Every championship run begins with offseason leaders. Before Troy Aikman and Tom Brady captured their Super Bowl victories, one man was pushing the two quarterbacks as well as their respective Cowboys and Patriots teams.
Winning was never an issue for strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik. Six total Super Bowl rings between Dallas and New England give credence to any football knowledge offered by Woicik.
His offseason program led to three titles with the Cowboys from 1990-96, including the team’s last championship in 1995, when current head coach Jason Garrett was still backup quarterback Jason Garrett.
Garrett knew how Woicik went about his business before the strength and conditioning coach rejoined the Cowboys last year, in a shortened season with no Organized Team Activities (OTAs) or minicamps. This year is the first since 1996 that Woicik could install his offseason awards program with the Cowboys.
“It adds a little motivation to the whole thing,” Woicik says. “Really, what we want is for guys to come in. When they play football games, they keep score. We want them to keep score in their training.”
It’s during that time in the offseason when players’ self-discipline is the primary motivating factor that Woicik rewards those who go beyond the call of duty. With three Super Bowl rings from two different teams, he knows his approach works.
And with nearly 100 percent offseason attendance this year, the Cowboys players know it does, too.
“It builds a lot of camaraderie, being able to work out together in the offseason,” says Sean Lee, one of the nine offseason award winners for 2012. “That’s something we had this year. We had a lot of guys there. The camaraderie was there. The hard work was there. And I think you’re seeing that on the field.”
DALLAS COWBOYS FAMILY FOCUS: Girlfriend’s recovery leaves Dallas Cowboys kicker David Buehler thankful
RIchard W. Rodriguez/ Star-Telegram
IRVING — Their eyes were locked. Blues fixated on blues, as David Buehler recalled the day his girlfriend was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.
Buehler’s life, once solely consumed by football, had to make room for a possibility that young couples rarely prepare for or ever consider. Brittany Pigrenet, 25, went in for life-saving surgery on the morning of Oct. 22, holding the couple’s 6-week-old son, Bryson, for as long as the hospital staff let her.
“It puts life and everything in perspective,” David said, instinctively turning his gaze and focus on Brittany. “Before I was playing for myself, my family name, my teammates, the organization but now that I’m supporting Brittany and our son, Bryson, it puts everything in perspective.
“You work just that much harder. You put your heart and soul into knowing that I get to come home to the two people I love most.”
Buehler’s professional life with the Dallas Cowboys hasn’t always gone as planned. Drafted as a kickoff specialist in 2009, Buehler became the full-time place-kicker last season and made 24 of 32 field goals. Rookie Dan Bailey took over field-goal duties this season, with Buehler going back to kickoffs.
IRVING — The Cowboys don’t have starting fullback Tony Fiammetta due to an illness that hasn’t been clearly defined.
Reporters have been told Fiammetta gets nauseous and sick when he’s working out.
We do know Fiammetta’s health issue is not long-term or placed his teammates in any real danger of it being contagious. But the mystery surrounding it is scary for not only him but for the team.
The Cowboys’ medical staff does a wonderful job in getting their players the best treatment possible and wouldn’t put a player back on the field if it meant long-term damage.
When Tony Romo tried to return to the field last year with a broken collarbone, he was yanked back to the sidelines by associate athletic trainer Britt Brown. Romo also tried to get back in a game at San Francisco before pain medication kicked in for a fractured rib. Head athletic trainer Jim Maurer made sure Romo didn’t play until he was nearly pain-free.
Along the sidelines on Sunday at Washington several players left the game for an ailment but were quickly tended to by the Cowboys medical staff. One player tried to walk away from a trainer but was quickly grabbed so he could get treatment.
The Cowboys have said they’re doing everything possible to help their fullback.
“His symptoms are he just feels nauseous and sick when he’s working out,” coach Jason Garrett said. “And I don’t want to get too much into detail about that, but that’s really been it more than anything else. So we have to understand why, whether it’s some illnesses in his family or whatever, I don’t want to go into too much detail, but we’re just trying to get to the bottom of it and we’re doing everything we can to do that.”
This is not the first time an illness has baffled a NFL team.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin missed all of training camp with a mystery illness. The Eagles had to address rumors if it was cancer, mononucleosis or if it was life-threatening.
Maclin lost weight and had low energy. He also had night sweats and a loss of appetite. But the symptoms subsided and after doctors cleared him he was able to play.
Miami had two players, John Jerry and Ike Alama-Francis, similar situations.
The Cowboys value Fiammetta’s work at fullback. But this isn’t about football, it’s more about the player’s well-being and the Cowboys are doing everything they can to solve Fiammetta’s health issues.
“I just think we’re just trying to be sensitive to the whole situation,” Garrett said. “Certainly regarding concussions, we want to make sure we do everything the exact right way. The league has done a really good job outlining the procedures and the protocol for all of that, and Jim Maurer and our medical staff do a great job following all of that. So we just want to make sure we’re doing the right things by the player first and foremost, and we’ll just see how it goes here in the next few days.”