NFL FREE AGENCY DOLLARS AND SENSE: Ask yourself … if they’re so good, why are they Free Agents? | Special Feature
IRVING, Texas – Every year around this time of year there seems to be four constants:
- The dining room table is cluttered with piles and piles of tax return material.
- Time springs forward over the weekend.
- Local and national hysteria over what’s portrayed as the Dallas Cowboys untenable salary cap situation is muted when the team swiftly and efficiently ducks under the cap, just as they will have by Tuesday’s March 11 start to the NFL’s new league year.
- NFL teams are preparing to obnoxiously overspend in free agency, that too commencing on March 11.
When it comes to NFL free agency my yearly mantra staunchly remains:
If these players available in free agency are so good, why are their current teams setting them free?
Makes perfect sense. That team should know everything there is to know about a guy, and if they don’t want to re-sign the player for whatever the going rate might be on the open market then what makes you think you’re so smart looking in from afar that you should take the gamble?
See, if you look back over the history of the Dallas Cowboys, you can make an argument that since the start of free agency in 1994, the Cowboys really have lost only one bona-fide player they should have kept, that being Ken Norton Jr. in that first year of free agency. OK, maybe two, cornerback Ryan McNeil after the 2000 season when saddled in cap hell at the time.
But in general terms, the Cowboys mostly have managed to keep their own until they determined the player no longer was worth the free-agent expense.
Oh, you can pick and peck in free agency, do some bottom feeding and find serviceable help, maybe find an exception now and then to my rule, but usually you grossly overpay signing one of the considered top players in free agency.
See, looking back, most fans will say Deion Sanders was the best free agent the Dallas Cowboys ever signed. I disagree. They paid way too much for Sanders, even if they won Super Bowl XXX with him that first year. Hmmm, over the next four, they won only one more playoff game, and had only two more winning seasons to show for what turned out to be a five-year, $35 million contract that included a $12.999999 million signing bonus.
To me, the best free agent the Cowboys have ever signed, considering bang for their buck, has been defensive tackle La’Roi Glover (pictured) back in 2002. For five years, $22.5 million and just a $6 million signing bonus, they found themselves a four-time Pro Bowler – each year he was with the Cowboys before they released him in 2006.
Man, for an average of $4.5 million, these days you can barely find yourself a starter.
So here we go on Tuesday, NFL Free Agency 2014. And yes, the Dallas Cowboys will be under the now official $133 million NFL salary cap. In fact, after the moves this week, the latest being officially releasing offensive lineman Phil Costa ($1.5 million) and reducing the scheduled $2.75 million base salary of Mackenzy Bernadeau on Friday, the Cowboys will be well under their official cap of $134.4 million. Maybe by as much as $2 million.
Certainly the near $7 million jump in the salary cap helped the Cowboys eliminate what began as roughly $24 million in cap excess. Then the foresight to roll over the $1.3 million of unspent 2013 cap space into this year helped increase theirs to the $134.4 million.
Still not a whole lot to go out speculating with in free agency.
Now that’s where Miles Austin and DeMarcus Ware come in. If the Cowboys decide to make Miles Austin a June 1 cut, they will recoup his $5.5 million base salary on June 1 and will be able to spread his unaccounted prorated bonus money over two seasons, $2.8 million this year and the rest, $3.9 million of dead money in 2015. So the savings this year would just about fund their draft, a projected rookie pool of $5.3 million … but push the dead money against the cap to just more than $15 million, nearly half ($6.9 million) caused by Jay Ratliff’s release.
As for Ware, a stare down appears headed our way, since the Cowboys do not want to do as they did with Tony Romo, Sean Lee and Orlando Scandrick by turning 2014 base salary into signing bonus to reduce their 2014 cap hits and spread that total over the remaining years of the contract.
Appears as if the Cowboys want Ware, coming off another injury-riddled season, leading to a career-low six sacks, to take a pay cut on his $12.25 million scheduled base salary. At this point, Ware told me two weeks ago, un-uh on the pay cut, though his agent must find out quickly what the going rate on the open market might be if the Dallas Cowboys simply release him. Although doing so comes at a cap cost, $8.5 million in dead money this year, meaning that total, including Costa ($225,000) and if we include Austin, will now rise to nearly $24 million for nothing.
Oh, and remember, too, the Cowboys would have to spend money in some form or fashion to replace Ware since I don’t see a ready replacement on the roster to date.
Now then, what do the Cowboys know about Ware that would cause them to consider this hardline move? All they would need to know over a nine-year career. So if you were, say, Cleveland, would that not give you pause if you were considering paying him even $10 million this year when the team that likely will one day induct him into the Ring of Honor and likely attend his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction is choosing not to?
Which brings us back to the beginning of this discussion: If that other team doesn’t think their own guy is worth that much money, why would I think he is?
And need I remind you of some of this:
The St. Louis Rams are releasing cornerback Courtland Finnegan, who just two years ago in free agency signed a five-year, $50 million deal that was to include another $3 million roster bonus on March 13. Wasn’t worth the money, evidently.
The Atlanta Falcons, after signing defensive end Osi Umenyiora last year to a two-year, $8.5 million contract, with $5 million of it guaranteed and due a $1 million roster bonus this year, are asking him to take a pay cut or else …
I see also where the Falcons, after trading for cornerback Asante Samuel and signing him to a three-year, $14.7 million deal in 2012, are cutting him after two years and with but a $3.5 million base in the final year of his deal.
Oh, and how close did this come to being a nightmare for the Cowboys? At training camp in 2011 the Cowboys were all set to sign cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha for like five years, $50 million until at the last minute the Eagles came in with a five-year, $60 million offer for the ninth-year veteran, with $25 million of that guaranteed. He was cut by the Eagles after two seasons, played three games with the Niners this past year and now is retiring. Ouch.
Laughing about any of that now?
Certainly you can find exceptions to my rule, but to me, the percentages of hitting home runs in free agency are low. That’s not the way to build a team. You do that through the draft, and stop your howling, we’ve got two months to continue that discussion.
But let’s just look over the past three years. The Dallas Cowboys have signed 10 players considered unrestricted free agents. Only four of those guys are still with the team, although linebacker Justin Durant is in a tenuous situation and Kyle Orton appears to be threatening retirement.
And only two of the remaining four are considered starters, Bernadeau and corner Brandon Carr, a guy many fans are now screaming over the $50 million he was signed to just two years ago.
Simply put, you just overpay in free agency, same as a live auction when you start competing against other bidders. Like do you really think Muhammad Ali’s gloves he wore to beat Sonny Liston the first time, back 50 years ago on Feb. 25, 1964, while dad and I were listening on the radio, are worth the $836,500 they fetched two weeks ago? Please.
So here we go, same time next year again, and the Dallas Cowboys are insisting they will not be big players in free agency, at least from the start when the cost of doing business is greatly inflated.
And for that, you should hope they are men of their word.
Courtesy: Mickey Spagnola | Dallas Cowboys columnist
Dallas — In effort to get the ugly incident in July behind him, Dallas Cowboys receive Dez Bryant entered a conditional dismissal agreement with the Dallas County District Attorney’s office in an effort to resolve the misdemeanor family charge involving his mother, Angela Bryant.
According to his attorney Royce West, Bryant will undergo a year of anger management counseling and must stay out of trouble for a year. If he does all that, the original charges will be dropped, per the agreement with the district attorney.
Key to agreement, according to West, is that Bryant continues to maintain his innocence and never had to enter a plea.
“It did not require a plea to be entered and we still say he is innocent of any charger,” West said. “But to get the issue behind him, we entered into this agreement with the district attorney. The bottom line is if Dez keeps his nose clean and he has never been in trouble before and if does counseling that he has already started, it will be dismissed in a year.”
West said the Bryant understands the seriousness of the incident and he and his family are happy to get the issue behind them.
West also said “the family was closer than they have ever been”, as “they have learned from the experience and were ready to move forward.”
“Both Dez and his mother are satisfied with today’s decision,” West said. “Ms. Bryant did not want charges filed against her son. After having an opportunity to talk to people who witnessed the incident she filed an Affidavit of Non-prosecution with the District Attorney’s Office. The family always felt they could resolve this matter."
According to NFL spokesman Greg Aeillo, Bryant’s case will be reviewed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell under the league’s personal conduct policy and could face further discipline from the NFL.
West said he has focused mainly on the district attorney and has yet to address how the league would handle it. But he doesn’t expect any additional discipline.
“I would be astonished,” West said. “He hasn’t pled to any thing. He hasn’t entered any kind of play. All he has to do is counseling and stay out of trouble.”
Bryant has never been in trouble with the league before and this was his first arrest, although he has had his share of off the field issues during his first three years in league, including several lawsuits for failure to pay debt and being briefly banned from Dallas’ North Park Center Mall for supposedly sagging pants and a dispute with mall security.
Per the advice of West, his agent Eugene Parker and advisor David Wells, Bryant voluntarily began self-help program in August in which he undergoes weekly anger management classes, abstains from drinking alcohol and has a security detail with him around the clock, even on road trips.
RELATED: Bryant agrees to anger management after family dispute
Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant has agreed to a year of anger management counseling as part of a deal that could lead to the dismissal of a family violence charge over a dispute with his mother.
Attorney Royce West said Wednesday that Bryant was already attending anger management sessions, and he said the Dallas County district attorney’s office would dismiss the misdemeanor charge if Bryant stays out of trouble for a year.
Bryant was arrested in July in suburban Dallas after he allegedly hit his mother, Angela Bryant, in the face with a ball cap. A police affidavit says he also grabbed his mother by her T-shirt. Bryant’s mother filed an affidavit asking prosecutors not to file charges.
West said the deal with prosecutors was not a plea agreement, and that the family always thought it could settle the matter.
"The family now has put all this behind them, they just want to move forward," West told NBC 5.
West, who is also a Texas state senator, said in a statement that Bryant and his mother "understand the serious nature of family violence accusations."
Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins said the counseling is aimed at making sure Bryant is never again in the court system.
"This is an opportunity for Dez Bryant," said Watkins. "He’s only 23 years old and I can understand him being 23 with all the pressure that you have to perform on the field, the fact that you have so many dollars in your pocket and a lot of folks are pulling at you, this is an opportunity for him to grow up to mature and take advantage of everything that we’re offering him not only the district attorney’s office but the Dallas Cowboys to really be the citizen that I think he can be."
Dallas Cowboys spokesman Rich Dalrymple said coach Jason Garrett would likely address the Bryant situation Thursday. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the agreement didn’t change the league’s plan to review the case once it is resolved.
According to reports, the Cowboys agreed to provide Bryant a security team while restricting his off-field activities. The Cowboys haven’t commented specifically on those limitations.
Bryant was projected as a top 10 draft pick but fell to the Cowboys at No. 24 in 2010 in part because of a troubled past. He missed almost all of his final season at Oklahoma State after the NCAA suspended him for lying about having dinner with Deion Sanders.
There were pre-draft rumors that Bryant skipped meetings and classes at Oklahoma State, and his pro day was marred by banter that he had forgotten the cleats he planned to wear for the workout.
The third-year receiver also ran up hundreds of thousands of dollars in bills on game tickets and jewelry, and he was sued by people who said they were creditors.
Last year, Bryant was kicked out of an upscale Dallas mall for wearing sagging pants. In January, he was reportedly involved in a fight with rapper Lil Wayne at a Miami nightclub.
Courtesy: Schuyler Dixon | NBC KXAS Dallas
NBC 5’s Randy McIlwain contributed to this story. Click here to watch the short video
The Dallas Cowboys went 8-8 last year and missed the playoffs for the sixth time in the last decade. Yet the team set new highs in revenue and operating profit, and this month, it was the first NFL franchise to be valued at more than $2 billion. According to Forbes magazine, the Cowboys are worth roughly twice as much as teams in the middle of the pack.
Is winning overrated?
Jerry Jones would blanch at the suggestion, because he’s as much a football fan as owner and general manager. The Cowboys also won a string of earlier titles, both before Jones and with him, that helped establish the brand around the globe.
Win or lose, the Cowboys remain a glamour team and TV favorite, and this week, the national spotlight returns to Arlington for Monday Night Football. Fans always focus on what happens on the field, but there’s a business game within the game, and that’s where the Cowboys are world beaters.
Jones paid $140 million for the team in 1989, and it’s valued at $2.1 billion today. Every franchise in the National Football League has become richer in the past generation, thanks to a string of record-setting broadcast contracts. Still, the Cowboys stand apart, and in the last year alone, the team’s value rose 14 percent.
Cowboys Stadium is difference maker No. 1, so it’s fitting that it usually gets a lot of airtime during broadcasts. Last year, the Cowboys led the league in attendance and averaged about 6,000 standing room tickets per game. According to Stats LLC, attendance exceeded stadium capacity by 7 percent, second highest in the league by that measure of popularity.
With more fans staying home and watching the NFL on big, high-definition televisions, Cowboys games remain the place to be. The stadium’s luxuries are impressive, from the field boxes to the art collection to the giant video board. And it keeps making news, announcing that a Victoria’s Secret shop will open Monday, with the help of lingerie models.
The big turnout and TV attention keep corporate sponsors happy. AT&T, Bank of America, Dr Pepper, Ford, Miller Beer and Pepsi help generate $80 million a year in sponsor revenue, Forbes reports. And those dollars aren’t shared the way that broadcast rights and gate receipts are split among the league’s 32 teams.
Jones sometimes primes the pump by serving as the ultimate pitchman, and he has surprising crossover appeal. He’s been making national TV commercials since the 1990s. (Remember the Pizza Hut ad with Deion Sanders after he signed the player to a huge contract? Jones asks if he wants $15 million or $20 million, and Sanders says, “Both” — and Jones just shrugs.)
Ads for Papa John’s pizza have Jones doing rap songs and hip-hop dances, and serve as another example of how the Cowboys combine national and local campaigns — and boost their brand and their partners’ at the same time. Jones even has an ownership stake in the pizza chain, and he’s replicated the same model with Dunkin’ Donuts.
“It’s extraordinary how the Cowboys convert publicity into revenue,” said Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp Ltd., a consulting firm in Chicago.
He compares Jones to the late George Steinbrenner, the New York Yankees owner who was as famous as his players and appeared in TV commercials, too. Celebrity CEOs don’t get any more high profile, and Jones and the Cowboys have an additional advantage: The NFL’s salary cap keeps the biggest expense — player payroll — under control.
When the Cowboys leverage their brand (or Jones) with advertisers, revenue gains quickly hit the bottom line. Last season, the Cowboys’ operating income was $227 million, up from $9 million the year before they moved into the new stadium. Revenue increased almost 80 percent during the same time.
The Cowboys and most NFL teams are private businesses that don’t report financial results. Forbes has long estimated the numbers for pro sports teams, and the reports are widely respected.
Building the brand
When Jones bought the team, the Cowboys were laggards, but the franchise was a great name in a big, growing market. And the NFL’s popularity was about to explode, boosted by new broadcast deals. Jones was one of the ringleaders who pushed for more competitive bidding, which brought Fox into the fold and eventually led to more NFL games on more networks.
While that grew the pie for everyone, Jones was also growing a separate revenue stream. He sold sponsorships at the old Texas Stadium that often conflicted with the official league-wide sponsors. He signed contracts with Nike when the league had a separate apparel deal. Today the Cowboys have their own merchandising outfit and a concessions company with the Yankees. Its Legends Premium Sales unit is handling suite and ticket sales for the San Francisco 49ers’ new stadium.
Jones doubled his building budget on Cowboys Stadium to $1.2 billion, and he paid the extra, not Arlington taxpayers. He wanted an attraction that wouldn’t be eclipsed a few years later.
MetLife Stadium, which opened in 2010 in New Jersey and had a higher price tag, isn’t nearly as compelling — or valuable.
“The Cowboys had the better vision and execution,” Ganis said. “Management counts.”
The New York Giants play in MetLife, and they won the Super Bowl last year. They’re No. 4 on the Forbes list of NFL teams — and still trail the Cowboys’ value by $632 million. That’s a lead that looks safe.
Coming Tomorrow: Most NFL franchises have sold the naming rights to their stadiums. Not the Cowboys. Why America’s Team is leaving money on the table.
The Dallas Cowboys’ use of $50.1 million cornerback Brandon Carr as a nickel safety against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week was born out of necessity.
With free safety Gerald Sensabaugh sidelined with a calf strain, the Cowboys felt Carr had the best combination of size and athleticism among the cornerbacks to make the move and help the team. That Carr was willing to move showed his team-oriented attitude, which is another reason why the Cowboys were excited to add him as a free agent from Kansas City in the off-season.
"Brandon embraced this," coach Jason Garrett said. "He saw how he could help our football team absorb an injury."
Sensabaugh should be back for the Chicago Bears game on Monday. But with strong safety Barry Church out for the season with a torn Achilles’ tendon, Carr might be called on again to help out at safety. The Cowboys have yet to make a final decision.
Either way, Carr joins an elite list of Cowboys whose greatness was founded or enhanced by their in-game and in-career position flex and versatility.
S/CB/KR Mel Renfro
The epitome of versatility. Renfro was a two-time All-America running back in college at Oregon who moved to defense after being drafted by the Cowboys in 1964. He made the Pro Bowl at safety in each of his first six seasons then moved to cornerback and made four consecutive Pro Bowls, making him arguably the best safety/cornerback in NFL history. He led the NFL as rookie in kick and punt returns and had seven interceptions. He is still the team leader with 52 career interceptions, including 30 during his first six years at cornerback. His 26.4-yard career kickoff return average is also a club record. In the 1971 Pro Bowl, Renfro started at cornerback and returned two punts for touchdowns, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the NFC’s 27-6 victory.
S/CB Darren Woodson
An undersized linebacker in college, Woodson moved to safety after being drafted by the Cowboys. He proved to be a hard-hitting strong safety who had the range of a free safety and the coverage ability of a cornerback. He is the team’s all-time leading tackler and a five-time Pro Bowler, arguably the Cowboys best safety and best special teams player. It was the Cowboys’ use of him as a nickel cornerback covering slot receivers on passing downs that really stands out. Playing close to the line allowed him to support the run, pressure the quarterback as well as cover receivers such as Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in the slot. It made him the most versatile safety in the league but hurt his overall numbers, as he was unable to pile up interceptions.
OG/OT Larry Allen
There has never been any questioning Larry Allen’s greatness and dominance as an offensive lineman. He is a member of the NFL All-Decade team of the 1990s and 2000s. He made 11 trips to the Pro Bowl in 14 seasons in the NFL. A career guard, Allen started at left tackle in 1998 and made the Pro Bowl. He is one of three players in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl at two line positions. Allen played right guard, right tackle, left guard and left tackle during his career. It was in 1997 when Allen helped invent a new position for the Cowboys, the nickel tackle. George Hegamin replaced injured Mark Tuinei at left tackle midway through the season. He was a good run blocker, but weak pass blocker. For a two-game stretch, the Cowboys moved Allen from guard to left tackle on passing downs to protect Troy Aikman’s blindside. He did it so well, he became the full-time starter there for the final four games of the season.
CB/WR/KR Deion Sanders
Deion Sanders is the ultimate Mr. Versatile. A former football, baseball and track standout at Florida State, he joined Bo Jackson as the most decorated modern-day, two-sport professional when he played in the NFL and Major League Baseball at the same time. In 1998, he became the first player to hit a home run and score a touchdown in the same week. He is also the only player to play in a Super Bowl and in the World Series. His versatility in football was always evident during his Hall of Fame career because of his shutdown play at cornerback and game-changing play as a returner. He joined the Cowboys in 1995 for a then-record $13 million signing bonus for the chance to win back-to-back Super Bowls and the opportunity to play receiver on offense. In helping the Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX, Sanders started at cornerback, returned a punt and caught a 47-yard pass to set up the first touchdown. He went on to make eight starts at receiver in 1996 because of injuries, as well as play at cornerback, catching 36 passes for 475 yards, ranking second on the team in receiving yards.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant (88) and Laurent Robinson (81) celebrate Bryant’s first quarter touchdown as the Dallas Cowboys play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
While Dez Bryant still has three more years remaining on his contract after this year, don’t be surprised if a renegotiation isn’t too far away.
Especially since Bryant has changed agents, replacing Eugene Parker with Drew Rosenhaus, arguably the most visible sports agent in the NFL.
Bryant’s ties to Deion Sanders likely led him to sign with Parker before being drafted. But Sanders, who has been more like a mentor for Bryant, has reportedly severed ties with the second-year receiver.
So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that Bryant is moving on to a new agent in Rosenhaus, who also represents Mike Jenkins and Kevin Ogletree. Rosenhaus did have Abram Elam as a client when he signed a one-year deal but no longer servers as his agent.
Bryant is just two seasons into a five-year, $11.8 million contract that included $8.5 million guaranteed. However, if the Cowboys have interest in keeping Laurent Robinson, who will be a free agent and could warrant starting receiver dollars, the club might want to redo Bryant’s deal as well. It’s likely Bryant and Rosenhaus won’t be comfortable with being the third-highest paid receiver on the team behind Austin and Robinson.
Then again, the Cowboys might not even make a strong push for Robinson, or at least until after he tests the free-agent market.
Regardless of that situation, it’s clear Bryant is already thinking about his next contract and has found the guy to help him get there.
Star-Telegram/Ron T. Ennis
Former Dallas Cowboy Michael Irvin signs autographs before the Dallas Cowboys play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cowboys owner and GM Jerry Jones (left) tries to give former Cowboy player Deion Sanders (right) a $100 bill as former player Marshall Faulk (center) looks on before Saturday night’ game in Tampa.
Jason Garrett said the result of the Giants-Jets game will have no impact in how they approach their game against the Eagles later Saturday. If the Giants beat the Jets, the Cowboys-Eagles game is meaningless as far as the playoff picture is concerned. If the Jets win, the Cowboys can clinch the NFC East with a victory over the Eagles.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones admits he will be scoreboard watching.
"I’ll whisper in their ear for them," Jones joked about his team not watching the Jets-Giants result. "But we’re all interested in how that game comes out, and that’s natural. I know are fans are, and we are, and of course, it creates an interesting dynamic there for our last couple of games. I’m certainly looking with interest at that ball game."
This time last year, the Cowboys were out of the race. That’s why being in control of their playoff destiny is that much sweeter this year.
"I feel like it [last year] was yesterday, and I have a feeling that our team, everybody that went through last year remembers those feelings," Jones said. "It’s an empty feeling, and you’ve got to manufacture some cheer when you’re dealing with that situation, when you know you’re basically through. We don’t have that now. I think that provides inspiration and relates to your effort on the field. I really admire teams that step out. I know the first year I was involved with the Cowboys, Al Davis and John Madden called me and said you didn’t lose the team. You won one football team, but they were real impressed that we didn’t lose the team. Those guys were getting after it the last game Green Bay out here on Christmas Eve. You have the opposite of that, where we are now, in contention. I just want to be having this feeling in January."
Sports Illustrated has released a new book called, "1st and 10: Top 10 Lists of Everything in Football." The Dallas Cowboys are featured prominently in the list of top 10s.
The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins were rated the No. 2 rivalry, with the Cowboys and 49ers coming in at No. 7. Prime Time made the list of top-10 nicknames at No. 4, and the Cowboys’ helmet ranked seventh. Two of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl losses rated in the top 10 of best Super Bowls, and Deion Sanders and Bob Hayes rated among the fastest players. Tom Landry’s record of 29 consecutive seasons coaching one team came in No. 3 as the most unbreakable record. The Cowboys were No. 1 on two lists — Ed Too Tall Jones was the top "big guy" and Cowboys Stadium rated the best stadium.
The book is available for $19.95 at bookstores or online.
This weekend the Redskins play Dallas. Usually there’d be so much buzz and excitement in the city surrounding this game that I wouldn’t have to remind you.
That does not seem to be the case this week. It’s been just another week.
I can remember people driving around honking their horns, free meals from from restaurant owners who wanted us to win, banners everywhere and car flags–for both teams–on every other car. And that’s when I played. Hello–we weren’t very good any of my years here. But the excitement surrounding this game was always intense.
I mean seriously, a 1 p.m. game? This has always made at least 4 p.m. 1 o’clock games are usually considered appetizers for the later games.
Even after I left the game in 2006 and came back home, this game was the one that I’d watch at a sports bar. This may be the first year I won’t. I don’t feel the excitement. On my radio show we have barely touched on the game itself or even mentioned the rivalry. All the focus has been on the state of the team.
It feels to me like the ever-growing frustration of Redskins fans is beginning to show in ways like this.
The Cowboys do seem to be finding a stride as of late and could compete for the division title, which, in a conference this weak doesn’t mean much. The Redskins are facing the possibility of not winning another game this season.
Either way, both teams have struggled with identity problems over the last decade. Let’s face it, neither team has done much about making it to the playoffs or staying in them.
There’s usually a build up of mass proportions this week: Cowboys versus Indians, champion versus champion. My, how times have changed since the glory days of both of these franchises.
We won’t see Darrell Green battling it out with Michael Irvin Sunday. Troy Aikman isn’t playing either, trying to avoid being sacked by Charles Mann or Dexter Manley. We won’t see Ernest Byner taking a handoff from Mark Rypien, no Art Monk making a spectacular play downfield with the greatest of ease. No Emmitt Smith or Deion Sanders on Dallas or Monte Coleman or Gary Clark for the Redskins
Those days are long gone.
Once historically great and proud franchises have sunk so deep into mediocrity that it would appear that the prestige of this matchup is all but gone.
Courtesy: LaVar Arrington | The Washington Post
Today the Cowboys will induct Larry Allen, Charles Haley and Drew Pearson into the Ring of Honor. It’s the first time the Cowboys have conducted such an event since the Triplets in 2005.
With that we look at ten players who might be next for the Jerry Jones committee of one to consider.
Harvey Martin.No name resonates more with former Cowboys players than this man. He led the Cowboys in sacks seven times, is the unofficial franchise leader with 114 and holds the single-season mark of 23 sacks in the 1977 season. Before there was Charles Haley and DeMarcus Ware, Martin along with Randy White and Bob Lilly set the standard for pass rushers in franchise history.
Bill Bates.A special teams ace and despite making just one Pro Bowl, 1984, he was a beloved figure in Cowboys lore. When you think of outstanding special teams players in Cowboys history, Bates’ name comes up first. Nobody was better on a unit the causal fan knew nothing about.
Darren Woodson. A three-time All Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler won three Super Bowl titles. He was a talented safety who not only covered tight ends but wide receivers. His presence is still felt at Valley Ranch, because the Cowboys have not replaced him and his signature is inside a locker of former safety Roy Williams, that’s now the home of cornerback Terence Newman.
Everson Walls. He led the Cowboys in interceptions five times, is second all-time in franchise history with 44 and still holds the single-season record with 11 picks in 1981. The 11 picks is also the franchise record for a rookie. It would be nice if Walls gets in with Martin, another Dallas native.
Jimmy Johnson. The second coach in Cowboys history rebuilt the franchise and won two Super Bowl titles and the third one, XXX in 1995 was with Barry Switzer, but it was Johnson’s team. The ending was bad, but there’s no denying what Johnson meant to the franchise.
Charlie Waters. A three-time Pro Bowler at strong safety, Waters started 22 of 25 playoff games. He was a fierce hitter who gets lost because we talk so much about Cliff Harris. Waters is considered one of the top safeties in Cowboys history.
Deion Sanders.He made his mark with Atlanta, yet, Sanders was a four-time Pro Bowler, three-time All Pro and of course won one title with the Cowboys. Sanders holds the career mark for punt return average at 13.3. He was the first big money free agency signed by the Cowboys and he was a playmaker on defense and special teams.
Daryl Johnston. When Emmitt Smith broke the all-time rushing mark, he hugged this man. Johnston didn’t miss a game from 1992-to-1995. Johnston is one of the best fullbacks in franchise history, and his blocks paved the way for Smith to get a bulk of his yardage.
Danny White. The third-round pick from Arizona State, made only one Pro Bowl, and he had just one losing season in the years he started, 1987 where he compiled a 3-6 mark at age 35. He took the Cowboys to three NFC title games, never advancing to the Super Bowl. White is second in completions in franchise history at 1,761.
Mark Stepnoski.A five-time Pro Bowler who won three titles. But here’s a little known fact: He was named to the second-team of the 1990s All-Decade team. Stepnoski was a solid player during his era, not only with the Cowboys but in the NFL as well.