myself many times over the years: Was Bear Bryant the greatest college football coach of all time?

Bear Bryant retired in 1982, after 25 years as Alabama's head coach. He died four weeks after coaching his last game for the Crimson Tide.

In the time since his death in 1983, it has become more and more obvious that he was. Two other coaches of major college football teams passed him up in the all-time victories list—Joe Paterno (409) and Bobby Bowden (377) won more games in the major college ranks—but Bryant’s won-lost percentage is considerably higher (.780 to Paterno’s .749 and Bowden’s .740). Bryant won more national championships (six) than Paterno and Bowden combined (four). And for what it’s worth, Bryant was 4-0 in head-to-head matchups with Paterno.

Bryant’s stature in college football is so great that there’s really only one other football coach since World War II whose reputation compares—Vince Lombardi, another man whose 100th birthday was commemorated this year. I once asked Bart Starr, who had known Bryant for years and who won five championships under Lombardi at Green Bay, if he thought Bryant was the Vince Lombardi of college football. Starr said, “At the least. Some people might call Coach Lombardi the Bear Bryant of pro football.” (More on that comparison later.)

Vince Lombardi

Paul Bryant coached at four universities and completely turned their football programs around for the better. Maryland was 1-7-1 in 1944, and then, in Bryant’s first and only season as head coach, went 6-2-1. Kentucky was 2-8-0 in 1945; in Bryant’s first year, 1946, the Wildcats were 7-3. In 1953, the Texas A&M Aggies were 4-5-1. When Bryant got there the next year, he gutted the entire squad and rebuilt it practically from scratch; the Aggies finished just 1-9 in 194, but Bryant’s labor bore fruit the next year, when they jumped to 7-2-1, and in 1956, they were the Southwest Conference Champions at 9-0-1. The Alabama Crimson Tide were 2-7-1 in 1957 to 5-4-1 in 1958 under Bryant, and, of course, the rest is history.

Bryant is the only coach to have achieved greatness in both the era of limited substitution (when all players had to spend some time on both offense and defense) and the era of unlimited substitution, the modern era of football when players specialized at just one position.

Bryant coached 133 games against 25 men who were eventually voted into the College Football Hall of Fame; in those games, Bryant was 85-42-6. He also coached against 11 of his former players and assistant coaches, with a record of 45-6. LSU’s longtime coach Charlie McClendon once ruefully exclaimed, “He taught me everything I know, but not everything he knows.”

The vast majority of college football historians have also overlooked the fact that Bryant is the only coach to have achieved greatness in both the era of limited substitution (or one-platoon football, as it was called, when all players had to spend some time on both offense and defense) and the era of unlimited substitution, the modern era of football when players specialized at just one position.

Bryant coached for 38 seasons, and his career breaks right down the middle between the eras of one-platoon and two-platoon ball.  The difference was probably best summed up in a comment Bryant once made to me during an interview: “In the old days, you spent more time coaching football. Nowadays [with expanded staffs and larger rosters] you spend more time coaching the coaches.”

From 1945 t0 1963, his record was 141-49-13 for an excellent .727 win-loss percentage, while from 1964-1982 he was 182-36-4 for an awesome .829. No other football coach who had to make the adjustment from limited to unlimited substitution in the game even begins to compare.

However, Benny Marshall a longtime columnist for the Birmingham News, tapped into one of the most important, fascinating sets of parallel stories in sports history when he drew the comparison (if an overblown, rather unflattering one) between Bryant and Vince Lombardi—going so far as to refer to Lombardi as “a poor man’s Bear Bryant.”

Bear Bryant met and married his wife, Mary Harmon, while they were both students at Alabama

Besides being born in the same year, Bryant’s and Lombardi’s lives shared an amazing number of similarities. Both men married young and stayed married to the same woman their entire lives. Both had two children, a son and a daughter, —and both sons were named after their fathers. Their football mentors—Jim Crowley at Fordham for Lombardi and Frank Thomas at Alabama for Bryant—learned the game under Knute Rockne at Notre Dame. Both won their first championship in 1961. They each developed close and lasting relationships with rebellious prodigies—Lombardi with Paul Hornung, Bryant with Joe Namath. And both, of course, were uncompromising taskmasters who stressed fundamentals and discipline.

They nearly played against each other when Alabama met Fordham at the Polo Grounds in New York in 1933; Lombardi was ineligible for Fordham’s varsity squad but was in the stands that day.

Bear Bryant appeared on the cover of Time Magazine

Lombardi’s impact on pro football has faded; he has no protégés or disciples still in the game. But The Bear’s influence still pervades every level of the game, from small colleges to the pros. Joe Namath, his most famous recruit, helped bring out about the merger of the American and National Football League. Ozzie Newsome, one of Bryant’s first black All-Americans, is currently general manager of the Baltimore Ravens. John Mitchell, the first black player to start for the Crimson Tide and Bryant’s first black assistant coach, is now in his 20th season as defensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And Sylvester Croom, who starred at center and later served as an assistant coach for Bryant, became the first black coach at a Southeastern Conference school, Mississippi State, in 2004, and is the new running backs coach for the Tennessee Titans.

Bryant’s domain, I would argue, was larger than Lombardi’s or any other pro football coach’s. For nearly four decades Bryant was the dominant figure in what the great sportswriter Dan Jenkins called in his book, Saturday’s America, “the world of small towns and college communities that, from Labor Day through New Year’s, gives unqualified devotion to college football, displaying the kind of unbridled enthusiasm that can only be faked or imitated in pro football stadiums.”

Courtesy: Allen Barra

Allen Barra writes about sports for the Wall Street Journal and TheAtlantic.com. His next book is Mickey and Willie–The Parallel Lives of Baseball’s Golden Age.

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (AND FIGHTS): Alabama High School football game turns into brawl

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (AND FIGHTS) - Alabama High School football game turns into brawl - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

A postgame brawl after a Friday night football game in Alabama left one coach bruised and bloodied while police were called into escort the teams away from the scene.

Cullman High School defeated the Walker High School Vikings on their home turf in Jasper, Ala. 13-10 on a last-minute drive and it appears harsh words and hurt feelings set off the losing team during Cullman’s celebration.

Although exact details of the melee are scarce, the fight was caught on cameras for our viewing pleasure (alternate link – http://vimeo.com/73548413):

There are a few theories as to what went down, but the exact cause of the fight still remains unknown. According to the Cullman Times, Walker head coach John Holladay and Cullman defensive coordinator Matt Hopper “appeared to be exchanging words as Holladay and the Vikings were walking to the locker room to avoid the customary midfield meeting” at the game’s conclusion.

The Cullman Times also reported today that representatives from both high schools were called in to meet with members of the Alabama High School Athletic Association to determine what, if any, additional punishment would come out of the incident but not before Holladay resigned from his head coaching position Tuesday evening.

In a statement to the paper, ASHAA executive director Steve Savarese commented on the incident, saying, “The AHSAA is always disappointed by any unsportsmanlike incident that involves players or coaches from our member schools. Our coaches are teachers first, and must demonstrate examples of good sportsmanship at all times. We truly understand the passions that are involved in competitive athletics, but we can never allow those passions to cross the line and become unsportsmanlike in nature.

Local law enforcement is currently deciding whether or not charges will be pressed.

AROUND THE NFL: Steelers acquire ex-Cowboys RB Felix Jones from Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles' Felix Jones arrives at NFL football training camp in Philadelphia July 25, 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers bolstered their injury-plagued backfield Friday, acquiring former Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones from Philadelphia for linebacker Adrian Robinson.

The deal is pending each player passing a physical.

Jones, 26, gives the Steelers needed depth at running back. Rookie Le’Veon Bell is out with a sprained right foot and is out indefinitely. Isaac Redman is dealing with a nerve injury, and return specialist LaRod Stephens-Howling sat out last Monday’s preseason game against Washington with a sprained knee.

Jones was the 22nd overall pick in the 2008 draft by the Cowboys but never stayed healthy enough to become a feature back. He rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns in 64 games with Dallas.

It’s unlikely the Steelers consider Jones a short-term replacement for Bell, who sprained his foot against the Redskins. Bell said Thursday he is optimistic he’ll be able to return quickly.

HUMBLED AND HURT: With the Saints high-rolling offense, Rob Ryan can shoot for ‘average’

New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan during 2013 organized team activities at the Saints training facility - The Boys Are Back blog

METAIRIE, La. — Rob Ryan figures his firing in Dallas will only help him relate to a Saints defense humbled by a historically bad season.

“I don’t like getting fired,” Ryan said Thursday during his first meeting with reporters since Sean Payton hired him in February to revamp New Orleans’ last-ranked defense. “I know I got my feelings hurt and so did our players. We’re looking to do something about it.”

defensive coordinator rob ryan walks the sideline during the game against the new orleans saints - the boys are back blog

The Saints gave up 7,042 yards in 2012, the most ever in a single season in the NFL. Payton has said that performance forced him to make a change at defensive coordinator, even though he felt bad letting Steve Spagnuolo go after only one highly unusual season.

Spagnuolo never got to coach with Payton, who was suspended all of last season in connection with the NFL’s bounty probe. Yet shortly after Payton was reinstated, the relatively calm, analytical Spagnuolo, who favored a read-and-react 4-3 defense, was replaced by Ryan, who runs a pressure-heavy 3-4 scheme (three down linemen, four linebackers).

Ryan also has been known to exhibit a brash demeanor more akin to that of Gregg Williams, the Saints’ defensive coordinator from 2009 to 2011.

“Personality-wise they are very similar,” Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins said. “They’re cut from the same cloth in that they know that players and matchups are what defense is all about and they have a lot of personality and they’re aggressive in their play-calling.”

Williams often referred to himself as a disciple of retired coach Buddy Ryan, who ran the defense of Chicago’s 1985 Super Bowl championship team and later was a head coach for Philadelphia and Arizona. Rob Ryan is Buddy Ryan’s son, and New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan’s brother.

“They’re all from the same school, the Buddy Ryan defense, so there are a lot of similarities between what Gregg was running and what Rob is bringing,” Jenkins said. “But I think Rob has a few more wrinkles with the 3-4 and everything, and I think we’re going to have fun.”

Williams used to boast brazenly of how nasty he wanted his defenses to be, and wound up being a central figure in the NFL’s investigation into the Saints’ bounty program. The league said Williams administered the program, which paid cash bonuses for big plays, including heavy and sometimes injury-causing hits.

Ryan’s approach also fosters toughness, Jenkins said, and that is something Saints players embrace, even as they are mindful of the scrutiny they faced from the league in the past.

“There’s a line and you don’t cross it, but you want to get as close to that line as you can,” Jenkins said. “We definitely want to be a physical, feared defense.”

Because the Saints’ offense, designed by Payton and orchestrated by quarterback Drew Brees, is perennially among the NFL’s best, New Orleans has not always had to be good on defense to win.

They ranked 25th of 32 teams in 2009, when they won their only Super Bowl. They ranked 24th in 2011, when they went 13-3 and advanced to the divisional round of the NFC playoffs before falling to San Francisco in a thriller.

So Ryan, whose defense in Dallas ranked 19th last season, doesn’t need to work miracles, but he does need to make the Saints’ defense a little closer to average.

“It was bad last year,” Saints safety Roman Harper said. “There’s no sugar coating or anything like that, so we’ve got a lot of room to improve.”

Payton said he did a lot of research on Ryan, interviewing players and coaches who have worked with him, before concluding he would be right for the job.

“I like his passion,” Payton said. “I like the way players respond and I think he’s a perfect fit.”

Ryan has studied some of the schemes the Saints executed well under Williams and brought some of them back, even with the same terminology.

“I know our successes, where that’s been. It’s been a pressure team, I know that,” Ryan said. “But I also know we can do more with our coverage, and we have to.”

Jenkins said Ryan’s scheme better suits the strengths of Saints defenders, noting that the roster includes cornerbacks who can hold their own in single coverage long enough for Saints safeties, who’ve been effective blitzers, to disrupt quarterbacks.

If successful, Ryan could for the first time serve as a defensive coordinator on a winning team, something he never did while holding that post in Cleveland, Oakland and Dallas. However, he did win Super Bowls as a defensive assistant in New England.

“I’m fortunate enough to be with great program like the Saints, led by Sean Payton. I haven’t felt this way since I was in New England with Bill Belichick,” Ryan said. “I just feel like a sense of urgency. I can’t wait to give everything I have to this organization. I know everybody is on the same path.”


Mark your calendar …

Sunday Night Football matchup …

The Dallas Cowboys vs New Orleans Saints  – November 10, 2013:

Dallas Cowboys 2013-2014 NFL Schedule - Dallas Cowboys vs New Orleans Saints - The Boys Are Back blog

Click HERE to see the entire 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys schedule.

PHILLY-BOUND BACK: Ex-Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones agrees to join Eagles

dallas cowboys running back felix jones (28) dives for the end zone vs washington redskins - the boys are back blog

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles have signed former Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones to a one-year contract.

A former first-round selection by Dallas in 2008, Jones has rushed for 2,728 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He has 127 receptions for 1,062 yards and three TDs. Jones had 402 yards rushing and three TDs last year, along with 25 receptions for 262 yards and two scores.


Editors note: Keep up with the 2013 DALLAS COWBOYS FREE AGENT LIST by clicking on the button below …

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THREE POTENTIAL SLEEPERS: Dallas Cowboys nab trio of players on Scott Wright’s list

Dallas Cowboys draft William and Mary cornerback B.W. Webb - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

Trying to find future stars in the later rounds of the NFL Draft is a tough task, but if Scott Wright’s sleeper list is any indication, the Dallas Cowboys could have a head start on the competition.

Wright composed a lengthy list of 95 potential sleepers in the 2013 draft class, and a pair of Cowboys draft picks are right near the top.

William and Mary cornerback B.W. Webb is No. 4 on the list, earning a 2nd- or 3rd-round grade from Wright. The Cowboys snagged Webb in the 4th round on Saturday.

Right behind Webb is Georgia Southern safety J.J. Wilcox at No. 5, who the Cowboys took in the 3rd round. Wilcox is a strong athlete, but his stock wasn’t especially high because he only played one year at safety in college.

One other new Cowboys made the cut on Wright’s list. South Carolina State safety Jakar Hamilton, who the Cowboys signed as an undrafted free agent, came in at No. 48. Hamilton was a four-star recruit coming out of high school who signed with the Georgia Bulldogs, but wound up transferring to South Carolina State in 2011.

See list below

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THE EIGHTH ROUND: Dallas Cowboys sign undrafted free agent LB Brandon Magee

Dallas Cowboys sign UFA Arizona State LB Brandon Magee - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

The Dallas Cowboys gave undrafted free agent linebacker Brandon Magee a $70,000 bonus to sign with them after this weekend’s NFL Draft. It doesn’t mean Magee will be guaranteed a spot on the 53-man roster.  But it means that the Cowboys really wanted to give him an opportunity to latch on as a weakside linebacker in the team’s new 4-3 defense.

As Florio points out, that number is higher than any 7th-round pick received in 2012 (Justin Anderson, the first pick in the 7th round last year, got $69,124 from the Colts). It’s also significantly higher than the $10,000 bonus the Cowboys gave Tony Romo as an undrafted free agent in 2003.

Magee was one of 15 undrafted free agents the Cowboys came to terms with this weekend. He was also one of the 28 players the Cowboys brought to Valley Ranch for pre-draft interviews, which could explain why they were so eager to get him signed.

Magee was one of the captains of the Arizona State football team last year, totaling 113 tackles, 12.5 for loss, 6.5 sacks and 2 INTs as a senior.

Fan comment: squashyjoshy says

If the Cowboys would have had a 7th round pick, that’s probably they guy they would have taken. Pay him the money, get him into camp, and watch him work. If you decide Bruce Carter can play the SAM, then you might have just found your WILL of the future. If Carter plays WILL, you have a solid, solid backup. The kid can play.

FIGHTING HIS OWN BATTLE: Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg suffering from Parkinson’s disease, won’t sue NFL

Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg is pictured during an interview Greenwood Village, Colo. Gregg is raising awareness for Parkinson's disease 18 months after his diagnosis - The Boys Are Back blog

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.

Dallas Cowboys Forrest Gregg - The Boys Are Back blog

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.”

NEW NFL RULES: Dallas Cowboys can use video boards to encourage fans during plays

NEW NFL RULES - Dallas Cowboys can use video boards to encourage fans during plays - the boys are back blog

NEW YORK — The NFL will allow teams to use video scoreboards to encourage crowd noise in stadiums during entire plays.

Although the scoreboards can only use audio prompts until 20 seconds remain on the play clock — down from 30 seconds — video prompts now can be used any time. Those videos also were limited to the final 30 seconds on the play clock until the 2013 season.

That’s the latest change the league is allowing in an attempt to enhance the fan experience in stadiums. Last week, teams were notified they must place cameras in their locker rooms to provide video only, with the footage being displayed on the video boards and also on team apps.

Teams have control over content.

Home teams also will be required to show replays on the video boards after all scoring plays, turnovers, challenged plays, first downs and receptions where the receiver ends up out of bounds. Multiple replays of any play automatically reviewed must be shown “with the very best camera angles available.”

Visiting teams now must be introduced as a unit 10 minutes before kickoff.

The NFL also says 98 percent of tickets for 2013 regular-season games already have been sold. That includes season tickets, individual game seats and group sales.

MAN OF THE YEAR FINALIST: Jason Witten listed for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

dallas cowboys' jason witten takes a breather during a time out against the tampa bay buccaneers - the boys are back blog

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year for the second time in his career. Witten also was a finalist in 2007 when Jason Taylor won.

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Browns tackle Joe Thomas are the other finalists, announced at halftime of the AFC Championship. The NFL will announce the winner Feb. 2, the night before Super Bowl XLVII, during its NFL Honors prime-time special.

Witten is involved in a number of charities, but his passion is The Jason Witten SCORE Foundation. SCORE, which stands for Support, Community, Overcome, Rebuild, Educate, supports families affected by domestic violence.

He has funded several building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee, and the SCOREkeepers program is a unique initiative placing full-time, trained male mentors in battered women’s shelters throughout Texas. The mentors demonstrate positive male behavior to the children in these shelters in an effort to break the cycle of violence that plagues families affected by abuse. JWSF has placed SCOREkeepers in six shelters across Texas, and Witten hosts children from these shelters for special events throughout the year. The foundation’s newest domestic violence prevention program, “Coaching Boys Into Men,” trains high school coaches to educate their players on the dangers of dating violence.

Witten set two NFL records this season for most catches by a tight end in a game (18) and most catches by a tight end in a season (110).

The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is based on a player’s community service as well as excellence on the field, is given annually. The Cowboys have had two winners in the 43-year history of the award: Roger Staubach won it in 1978 and Troy Aikman in 1997.

The Man of the Year’s designated charity receives a $20,000 donation in his name. Charities selected by the other 31 team finalists each receive a $1,000 donation. The three finalists for the award also receive an additional $5,000 each.

RELATED: Payton Award finalists: Fitzgerald, Thomas, Witten

NEW YORK (AP) – Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys are finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

The award will be presented in New Orleans, when The Associated Press announces the winners of its annual NFL honors, including Most Valuable Player, in a two-hour prime-time special on Super Bowl eve.

The show, “NFL Honors,” will be broadcast on CBS on Feb. 2 at 9 p.m.

The only league award that recognizes a player’s community service as well as his playing excellence, the Walter Payton winner will have a $20,000 donation made in his name to his favorite charity.

Fitzgerald, Thomas and Witten were chosen from among the 32 team nominees, all of whom receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation in their name.

The selection panel includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Connie Payton, widow of the Hall of Fame running back.

CATS OUT OF THE BAG: Katherine Webb says her boyfriend, Alabama QB A.J. McCarron, ‘really wants to play for the Dallas Cowboys

Katherine Webb, left, the girlfriend of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron celebrate after the BCS National Championship game - The Boys Are Back blog

Unless you’ve been under a rock for the past few days, you’ve probably heard of Katherine Webb — the girlfriend of Alabama QB A.J. McCarron who has taken the Internet by storm.

Webb, the reigning Miss Alabama USA who saw her Twitter following skyrocket from a couple hundred followers to nearly a quarter million after being mentioned (repeatedly) on air during the BCS National Championship Game, recently sat down with Esquire for a Q&A.

Of interest to Cowboys fans — Webb says her boyfriend would love to be a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

LM: Are you working with Donald Trump? He’s a Jets fan, right? Maybe A.J. to the Jets one day?

KW: I actually spoke with him earlier today, and he was wanting to meet with both of us if we make it up to New York. I’m working with his publicist trying to handle all of this media madness right now. And A.J. really wants to play for the Dallas Cowboys, so we’ll see what happens.

McCarron threw for 2,933 yards, 30 TDs and just 3 INTs this year for the Crimson Tide, including a 4 TD-0 INT showing against Notre Dame in Alabama’s 42-14 win in Monday’s BCS National Championship Game.

Brent Musburger of ESPN commented about Katherine Webb, a former Miss Alabama and A J McCarron's girlfriend - The Boys Are Back blog

Could A.J. and Katherine be the new Tony and Jessica? On a football-related note, would you want the two-time national championship-winning QB for Alabama to eventually be a Dallas Cowboy? You’ll have to wait one more year for that to potentially happen — McCarron has already said he’s returning for one more season with the Crimson Tide.

AUTOPSY FINDINGS: Dallas Cowboys Jerry Brown Jr. not legally intoxicated

Dallas Cowboys Jerry Jerome Brown Jr. 1987-2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

DALLAS — An autopsy found that Dallas Cowboys practice-squad player Jerry Brown Jr. was not legally intoxicated when he was killed in a crash that led to an intoxication manslaughter charge against the teammate at the wheel.

The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office reported Thursday that Brown died of head and neck trauma when their vehicle overturned. He had a dislocated neck, a severely bruised spine and a blood-alcohol content of 0.056 percent. The Texas drunken-driving standard is 0.08 percent.

Police have said Cowboys nose guard Josh Brent, who was driving, had a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit when after the Dec. 8 crash in Irving, a Dallas suburb. He remains free on $100,000 bond.

Police say neither man was wearing a seatbelt.

END OF THE ROAD: Redskins beat Cowboys to win NFC East

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) celebrates his touchdown with tight end Logan Paulsen - The Boys Are Back blog

Washington Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III ran for a touchdown, and fellow rookie Alfred Morris rushed for 200 yards and three scores Sunday night as the Redskins won their first division title in 13 years by beating the Dallas Cowboys 28-18.

The Redskins are 10-6 and will host the Seattle Seahawks next Sunday, having won seven games in a row since their bye week. Washington is the first NFL team to rally from 3-6 to make the postseason since the Jacksonville Jaguars in 1996.

The Redskins would have been out of the postseason with a loss. Instead, the Cowboys will miss the playoffs for the third straight year. Dallas finished 8-8, stumbling in a do-or-die end-of-regular-season game for the third time in five years.

HAPPY TRAILS COWBOY: Dallas linebacker Jerry Brown Jr. laid to rest today in St. Louis

Dallas Cowboy Jerry Brown Jr. remembered during emotional funeral - The Boys Are Back blog

ST. LOUIS — Friends, family, teammates and members of the community filled a church to say goodbye to former Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jerry Brown Jr.

He was remembered Saturday morning for his religious beliefs, sense of humor, physical presence and his lifelong desire to play in the NFL.

A casket containing the body of Jerry Brown is wheeled out of Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church during his funeral Saturday in St. Louis - The Boys Are Back blog

His casket was Cowboys grey with the team’s star logo on the inside. His No. 53 Cowboys framed jersey and pictures from his life bracketed the casket, along with a signed helmet from the Indianapolis Colts.

Brown, who was signed to the Dallas practice squad in October after being cut from Indianapolis, died when the car he was riding in flipped after hitting a curb. The driver, Josh Brent a teammate with the Cowboys and at the University of Illinois.

A man wears a shirt picturing Jerry Brown Jr. as another holds a program for Brown's funeral service outside Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church Saturday in St. Louis - The Boys Are Back blog

More than a dozen of his teammates from Illinois and high school attended the service. The Cowboys, who held a service on Tuesday in Dallas, will wear a "53" decal for the remainder of the season to honor Brown.

"I’m sad, but when I think about Jerry I just think about the happy Jerry," Jason Davis said, who helped recruit Brown to play at the University of Illinois. "He was so humble. He was so funny. He was so good at football."

Brown’s youth coach remembered a player so competitive he never seemed pleased. He told about approaching Brown after a game the team handily won and asking the boy why he was crying.

"He’s crying these big ol’ tears and he said, ‘I. I. I didn’t touch the ball enough,’" the coach recalled to a roar of laughter and nodding heads.

Former Dallas Cowboy Jerry Brown remembered during emotional funeral - The Boys Are Back blog

Several relatives chose to speak to a small media gathering prior to the service. Each said Brown died far earlier than he should but they trusted it was his time. Many also said they believed the funeral would help bring closure to the close-knit family.

Andrea Bosquez was the final person to offer condolences during the service. She is scheduled to give birth to their daughter, already named Mya, in February.

"I love you," she said looking at the casket. "He was the love of my life. He was my fiancé. He was my best friend."

The cause of his death was only brought up once in passing, until the ministers began speaking in the second half of the funeral. The four who spoke talked about the evil affects alcohol played in the death but each reminded the gathering that whatever led to Brown’s death did not diminish the lives involved.

"I have no answer for why this happened," one said. "But we live with the decisions — good, bad or otherwise."

Dallas Cowboys Jerry Brown - 1987-2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

Editors Note: Below, is a link to a must see video. Click HERE to view.

FORGIVENESS: Jerry Brown’s mom tells Josh Brent she still loves him

Jerry Brown's mom tells Josh Brent she still loves him - The Boys Are Back blog

AROUND THE NFL: Kansas City Chiefs’ Jovan Belcher murder – suicide

Kansas City Chiefs' Jovan Belcher murder – suicide - The Boys Are Back blog

KANSAS CITY, MO. — Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher killed his girlfriend Saturday morning and minutes later, holding a gun to his head, thanked his general manager and coach before shooting himself outside the team’s practice complex.

Authorities did not release a motive for the murder-suicide, though police said that Belcher and his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, had been arguing recently. The two of them have a 3-month-old girl who was being cared for by family.

Belcher thanked general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel before pulling the trigger, police spokesman Darin Snapp said. Officers had locked down the Chiefs facility by midmorning.

The team said it would play its home game against the Carolina Panthers as scheduled on Sunday at noon local time "after discussions between the league office, Head Coach Romeo Crennel and Chiefs team captains."

A spokesman for the team told The Associated Press that Crennel plans to coach on Sunday.

Belcher was a 25-year-old native of West Babylon, N.Y., on Long Island, who played college ball at Maine. He signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent, made the team and stayed with it for four years, moving into the starting lineup. He had played in all 11 games this season.

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