The National Football League today launched its Legends Program, the newest step in a series of programs designed to help former NFL players connect with each other, their former teams and the NFL.
Nineteen former players, including two Hall of Famers, form the first class of NFL Legends who will participate in this multi-faceted program developed by NFL Player Engagement and the league’s Marketing Department. The Legends will develop, foster and manage national and local alumni relations to deepen the relationship and communication between the league office, teams and former players. They also will participate in the league’s calendar events and fan platforms as additional ways to remain connected to the game.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Senior Vice President of Player Engagement Troy Vincent kicked off the program on Monday, the first of two days of training at the NFL office in New York City.
“Based on our peer-to-peer model, the Legends Program will reach out to our former players, and let them know that their contribution to the game we love is appreciated and their voice is welcome,” said Vincent. “We are a brotherhood, a family. We need to strengthen our relationships across the generations of our alumni, stay connected, and continue to contribute to this game and to each other.”
The Legends Program is built on a peer-to-peer model used in other NFL Player Engagement programs, fostering deeper relationships between generations of NFL players. Legends commit to a three-year term during which they will work to connect the 32 teams and the league with more former players. Legends will work closely with existing club-designated alumni directors, communicate with groups representing former players, and help develop and participate in team and league events.
The 19 former players participating in the Legends Program are:
|Lavar Arrington||Chad Pennington||Mark Bruener||John Randle|
|Mark Brunell||Ed Reynolds||Donovin Darius||Ron Rice|
|Warrick Dunn||Mike Rucker||Keith Elias||Will Shields|
|Rocket Ismail||Leonard Wheeler||Patrick Kerney||Aeneas Williams|
|Hardy Nickerson||Rod Woodson||Jay Novacek|
The NFL Legends Program is an extension of NFL Player Engagement programs designed for former players. The NFL Ambassadors program involves former players who are committed in the development of high school, college, and professional (both current and former) players and facilitate life skills and professional development seminars. In addition, the Transition Coaches program trains and certifies former players to help both current and former players in the areas of mental and behavioral health. The Legends will be the latest group of former players to continue the tradition of representing their teams at annual league events such as the NFL Draft and NFL Kickoff.
Sam Dana, a running back for the NFL’s 1928 New York Yankees team
Here are the notes compiled after tonight’s game:
Jason Witten (112 yards) and Dez Bryant (105) each topped 100 receiving yards to mark the first time the Cowboys had a pair of100-yard receivers in a game since Miles Austin (143) and Witten (102) did it at San Francisco (9/18/11).
Miles Austin’s 57 yards tonight gave him 3,594 for his career to pass Billy Joe DuPree (3,565), Jay Novacek (3,576) and Terrell Owens (3,587) for eighth in club record books.
Austin’s touchdown catch gave him his 31st career scoring reception to tie Lance Rentzel for ninth in Cowboys history.
Cole Beasley had his first career reception tonight, finishing with two for 14 yards.
Josh Brent notched his first career sack tonight.
Dez Bryant’s eight receptions tonight gave him 129 for his career to pass Pettis Norman, Alvin Harper (124 each) and Eric Bjornson (127) and tie Dan Reeves for 33rd in franchise history.
Bryant totaled 105 receiving yards tonight to give him 1,758 yards for his career to pass Pettis Norman (1,672) and Dan Reeves (1,693) for 31st in club history.
Bryant’s 105-yard performance was his second career 100-yard game and a career-high. His first was at the N.Y. Giants (11/14/10) when he finished with 104 yards.
Victor Butler recovered his second career fumble following the force by DeMarcus Ware’s sack.
Andre Holmes had caught his first career pass tonight for seven yards.
Danny McCray made the first start of his career, filling in at safety after Barry Church was placed on Reserve/Injured (Achilles) last week.
Brian Moorman made his Cowboys debut, punting in place of Chris Jones (knee). Moorman punted three times for a 37.0 average, a 34.3 net and two downed inside the Bears 20.
DeMarco Murray rushed 11 times tonight to give him 237 career rushing attempts. He passed Chris Warren (217) and Daryl Johnston (232) for 25th in Dallas record books.
Murray rushed for 24 yards tonight to up his career rushing yards total to 1,134 and pass Doug Dennison (1,112) for 22nd in franchise history.
Kyle Orton made his Cowboys debut tonight in the fourth quarter and completed nine-of-10 passes for 89 yards with a touchdown.
Tony Romo’s touchdown toss tonight was his 154th career touchdown throw. He broke a tie with Roger Staubach for sole possession of third place on the Dallas Cowboys all-time touchdown pass list.
Romo finished the game with 307 passing yards, to up his club record of 300-yard passing games to 33.
Romo also suffered five interceptions tonight to tie his career high previously established at Buffalo (10/8/07).
Phillip Tanner had his first career catch tonight and finished with two grabs for 20 yards.
DeMarcus Ware had a sack tonight in which he forced his 30th career fumble to extend his club record. His last three sacks (two from last week) have each resulted in a forced fumble.
Ware now has three forced fumbles on the season, his sixth career season with three-or-more forced fumbles which ties the fifth-highest figure by a defender in league history.
Jason Witten finished with 13 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown tonight. His 112 yards tied the ninth-most receiving yards in a game in his career while his 13 receptions were the third-most in his career, tied the third-most by a Cowboys pass catcher in franchise history – Lance Rentzel (vs. Washington, 11/19/67) and tied the eighth-most by a tight end in a single game in NFL history.
Witten’s Single-Game Receptions
15………… at Detroit (12/9/07)
14………… at N.Y. Giants (12/6/09)
13………… vs. Chicago (10/1/12)
Witten’s 100-yard outing upped his Cowboys tight end record of 100-yard games to 15.
Witten’s touchdown reception tonight was his 42nd career scoring grab and his first since his 59-yard score at Washington (11/20/11). His 42 touchdown catches broke a tie with Billy Joe DuPree for sole possession of sixth on the club’s all-time touchdown receptions list.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ed Wesley, a rookie from TCU, seeks to make the team as a free-agent signee. Wesley grew up as a huge Cowboys fan and, at one point in high school, lived in apartments across the street from the team’s Valley Ranch training facility. He shared his five favorite Cowboys memories thus far:
1Emmitt Smith sets NFL career rushing record… "It was awesome. Emmitt was my favorite."
2Smith inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame… "My first time playing football, when I could choose my own number, I chose No. 22 because of him."
3Cowboys beat Pittsburgh 27-17 to win Super Bowl XXX… "I was in the first grade. I was 7 years old and I watched every bit of it."
4Cowboys beat Philadelphia in 2009 playoffs, the team’s first postseason triumph in 13 years… "The guys were giving me crap at TCU… because I was like, ‘We’re going to the Super Bowl.’ And they lost in the next round."
5Getting the call to join the team… "It was a dream come true."
Cowboys cornerback C.J. Wilson, a former Baylor standout, missed most of the morning walkthrough while having a root canal but took part in the padded practice during the afternoon. It made for a memorable day. "The pain medicine wore off as soon as we got out here, so I’ve been spitting out blood. But I’m fine," Wilson said after the afternoon session. "You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, man. If you don’t, somebody else will."
Because of injuries to Lance Dunbar (hamstring) and Phillip Tanner (broken hand), free-agent running backs Ed Wesley and Tavarris Williams figure to log significant snaps Monday at Oakland. Running backs coach Skip Peete said both are "a little behind the 8-ball" in learning the offense because neither went through off-season drills. Asked about Wesley, a TCU product, Peete said: "He’s an exciting young kid. He has some good run skills and has ability to run routes out of the backfield. He’s still behind, but that’s not his fault. If you’re three or four months behind everybody else, you’ve got to catch up quickly."
Actor Ashton Kutcher watched Saturday’s practice. He strolled the sideline like an assistant coach but wore a Boston Red Sox cap.
They said it
"I can’t accept … that we will be as disappointing as we were last year. I can’t accept that. Because I know that it was my most disappointing year as a Cowboy. We can’t have, individually, players play at the level they played at last year and not do better." — Jerry Jones
With the preseason opener looming, Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett reflected on his first snap as a rookie quarterback in the NFL. Playing for the New Orleans Saints, Garrett handed off on a reverse against Buffalo. Then, he turned to block defensive end Bruce Smith, a future Hall of Famer. "He looked like he was 48 feet tall," Garrett said. "So you dive at his knees, he throws you to the ground and he makes the tackle."
History lesson, reality check
Cowboys tight end James Hanna, a rookie sixth-round pick from Oklahoma, wears No. 84. But his knowledge of predecessors who donned that digit is limited to Jay Novacek, a standout tight end from the 1990s. Asked about Pettis Norman, who made the number notable in the 1960s, Hanna said: "I don’t know about that. Not familiar with him." He is familiar with outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware. Asked to cite the moment he realized the NFL would be significantly different from college, Hanna said: "The first time I blocked DeMarcus Ware. Or tried to. It didn’t go well."
Dallas Cowboys Injury Report
WR Miles Austin, hamstring, 1 week
WR Dez Bryant, hamstring tightness, day-to-day
RB Phillip Tanner, hand, 1-2 weeks
G Kevin Kowalski, ankle, on PUP
G Bill Nagy, high ankle sprain, day-to-day (UPDATE: Waived)
G Nate Livings, hamstring, day-to-day
LB Anthony Spencer, hamstring, day-to-day
DE Jason Hatcher, hamstring, day-to-day
RB Lance Dunbar, hamstring, day-to-day
DB Matt Johnson, hamstring, day-to-day
TE John Phillips, ankle, day-to-day
WR Saalim Hakim, dislocated finger, 1 week
CB Mike Jenkins, shoulder, on PUP
Courtesy: Jimmy Burch
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek (84) hurdles Kansas City Chiefs defender Mark Collins (25) in route to a third quarter TD in the Cowboys victory of the Chiefs on Thanksgiving Day 1995. – Photo credit: JOHN F. RHODES
Jay Novacek may very well be one of the best tight ends to play in the NFL in the last 20 years, but the three-time Super Bowl champion will quickly tell you he’s not even the best Dallas Cowboy to ever play the position.
According to Novacek, that title belongs to Jason Witten. In fact, Novacek went as far as to say Witten is the best tight end in NFL history.
“He’s probably the greatest. He’s the best tight end that has ever played. He can just do so much, and he doesn’t make very many mistakes,” Novacek said Monday morning at the Cowboys Scramble presented by The Nova Center at Trophy Club Country Club. “He’s such a good guy and such a good individual. You wrap that up with a very talented and athletic body and you put it all together and that’s what you create, one of the best tight ends to ever play the game.”
In 11 seasons, Novacek recorded 422 receptions for 4,630 yards and 30 touchdowns. It just eight seasons, Witten has already surpassed Novacek’s totals in every category with 696 receptions for 7,909 yards and 41 touchdowns.
THE CAREER OF JASON WITTEN: Jason Witten (right) fights off New York Giants linebacker Michael Boley during the Cowboys-Giants game at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on January 1, 2012.
HALL OF FAME ALERT: Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten passes Ozzie Newsome for third all time in catches among TEs
Photo courtesy: Khampha Bouaphanh
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo completes a pass to Dallas Cowboys future Hall of Fame tight end Jason Witten.
With his five catches Sunday, Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten passed Ozzie Newsome and moved into third place in all-time receptions for tight ends. Witten, who now has 666 catches and is one reception short of his eighth consecutive 50-catch season, trails only Tony Gonzalez (1,114) and Shannon Sharpe (815) on the all-time tight end receptions list.
“[Newsome] was really the staple and the foundation of what this position is all about,” Witten said of the Cleveland Browns Hall of Famer. “When you pass a guy like that, being a fan of the game, you always look up to those guys that really gave you an opportunity to do it. I’ve got a long way to go still. But it’s special to pass him.”
Witten had five catches for 37 yards.
“I’ll tell you one thing: Troy Aikman did have Jay Novacek as that safety valve, and Tony Romo has that with Witten out there, too, which is a big plus for us,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.