LOCAL VOICE MAKING NATIONAL DEBUT: Fox’s rookie play-by-play voice, Kevin Burkhardt to call the Cowboys-Redskins game tomorrow
PHOTO: Ex-Cowboys quarterback Danny White (right) working with play-by-play man Kevin Burkhardt (left) on the national broadcast of Dallas Cowboys games for Compass Media Networks.
Six straight games the TV play-by-play voice working the Dallas Cowboys game has been a network first-teamer.
Beginning Nov. 3 against the Vikings, the voices have belonged to Fox’s Joe Buck, NBC’s Al Michaels, Buck again, CBS’ Jim Nantz, ESPN’s Mike Tirico and Buck once more.
Should the Cowboys manage to beat the Washington Redskins in Sunday’s noon game, it likely will be Al Michaels for Week 17’s NFC East showdown against the Philadelphia Eagles.
But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Bucking the trend this week, Fox has assigned rookie Kevin Burkhardt (far right, photo) to call the Cowboys-Redskins on Sunday.
Who? That’s right, Kevin Burkhardt, a former radio voice of your Dallas Cowboys.
What? Yep, Burkhardt worked the last two seasons calling Cowboys games alongside analyst Danny White for Compass Media. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of it. Compass is a company that put together a network to relay games to markets beyond the more familiar Dallas Cowboys Radio Network.
While the Dallas Cowboys Radio Network includes flagship “The Fan” KRLD-FM (105.3) and outlets around Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma, Burkhardt broadcast the brand to stations in Alaska, Hawaii, New York and 31 other states.
When Burkhardt heard Fox was creating a national cable network to be known as Fox Sports 1, he figured he’d apply for work as a college football announcer. After all, he had plenty of high school radio play-by-play experience and had been a last-minute fill-in for the radio call of the 2009 Texas Bowl between Navy and Missouri.
When the Fox folks studied Burkhardt’s work, they called his agent to say that he wouldn’t be working college football. But how would he like calling NFL play-by-play?
It was an incredible offer. Network NFL play-by-play gigs come along maybe once a decade. Look up “ensconced” in the dictionary. There’s a picture of Dick Stockton alongside.
And so Fox paired Burkhardt, 39, with up-and-coming analyst John Lynch, 42, who played 15 Hall of Fame-worthy seasons of safety for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos.
“They put me in a position to succeed,” Burkhardt said in a telephone interview this week. “My partner is the easiest person to work with.”
Working with Burkhardt and Lynch is ubiquitous sideline reporter Erin Andrews, whom Fox lured from ESPN with much accompanying fanfare.
The crew has morphed into a Fox favorite. It will work a playoff game, a plum assignment the weekend of Jan. 11-12. Buck and Troy Aikman, the network lead team, will work the other game before advancing to the NFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl.
Last year, Thom Brennaman and Brian Billick worked Fox’s “other” playoff game. Previously, Kenny Albert, Daryl Johnston, and Tony Siragusa called a playoff game for the network dating to 2008.
Calling the second playoff game at Fox is a big deal.
A good effort in their playoff game and Burkhardt, Lynch and Andrews establish themselves as Fox’s No. 2 crew.
“I’m thrilled by all of this,” Burkhardt said. “I’m flattered by the playoff game. This whole thing has been nuts.”
NFL GAMEDAY RESOURCES: 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers | The Cowboys Packers rivalry continues
The 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys fate hangs in the balance in the final three games after a deflating 45-28 defeat to Chicago last Monday. Now they face the wounded Green Bay Packers, who will be without injured starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers for the sixth consecutive game. The Cowboys, who are known for their December swoons, know they need to bounce back Sunday if they have designs on earning their first playoff berth since 2009. Here is a look at how both the Cowboys and Packers match up:
When the Cowboys run
If the Cowboys choose to hold onto any tape from their 45-28 defeat to Chicago last Monday it will be the cutups of their running plays. The ground offense looked as good as it has all season, producing 198 yards and one touchdown. It was the third consecutive game the Cowboys rushed for more than 100 yards, as an area of weakness has suddenly become a strength. Green Bay, which has the eighth-worst run defense in the league, shouldn’t get in the way of a Dallas running game gaining steam.
When the Cowboys pass
The last time the viewing public saw Tony Romo and Dez Bryant, the Cowboys’ franchise quarterback threw for 104 yards and the team’s top receiver caught only two passes. That happened Monday night, when the Cowboys lost 45-28 to Chicago. Dallas’ passing offense, which lacked bite, needs to return to form Sunday. The Cowboys depend on Romo and to a lesser extent Bryant. They should feast on a Packers defense yielding 246.8 passing yards per game, the 12th-highest average in the NFL.
When the Packers run
In the last three seasons, the Packers’ rushing offense was ranked in the bottom half of the league. In 2013, Green Bay’s ground game is producing 128.8 yards per game, the 10th-best in the NFL. The difference has been Eddie Lacy. The rookie tailback has amassed 887 rushing yards – the tenth-highest total in the NFL. But he hurt his ankle last Sunday and is listed as probable. If he aggravates the injury, backup James Starks, who is averaging 5.3 yards per carry, can still damage Dallas’ weak front.
When the Packers pass
Aaron Rodgers will miss his sixth consecutive game since breaking his left collarbone. The Packers starting quarterback has been ruled out, meaning Matt Flynn, who has been with three teams in 2013, will be behind center again. And while he is not the threat Rodgers is, the Cowboys’ woeful pass defense – ranked dead last in the NFL – appears capable of collapsing. The 141.9 rating produced by Chicago’s Josh McCown last Monday was the latest indictment on this sad unit.
As the Bears were piling up the points against the Cowboys last Monday, Dallas was dealt a big blow when return specialist Dwayne Harris aggravated his pulled hamstring. Now he will be out for the second time in three games. Just like Harris, the Packers’ Micah Hyde provides a jolt on special teams. This season, he took a punt back 93 yards for a touchdown. But the Packers haven’t fared well on kickoffs, producing the worst return average in the NFL.
The Cowboys are still smarting from a deflating defeat to Chicago in which receiver Dez Bryant said Dallas was “outplayed.” But the Cowboys have shown resilience throughout the season. They suffered a bitter 51-48 loss to Denver in October and came back to beat Washington the following week. They were annihilated by New Orleans before the bye in November and responded by beating the New York Giants in their next game. Expect the Cowboys to circle the wagons again and come out focused.
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Listen to the “Voice of the Dallas Cowboys” Brad Sham on KRLD in Dallas.
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To watch on network TV, tune to:
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Out of market? Click HERE to watch online (NFL Sunday Ticket)
When: Sunday, December 15th, 2013 at 3:25 p.m. (Dallas time)
Where: AT&T Stadium | Arlington, TX
Watch on TV: FOX | DirecTV
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Hall of Fame coach and legendary broadcaster John Madden gave a heartfelt speech at the memorial service for Pat Summerall on Saturday. The two worked games together for 22 years.
“He is the voice of the NFL,” Madden said. “To me, he wasn’t a braggart. To me, he was John Wayne.”
Summerall passed away Tuesday at the age of 82. He played 10 years in the NFL and worked a record 16 Super Bowls on television.
Madden, who’s been known to ramble at times, said he could hear Summerall’s voice, “Brevity, brevity, brevity” in his head, during his speech. The two friends have said goodbye twice before — during their final game together on CBS and during their final game as a broadcast team on Fox after Super Bowl XXXVI.
“This is the third goodbye. The toughest,” Madden struggled to say. “Goodbye, Pat. Rest in peace. I love you.”
JOHN MADDEN AND PAT SUMMERALLS LAST BROADCAST:
BROADCAST LEGEND REMEMBERED: Pat Summerall’s funeral will take place on Saturday; open to the public
We have some news on Pat Summerall’s funeral to pass along. Summerall died Tuesday at the age of 82.
The funeral will take place Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas (a Dallas suburb). It will be open to the public.
We’ll pass along more information as it becomes available.
RELATED: Jerry Jones statement on Pat Summerall
Here is the statement from Jerry Jones issued Tuesday on the death of Pat Summerall:
“Pat was the NFL’s narrator for generations, with a voice that was powerful, eloquent and distinctive.
“His presence at an NFL game elevated that event to a higher level. He was royalty in the broadcast booth. He was respected and admired by players, coaches, commissioners and Presidents of our country—and always a gentleman—someone who had time for the fans in the parking lot after the game.
“Humility and kindness were his closest companions. He was a trusted friend and confidant, and for all of his immense talents as a professional, he was an even better person.
“For a man who could dramatically capture a moment with very few words, there simply aren’t enough words to adequately describe what he meant to sports and broadcasting in this country.
“There is no question that Pat broadcast more Dallas games on CBS and FOX than any other man, and this is a great loss for thousands of Cowboys fans who spent their Sunday afternoons in the living room with Pat.
“Our hearts go out to Cheri and his family. Pat was an icon and an American original.”
RELATED: Brad Sham remembers Pat Summerall
IRVING, Texas – The way Brad Sham sees it, Pat Summerall has few peers when it comes to the history of sports broadcasting.
“He’s at the top,” said Sham, the longtime voice of the Dallas Cowboys and one of Summerall’s friends. “Vince Scully is there. Red Barber. Some of this is now chocolate and vanilla, but whatever short list there is, he’s on it and he’s out front.”
Through the years Sham became friends with Summerall and was part of an old-timers media group that would meet for lunch every so often. Sham would have Summerall re-tell stories he had heard dozens of times, just to hear them again. The last time the group met came March 5.
“You have to separate it personally and professionally,” Sham said. “Professionally, he should have been the model for every television play-by-play person. He was living proof that less could be more. He knew exactly how to make the event the star of the show and still partly because of the voice God gave him but partly because he knew what to do with it, everybody knew it was a Summerall event and that made it a big deal. As the head coach of the Cowboys might say, that was his genius. He knew how to make the event the star of the show.
“Personally, he was such a nice man. He was so gentle … He could talk about what things were like when he played. He could talk about what things were like in television as he worked and saw things unfold. And he could talk about the arts, about pop culture. The fact that his Christian faith was so important to him in the last decade of his life, it kept him grounded and delighted.”
Summerall’s presence could be felt whenever he walked into a press box, according to Sham, not because of domineering personality, but because of the reverence people had for him.
“The era we live in is not an era of eloquent gentility,” Sham said. “The era we live in is an era of look-at-me noise. Media helps shape that and also reflects it so that fact that people don’t (emulate Summerall) and do what he did or try to doesn’t surprise me, but it’s a damn shame.
“We say a lot that someone was one of a kind. He was. And they stopped making them a long time ago.”
RELATED: Much more reaction to Pat Summerall’s death from athletes, analysts, writers, others
CBS Sports broadcaster Verne Lundquist: “Pat was a friend of nearly 40 years. He was a master of restraint in his commentary, an example for all of us. He was also one of the great storytellers who ever spoke into a microphone.”
Pat Summerall died Tuesday. He was 82.
That’s how Summerall, almost a decade ago, said he would craft the first sentences of his obituary — short and to the point.
The legendary sports broadcaster died in his hospital room at Zale Lipshy University Hospital, where he was recovering from surgery for a broken hip, a family friend said.
Summerall’s comment about his obituary was made at his Southlake home after a 2004 liver transplant that saved his life. He was serious.
Typical … succinct … vintage Summerall.
His minimalist staccato style coupled with a deep, authoritative voice was his trademark as the pre-eminent NFL voice for a generation of television viewers.
Summerall worked 16 Super Bowls in a network career that began at CBS in 1962 and ended at Fox in 2002.
Former Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson is raising questions about the atmosphere at Valley Ranch. Johnson called Valley Ranch a "country club" during an interview on the Dan Patrick Show.
"All the players in this league think they’re self-motivated and that’s a bunch of bull because there are only a handful that are self-motivated," Johnson said. "So you’ve got to motivate these players through some respect but the No. 1 motivator is fear. Fear of letting down your teammates, being embarrassed or fear of losing the job. Where is the fear in Dallas? There’s no fear in Dallas. It’s a country club where everybody is buddies."
Coach Jason Garrett has changed the climate at Valley Ranch sharply from how it was under Wade Phillips. Of course, Phillips changed the atmosphere from how it was under Bill Parcells.
Garrett was asked about Johnson’s comments.
"I don’t really have any comment on that," Garrett said. "We do things the way we do things here and from a football standpoint we believe we practice the right way, we meet the right way and create the right atmosphere of urgency for our players it’s what I learned as a player and coach in this league. And that’s what we’re trying to create with our football team."
And a players’ view, courtesy of Jason Witten:
“I didn’t hear about it, but obviously he’s a great coach here in this franchise and won a lot of Super Bowls,” Witten said. “I haven’t seen him around a lot. The guys are working hard. Ultimately (talk like Johnson’s) is going to happen, but I don’t think as a player you can worry about that. You’ve got to fix it. We know the expectations. Trust me, we feel it every day and so I don’t think you allow that (talk) to get in but obviously got a lot of respect for him.”
Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo was asked about Johnson’s comments Thursday.
"When you’re out here, when you’re involved in it, and you’re here every day, i think you understand the importance of each football game," Romo said. "All I can speak about is me, the grind and the way it works on you when you don’t win a football game, it’s just enormous. The way you constantly evaluate and think about how to improve and get better and take the next step. it consumes your thoughts. That’s really what happens after a loss, so I don’t know what anybody else feels or thinks, but that’s absolutely what you try to do to improve and get better."
Johnson has formed a good relationship with Garrett in terms of being a mentor. In the same interview with Patrick, Johnson questioned whether Garrett would remain the man in charge at Valley Ranch.
"Jason Garrett is probably coaching for his job for the rest of the year," Johnson said. "This game with Philadelphia on Fox may decide the future of coaches and players with those two teams."
Maybe Johnson was channeling Bob Arum, the boxing promoter who hypes fights. And with the Eagles and Cowboys at 3-5, the loser most likely will see their playoff hopes disappear. So creating media drama is expected.
The quarterback, Tony Romo, who’s got one year left on his deal, might also be on the way out according to Johnson.
"I would extend Tony Romo unless I had somebody better, and they don’t have anybody better," Johnson said.
EDITORS COMMENT: At The Boys Are Back blog we are always interested in your view. I agree with Jimmy Johnson on his point of most players needing motivation. Jason Garrett has had many influences in his career as a Dallas Cowboy player, offensive coordinator, and head coach. He uses a hybrid style that blends those influences (Tom Landry, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson). Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells were more outwardly aggressive and verbally expressive on camera. Tom Landry more reserve publically, but privately critical and a strict disciplinarian. Jason Garrett’s style falls somewhere in the middle. He’s young and still figuring out his style and approach. As fans, we do not know what happens behind closed doors at Valley Ranch or in the locker room. We do know that the players seem to be behind him and appear to be buying into his system. When the day comes when they don’t … that’s the day to begin worrying. Jason Garrett is evolving … and like the Dallas Cowboys, he’s a work in progress.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys VP Stephen Jones stops by practice, defends Garrett
Stephen Jones visited practice and ran into reporters, one of whom stopped him to get his thoughts on the topics of the day. Before long, everyone with a notepad and camera had surrounded the Cowboys’ executive vice president.
Is Jason Garrett coaching for his future?
“I won’t even comment on that. Period. That’s ridiculous,” Jones said.
Any comment on Jimmy Johnson saying there is a country-club atmosphere at Valley Ranch?
“Don’t have one.”
A comment or a country club?
“Don’t have one.”
“Any serious questions?”
What kind of job do you think Garrett is doing?
“First of all, I think Jason is incredibly smart. No one understands the game more,” Jones said. “He grew up at a breakfast table knowing about the NFL. His father was a coach. His father was a scout. He understands the league. He is a great leader. He leads our team in a great way.
“I think he understands the game. He has been a very success offensive coordinator. He started having success immediately. It wasn’t like there was a huge learning curve for him as a play caller. We have had a lot of great offenses here under Jason. We are moving the ball good this year for the most part. The players respect him. He demands accountability.”
Jones agreed that turnovers are a problem this year. The Cowboys have 19, tied with the Philadelphia Eagles for second-most in the NFL.
“We have to do better there. I think we are improving,” Jones said. “We protected the ball against the Falcons. They are a good football team. We are doing some things to cause turnovers. We are tipping balls. They just didn’t come our way. We were hitting the quarterback hard. The ball was on the ground. We just didn’t recover it.
Asked if the Cowboys were underachieving at 3-5, Jones said, “Absolutely. We had higher expectations than this. We are disappointed with our record. We have to play better. We have to finish.”
It was not too long ago when the Cowboys went up to northern New Jersey and defeated the New York Giants 24-17. But a lot has changed since that Sept. 5 season opener. The Giants, not the Cowboys, now sit alone atop the NFC East standings. Dallas linebacker Sean Lee is done for the season after suffering ligament damage in his right big toe. And Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray, who rushed for 131 yards in that first meeting with the Giants, is sidelined as he continues to recover from a sprained left foot. The Giants, in totality, are in much better shape than the Cowboys. Here is a look at how both teams match up:
When the Cowboys run
The Cowboys’ rushing attack remains in flux and at this point it’s difficult to project its performance. A week after gaining 227 yards on the ground against Baltimore, the Cowboys managed to collect 85 against Carolina. Of course, tailback DeMarco Murray didn’t play last Sunday and he won’t be available this week as he continues to recover from a sprained left foot. That is a big blow for the Cowboys. Against the Giants in the opener, Murray rushed for a season-high 131 yards – about five more than New York has yielded on average this season. Will Phillip Tanner or Felix Jones, who is nursing a bruised knee, pick up the slack in Murray’s absence?
When the Cowboys pass
Tony Romo’s best performance of the season came in the first game. Romo completed 76 percent of his pass attempts for 307 yards and three touchdowns, posting a 129.5 quarterback rating in the process. Since then, Romo has thrown three more interceptions than touchdown passes. But there is no reason to believe Romo can’t skewer the Giants’ flimsy secondary. New York is allowing 253.3 yards per game through the air, the 12-highest average in the NFL. The question is whether Romo, who has been only sacked once in the past two games, will be able to avoid the Giants’ staunch pass rush.
When the Giants run
The Giants’ running game has improved significantly since last season, when New York was ranked last in yards on the ground. Through seven games, the Giants have produced 116.3 rushing yards per game, the 12th-highest average in the NFL. They have done so while relying on Ahmad Bradshaw, Andre Brown and David Wilson. Yet the Cowboys were able to contain the Giants’ tailbacks in the opener, limiting New York to 82 rushing yards – 23 below the current average they’ve allowed. Of course, linebacker Sean Lee was a big part of that defensive effort. Now he’s out for the season with ligament damage in his right big toe. Will the Giants be able to exploit his absence?
When the Giants pass
The Giants make no secret about their intentions. They will pass the ball, relying on the arm of Eli Manning to power the offense. After Week 7, only three quarterbacks had thrown the ball more times than Manning had. And it’s easy to see why Manning is chucking the ball all over the field. After all he has plenty of targets. Headed by Victor Cruz, who has already made 50 catches, the Giants have six players who have gained more than 100 receiving yards. The Cowboys, who have the third-stingiest pass defense, will try to limit Manning and Co. for the second time this season.
No player this season has attempted more field goals than the Giants’ Lawrence Tynes. He has converted 19 of 21 attempts this season and is part of a special teams unit that includes one of the league’s best directional punters, Steve Weatherford. Weatherford has allowed 5.8 yards per return – the exact average the Cowboys have produced when they have fielded punts. Those modest gains aren’t surprising. Although Dan Bailey has made 92.3 percent of his 13 field-goal attempts, Dallas’ special teams have performed poorly this season.
The Cowboys will have home-field advantage. That should mean something. But in this matchup with the Giants it doesn’t. The Giants have prevailed in all three meetings with their NFC East rivals at Cowboys Stadium. And at this point some wonder if New York feels more comfortable at Jerry World than Dallas does.
For that reason, the Giants have to be brimming with confidence as they invade North Texas seeking revenge for the loss the Cowboys handed them in the season opener.
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With the eye of an art history major, Steve Sabol filmed the NFL as a ballet and blockbuster movie all in one.
Half of the father-son team that revolutionized sports broadcasting, the NFL Films president died Tuesday of brain cancer at age 69 in Moorestown, N.J. He leaves behind a league bigger than ever, its fans enthralled by the plot twists and characters he so deftly chronicled.
“It is with tremendous sadness that we learned of the legendary Steve Sabol’s passing," FOX Sports Media Group chairman David Hill said. "He was a terrific man and a skilled and talented artist. Steve and his father Ed built NFL Films from nothing and were pioneers in sports television and filmmaking, and after taking the reins from his father, Steve put his own stamp on NFL Films, and its ability to capture football’s nuance and subtlety. When we started FOX Sports, no one was more helpful than Steve, and in a short time he became a great, great friend. He was always there to listen to one of my idiotic ideas. Nothing was ever too much trouble for Steve, and no one, absolutely no one, could rock a pink shirt while talking about the NFL as well as Steve. He was greatly respected and will be missed by everyone at FOX and the entire NFL community.”
Sabol was diagnosed with a tumor on the left side of his brain after being hospitalized for a seizure in March 2011.
”Steve Sabol was the creative genius behind the remarkable work of NFL Films,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement from the league confirming Sabol’s death. ”Steve’s passion for football was matched by his incredible talent and energy. Steve’s legacy will be part of the NFL forever. He was a major contributor to the success of the NFL, a man who changed the way we look at football and sports, and a great friend.”
When Ed Sabol founded NFL Films, his son was there working beside him as a cinematographer right from the start in 1964. They introduced a series of innovations taken for granted today, from super slow-motion replays to blooper reels to sticking microphones on coaches and players. And they hired the ”Voice of God,” John Facenda, to read lyrical descriptions in solemn tones.
Until he landed the rights to chronicle the 1962 NFL championship game, Ed Sabol’s only experience filming sports was recording the action at Steve’s high school football games in Philadelphia.
”We see the game as art as much as sport,” Steve Sabol told The Associated Press before his father was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year. ”That helped us nurture not only the game’s traditions but to develop its mythology: America’s Team, The Catch, The Frozen Tundra.”
The two were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Emmy from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2003. In his career, Steve Sabol won 35 Emmys for writing, cinematography, editing, directing and producing – no one else had ever earned that many in as many different categories.
”Steve Sabol leaves a lasting impact on the National Football League that will be felt for a long time to come,” NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said. ”His vision and innovation helped make him a pioneer the likes of which the NFL has never seen before and won’t see again.”
He was the perfect fit for the job: an all-Rocky Mountain Conference running back at Colorado College majoring in art history. It was Sabol who later wrote of the Raiders, ”The autumn wind is a pirate, blustering in from sea,” words immortalized by Facenda.
The Sabols’ advances included everything from reverse angle replays to filming pregame locker room speeches to setting highlights to pop music.
”Today of course those techniques are so common it’s hard to imagine just how radical they once were,” Steve told the AP last year. ”Believe me, it wasn’t always easy getting people to accept them, but I think it was worth the effort.”
His efforts extended beyond his work as a producer, including appearances on screen and in public to promote NFL Films’ mission.
An accomplished collage artist, Sabol exhibited at the ArtExpo in New York, the Avant Gallery in Miami, the Govinda Gallery in Washington, the Milan Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Garth Davidson Gallery in Moorestown, N.J.
”Steve was a legend in this business – a dynamic, innovative leader who made NFL Films the creative force it is today,” ESPN President John Skipper said. ”The work he and his dedicated and talented team create every day is one of the many reasons why so many more fans love the game of football today.”
Sabol is survived by his wife, Penny; his son, Casey; his parents, Audrey and Ed; and his sister, Blair. The NFL said there would be a private funeral.
RELATED POSTS: STEVE SABOL: 1942-2012
We are honored to link to an excerpt from "Ed Sabol’s Last Football Movie" (courtesy of NFL.com), the ultimate illustration of the master’s vision and passion for the game.
Sabol leaves lasting legacy – FOX Sports – Photographs – Through the Years – 9 images
Remembering Steve Sabol – Rich Eisen of the NFL Network
Fox’s Jimmy Johnson was at Valley Ranch on Thursday to chat with Tony Romo, Rob Ryan and Sean Lee for a feature on the Cowboys defense scheduled to air on Sunday’s pre-game show.
So you know, Johnson was one of the few national voices to pick the Dallas Cowboys over the New York Giants in the season opener.
“I thought they would be thoroughly prepared for the game,” Johnson said on his way out of Cowboys headquarters, throwing a bouquet at Jason Garrett. “I like what I see with this team over last year’s. I like the additions on defense, especially the new cornerbacks. Sean Lee is 100 percent and I like the healthy DeMarco Murray.”
Still, Johnson warned against overconfidence before Sunday’s game at Seattle.
“They have to prove this week that the first game wasn’t out of character,” he said. “That happens more than you think in the NFL. Seattle has a strong defense and a real home-field advantage with its loud fans. We’ll know a lot more about the Cowboys after this game.”
Being at Cowboys training camp is like being at home for rookie fullback Jamize Olawale, who grew up in Long Beach, Calif., and went to junior college at El Camino in Torrance. He’s trying to make the team as a blocking back and on special teams. He might get a chance to showcase his running and catching ability in Monday night’s game because of injuries to Phillip Tanner and Lance Dunbar. But being at an NFL training camp is an eye-opening experience for any rookie. The former North Texas receiver talks about five things that make rookie life in the NFL an experience to remember.
1 The environment. "Just getting to know all the fans, all the attention that the Cowboys get, is interesting. It’s fun."
2 Learning how to prepare. "You bring your hard hat to work every day, as coach [Jason] Garrett says. Come to work. Have that mindset every day when you wake up."
3 The apartment setup. "It’s nice. It’s nicer than what I stay in at home, so I have no problem with that. And they feed us well. We’re taken care of."
4 Initiations, like carrying the veterans’ pads in after practice. "It’s not the first time. It’s cool, it’s fine. It’s part of the game, part of being a rookie. I’ll take it in stride."
5 It’s tough. "I expected it to be hard. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. So far, Coach has been helping us get through it and prosper."
Cole Beasley, the tiny undrafted receiver from SMU, has a ton of fans already at Cowboys training camp. And why not? He keeps making catches — and tough catches. After he went to the ground for one ball, grabbing it and holding on as he went down in the arms of cornerback Lionel Smith, a fan yelled out: "Pay attention, coaches! We need a Welker!"
Fox Sports reporter and MMA entrepreneur Jay Glazer visited the Cowboys sideline for Friday’s practice. He has an eye for MMA talent, and he said DeMarco Murray is excellent. "He’s got great knees," Glazer said.
Brill Garrett, the wife of Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, spent practice on the sideline with her trusty camera. She’s a photography enthusiast, and collecting her own camp pictures is a tradition.
They said it
"If we weren’t in the system we are in, I’d probably wreck this thing trying to spend money to get players to win a Super Bowl. But that’s not the system we are in. We’ve got to do it other ways." — Jerry Jones
Former Cowboys defensive tackle Tony Casillas got away from three days at Disneyland to make it to Friday’s practice. He liked the shape the players are in, and he said he’s down to about 240 from his playing weight of 295. But he said that’s nothing compared to how Leon Lett, coaching for the Cowboys, looks like a different person.
Courtesy: Carlos Mendez
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton might not be out of work long when his one-year suspension begins on April 1.
ESPN, NBC and CBS said Friday that they have no interest in giving Payton a job, however, FOX Sports is open to hiring Payton as an analyst on its NFL coverage, according to The New York Times.
"Our feeling about Sean is that he’s bright, articulate and obviously contemporary," said Lou D’Ermilio, FOX’s senior vice president for communications. "Any network with NFL rights would have to consider it."
Although Payton is barred from any involvement with coaching the Saints for one year, the NFL said he was not prohibited from working on NFL broadcasts.
"He is suspended from the NFL for the season," the league said in a statement to The Times. "His involvement in any non-NFL employment or business matters is not our decision."
Payton stands to lose more than $5.8 million from the suspension, according to an ESPN report last week.
Payton was suspended by the NFL as a result of the league’s investigation into a "bounty" program that then Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams ran from 2009 to ’11 in which players were rewarded for hits that knocked opponents out of games.
In the ESPN Sunday studio there was plenty of critism of Jason Garrett’s handling of the final minute of regulation in last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals and his subsequent unwillingness to claim blame.
Bill Parcells: "You have to be accountable. Everybody knows what happened. You have to stand up. You have to reiterate to them, ‘Listen, I made a mistake. This is a game that’s not without human error. But this situation goes back to situational football. You have to prepare for it in the summer. Go over these kinds of things repeatedly during summer and then on Fridays, periodically during the season, you have to take time to review them."
Herman Edwards: "When this situation occurs and the game is lost, as the head coach, you don’t wait until the middle of the week. When the game is over, as soon as it is over, you come to the locker room and you gather your football team together and you tell them this: ‘Look, I hold you guys accountable to play and preparation during the course of the week. I hold myself accountable as to what happened today. I didn’t manage the clock correctly. I screwed it up. It was all me.’ Then you go through the process of what you were thinking and why it happened…You want to hit it right after the game. That let’s your team know, I’m accountable to you guys as well as you guys are accountable to me."
Mike Ditka: "You can’t undo what happened. You’ve got to go to your football team, you’ve got to tell them very simply, ‘My bad. Here’s what I’m going to do from now on guys. I’m going to trust you because you are the players on the field. I’m going to put you in the best position I can for you to play your best football. I’m going to trust you to win the football game because players win football games.’"
Jimmy Johnson rips Jason Garrett’s timeout technique
The old Cowboys coach thinks his former backup QB isn’t on top of the timeout game. Of course, Johnson thinks Garrett shouldn’t be calling the plays AND managing the game. Johnson thinks he did it better, Here’s what JJ had to say on Sunday’s Fox pre-game show:
"Last Sunday I wanted to scream at the end of the Arizona-Dallas game because the hard work put in by all those players was for naught because of a split-second screw up at the end.
"I would have thought the Cowboys rectified their timeout issues, it was just three weeks ago when Romo called a timeout he didn’t have only to be saved when Washington’s Mike Shanahan called one first. When I coached, I managed the clock and every game situation.
"I coached two great quarterbacks, Troy Aikman and Dan Marino, but I never allowed them to call a timeout unless it was an emergency and preferably when they were looking at me. The biggest deficiency in a lot of head coaches – I’d say more than half the league – is their faulty use of situational football, clock management and the use of timeouts. Believe me, a screw up like that could cost the Cowboys a playoff berth."
Let’s do a quick flashback to a month ago and a three-way verbal exchange among famous local football names:
Jimmy Johnson, giving opinions weekly on the Fox-TV pre- and postgame Sunday NFL show, said as a fan of Jason Garrett, he would suggest the Cowboys’ young head coach hire an offensive coordinator for next season and concentrate on being a full-time head coach.
Garrett was asked about the opinion, and while pledging his respect for Jimmy, said he would continue as head coach/offensive coordinator in the future.
Jerry Jones was asked for his thoughts on the subject, and immediately shot down the Jimmy idea, saying he didn’t approve of a "walk-around head coach," although not mentioning he’s had three of them — Johnson, Barry Switzer and Bill Parcells, a trio with five Super Bowl titles combined.
Jimmy’s zinger reply to Jerry:
"He doesn’t like it because Jerry thinks he’s the walk-around head coach."
So it ended it with that chuckle-moment, and we all moved on.