SPORTS MEDIA FAMILY NEWS: Longtime Dallas Cowboys beat writer Frank Luksa passes away
When Frank Luksa wrote, folks read.
When Luksa spoke, folks listened.
Luksa was a long-time member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee. Having covered the Cowboys from the 1960s, he was the perfect Dallas representative on the panel, having seen all the players and coaches in franchise history.
Mel Renfro was one of the best Luksa had seen. A second-round pick in 1964, Renfro went on to become both a Pro Bowl cornerback and safety, intercepting a franchise-record 52 passes. He went to 10 Pro Bowls and three Super Bowls.
Renfro was a Pro Football Hall of Famer if Luksa had ever seen one. Renfro retired after the 1977 season, then waited the mandatory five years before becoming eligible for induction in 1983.
But his wait lasted 10 more years before Renfro become a finalist for the first time in 1993. But the committee passed him over that year – and also in 1994 and 1995.
So in his fourth Renfro presentation to the committee in 1996, Luksa voiced his frustration.
“If you’re not going to do it for Mel, do it for me,” Luksa told the committee. “I’ve got to get this thing over with. He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and you’re making me look bad. People are wondering why I can’t get him in.”
The committee voted Renfro into the Hall of Fame that day.
Luksa’s words were powerful, both those spoken and in print. His words will be missed.
One of Luksa’s two daughters, Elise Daniel, said her father died peacefully at a Plano rehabilitation center. Luksa had triple heart-bypass surgery in August, Daniel said, and had been in and out of medical facilities since then.
Luksa had long and distinguished careers at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Times Herald and The Dallas Morning News. He retired from The News in 2004.
Luksa was a longtime voter for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which, in 1992, bestowed Luksa with the Dick McCann Memorial Award. The award is annually presented by the Pro Football Writers of America in recognition of long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football.
During the week of Super Bowl XLV at Cowboys Stadium, Luksa, Pat Summerall and Dan Jenkins were presented with the Blackie Sherrod Award for their long and distinguished careers in North Texas covering pro football.
Elise Daniel said that a memorial service for her father has been set for 2 p.m. Friday at First United Methodist Church in Dallas, on 1928 Ross Avenue. Luksa is survived by his wife, Henrietta, daughters Elise Daniel and Laura McMillin, and five grandchildren.
COWLISHAW: Ten receivers who are still available
SportsDay columnist Tim Cowlishaw answered reader questions during a live chat Thursday. Here are some highlights:
I would like to know , if you think it is a good idea for the Cowboys to sign Plaxico Burress to a contract or trade for James Jones or Percy Harvin. The Cowboys need a solid number 3 receiver. what are your thoughts? Have a great day!
Cowlishaw: I continue to believe that the bigger concerns at WR are 1 and 2, not 3. Can Dez stay out of trouble and produce for four quarters? He has had one 100-yard game in his pro career. Can Miles Austin bounce back? He has had declining numbers ever since his 2010 breakout season got him Kim Kardashian (briefly) and a rule-breaking contract. If they perform and Witten performs, there aren’t too many worries in terms of pass receiving production. If they don’t, then your question is valid and I don’t see any of the candidates for the No. 3 job duplicating Laurent Robinson’s last season. Then again, Robinson wasn’t here at this time a year ago.
Why won’t the Cowboys bring in a wideout for a tryout?
Cowlishaw: I will answer a question with a question. Why are fans so wrapped up in third wide receiver talk? Is this a holdover from the Drew, Tony and Butch days? I don’t think so. Quick, who was the 3rd WR on the Cowboys Super Bowl teams in the 90s? Heck, the 2nd WR (Alvin Harper) was irrelevant in lots of games (yes, he made big plays, too, I was there). If the key players perform, the battle between Radway-Beasley-Coale-Ogletree will be insignificant.
I think Chris’s question regarding bringing in a wideout might have been due to Miles’s injury history and the likelihood of a suspension for Dez. Would either of these factors make it reasonable for the team to shop for a veteran receiver?
Cowlishaw: I don’t think there’s a veteran to shop for. I have said Plaxico would be an OK signing but I was never in favor of Owens or Edwards (who both landed in Seattle, telling us a lot about the Seahawks). If Dez is suspended I presume it will be for one game. Miles isn’t on the injury report for New York yet. Let’s hold off on the panic button here.
A LOOK AT 10 RECEIVERS WHO ARE STILL AVAILABLE: Things went south in a hurry for the Cowboys’ receiving corps when Laurent Robinson bolted for Jacksonville. With Dez Bryant struggling through off-field issues, Miles Austin fighting yet another hamstring injury and a slew of unproven wideouts in training camp. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, options aren’t exactly plentiful in free agency, with most of the available wideouts either over the hill or harboring injury concerns. But if the Cowboys do decide to comb the market, here’s a look at 10 of the most well-known receivers who are still looking for jobs. Louis DeLuca/Staff Photographer
Courtesy: Tim Cowlishaw | DMN
Plaxico Burress: Burress has plenty going for him — he’s big (6-5, 232 pounds), tough, and an ideal end zone target, which are often in short supply. He also quashed any questions about his ability to play after two years away from the NFL by hauling in 45 passes for 612 yards and eight touchdowns with the Jets in 2011. There have been reports that Burress is seeking more money than most think he’s worth, but if he’s not signed in a few weeks’ time, he may have no other choice but to lower his asking price. Louis DeLuca/Photographer
Dallas Cowboys Tyron Smith could be ‘NFL’s next elite left tackle’
Tyron Smith has yet to play a down as a left tackle in the NFL, and the 21-year-old is already being pegged as the next big thing.
The latest pundit to jump on Smith’s bandwagon is NFL.com’s Brian McIntyre, who picked Smith to be the Cowboys’ breakout player in 2012 and wrote that he “could be the NFL’s next elite left tackle.”
“Though he primarily played right tackle in his two years as a starter at USC, and has never started a game on the left side, the Cowboys moved Smith to left tackle this offseason,” McIntyre wrote. “Their reasons are obvious. At 6-foot-5 and 307 pounds, with 36 3/8-inch arms, an 84 5/8-inch wingspan, impressive strength (31 reps on the bench press at his pro day) and quick feet, Smith has all the physical tools to become a Pro Bowl-caliber left tackle and has the added benefit of facing DeMarcus Ware, one the league’s elite pass-rushers, every day in practice.”
McIntyre pointed to the fact that Smith missed just eight snaps during his rookie season as a sign of Smith’s endurance and durability, both of which often prove just as crucial as talent when it comes to developing top-notch linemen.
The writer also predicted that Cowboys fans could be seeing Smith in his first Pro Bowl in the near future.
“Given the state of the tackle position in the NFC — Jason Peters, a starter in last year’s Pro Bowl, has torn his Achilles tendon twice this offseason — and the ballot-stuffing potential of Cowboys fans, the Pro Bowl is a personal achievement that could come sooner rather than later for Smith,” McIntyre wrote.
Vernon Bryant / Staff Photographer
Learning curve: When the Cowboys opened the season with two rookies and an undrafted second-year player making his first start at center, coach Jason Garrett declared the offensive line would be a work in progress. It has been. The line’s performance has been erratic. The good news: Through all the ups and downs, first-round pick Tyron Smith has been the group’s best player. He should help anchor this line for years to come.
Brad Loper/Staff Photographer
Dallas Cowboys receiver Miles Austin (19) is congratulated by Tyron Smith (77) after Austin made a TD against the San Francisco 49ers in the second half of NFL Football action at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA Sunday afternoon, September 18, 2011.
G.J. McCARTHY / Staff Photographer
Stephen Jones, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president, looks on as new draftee Tyron Smith dons team clothing next to owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jason Garrett during a news conference on April 29, 2011 at the Cowboys’ Valley Ranch practice facility in Irving.
ERIC GAY / AP
Dallas Cowboys rookie Tyron Smith goes through drills with teammates during NFL football practice on July 28, 2011, in San Antonio.
VERNON BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Tyron Smith positions himself to block DeMarcus Ware during the morning walk through at Dallas Cowboys training camp at the Alamodome in San Antonio on July 29, 2011.
JOHN F. RHODES / Staff Photographer
Dallas Cowboys offensive tackle Tyron Smith (77) works against Denver Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil (92) during first half of NFL preseason football action between the Dallas Cowboys and the Denver Broncos at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington on Aug. 11, 2011.
Joe McKnight #4 of the USC Trojans celebrates his touchdown with Tyron Smith #70 and David Ausberry #9 against the San Jose State Spartans.
Tyron Smith #70 of the USC Trojans stretches before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils.
VERNON BRYANT / Staff Photographer
Dallas Cowboys Tyron Smith (77) listens as DeMarcus Ware (94) gives him advice during the blue-white scrimmage at Dallas Cowboys training camp at the Alamodome in San Antonio on Aug. 7, 2011.
RICK GOSSELIN: LaDanian Tomlinson’s ranking among his Top 10 All-Time Running Backs
LaDainian Tomlinson has retired, so let the debate begin. Where does the NFL’s fifth all-time rusher rank in the pantheon of great running backs?
I’ve been watching the NFL for better than a half century and covering it professionally for the last 38 years. In my educated opinion, Tomlinson does not belong in the Top 5 but I do have a place for him in my Top 10. Barely.
I don’t judge runners based on statistics or rings. Only three of my Top 10 backs ever played on championship teams and four of them don’t even rank statistically in the Top 10 in rushing.
But they all passed my eye test. I know greatness when I see it. I saw it in these 10.
With apologies to some backs I’ve seen (Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk and Tony Dorsett) and some that I haven’t (Steve Van Buren, Ollie Matson and Marion Motley), here’s my pantheon of the Top 10 all-time running backs:
1. Barry Sanders. The most dazzling runner the NFL has ever seen — averaging 5.0 yards per carry and 100 yards per game — then retired in his prime. His moves were an optical illusion, tricking many a defender’s eyes.
2. Jim Brown. The best fullback in NFL history, also retired in his prime. Won eight NFL rushing titles in his nine seasons.
3. Gale Sayers. Knee injuries prevented Sayers from ever reaching his prime, cutting short his career after seven seasons. A big back with speed, second only to Sanders in dazzle.
4. O.J. Simpson. Third to Sanders and Sayers in dazzle. First back to rush for 2,000 yards in a season and did it when the NFL was playing only 14 games.
5. Walter Payton. The most complete back in NFL history – running, catching, blocking.
6. Emmitt Smith. Played more games, gained more yards and scored more touchdowns than any back in NFL history.
7. Curtis Martin. Put him on the 1990 Cowboys and he’d have become Emmitt Smith.
8. Earl Campbell. Second-best power back in NFL history after Brown.
9. Thurman Thomas. Backbone of a team that went to four consecutive Super Bowls, the Bills were an incredible 48-4 when Thomas rushed for 100 yards in a game.
10. LaDainian Tomlinson. Second to Payton in his completeness, could run, catch or throw for scores.
What’s YOUR Top-10? Leave a comment. How can any list not have Emmitt at #1?
Courtesy: RICK GOSSELIN | SportsDayDFW
RELATED: Emmitt Smith reacts to the retirement of Ladainian Tomlinson
Legendary Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith was not just an accidental tourist in the career of former TCU great LaDanian Tomlinson, who is retiring today as a member of the San Diego Chargers.
Smith, the league’s all-time leading rusher, was Tomlinson’s inspiration as a little boy growing up a Cowboys fan in Waco, and then moreso when he went on to have an outstanding college career at TCU.
There is no question Tomlinson, who finished his 11-year career with the Chargers and the Jets as the league’s fifth all-time leading rusher, had his sights set on Smith at the top spot.
He didn’t quite make it but what he accomplished was enough to make him a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer and it earned him the respect and admiration of his idol.
"I have known LaDanian since he was 13 years old," Smith said. "When you know someone when they are very young, and you watch that person grow into being a man and one of the very best to ever play the game, it is inspirational for me personally. He was a pleasure to watch play football. He did it with pride and passion and he was a true professional from his very first day in the NFL. I am extremely honored to know that I have had a positive influence on him. What he accomplished in his career gives me great pride."
And although Tomlinson didn’t get the rushing title or a coveted Super Bowl, Smith said LT leaves the game with dignity and a respect that few enjoy.
"LaDanian has had a tremendous impact on the league, not only as a player but also as a person with great character, and it shows by the respect his peers have for him and how well-known he is to the public," Smith said. "He accomplished many great things as a player, but I don’t know of any player recently who has left the game with as much admiration and respect from his peers as LT enjoys. And that might be an athlete’s most cherished accomplishment."
Clarence Hill Jr. | Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
PLAYER SPOTLIGHT: Dallas Cowboys ILB Sean Lee
Name: Sean Lee
Position: Inside linebacker
Size: 6-2, 245 Age: 25
College: Penn State
Drafted: Second round, 55th overall in 2010
Experience: Entering third season
Contract status: He is halfway through his four-year, $3.49 million rookie contract. Lee’s base salary is $540,000 this season and his cap hit to the club is $840,000.
2011 review: It can be argued that Lee’s impact on the defense was equal to or greater than DeMarcus Ware’s. Lee ended Bradie James’ six-year reign as the team’s leading tackler. Not only did his 131 tackles lead the Cowboys, it was 52 tackles beyond safety Abe Elam, who finished second.
Lee’s incessant study habits paid off. He tied for the team lead in tackles for a loss with eight. He tied for the team lead in interceptions with four. He tied for the team lead in fumble recoveries with two. He tied for third in passes knocked down with eight.
Lee consistently put himself in a position to make plays whether it was the run game or pass game and displayed a natural feel for the position.
2011 grade: A
Outlook in 2012: Lee has established himself as a cornerstone of this defense. Look for him to build on what he did last season and become even more of a vocal leader.
What Lee did last season shows he’s worthy of Pro Bowl consideration. He is a rising star in this league and can confirm that status with another strong season in 2012.
He is the son of Craig Lee and Geralyn Lee of Upper St. Clair, Pennsylvania. Lee’s older brother Conor was the placekicker for the University of Pittsburgh and his sister Alexandra was a student athlete at Upper St. Clair High School. Sean is also a grandson of Federal Judge Donald J. Lee of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.
Lee was a multi-sport star at Upper St. Clair High School outside Pittsburgh, he was a three-year starter at point guard in basketball, averaging 21.2 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.2 assists as a senior, and winning a district title. In football, Lee rushed for 1,240 yards and 21 touchdowns while registering 95 tackles and four picks as a safety for an 11-1 squad his senior year.
A 2005 graduate of Upper St. Clair High School in Upper St. Clair Township, Pennsylvania. Lee went on to play college football at Penn State. Heading into 2008, Lee was a starting outside linebacker for coach Joe Paterno’s Nittany Lions for two consecutive seasons. In his junior year he was 2nd team all Big Ten, finishing second on the team in tackles with 138. He had a season high 17 tackles versus Illinois, and registered more than 10 tackles in all but three games. He also had two interceptions and three forced fumbles on the season.
In April 2008, Lee tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a non-contact drill at spring practice. Despite being forced to take a medical redshirt for the 2008 season, Lee’s teammates elected him a team captain that season. While rehabbing, he opted to serve as an undergraduate assistant coach, participating in every practice and wearing a headset on the sidelines during games that season.
Lee was again elected team captain by his teammates prior to the 2009 season.
College awards and honors
- 2007 Alamo Bowl Defensive MVP
- Third-team Athlon Sports pre-season All-Big Ten
- Second-team Sporting News pre-season All-Big Ten Six Nittany Lions Named To The Sporting News’ All-Big Ten Team
- He was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week after his effort in the Florida International game on September 1, 2007, and again following Penn State’s 31-6 victory over Temple on September 19, 2009.
- He was named Big Ten co-Defensive Player of the Week with Ohio State’s James Laurinaitis following his efforts in the Purdue game on November 3, 2007
Prior to the draft, draft analyst Mike Mayock was quoted saying “I wouldn’t be surprised if he snuck in late in the first round. If he doesn’t, I think he’s going to go in the front half of the second round. He’s too good.”
Lee was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 55th overall selection in the 2010 NFL Draft. After the draft, Wade Phillips said that he thought Lee could play both inside linebacker positions (“Mike” & “Mo”) in the Cowboys 3–4 defense. Lee was bothered by nagging injuries in training camp, in doing so failed to see a lot of action on the field.
He did earn NFC Defensive Player of the Week and Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week honors for his December 5, 2010, performance versus Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, in which he recorded the first two interceptions of his pro career—including one he returned for a touchdown, and one in overtime to set up the game-winning field goal.
Promoted to starting inside linebacker in 2011, Lee thrived immediately in new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s scheme. In the opening game versus the New York Jets, Lee intercepted Mark Sanchez to earn his 3rd interception of his career. His key interception of Rex Grossman and fumble recovery in the final minute of the Cowboys’ Monday Night Football game with versus the Washington Redskins were crucial in the 18-16 comeback.
By week three, Lee had a team-leading 36 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, a tackle for a loss, and three pass breakups, earning him NFC Defensive Player of the Month honors. He was the first Cowboys player in franchise history to win the award.
In the 7th game of the 2011 season against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Field, Lee suffered a dislocated left wrist in the first quarter when he hit his hand against Michael Vick’s helmet, but opted against having season ending surgery. After 7 games, Lee lead the team in total tackles with 51, 15 more tackles than the next leading tackler, Gerald Sensabaugh with 36 total tackles. Lee also ranked first on the team with 3 interceptions, the only player on the team through the first seven games with more than one interception. On the eighth game of the season, Sean Lee was inactive due to the wrist injury sustained the previous week.
Lee ended up having a break out season, becoming one of the defense leaders by calling all the plays, leading the team with 131 tackles and tying for the team lead in interceptions (four) and tackles for loss (eight). He also became only the second linebacker to have ever intercepted both Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Special contribution: David Moore | Dallas Morning News
Troy Aikman pays $1.75 million in divorce
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current Fox analyst Troy Aikman paid $1.75 million in a marital property agreement as part of his divorce.
Aikman and wife Rhonda were married 10 years before their divorce in April 2011. The couple met when she worked as a publicity staffer for the Dallas Cowboys and he was the team’s starting quarterback.
When they married on April 8, 2000, she had a daughter from a previous marriage. Together, the Aikman’s would have two more daughters.
In May, Alan Peppard of The Dallas Morning News reported that Aikman sold land next to his home in Highland Park that included a sport court and a 1,045 square-foot cabana. He did not sell his home. The land was listed at an asking price of $14 million.
RICK GOSSELIN: Rob Ryan hasn’t raised his coaching to level of his opponents
Rick Gosselin, sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News and SportsDayDFW.com, answered readers’ questions about the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL.
Click on Read More to read the entire transcript.
Note: The links are disabled.
HURRY, DEADLINE AT 6:00 P.M.: Predict Saturday’s Cowboys-Eagles score, and you could win fabulous prize!
This week, the Dallas Cowboys face the suddenly resurgent Philadelphia Eagles.
The teams meet Saturday afternoon in Arlington. Kickoff is at 3:15. The game is on Fox.
Correctly predict the score in the box below, and you could win America’s Team: The Authorized History of the Dallas Cowboys by Jeff Sullivan, a $50 retail value.
As our winner, you’ll also be invited to write something for The Scoop on your favorite team or athlete.
The tiebreaker for this week, in case two or more of you get the score right (or come closest) is: Number of sacks by the Cowboys defense. Don’t forget to include this with your entry — last week’s winner was narrowly decided by the tiebreaker.
The entry deadline is 6:00 p.m. Friday (Dallas time).
PHOTO: Michael Vick and the Eagles left the Dallas Cowboys in their wake when the teams met on Oct. 30. Philadelphia won 34-7, after leading 24-0 at the half. (VERNON BRYANT/DMN)
Sign in to record your comment. Be sure to include the number of sacks (used for tie-breakers)
Click on the picture to the right … Good luck!
RICK GOSSELIN: Chat replay–Dallas Cowboys discussion with fans (Bonus Video)
Rick Gosselin, sports columnist for The Dallas Morning News and SportsDayDFW.com and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee, answered questions about the Cowboys and the NFL in a live chat at 11 a.m. Monday.
RELATED VIDEO: Rick Gosselin and David Moore discuss the weary Dallas Cowboys
Live chat: Rick Gosselin answers your Cowboys/NFL questions (12/12/2011)
Monday December 12, 2011 9:32 SportsDayDFW
10:58 SportsDayDFW: Welcome to the chat room. I sense another hostile crowd… So let’s get started.
Monday December 12, 2011 10:58 SportsDayDFW 10:58 [Comment From stu k: ]
After playing the whole game without a sack of manning, how do you continue to blitz and leave their horrible cornerbacks without help?
11:02 SportsDayDFW: Here’s the final line of my column after the Arizona game: "If the quarterback stays up, the Cowboys will go down." Eli Manning threw 47 passes without a sack. That’s a formula for success against the Cowboys. Rob Ryan’s entire scheme is based on pressure, the pass rush and blitzing. If his troops can’t get there, there are too many overmatched defensive backs left in one-on-one situations. It doesn’t appear Ryan has a Plan B, so he continues to send pass rushers. Here’s a stat for you — in five of the seven home games for the Cowboys this season, they have one sack or less. And you wonder why this team struggles? It’s an average team that needs an overhaul on defense.
Monday December 12, 2011 11:02 SportsDayDFW 11:02 [Comment From john: ]
the ref’s of this game was the worst i have ever witnessed, but the fact of the matter is the def could not hold of a 12 point lead with 6 min to go. for the remaining games we should take the buccaneers , but with the way the defense has been playing i don’t see us beating the eagles or the giants, what is your take rick, thanks
11:09 SportsDayDFW: Seems to me that every team that loses in the NFL wants to put some part of the blame on the officiating. The bottom line is the Cowboys have been a high penalty team for some time now. They have been penalized at least 100 times in six of the last seven seasons — and were flagged 99 times in the one year they didn’t hit the century mark. High penalty teams don’t get the benefit of doubt from the officials. So you see the Cowboys getting 8-10 penalties every week. In the meantime, teams like the Patriots and Saints get penalized 4-6 times every week. You have to earn the respect of the officials to get calls and the benefit of doubt. They Cowboys have not done that. There needs to be a culture change at Valley Ranch. Players need to be held accountable for penalties, especially the pre-snap flags.
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