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.
Sure, it’s only one game, but then again, there ARE only 16 of them. Uncharacteristically, Randy Galloway and Mac Engel have decided to just enjoy the Dallas Cowboys’ victory over the NY Giants. But if they slip up in Seattle … (Sept. 11, 2012) Video by Kathy Vetter/Star-Telegram
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
Don’t believe a word.
That’s the new policy from here, which, admittedly, should have been the old policy, but based on most all Dallas Cowboys’ off-seasons over the past few years, I’ve tended to believe too much.
This time a year ago comes to immediate mind.
Skid marks all over my head happened because of believing too much. Mainly the impact Jason Garrett would have as the head coach, which I expected to be a Harbaugh-type thing that boosted the 49ers last season.
But no more. I am rededicating my football life to reality when it comes to the Cowboys.
And the 8-8 record of the 2011 season IS reality.
As of last Thursday, the Cowboys wrapped up about a month of off-season OTAs (organized team activities, which are not mandatory), and last week, the one and only mini-camp, which is mandatory for the players.
The next time the team gathers intact will be late July way out west in Oxnard, Calif. That will be the opening of training camp.
But based on the comments coming out of Valley Ranch for the past month, 2012 will have the Cowboys on the verge of a Super Bowl, although it is a positive those two words — Super. Bowl. — were mostly absent from the raging optimism.
On local radio a few weeks ago, running back DeMarco Murray said something along the lines of this being a season when the Cowboys expect to get back to the Super Bowl and win it.
Whoa, kid. Say what?
Murray paused, a tad stunned at our negative reaction to the words Super and Bowl being said in association with the Cowboys.
"Well, shouldn’t that be the way we all think?" he asked. "Shouldn’t that be the goal?"
These kids today. Gotta love ’em.
If that goal is ever met again, and it’s now 16 seasons and counting since the Cowboys made a Super Bowl, players like Murray will be factor in getting them there. At least he will be if the brief run DeMarco had last season, before the ankle injury, was a sign of things to come, including better health.
But after a month of taking notes on all quotes coming out of Valley Ranch, what follows is some of the "optimism" that now overflows as we await the start of training camp:
Garrett had his first full off-season as a head coach. "I need to improve in all areas of the job," he said. Jerry Jones said Jason has improved in all areas, but when it comes to Jerry, we’d prefer to see him improve in all areas of being the general manager. I’m not counting on it.
Rob Ryan had his first full off-season as defensive coordinator. "Blame me for last season," said Rob. When it came to the awful defense last season, I did blame Rob, and maybe too harshly, but he was the captain of that Titanic.
Brandon Carr, the new veteran cornerback, is either the best corner in the history of the NFL or the best corner in the history of the Cowboys. With the $50 million contract, Brandon is certainly the most expensive corner in the history of the Cowboys.
Carr really needs to be good. So does Mo Claiborne, the first-round draft pick. Ryan will be a better defensive coordinator if his corners are better. The corners had better be better with this kind of investment.
It was funny to hear all-world pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware suddenly start using his "critics" as a motivational tool. Ware, also an all-world nice guy, even got snarly with the media at times.
If I can help, let me add: DeMarcus, you were way overrated last season and many of your 191/2 sacks were "empty."
A motivated Ware is a good thing. The Cowboys were weak on the pressure last season, and it doesn’t matter how good your corners are — with no pass rush, even the best will give it up deep.
From an injured and wasteful second-round pick a year ago, inside linebacker Bruce Carter suddenly became the MVP of OTAs and mini-camp.
Of course, let’s see it on the field, but if Carter is possibly taking the same second-year improvement route as the other inside backer, Sean Lee, then that’s something to rah-rah. We await that answer.
Anthony Spencer is actually a good player, meaning our eyes lied all these years. Actually, Spencer is an ongoing borderline bust who was franchise-tagged for 2012 because the Cowboys have failed so badly in drafting outside linebackers that the team had no replacement for him.
Dez Bryant is much, much better as a wide receiver. More mature, too. One question: Has he learned more than three routes yet?
The replacement for Laurent Robinson, the best WR the Cowboys had last season? Don’t worry about a thing. It will either be Kevin Ogletree or Andre Holmes. Oh, great.
Jerry tabbed free agent signee Lawrence Vickers the best fullback here since Moose. Besides being a disgrace to the legend of Moose, Jerry also said that last summer about Tony Fiammetta.
All of the above are a few of the verbal highlights from this Cowboys off-season.
Do yourself a favor.
Until further notice, don’t believe a word.
Randy Galloway | Ft. Worth Star-Telegram
Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. on Galloway & Co.
Five thoughts on the Dallas Cowboys schedule from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram staff writers:
1. Who the heck did the Cowboys make mad? For the second consecutive year, the Cowboys start with back-to-back road games. Not only that, but for the second consecutive year, they go East Coast to West Coast. Last year, Dallas lost a game it should have won against the Jets in New York before winning a game it should have lost in San Francisco. This year, at least, the Cowboys have a break between games. They open at the Giants on Sept. 5 before traveling to Seattle on Sept. 16. But only one other team got a back-to-back to start the season — the Redskins go to New Orleans and St. Louis to start the season.
2. It is a given the Cowboys will open on the road, and we knew that not just because that Sept. 5 opener against the Giants already was announced. From 2004 to this year, the Cowboys have opened a season at home only once. They hosted the Giants in 2007. They are 4-4 in those eight openers, including losses the past two seasons.
3. The Cowboys are still the Cowboys. Despite going 6-10 and 8-8 the past two seasons — the Packers won 15 games last season alone — Dallas is one of eight teams with five nationally televised games. The Cowboys have played in six of the nine most-watched games on NBC since the network took over Sunday Night Football in 2006. The bad news is the Cowboys have lost seven consecutive games on Sunday night, including four last season.
4. Circle Oct. 28 on your schedule. The Cowboys have to beat the Giants at home if they are going to contend for the NFC East title. They haven’t beaten the Giants at home since 2008. New York has owned Cowboys Stadium, in fact. Dallas is 5-7 in the division the past two years combined. The last time the Cowboys had a winning record against NFC East teams — in 2009 — they won the division.
5. December is December. The Cowboys have had a hard time winning late in the season. It’s why they didn’t make the playoffs last season, going 1-4 the last month of the season.The Cowboys get Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and New Orleans at home in December, but whew! They go to Cincinnati and Washington. It won’t be easy, but then, it never is. The good teams win late in the season.