EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ — Too much of the discussion in the days leading up to this game had to do with Peyton Manning’s legacy.
Now that another NFL season has come to a close, let’s shift the focus to where it rightfully belongs.
A young, brash Seahawks team did more than beat Denver in Super Bowl XLVIII. Seattle’s 43-8 victory delivered a message to the rest of the league.
Beware. This isn’t a team catching fire late to win the title as Baltimore did last February. This isn’t the New York Giants or Green Bay Packers slipping into the playoffs on the final day and then beating the odds.
No, this is something different. It has the feel of Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 when the young, brash Dallas Cowboys burst on the scene with a 52-17 win over Buffalo.
That was the first of three Lombardi Trophies in four years for the Cowboys. It’s premature to suggest the Seahawks will enjoy that sort of success. But their dominance was sobering.
“It’s all about making history,” Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. “This was a dominant performance from top to bottom.”
Seattle has been building for this moment ever since head coach Pete Carroll arrived four years ago. The Seahawks are young, fast, and deep on defense. They have a quarterback of poise and leadership beyond his years in Russell Wilson, a hammer for a running back in Marshawn Lynch, and a refusal to accept the limitations of inexperience.
Not one player on the Seattle roster appeared in a Super Bowl before Sunday’s game. The last team to make that claim was Buffalo in ’90.
Unlike that franchise, the Seahawks came away champions.
“This is an amazing team,” Carroll said. “It started a long time ago, I’m talking four years ago. They never took a step sideways or backward to get to where they are now.
“These guys would not take anything other than winning this game. They didn’t think anything else would happen.”
It quickly became evident that nothing other than a Seattle win would be the outcome. The Seahawks defense came up with a safety 12 seconds into the game. Two plays later, on a crossing pattern to Demaryius Thomas, safety Kam Chancellor leveled the Denver receiver with a hit that registered on the Richter scale.
“All of my teammates came up to me and said that set the tone,” said Chancellor, the man who puts the boom in the defense’s Legion of Boom moniker.
Seattle controlled the ball for 14:41 of the first 18 minutes on its way to a 15-0 lead. The Seahawks later added a 69-yard interception return for touchdown by linebacker Malcolm Smith, the game’s Most Valuable Player, and opened the third quarter with an 87-yard kickoff return for touchdown by Percy Harvin.
About that time, the audience for Downton Abbey on PBS experienced a significant spike.
Injuries sidelined Harvin for all but 19 snaps during the regular season. The receiver rewarded the organization’s patience with that kickoff return and by leading the team in rushing with 45 yards on his two end-around runs.
“I was finally able to give my team something for four quarters,” Harvin said. “That meant a lot to me.”
This game was supposed to represent an intriguing clash of styles. It never did because Seattle’s No. 1 defense smothered Manning and the No. 1 offense of the Broncos.
The Seahawks forced four turnovers and held the Broncos’ high-octane offense to one meaningless touchdown once the lead ballooned to 36 points.
Yes, what happened Sunday was unexpected on several fronts. That doesn’t mean the Seahawks lacked faith. When the season got underway Wilson told his teammates, “Hey, why not us?”
“We’re not sleeping tonight,” Carroll said of the impending celebration. “We’re staying up all night.”
There will be lot of sleepless nights around the NFL in the months and years to come figuring out how to compete with this young, brash Seattle team.
LOOKING FOR SOUTHERN COMFORT: Chips and dips instead of Super Bowl trips | The NFL’s fine line between success and failure
IRVING, Texas – Here is the downside of the needle on this record getting stuck … 8-8 … 8-8 … 8-8 … or having now gone four consecutive years without a playoff appearance; or 18 straight seasons without a Super Bowl appearance, five longer than the previous longest 13-year drought in franchise history, between the 1979 season and 1991; or now also 18 consecutive seasons without having appeared in at least an NFC Championship Game, twice as long as the previous longest drought in franchise history, between 1983 and 1991:
No matter what you do, what decisions you make, you automatically are dead wrong in the court of public opinion until proven right, especially when you’ve been such a proud and successful franchise for the majority of these 54 seasons.
Parody brings disparity
Ask Denver. The Broncos are returning to the Super Bowl for the first time in 15 seasons after going back to back in 1997-98. Miami hasn’t been back to the Super Bowl since 1984. Chicago finally returned after the 2006 season, its first appearance since the Bears won their only Super Bowl in 1985. The 49ers went back to the Super Bowl last year for the first time since 1994. Washington? Geesh, don’t even ask, 23 seasons ago. Minnesota, not since the 1976 season.
And this might be the saddest of all, Kansas City, the franchise playing in Super Bowl I, losing to the Green Bay Packers, hasn’t been back to the Super Bowl since the Chiefs won their lone Super Bowl following the 1969 season.
No, this is not meant for you to find a little southern comfort in other people’s misery, seeing that this will be yet another miserable Super Bowl Sunday for Dallas Cowboys fans, having to watch Seattle take on the Broncos at MetLife Stadium.
This is to provide you some facts to those seemingly pulling their hair out over the Cowboys promoting Rod Marinelli to defensive coordinator and hiring Scott Linehan as the pass-game coordinator/offensive play-caller, moves being panned and mocked because of this purported “dysfunction” crippling these Cowboys.
Now, this is not to say every move the Cowboys have made over these past 18 years has been right, far from it. But to just point out past failures doesn’t automatically deem every move they now make dead wrong. So, lets throw out some facts, just pure facts, as you are out shopping for chips and dip, and ordering your chicken wings for Super Sunday.
Defense brings Championship hope
Defense first, and this probably comes with less contention. The Dallas Cowboys finished dead last in total defense this 2013 season, meaning 32nd, and this is the first time in franchise history they have finished dead last defensively since that 13th-place finish in the 13-team NFL of 1960, their inaugural season, and the absolute worst finish since landing 13th out of what was then a 14-team NFL in 1963.
This, though, comes on the heels of last year’s 19th finish, which had matched the second-lowest defensive ranking since finishing 20th during the 1-15 season of 1989 – the Cowboys finishing 23rd during the 6-10 season of 2010 that got Wade Phillips fired after a 1-7 start.
Look, defense matters – a lot. Ask Seattle, right, and the Seahawks will be in big trouble if they don’t hold Denver to no more than, oh, 20 points come Sunday. And to further illustrate just how poorly the Cowboys have performed defensively over the past two seasons, think about this: From 1964 through the 1979 season, that is 16 consecutive years, the Cowboys finished in the top 10 defensively … every single season. Top 10!
This, too, is overshadowed with memories of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith et al: From 1992-1997, the Cowboys owned Top 10 defenses, and were No. 1 in 1992 and 1994.
Understood that injuries do matter, and injuries ravaged the Dallas Cowboys defense the past two seasons. I mean, come on, having to play 20 different defensive linemen in the same season while trying to figure out how to compensate for the injury losses of Anthony Spencer, Tyrone Crawford, Jay Ratliff, and Ben Bass, and then the combined four games missed by DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher, not to mention their limited ability in several more.
The pitiful run defense surely illustrates these losses, the Cowboys finishing 24th against the run after being 23rd in 2012. Those two years are the absolute worst rankings since finishing 31st against the run in 2000. And get this, the absolute worst back-to-back seasons playing the run since … 1960 and 1961, finishing last in ’60 and 12th out of 14 in ’61.
Still, face it, putting Rod Marinelli in charge is the right move, yet not sure why everyone wants to just throw Monte Kiffin to the curb. His experience won’t hurt anything having him still around, especially since he would have gotten paid for this 2014 season anyway. Might as well get what you can out of him.
Defense of the Offense
OK, now the offense, and again just the facts.
The Dallas Cowboys finished 16th offensively this season, their lowest ranking since checking in at No. 30 during the third consecutive 5-11 season of 2002 (29th and 25th were the offensive rankings those other two 5-11 years). This after finishing an impressive sixth in 2012.
In fact, since Jason Garrett took over the offense and play-calling in 2007, simultaneously with Tony Romo becoming the fulltime starting quarterback, the Cowboys offensive rankings had been 3rd, 13th (but 2nd rushing), 2nd, 7th, 11th and 6th. And a passing game that was third last season fell to 14th in 2013.
Oh, there is this argument in defense of this offense: But the running game was much better. Well, feint praise since the Cowboys would have been hard-pressed to be worse than last year, the 1,265 yards (31st) the franchise’s absolute worst since the 1,049 gained in the 12-game inaugural 1960 season. So, yes, rushing for 1,507 yards in 2013 is an improvement.
Yet, that too comes with a but: But the 1,507 rushing yards then became the second-lowest rushing total since rushing for 1,500 yards in 1990, and that got offensive coordinator David Shula fired after two seasons. In fact, since the NFL went to a 16-game season in 1978, only three times have the Cowboys rushed for fewer than 1,507 yards in a season: Of course in 2012 and 1990, along with 1,409 in 1989, again that 1-15 season.
Making the ball balance
Funny how there have been complaints all season long about the Cowboys’ inability to create offensive balance, how the Dallas Cowboys didn’t get the ball to Dez Bryant enough and how the Cowboys didn’t throw down the field enough. But then Garrett makes a change in play-caller and it’s as if he’s lost his ever-lovin’ mind.
Also, if you remember, when the Cowboys hired Bill Callahan in 2012 as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach, it was not to call plays but to improve a struggling offensive line, which he and Frank Pollack have done wonderfully over this two-year span. And that the Cowboys have retained Callahan with at least a year left on his contract, while not allowing him to leave for a lateral move with another team, is not unprecedented.
Remember, back in 2006 Bill Parcells kept offensive line coach Tony Sparano as the run-game coordinator when Sean Payton tried to take him to New Orleans as his offensive coordinator. And you know what, that same year Miami blocked Jason Garrett, its quarterbacks coach, from going with Scott Linehan to St. Louis as his offensive coordinator.
Oh, and as for the “too many cooks in the kitchen” argument, do you remember back to 2005 when Payton was the pass-game coordinator and Sparano was the run-game coordinator, but were you ever sure if they were calling the plays or if Bill Parcells was? In fact, Parcells did the same thing in 2006 after Payton left for New Orleans, Sparano the run-game coordinator and Todd Haley the pass-game coordinator, yet it still seemed as if Bill was calling the plays.
Or as Cowboys COO Stephen Jones told Chris Mortensen of ESPN the other day, “Half the time, you couldn’t tell who was going to call plays under Bill any particular week – it could be Tony Sparano, it could be Sean Payton or it could be Bill himself,” with most of us taking Door No. 3 in that scenario.
“In this instance, Linehan and Garrett have a good history together, they’ll be on the same page, and it will still allow Jason to grow where we want him to grow as a head coach.”
The fine line between success and failure
You know the weird thing about all this? You would have thought a team with an epically poor defense and declining offense, one changing defensive coordinators and bringing in a new offensive play-caller, would have finished like 4-12 or worse. Yet the Cowboys finished 8-8, losing five of those eight games by a grand total of eight points, though that probably doesn’t make a whole lot of folks – especially the Cowboys themselves – feel any better.
It’s not always in the math
This probably won’t either. But if you combine the Dallas Cowboys offensive and defensive rankings – 16 and 32 – they total 48. Only one other team had a higher combined total, Jacksonville coming in at 58 (31 and 27). And yes, the Jags finished 4-12. The Cowboys then tied Miami for the second-highest total.
Tops? That was New Orleans at 8, fourth offensively, fourth defensively. Next Cincinnati at 13, then Seattle, Arizona and Houston (go figure) tied at 18. Denver’s combined number by the way was 20, (1st and 19th).
Again, as promised, just the facts, no compounded hysteria over past failures, or hollow criticism of these recent coaching moves because, well, that’s what you’re supposed to do with these Dallas Cowboys until …the math works in their favor!
Chips and dips instead of Super Bowl trips
So just maybe give some pause to any or all of this come tomorrow … Super Sunday … while chomping on your nachos.
It happens a lot in the NFL: The dazzling revolutions of September and October — the promise of a new-fangled Wildcat or read-option or run-and-shoot paradigm that will change everything — often fall by the wayside in the bitter rain and snow and cold of January, when football returns to the eternal verities of truth and reality.
So it is this year.
In a season during which passing and scoring records fell, all four Championship Sunday participants (including the one that set those records) relied on the timeless formula last weekend: run the ball effectively, control the clock, play solid defense and make the other team earn every point it scores.
You could see evidence of the back-to-basics approach in every divisional-round game:
- Russell Wilson’s passing was mostly grounded, and the oft-injured Percy Harvin was knocked out of the action with a concussion, but the Seahawks still took down the Saints. Seattle won behind tackle-breaking machine Marshawn Lynch (in postseason Beast Mode, evidently) and a suffocating defense that rattled New Orleans’ top weapon, Jimmy Graham.
- New England, decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball (along with, it has to be said, the murder charge against tight end Aaron Hernandez), has fewer difference-makers than it has had at any time in recent memory. But LeGarrette Blount was the blunt force that the Patriots used to pound the Colts’ defense into submission. Meanwhile, the Pats’ myriad defensive looks frustrated Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, who threw four interceptions.
- San Francisco won its second road playoff contest in eight days, thanks in large part to a defense that stonewalled Carolina’s running game (Cam Newton was the only Panther to eclipse 20 yards rushing) and snagged two interceptions. Offensively, the 49ers employed a balanced attack: Frank Gore led the charge on the ground while Colin Kaepernick made some timely plays through the air, leaning heavily on veteran gamer Anquan Boldin.
- Denver used San Diego’s own formula from the regular season — control the ball, shorten the game, manage the clock (35:27 of possession) — to keep the Chargers on their heels all day long. Denver’s defense missed Von Miller’s havoc-wreaking presence but stiffened enough to allow the Bolts just 65 yards rushing, less than half of what the Broncos churned out in a winning effort.
Each one of the four divisional-round winners exceeded 125 yards rushing. After setting the single-season record with an astounding 5,477 passing yards, Peyton Manning threw for just 230, with the other three winning quarterbacks failing to reach 200. Glamour QBs Tom Brady and Wilson didn’t even throw a single touchdown pass.
There is, of course, a long tradition of returning to the run game in the postseason. Go back 45 years to the New York Jets’ memorable defeat of the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III. New York was led by Joe Namath, who was one season removed from becoming the first quarterback in pro football history to throw for 4,000 yards, but the Jets ran more than they passed on that day (logging 43 carries and 29 throws), to control the clock and the Colts. (A year later, the Kansas City Chiefs — another team known for offensive daring and innovation — rushed the ball 42 times for 151 yards to dominate the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.)
These things were true 45 years ago, and they still might be true 45 years from now.
In recent years, we’ve seen running backs de-emphasized on draft day. Yet, by the time the playoffs roll around, the best teams almost always have a solid run game in place.
The star of the divisional weekend, Blount, went undrafted out of college and was pawned off by the Buccaneers this past offseason — yet he’s been unstoppable for the Patriots of late. Marshawn Lynch was a first-round draft choice, but the Bills gave up on him before the Seahawks recast him as their most reliable offensive threat. Knowshon Moreno’s demise had been rumored for years in Denver, but this season he’s been a steady all-around back who doesn’t fumble (and a strong blocker, to boot). Frank Gore is a former third-round pick — thanks in part to some injury baggage from college — who has developed a reputation as a tough inside runner, and his efficiency boosts both the passing game and Kaepernick’s devastatingly effective keepers.
So why does this happen so often? Why do the gaudy passing numbers of the regular season frequently get supplanted by the meat and potatoes of old-school football in the new year? Simple reasons, mostly:
Better defense: Playoff teams are generally more accomplished defensively, meaning each opponent has a formidable pass rush. The best way to neutralize this is to have a running game that the defense has to take seriously.
Weather: So Peyton Manning isn’t as good in cold-weather games? Guess what: He’s not alone — not by a long shot. Show me a quarterback who consistently overperforms in freezing temperatures and snow, and I’ll show you an anomaly. Cold weather leads to numb hands, making it very difficult to execute the touch throws that separate the great quarterbacks from the good ones. And while receivers enjoy a slight advantage over defensive backs in terms of footing — because they know where they’re going — it’s much harder to catch a rifled pass in sub-freezing weather than it is on a room-temperature day. (If you’ve never tried it, just trust me.)
Dangerous opposing quarterbacks: You can get away with a quick, drive-killing string of incompletions — or even a turnover — when the quarterback on the other side is an untested rookie/journeyman who lacks pocket presence. But do that in a playoff game against a Manning or Brady, and you’re going to get burned. That’s why it’s all the more important to control the football and minimize mistakes.
Throwback football will be on full display in the NFC Championship Game, as the style fits the personalities of the coaches very well. A physical running game is a large part of the DNA both Pete Carroll and Jim Harbaugh used to build their respective teams.
It’s a bit different on the AFC side. New England’s commitment to the run is simply Bill Belichick’s adaptation to a roster that’s currently short on difference-making receivers and tight ends. The Pats very well could go back to being a top-five passing attack and the league’s top-ranked offense next season if they can come up with the right group of receivers for Brady. On the other hand, Denver is only committed to the run as long as you stay in a loose shell defense that begs the Broncos to use it.
In each game, though, both teams will look to assert their will by establishing a ground attack. And the ones that do so best will likely meet in New Jersey in February.
DALLAS COWBOYS HISTORY: The Great Wall of Dallas | Cowboys trenches paved the way for an NFL historic run | Special Feature
As we sit four weeks from what might be the first Dallas Cowboys playoff run in a few years, it’s time to take a look back at a little Dallas Cowboys history. If you’re a regular reader on this website you may remember that “trenches” is a common theme. We all know that winning teams (and subsequently NFL clubs with postseason) success usually comes down to the walls (trenches) they’ve built. Obviously it takes time for these men to coalesce and become cohesive as a single unit. I’m not suggesting that the 2013-2014 Dallas Cowboys offensive line compares to the 1990’s line that helped win three titles in four years. However, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys organization has added key components in recent years. This five part video series from NFL Films reminds us all of what can happen with the right mix of trench men. Enjoy!
The Great Wall of Dallas- The Perfect Unit | (4:20) | (Watch this Video)
See which players comprised “The Great Wall of Dallas”. Check out the guys who came out of nowhere to form one of the best offensive lines in NFL history. They helped pave the way for three NFL Hall of Famers.
The Great Wall of Dallas- Their First Super Bowl | 5:54 | (Watch this Video)
Actor Gary Busey used to hang around the Dallas Cowboys. Learn about Busey’s fandom and check out how the Dallas Cowboys won their first Super Bowl with “The Great Wall of Dallas.”. Buffalo Bills fans may want to skip to the next video.
The Great Wall of Dallas- Nate the Kitchen | 7:00 | (Watch this Video)
Former Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Nate Newton was known for being extremely overweight, but that does not mean he did not make light of the situation. See how he compared to former Chicago Bear William ‘the refrigerator” Perry and gained stardom thanks to John Madden.
The Great Wall of Dallas- The End of the Line | 5:36 | (Watch this Video)
Mark Tuinei and Erik Williams had very interesting roads to success. See how the two became a big part of the Dallas Cowboys and also how Nate Newton overcame drug issues to help give back to the community.
The Great Wall of Dallas- Where Are They Now? | 10: 52 | (Watch this Video)
Find out what Nate Newton, Mark Stepnoski, John Gesek and Kevin Gogan are doing now. Also, see which former member of the great offensive line passed away, but left lasting memories for all of his teammates.
Courtesy: NFL | NFL Films | NFL: A Football Life series | Dallas Cowboys
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Hoisting the Lombardi Trophy would be the ultimate way for the Dallas Cowboys quarterback to stick it to his critics. The years of ridicule for Tony Romo not being able to win big games and choking in the clutch would all take a back seat to winning the franchise’s sixth Super Bowl title.
So how much does Tony Romo want to prove his critics wrong? Well, in an interesting way, Romo explained why it’s not as big of a deal to him as some might think.
During a Wednesday interview on Showtime’s Inside the NFL, Romo told Phil Simms and Cris Collinsworth that winning a Super Bowl would be like finding his wife.
“Let’s say, you like this girl in college right when you first got there,” Romo began to explain. “I can remember high school, and it didn’t work out. She liked some other guy. And then you’re upset and you’re like, I can’t wait to one day be walking with my wife or girlfriend and just come up and show her, ‘Hey, good to see you. Yeah, this is my wife right here.’ And you just keep walking by.
“But invariably what I found, though, is when you get that great wife that I was lucky enough to find, you really don’t care to go back and show her off. You kind of won. You don’t need to kick people in any way. You just when you get there, you don’t really care about what everybody said along the way.”
In regards to not having the postseason success up to this point in his career, Tony Romo said he understands the criticism. The 33-year-old says quarterbacks should be judged by winning championships.
“I really wouldn’t want it any other way,” Romo said. “Granted, we haven’t won a championship yet. But I’ll tell you I wouldn’t want it to be judged by other things because I put that much emphasis and onus on that specific goal.
“It’s a great, great rewarding thing to have if you’re able to accomplish that. It’s what makes you tick, wake up, work your butt off and keep going after it over and over again. I just don’t think it’d be so special if it was so easy or if it didn’t require some sacrifice and some struggle.
“I think that’s a beautiful thing if you’re able to reach that pinnacle. I look forward to that. And it’s part of the reason you do everything possible in your career to make that happen.”
IRVING, Texas – Not many figures in the NFL landscape are more familiar with the importance of “winning the big one” than Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan.
As offensive coordinator, and eventually head coach of the Denver Broncos, few people were closer to Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway during his struggles and eventual success in winning a championship.
It makes sense then that Shanahan would field questions this week about the comparison of Elway, now the executive vice president of football operations for Denver, to Tony Romo. In the moments following Dallas’ 51-48 loss to the Broncos on Sunday, Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones compared Romo’s hardships in delivering big victories to Elway’s career.
Said Jones: “The guy standing over on the other sideline or up in the box, John Elway, had those things said about him his entire career. He was a great player and we all know that, and he ultimately got his Super Bowls and they don’t say that about him anymore.”
Shanahan said today that the comparison was a fair one.
“I don’t think there’s any question about it. That’s everybody’s goal, to win the Super Bowl, and unless you do it, you’re always going to have people second-guessing yourself,” he said. “John had that as well, and when he did win the two his last couple years, back-to-back, that quickly goes away. But until you do it, you’re always going to have that tag.”
Elway was the poster child for big game disappointment for much of his legendary career. Prior to winning two Super Bowls in his final two seasons, he managed a so-so 7-8 postseason record for the Broncos.
Most notable among those eight losses were a trio of lopsided Super Bowl defeats. Elway led Denver to the Super Bowl after the 1986, 1987 and 1989 seasons, where the Broncos were defeated by a combined score of 136-40.
Shanahan was Elway’s offensive coordinator for the first two Super Bowl losses, and he was the Broncos’ head coach for the two wins, after the 1997 and 1998 seasons. (Editors comment: Think of Jason Garrett’s legacy with his ‘potential’ comparison to Shanahan. Garrett has been Tony Romo’s offensive coordinator and/or head coach from the beginning of Romo’s career).
“I think the people that see Tony practice every day and the teammates know what he can do. But you do it as a team. Everybody’s got to do it together,” Shanahan said. “When I was with John, going into the 15th, 16th year, you had the same people saying that he couldn’t do it throughout his whole career. Then when he does do it, everybody says ‘Ah, yeah. We knew he could do it.’ I mean, it’s the same old thing.”
Of course, Romo still has a bit of catching up to do. The Cowboys’ quarterback has appeared in just four playoff games with one victory, and consequently has not reached the Super Bowl. That said, Shanahan said the process remains the same.
“You’ve just got to fight through it, you can’t listen to the critics and you’ve got to believe in yourself, and I’m sure that’s what Tony’s doing,” he said.
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On a picture-perfect Southern California afternoon, Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo took a break from the daily grind of training camp to chase 16-month-old son Hawkins around the field.
A few days after Romo’s family left training camp, news broke that his wife, Candice, is expecting the couple’s second child after the season.
Five months ago, Romo signed a six-year, $108 million contract extension to make him the highest-paid Cowboys player in franchise history. In Jerry Jones’ office that day at Valley Ranch, a photographer captured Hawkins taking a pen out of the Cowboys owner’s hands, with Hawkins’ smiling parents holding him.
For Romo, it seems, life couldn’t get much better. He has it all: faith, family, football, fame and fortune.
But one dream has proved elusive for Romo: a Super Bowl.
He hasn’t even taken baby steps to approach the milestone. He has one playoff win in his 6 1/2 seasons as the Cowboys’ starting quarterback.
At 33, the oldest player in the Cowboys’ locker room, Romo knows he must strike quickly. He has never wanted it more, but not just for himself.
“When you’re young, you want to be the best, you want to be the starter, you want to do these things to get to that point to win a championship,” Romo said. “And when you’re older, you want all those same things, but you want it for a lot of other people as well, because you see all the people that have put so much into it and it really matters to them as well.
“That’s where I’m at. It’s not just for me. It’s about a lot of other people. I see it with the fans.”
Recent history says Romo isn’t likely to lead the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl win since the 1995 season.
Only one starting quarterback in the last 14 seasons has won the Super Bowl at 33 or older. That was 34-year-old Brad Johnson in 2003, but he was just a game manager for Tampa Bay’s defensively led team.
Romo isn’t paid to be a game manager.
Only 11 quarterbacks in NFL history have won a Super Bowl at 33 or older. One of those happens to be an unabashed Romo supporter: legendary Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach.
When he was 35, Staubach led the Cowboys to a Super Bowl win in 1978.
Thirty-five years later, Staubach believes Romo can do the same.
“If you’re in your 30s and you’re a quarterback, it’s not like other positions,” Staubach said. “He’s at the prime of his career right now.”
The Cowboys have gone all-in on Romo. They’re not only paying him as an elite quarterback, they’ve given him more say-so than ever in the offensive game plan.
In training camp, Romo often held teaching sessions with receivers and running backs. During the season, he’ll be in coaching meetings early in the week to help formulate game plans.
Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, who spent 19 years as a quarterback in the NFL, said Romo has “always had input on things” but never to the point that he was side-by-side with coaches.
In fact, Wilson said he’s never been involved with a similar situation in his almost 35 years in the NFL as a player and coach.
Wilson said Romo always offered ideas, but now the process is streamlined.
“Any ideas that he’s had, they may show up later in the week,” Wilson said. “But now, with him in those meetings, he’s watching it with us and we’re talking about things. Maybe those ideas come earlier in the week and we get a chance to practice them.”
The Cowboys view Romo as a “young” 33 by NFL standards, because most starting quarterbacks his age have more mileage on their throwing arms. The Cowboys signed the undrafted Romo in 2003, but he didn’t attempt his first NFL pass until midway through the 2006 season.
“He started later and he takes real good care of himself,” Wilson said. “He plays the different sports in the off-season. He’s in great condition and he’s very instinctive, and those things will stay with you throughout your career.”
Sure, Romo’s arm is fine. But he’s withstood much abuse over the last six seasons — particularly the last three — because of the team’s poor offensive line play.
Romo didn’t participate in the Cowboys’ off-season workouts because he had back surgery to remove a cyst. Two years ago, he played a game with a broken rib and a punctured lung.
Soon to be 71, Jones has said he doesn’t have time to wait for the Cowboys to show improvement.
That also holds true for Romo. But for better or worse, Jones is committed to Romo, thanks to the quarterback’s new contract.
Romo is 1-6 in win-or-go-home games, and hasn’t been able to get it done in the regular-season finale the last two seasons in games that could have given the Cowboys the NFC East title.
For one of the league’s most talented quarterbacks, Romo is aware his legacy will ultimately be defined by his playoff success.
“It’s not fair, but that’s just the way it is,” Staubach said of how Romo will be judged. “I really feel it’s important to him. The most important thing for him is to win and to get to that playoff level where he can win some playoff games. But you can’t do it by yourself. It’s not a one-man game. It’s a team game. Dallas has a quarterback who can be a franchise quarterback. But you need other pieces, too.”
What will be Romo’s legacy? Will he be the next Staubach or Troy Aikman — who have combined for five Super Bowl wins — or will he fall woefully short?
Aikman has said Romo is a better quarterback than he was and believes Romo will lead the Cowboys to a Super Bowl win one day.
Pro Football Hall of Famers Aikman and Staubach believe in him. But time is running out on Romo to make believers out of his critics.
“This team is going to win a Super Bowl at some point. It’s going to be exciting when that time comes,” Romo said. “And when we look back, we know who was on what side of the fence during the tough moments.”
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONES’: Cowboys Super Bowl quest includes the fountain of youth and secret sauce
ARLINGTON – Jerry Jones will outlive us all. Some wonder if Jerry Jones is slowing down. He’s 70 years old. But the Dallas Cowboys owner insists he is as mentally sharp as he was when he bought the team in 1989.
This has always been a working theory around these parts, admittedly rooted in a gut feeling rather than tangible medical evidence.
But now … now we have something to work off. The Dallas Cowboys owner received some very unusual news during a recent visit to the doctor. He shared said unusual news with the media.
The doctor convinced him he has the perspicacity of someone nearly half his age.
“I’ve been told that I have, by CAT Scans, that it’s like the brain of a 40-year-old,” Jones crowed. “…The guy really did not know it was me. I was there anonymously. He said, ‘And so I just wanted to come down. I saw your chart. I know how old you are. That part is really impressive.’”
Jones remains confident in his abilities to manage the organization and earn another Super Bowl title.
“I know more about what I’m doing than hopefully I did 25 years ago,” he said, referring to the time he entered the NFL as an owner.
Jones’ comments came, of course, one day after his son, Stephen, the team’s executive vice president, declared, “We’re convinced we’ve got the secret sauce to put this thing back together again and win championships.” (see below)
By promoting Jerry’s 40-year-old brain and Stephen’s secret sauce this week, the Jones Family seems to think the Dallas Cowboys have what it takes to return to glory.
RELATED: Stephen Jones says Cowboys have the ‘secret sauce’ to win championships again
IRVING — What’s going to make the Cowboys better than 8-8 this year? The “secret sauce,” says executive vice president Stephen Jones.
Answering a question from reporters about whether his father, owner Jerry Jones, hears criticism, Stephen said it is motivation.
“Obviously we feel like we have a great organization in the Cowboys, but we can always be better. We look for ways to be better,” Stephen said. “We do that both on the field and off the field. We’re convinced we’ve got the quote-unquote ‘secret sauce’ to ultimately put this thing back together again and win championships.”
The sauce includes making the playoffs, and Stephen was asked if the Cowboys’ record will be better than 8-8.
“We certainly expect it to be,” he said. “We want people to be accountable. Our commitment when we started was no more 8-8s. I think we’ve got good personnel. I think we’ve got a great staff. I think we can do that. We need to stay healthy. We need to stay focused. We need to get better every day. And I think we’ll be better than 8-8.”
Stephen said his father still has a drive to work and succeed, even at age 70.
“You don’t run across many people like him that are driven to be successful, not only in business, but I think he’s equally driven for the Cowboys to win championships,” Stephen said. “We’ve won them. He certainly doesn’t want to think we’re through winning them. I don’t think we’re through winning them. … I think it’s still out there for us to go get. We just have to keep working hard and keep holding everyone accountable to one another. I think good things will come.”
Former Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley and his five Super Bowl rings belong in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
He was denied again this year, largely because of the logjam of first-time eligible, shoo-in candidates like Larry Allen, Warren Sapp and Jonathan Ogden.
But with former Colts receiver Marvin Harrison and Tampa Bay linebacker Derrick Brooks as the only big name first-time candidates up next year, Haley, a four-time finalist, should finally get his gold jacket in 2014.
He finished his career with 100.5 career sacks, was a five-time Pro Bowler and a first-team All-Pro twice.
All that pales in comparison to being a key member of five title teams, two with the 49ers and three with the Cowboys.
As much as the Cowboys were about the Hall of Fame triplets on offense in Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, they didn’t sniff the Super Bowl and become champions until they made the trade with San Francisco for Haley.
He was the final piece to the Cowboys’ dynasty team of the 1990’s and very much deserving of induction into the Hall of Fame.
That should come next year.
The Super Bowl party has become one of the biggest social events on the calendar. A party up there in stature and anticipation like parties for New Year’s Eve, Halloween and WrestleMania.
And since many of you don’t bother to read this far and just skip to the list, much like how you will make a b-line to the beer fridge at the party, let’s just get to it.
This is the ideal The Boys Are Back reader. Just because this guy’s team was eliminated is no reason for him not to say why these two teams are terrible. You know, the two teams playing in the Super Bowl. Get ready for three hours of why his team will be playing in the game next year. Just nod your head and say, “Yeah, it sure does sound like next year is going to be the year for the Cowboys.” “No way it goes bad for Tony Romo again.”
Every time Colin Kaepernick does something great, this guy will be quick to tell you he picked up the young signal caller on the waiver wire last year and rode him to fantasy victory! Or drone on about how Mark Sanchez’s fumble sealed his title. What’s worse, this guy will likely show up with his fantasy football trophy and make you pose with him.
I’m just here for the commercials
At least one party guest will take great pride in the fact he doesn’t watch football and revel in his ignorance. And why he’s at a Super Bowl party, we have no idea. He’s also the (expletive) who becomes annoyed if you talk during the commercials (it’s the best part!) and can’t understand why you went outside to smoke during the halftime show. He’s guaranteed to root for the team you don’t want to win, too.
The misguided know it all
This fan is the opposite of the well informed The Boys Are Back reader! You can’t miss this guy because he’s going to talk louder than the TV, no matter how many times you continue to increase the volume. Best of all, most of his statements will be wrong. He’ll say things like, “I loved Coopernick (sic) when he played at UNLV.” Sure you did. He’ll often feel like he has to talk down to the women folk, most of whom has a better understanding of the NFL and will gleefully point out KAEPERNICK played at Nevada, not UNLV. That moment will probably be the highlight of your day.
Look who just got a brand new T-shirt from NFL Shop! But you can tell he isn’t a real hardcore fan by the surprise on their face when you say former Raiders receiver Jerry Rice actually started his career with the 49ers. Get ready to be stunned, but this is also likely a fan of the Yankees, Celtics and the Empire in “Star Wars.”. He does not know who Paul Tagliabue is or was, but the name sounds familiar. He insists he’s been pulling for SF or Baltimore for years! Testing this ‘fan’ is always interesting and entertaining.
This person loves the team, or at least that’s the conclusion we can draw from the back tattoo. So why and the hell are they here? Hardcore fans are no fun because if their team loses, we all lose. Most of us just want to sit around, enjoy the game and maybe crack a few jokes. You can’t do that if you have one hardcore fan there. You have to root for their team, or your life is miserable. And if there are hardcore fans from both teams, it’s even worse.
So don’t worry diehard fan, we’ll smooth things out with your spouse (who is likely making you go). You just sit home and enjoy the game.
Ok. Did we forget anyone? What kind of fan category do you fall into?
MOBILE, Ala. – As Bill Callahan’s name gets brought up as a possibility for the new Cowboys’ play-caller, his calling of plays for a previous team 10 years ago has been brought to the forefront.
Callahan said he was “shocked, saddened and outraged” in a statement released Tuesday night regarding the allegations made by former Oakland receiver Tim Brown that the former Raiders head coach tried to sabotage the team by changing the game-plan on the Friday prior to Super Bowl XXXVII.
Former Oakland receiver Jerry Rice later came forward on ESPN and sided with Brown, stating that Callahan disliked players on the team and wanted the Buccaneers to win the game. Tampa Bay beat Oakland, 48-21, in one of the more lopsided Super Bowls.
Here is Callahan’s full response:
“There are many people who are disappointed by the outcome of Super Bowl XXVII, but none more than me. While I fully understand a competitive professional football player’s disappointment when a game’s outcome doesn’t go his team’s way, I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown’s allegations and Jerry Rice’s support of those allegations made through various media outlets over the last twenty four hours. To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations. Like every game I ever coached on the professional or collegiate level, I endeavor to the best of my professional ability to position my team to win. To suggest otherwise, especially at this time when it involved the Super Bowl, is ludicrous and defamatory. I have always honored the spirit of competition that drives us to sport as children and, for the luck few, sustains us in adulthood. Any suggestion that I would undermine the integrity of the sport that I love and dedicate my life to, or dishonor the commitment I made to our players, coaches and fans, is flat out wrong. I think it would be in the best interests of all including the game America loves that these allegations be retracted immediately. I want to extend my personal and my family’s deep appreciation to the coaches, players and fans who have come forward and thoughtfully spoken out against these ill-conceived allegations.”
Brown said on SiriusXM NFL Radio that Callahan changed the game-plan from a run-heavy attack to a pass-heavy attack late in the week, taking away from the Raiders’ advantage on the offensive line. He said Callahan did it because of his disdain for the organization and his friendship with Bucs head coach Jon Gruden.
The comments that Oakland lost simply because of Callahan’s late switches and not because of Tampa Bay’s defense essentially ripped both current coordinators for the Cowboys, as Monte Kiffin led the Bucs’ defense in that game. The Tampa Bay defense led the league in total defense and interceptions that season, picking off Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon five times in the Super Bowl.
The Raiders entered the game with the top total offense in the league, averaging 67.5 more passing yards per game than the rest of the NFL. They didn’t have a 1,000-yard rusher that season and averaged six fewer rushing yards per game than the rest of the league.
Oakland rushed 10 times and passed 17 times in the first half of the Super Bowl game, entering the second half trailing, 20-3, while averaging just 1.8 yards per rush. The Raiders ran just one more time the rest of the game, as they played catch up the rest of the way.
After 17 grueling weeks, the playoffs are finally here. The seeds are set and the field is stacked.
A quick look at the 12 teams that survived to play another game. Here’s a case for and against each squad in the race to Super Bowl XLVII:
1) Atlanta Falcons (13-3)
How do they make a deep run? The Falcons continue to be an excellent home team. The running game provides just enough balance to complement a potent passing attack, and the defense routinely baffles elite quarterbacks, producing several turnovers.
How do they get eliminated? The Falcons struggle to rush the passer, and they become too one-dimensional on offense. In their three losses this season, they produced just two sacks and were out-rushed, 487-146. A team like the Seattle Seahawks or San Francisco 49ers could pose a huge problem.
2) San Francisco 49ers (11-4-1)
How do they make a deep run? The defense dominates the line of scrimmage and Colin Kaepernick produces three or four big plays per game. Receiver Michael Crabtree continues to emerge as a top-shelf talent, and the running game benefits from the fresh legs of rookie LaMichael James.
How do they get eliminated? The49ers’ defense can be attacked; the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks provided a blueprint for doing so in Weeks 15 and 16. The 49ers’ offense, meanwhile, is capable of stalling for long stretches of time. The poor play of kicker David Akers could also end up costing San Francisco a game.
3) Green Bay Packers (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? Led by Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ passing attack gets hot and puts up huge numbers, outscoring every opponent. A different receiver steps up every week and a healthy Clay Matthews closes out games with pressures and sacks.
How do they get eliminated? The offensive line can’t protect Rodgers and the running game fails to provide the necessary balance. The Minnesota Vikings match up very well against the Packers; they’re fully capable of quickly ending Green Bay’s postseason.
4) Washington Redskins (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? The Redskins’ unique offense controls the clock, shortens games and piles up just enough points. The defense covers up some soft spots by sending lots of pressure and creating key turnovers. Relishing their postseason opportunity, steady veterans DeAngelo Hall and London Fletcher produce game-changing plays.
How do they get eliminated? Robert Griffin III’s knee injury makes the offense more predictable, and a talented defensive opponent manages to take away Alfred Morris. The Redskins’ defense struggles to create a pass rush, and the safety play is exposed by a top-notch quarterback.
5) Seattle Seahawks (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? They carry their momentum right through the postseason. Russell Wilson continues to play clutch, mistake-free football, while Marshawn Lynch grinds out tough yards. The defense continues to create high numbers of turnovers and finds the end zone a few times, as well.
How do they get eliminated? An opponent stacks the box to take away Lynch, and the athletic Wilson is contained. The lack of a true No. 1 receiver ends up being an issue, and the offensive production takes a nosedive.
6) Minnesota Vikings (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? Adrian Peterson continues to carry the entire offense, and Christian Ponder protects the football. Jared Allen gets hot; his pressures create sacks and turnovers. Kicker Blair Walsh hits a long, game-winning field goal along the way.
How do they get eliminated? An opponent sells out to slow down Peterson, and Ponder is unable to make them pay for it. Peterson puts the ball on the ground, and Ponder struggles to play from behind. The defense allows a mobile quarterback to create plays with his legs.
1) Denver Broncos (13-3)
How do they make a deep run? Peyton Manning will have two weeks to prepare for his first opponent. The Broncos are the NFL’s most complete team, ranking in the top five in virtually every important statistic. This balance will make Denver very difficult to eliminate. The pass rush can take over a game, giving Manning’s offense a short field and allowing the Broncos to pile up points quickly.
How do they get eliminated? If the weather is horrible in Denver and the Broncos’ rushing attack is unable to get on track, they could struggle offensively. A matchup against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the snow would pose a very formidable challenge.
2) New England Patriots (12-4)
How do they make a deep run? Recently returned tight end Rob Gronkowski sparks an offensive explosion. Brady benefits from a solid ground attack, utilizing his tight ends to produce chunk plays down the field. The young secondary allows some big gains, but comes up with a few key turnovers.
How do they get eliminated? A physical Baltimore Ravens team pushes around New England’s offensive line, or the Pats simply run into a red-hot Denver team on the road and lose a shootout. I don’t see any of the other AFC teams giving New England much of a problem.
3) Houston Texans (12-4)
How do they make a deep run? They forget recent struggles and recapture their early-season form. Arian Foster shoulders the load on offense, and the defensive line creates numerous sacks and turnovers. The secondary avoids giving up the big play.
How do they get eliminated? Matt Schaub fails to make enough plays to outscore either the Patriots or the Broncos. Facing constant double-teams, J.J. Watt is unable to dominate the game.
4) Baltimore Ravens (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? A well-rested Ray Rice carries the ball more than he has during the regular season, and the Ravens physically pound their opponents. Tight end Dennis Pitta and receiver Torrey Smith produce big plays in the passing game. The defense is sparked by the return of Ray Lewis. Paul Kruger plays the role of unsung hero, making several impact plays.
How do they get eliminated? The offense features too much Joe Flacco and not enough Rice. Baltimore allows too many sacks; opponents manage to strip the ball from Flacco in the pocket, creating turnovers. The defense struggles to contain the run.
5) Indianapolis Colts (11-5)
How do they make a deep run? Andrew Luck continues to excel on third down, and the veteran pass-rushing duo of Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis steps up to make several impact plays. Cornerback Vontae Davis keeps playing at an elite level, picking off a few balls.
How do they get eliminated? The offensive line is overwhelmed and Luck doesn’t get any time to throw the football. The defensive front is pushed around, giving up too many rushing yards to a back like the Ravens’ Rice or the Patriots’ Stevan Ridley.
6) Cincinnati Bengals (10-6)
How do they make a deep run? Receiver A.J. Green gets hot, producing several big plays through the air, and the pass rush dominates on the other side of the ball. Geno Atkins finally gets credit for his outstanding play after collecting several sacks and tackles for a loss.
How do they get eliminated? The running game is unable to provide balance, and Andy Dalton turns the ball over too much. The defense is on the field too often, and the unit runs out of gas late.
LOOKING FORWARD: The future of the NFL Pro Bowl could incorporate the NCAA Senior Bowl (Special Feature)
So what would a Pro Bowl-less NFL calendar look like? According to NFL.com’s Albert Breer, one possibility would be replacing the game with a college all-star game.
Breer writes that the AFC and NFC’s all-star team could be recognized at the NFL Honors award show on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, with the college players hitting the field after.
"That game would likely be an existing college event, most likely the Senior Bowl, which would be moved to be part of the NFL calendar, with the thought that it could kick off draft season and highlight prospects on a bigger stage, though the league would certainly be careful about NCAA rules entanglements," Breer writes.
The concept would be to mix today’s stars with future stars. Breer’s well-researched piece has comments from NFL executive vice president of business ventures Eric Grubman, who sounds like he doesn’t see a traditional Pro Bowl in the future.
If I had known this week there was going to be a sudden calendar roll back to 1994, the personal preference would have been at the gas pumps. A dollar and a dime was our cost, per gallon.
I don’t speak for the vast world of CowNation, but it’s safe to say that particular fandom would kill for a 1994 sudden calendar roll back while gladly paying the three-fifty pump prices of today.
The Dallas Cowboys, of course, were two-time Super Bowl champs and the title stampede looked as if it would never end.
Instead, out of nowhere, what we got this week was a cheap imitation of the way it was, football-wise, in 1994.
Jimmy and Jerry, back at it again, squabbling over who should have the most credit for the remarkable building of not only a Super Bowl champion, but a dynasty team.
Which also flips us back to the spring of 1994, when in an ego collision, Jimmy Johnson left town over exactly the same disagreement.
Then there was only Jerry.
Much has changed in the past 18 years in the Cowboys’ world, changed dramatically for the worse. But there’s still Jerry.
I’m not climbing in the middle of this latest spat, because there’s no reason for even a debate. No reason to take sides.
Jerry and his ego both know the truth.
Jimmy was in charge of all things football from the day Jerry and Jimmy took over the franchise in 1989. Anyone in the local media who was around in those days knows this is the truth, and we know it because Jerry repeatedly told us it was the truth.
And anything involving football, from a low-end roster move to the trade of Herschel Walker, no one was asking Jerry for a football opinion. A financial opinion, yes, we asked. And certainly in the case of the Walker trade, there were financial considerations galore.
But on anything involving any area of football, the questions went to Jimmy. Because Jerry told us Jimmy was in total charge of that area.
With the first Super Bowl in 1992, that certainly changed. It was only then that Jerry started seeking more of the roster-building glory. And that’s when the ego collision began building.
Even as we watched it take form, however, another Super Bowl was won the next season, and although we all could see a parting of the ways on the horizon, no one thought it would happen in the midst of a championship binge.
To this day, I’m shocked at the timing of the breakup, and both sides are to blame. But the breakup foundation was laid when Jerry went against his original game plan. He’s the one who placed Jimmy in charge of all things football, and then wanted to take it back, or at least share it, 50/50. Jimmy’s ego would have none of that.
In the many years since then, and again last week, Jerry has attempted to manufacture a story that presents himself as not just a partner in building that Super Bowl dynasty, but as the No. 1 shot-caller.
It’s absurd. Jerry is delusional on this topic. But that’s just Jerry, who took the lie to national TV before the Cowboys played in Atlanta last Sunday night.
What he said was nothing new. Jerry has done this for years. Jimmy, who now has a good relationship with Jerry, let it ride in the past without response. For whatever reason, Jimmy fired back strongly at Jerry this week.
Suddenly, it was exactly the way we left these two in 1994.
It was good this week for a laugh, but Jerry also walks in verbal quicksand every time he brings it up. The three Super Bowls of the ’90s might now be his lone ownership/GM crutch, but he’s not on solid ground in the most important area of all.
Jimmy has been gone for 18 years. The last Super Bowl was 16 years ago.
Since then, as The Man, totally alone at the top and in charge of all things Cow, Jerry can point to exactly two playoff wins.
(Jimmy also had his brief post-Jerry failure as head coach of the Dolphins. But in four seasons there, he did win two playoff games.)
Meanwhile, we are at the halfway point of what appears to be another rotten season under Jerry’s watch. The Cowboys over 16 years have become one of the most dysfunctional franchises in football. Coaches come and go, but Jerry remains the constant, always and forever more, The Man.
Whether Jerry thinks he needed Jimmy or not, he’s had 18 years on his own, and he’s driven into the Valley Ranch ground what was once a model organization on a Super Bowl roll.
Telling us and telling the world about him being the football generalissimo of a long ago dynasty is Jerry’s ego lie. But it’s what’s happening right here right now that traps him where it matters the most. The truth.
And it’s now 16 years in this trap. Trapped in the truth of a football hell.
There was a sudden calendar roll back this week to the way it was around here in 1994. Jerry and Jimmy feuding, egos flaring, plenty of wasted verbal gas.
We’d all have been better off if the roll back had been to the dollar and a dime at the pumps.
Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on
Galloway & Company. on
NFL Films has compiled a Super Bowl collection with 45 hours of content that features highlights from all 46 of the games.
The 23 DVDs and a 26-page retrospective book with a foreword by the late Steve Sabol will be released through Gaiam Vivendi Entertainment on Nov. 13. It also includes an NFL Network program counting down the top 10 Super Bowls, and a year-in-review film for each team that lifted the Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Since 1965, NFL Films has been a ground breaker in telling the stories of the league. It has won 107 Emmy awards.
Founded by Ed Sabol, his son Steve began as a cinematographer and eventually became president of the company. Steve Sabol died in September, a year after being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"Steve always loved the Super Bowl films," said Todd Schmidt, senior producer at NFL Films. "He either cut them himself or put one of the top producers on it. Steve knew that the Super Bowl transcended the average football fan and he wanted films that told the story in historical context with an emphasis on the personal triumph on the largest stage imaginable."
Sabol was one of a handful of people who attended every Super Bowl. So his perspective from the days of Paul Hornung and Joe Namath to the Steel Curtain, the West Coast offense and the Mannings at quarterback was particularly insightful.
"The first law in the entertainment business is that you have to know how to put on a big show," Sabol wrote in the foreword. "After 46 years, the Super Bowl isn’t merely big, it’s an enormous, excessive, preposterous extravaganza — which is what’s so great about it."
The Dallas Cowboys are 2-3 and have lost their past two games. But owner, PRESIDENT, and general manager Jerry Jones is more confident than ever that his team can make a title run this season because of how it played in Sunday’s 31-29 loss at Baltimore.
Jones said he is disappointed in the loss but he did see positive things that the Cowboys can build on.
"It’s terribly disappointing. But we played physically. We did things that we can win with in the future," Jones said on his radio show on KRLD/105.3 FM. "We’re 2-3, so that’s five games into a 16-game season. We don’t have time to have a bad time here. We’ve got to have some wins to make sure we’re in the hunt. We are fresh off, I keep pointing it out, a world champion that won nine of 16 ballgames last year.
"We know that you want your team as healthy and as in sync as it can be as we get on in to the end of the season. We know that we’ve played one division game and won it. We’ve got those guys, the Giants, coming back in here. We know that’s going to be a big game for us. All of those things give us a chance to take a team that is evolving into — if you look at the pluses yesterday — evolving into a team that can compete for the championship. Not next year, this year.
"Let me emphasize that," Jones said. "I’m not into everybody getting better, learning for years to come. It’s this year."
Murray out this week
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones confirmed on Tuesday that running back DeMarco Murray will miss at least Sunday’s game at Carolina with a sprained foot.
Jones said on his radio show that magnetic resonance imaging results showed ligament damage, but no fractures.
Murray will likely miss a few games, but the injury will not sideline him for the season.
"I think we were encouraged that his sprain was not any more serious than it is," Jones said. "He’s a tough guy. I regret that we’re not going to have him against Carolina."
The return of center Phil Costa and his impact on the record-setting rushing performance against the Ravens was more than just lip service from Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett.
According to Pro Football Focus, every Cowboys offense lineman played well in the game as the team rushed for 227 yards, the most ever against the Ravens. But the site rated Costa as the best lineman in the game for both teams, saying he was dominant in the middle and got the best of every Ravens defender they put in front of him.
It was Costa’s first game since suffering back injury on the first series of the season opener against the New York Giants.
The Dallas Cowboys signed cornerback Vince Agnew to the practice squad and released cornerback Mario Butler.
Agnew was one of 16 players the Cowboys worked out on Friday. Agnew originally signed with the Miami Dolphins as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Central Michigan on July 28, 2011. He was released on September 3 and immediately signed to their practice squad where he spent most of the 2011 season.
He was released by Miami on August 31, 2012.
The dominant color for all NFL games in Week 3 will be yellow.
As in yellow hankies littering the field.
A flag-fest in a football game has absolutely no appeal to anyone, including those of us attending the Cowboys home opener at the Big Yard, but it’s a predictable counterattack by the Goodell Gang-bangers on Park Avenue in New York.
With its replacement officiating crews — "scabs," if you want to get unionized about it — the NFL took a PR beating across the land last weekend. This was a dramatic one-eighty from Week 1, when we all had to agree the league won the PR battle against the locked out regular officials.
A friend who draws a paycheck from the NFL didn’t exactly agree with me on the difference between Week 1 and Week 2. On Thursday, he said, "The league won Week 1, and last week, I’d call it a Mexican standoff."
I didn’t see the Mexican standoff. I saw the replacements seriously lose a battle over control and respect, which was predictable. Sooner or later, or as long as the replacements are working at a job they aren’t qualified to do, the players and coaches would take advantage of these newbies.
The abuse flowed across the league in Week 2.
Which brings us back to what people with knowledge of the situation are predicting for Sunday. That being, the league has ordered the replacements to fight back with their yellow hankies, including an emphasis on unsportsmanlike conduct calls.
Yes, the replacements have missed calls, or thrown phantom flags, or have had issues with rules interpretation. But over the years, how many times have we seen the regulars miss calls, or throw phantom flags?
In fact, the league now issues positive "talking points" on the officiating each week, but what missed the talking point and what hit Roger Goodell upside his hard head last weekend was a failure by the replacements to take control of games and keep the games moving. Plus, the verbal abuse was immense.
The lack of respect, and no fear of retaliation, empowered players and coaches to go far beyond where they would normally tread with the regulars.
Will a flurry of flags this week change that? No, of course not. Players and coaches smell blood. They will continue to go over the line of protocol when dealing with the replacements. There are games to be won, and there are jobs on the line for coaches and players.
What the combatants see are pigeons working as the "cops" of football. Human nature says the pigeons will be abused.
Meanwhile, I have no stance on which side is wrong in the financial battle between Goodell and the regular officials. Are the money demands of the regulars so far out of line the league had to take the lockout stance, or is the league squeezing the regulars and attempting to break their union?
Don’t know. But we all know the NFL is a massive business where the rich owners become richer because of the value of a league franchise. There is plenty of money to go around and make everyone happy, except those who have the money don’t want to give up the money.
Goodell, of course, has been on a power trip, starting with his overreaction and grandstanding in the case against the New Orleans Saints, a ruling that was more about evidence he could present in the pending lawsuits against the NFL by former players, who claim the league ignored player safety issues.
For an encore, the commissioner also decided to muscle the regular officials. And that has put the league in a position where the emphasis this season has been as much about the replacement officials as it is about the actual playing of the games.
And now, player safety is a central issue again, because with the lack of control by the replacements in Week 2, it put the league back on the defensive about that topic.
We all applauded Hall of Famer Steve Young for his powerful ESPN comments after the Monday night mess in Atlanta. Young said of the NFL:
"There is nothing they can do to hurt demand for the game. So the bottom line is they don’t care. Go ahead, gripe all you want. Let them eat cake."
Eat your cake. Goodell and the owners Do. Not. Care.
Another funny line on that Monday night mess came from former Cowboys front office executive Gil Brandt, who now writes a column for NFL.com., meaning he’s an employee of the NFL.
With a big fuss over how incompetent the replacements were when attempting to determine which team (Atlanta or Denver) recovered a fumble on Monday night, Brandt told me Thursday:
"Maybe [the replacements] got it wrong, but I also have one less Super Bowl ring and the Cowboys have one less Lombardi because an [regular] official blew a call on a fumble."
Gil has a long and bitter memory, and rightfully so. Official Jack Fette infamously melted down on such a call in the 1970 Super Bowl loss to the Baltimore Colts.
According to several sources, the league answer on Sunday to what went on last week will be ordering the replacements to give us a flag-fest, instead of the league simply going back to the negotiating table with the regulars.
Oh, boy. More muscle from Roger Goodell, the commissioner who does not care.
We get that part of it, for sure.
Every championship run begins with offseason leaders. Before Troy Aikman and Tom Brady captured their Super Bowl victories, one man was pushing the two quarterbacks as well as their respective Cowboys and Patriots teams.
Winning was never an issue for strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik. Six total Super Bowl rings between Dallas and New England give credence to any football knowledge offered by Woicik.
His offseason program led to three titles with the Cowboys from 1990-96, including the team’s last championship in 1995, when current head coach Jason Garrett was still backup quarterback Jason Garrett.
Garrett knew how Woicik went about his business before the strength and conditioning coach rejoined the Cowboys last year, in a shortened season with no Organized Team Activities (OTAs) or minicamps. This year is the first since 1996 that Woicik could install his offseason awards program with the Cowboys.
“It adds a little motivation to the whole thing,” Woicik says. “Really, what we want is for guys to come in. When they play football games, they keep score. We want them to keep score in their training.”
It’s during that time in the offseason when players’ self-discipline is the primary motivating factor that Woicik rewards those who go beyond the call of duty. With three Super Bowl rings from two different teams, he knows his approach works.
And with nearly 100 percent offseason attendance this year, the Cowboys players know it does, too.
“It builds a lot of camaraderie, being able to work out together in the offseason,” says Sean Lee, one of the nine offseason award winners for 2012. “That’s something we had this year. We had a lot of guys there. The camaraderie was there. The hard work was there. And I think you’re seeing that on the field.”
One thing you can count on when it comes to the New York Post: its cover tends to speak for itself. Here it is for the NFL kickoff today between the Giants and the Cowboys.
RELATED: Dallas Cowboys owner – Giants have ‘taken the bacon from us’
Maybe Jerry Jones thinks the Cowboys can only “beat the Giants’ ass” in Dallas.
A day before the two NFL East rivals meet in the season opener at MetLife Stadium, the Cowboys owner backed off his confident boast to fans that they should "watch us beat the New York Giants’ ass" in Dallas.
Jones responded to Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwunuka, who told WFAN last week that it “must be tough to be on the outside looking in at all these championships lately."
"It just reminds me that he’s right," Jones said Tuesday on KRLD-FM. "They have taken the bacon from us the last few years and certainly last year.”
The Giants beat the Cowboys in the regular season finale last season in a game that decided the NFC East champion on their way to their second Super Bowl title in five years.
"They played the regular season at 9-7. We do know that given a couple of completions, we could have been in those same shoes. I don’t know of anybody that was playing better than the Giants at the end of the year,” Jones said.
“So there is no doubt that we can, we could, we should have been focused on this opener and playing the New York Giants. I don’t back away from that emphasis at all."
BART HUBBUCH | New York Post
Every NFL fan plays the waiting game.
He waits for the next game. The next season. The next chance.
The next championship?
Some NFL fans don’t even have their first.
And yet here, they wait for their sixth. Dallas Cowboys fans have been stuck on five championships for almost 20 years.
It has been since January 1996 that the Cowboys won a Super Bowl. That’s by far the longest drought in franchise history. Not only between Super Bowl titles but between Super Bowl appearances.
From the birth of the Super Bowl in 1967 until 1996, the Cowboys played in eight — 26.7 percent.
From ’72 to ’96, the Cowboys were in 30.8 percent of the Super Bowls played.
Now, since the New York Giants’ win over the New England Patriots last February in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis, the Cowboys have appeared in 17.4 percent of the ultimate games.
The waiting game continues for Cowboys fans.
"If you’re a real fan, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in and out of the Super Bowl," said Stephanie Spencer, a 31-year-old nursing student from Moor Park, Calif., watching the Cowboys in training camp. "It matters that that’s your team, and you’re always there, anyhow. If you’re a true fan, you’re going to be there, anyway."
Not the longest wait ever.
Dallas Mavericks fans waited 31 years for their first NBA championship.
Baseball’s Phillies once went 79 years between championships.
So, hey, it could be worse.
But nobody wants it to be.
"The Dallas Cowboy fan base, it’s been awhile — they’ve stood by this team through a lot of good times and through a lot of bad," quarterback Tony Romo said. "I’ve been around now for 10 years with the Cowboys, so I get a chance to feel how passionate our fans are, and I love the fact that I get a chance to play for a great organization, a great owner and a great fan base. It excites me to know that one day we’ll have a chance and the ability, if we just keep continuing to get better and improve, to bring that back."
The Cowboys had a pretty good chance just five years ago to get to the Super Bowl. They were the No. 1 seed in the conference heading to the playoffs. But a first-round home loss to the Giants ended a 13-3 season, and the Cowboys have been back to the playoffs only once since then.
Romo was the quarterback for both those seasons.
"You’ve got to make hay while you’ve got great players like that," Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. "While you have great players like DeMarcus Ware. I think we’re close. Obviously, we’ve got to take the next step. I think with Jason Garrett’s leadership and the things we’re doing as a team, the fans should be excited, and we’ve got as good a chance as anybody."
What Cowboys fans have been waiting for.
The next season. The next game. The next chance.
Today, Starter released a print and digital campaign featuring Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. The "Romo Responds" campaign addresses the pressure he and his Cowboys’ teammates are under to win a championship.
Romo, 32, has one playoff victory since taking over as the team’s starter during the 2006 season. He has said on multiple occasions he needs to win a Super Bowl to be considered a "great" quarterback.
He intends to win one, before he stops.
Jessica Jones is a senior at the Episcopal School of Dallas, a model with the Campbell-Wagner Runway agency and — oh, yes — the granddaughter of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. (Her dad is Stephen Jones, Cowboys’ chief operating officer. “He basically does what my granddad does but isn’t as recognized,” is how Jessica explains it.) Caught at home this week on a snow-and-ice day, the Highland Park 18-year-old revealed where she likes to shop, who she wants to meet this week and which parties she might be crashing.
Are you sick of talking about the Big Game?
Everyone is asking me about the Super Bowl. I am just as excited as everyone else. I have only been to one Super Bowl since we were in it, in 1992. And all my friends want me to get them into parties. But we can only bring so many people, so they’re really sucking up to me. My family is throwing a party on Thursday for all the owners. It’s black-tie. Jamie Foxx is performing.
Which celebs will you be looking out for this weekend?
I would love to meet Rihanna. I love her fashion. I would love to meet Katy Perry. If I ran into those two it would be a good day. There are some rumors they’re coming.
Are there parties you’re trying to score invites to?
I am going to try to go to Leather and Laces and I want to get into the [official Cowboys] party with Drake. I’m a little underage, but hopefully they can put a little “X” on my hand. That means I can’t drink.
Some Dallas fashion folk are wondering what out-of-towners will think of local style. And local style makers. Your family is pretty high-profile. Feeling the pressure?
Everyone thinks Dallas is big hair, pink clothing and preppy. But we have really high fashion here, too. I mean Forty Five Ten is here. If I had more money I would shop there every day.
I’m pretty sure people think you do.
Yes, but I have a budget, about $500 a month. My mom gives me money on my debit card. I was overdrawn this month and she threatened to take it away. Most of my allowance goes to jeans.
Courtesy: JASON SHEELER
In the NFL, an owner and his team don’t profit directly from hosting a Super Bowl. The league takes over the stadium rent-free and treats the host the same as every other club. All 32 teams share equally from the sale of tickets, concessions and merchandise.
“There is really no direct benefit,” said Bill Prescott, chief financial officer of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who hosted the 2005 game. Other recent hosts say the same.
But Jerry Jones will be an exception.
Because of his ownership stakes in the concessions company that operates at Cowboys Stadium, and dozens of Papa John’s stores in North Texas, the Dallas Cowboys owner benefits from every food and beverage item sold at the stadium and every pizza ordered from his Papa John’s stores by fans converging on the area.
In addition, the Super Bowl will produce nearly $10 million in ticket and parking taxes dedicated to paying off a portion of stadium debt that Jones guarantees.
In a news conference this week, Jones talked about the game lifting “all boats” economically in the region. As one of the most innovative owners in the NFL, he just happens to have more boats.
Cowboys spokesman Brett Daniels acknowledged the owner’s private business connections with this game but said, “You really host a Super Bowl for the region, prestige and global exposure, not for the money.”
Indeed, hosting the game can cost an owner money. Super Bowl preparations have tied up Cowboys Stadium since mid-January, Daniels said, precluding other possible revenue-generating events during that time.
Long term, the biggest potential payoff for the Cowboys owner could come if his stadium — and, therefore, Legends Hospitality Management, the stadium’s concessionaire — is picked to host the Super Bowl on a regular basis.
“Having that sort of revenue and profit boost every four to five years increases the value of the company significantly,” said Mike Rawlings, chief executive of Legends.
Jones owns about a third of Legends, giving him a large interest in the company’s market value and profits, including from the Super Bowl.
Rawlings expects Super Sunday sales of food and beverages at the stadium to approach $5 million or more. Proceeds will be divided between the NFL and Legends. During the regular season, Legends splits revenue with the Cowboys.
Rawlings wouldn’t reveal that split, but typical agreements can give teams 35 percent to 50 percent of revenue, depending upon the category of item sold.
The concessions company was founded two years ago in partnership with the Steinbrenner family, owner of the New York Yankees, two investment firms and the Jones family.
Legends’ annual revenue is at least $150 million, Rawlings said. If the company continues its rapid growth, the enterprise has the potential to be worth several hundred million dollars, based on a comparison with a competitor, Centerplate, which was once publicly held.
Asked in a brief interview after his news conference if he agreed with The Dallas Morning News’ analysis of the potential valuation for Legends, Jones said, “Yes.”
For regular-season games, Legends also handles merchandise sales at Cowboys Stadium. But the NFL brings in a separate company for the Super Bowl.
On the pizza front, Papa John’s International expects a super boost from the Super Bowl, nationally and in North Texas, said John Schnatter, the company’s founder, chairman and co-chief executive.
The Jones family owns a 49 percent stake in 75 Texas Papa John’s stores, primarily in North Texas. Papa John’s, a sponsor of the Cowboys and the NFL, owns 51 percent. Nationwide, Papa John’s has 2,875 stores.
“I think we’ll have a record week in Dallas,” Schnatter said, boosted by out-of-town fans here for the game.
Super Sunday is one of the biggest days for pizza in America. Schnatter predicted his company would sell 1 million pizzas nationwide on Sunday, up from 900,000 a year ago. He estimated, roughly, that Jones’ stores would sell about 26,000 pizzas. Most of those would be sold even if the game weren’t played in North Texas.
Papa John’s declined to say how much revenue those numbers would produce. But multiplying by $10 (the special price for any large Papa John’s pizza in the days leading up to the game) offers at least a ballpark idea of possible revenues: a quarter of a million dollars for Jones’ stores and $10 million companywide.
Schnatter said Jones and the Cowboys have been good business partners. “I wish I had 30 more Jerry Joneses, frankly,” Schnatter said. “I couldn’t find a better partner.”
Jones acquired his stake in the Papa John’s stores in mid-2004, when they were losing money. “We’re talking about going from millions and millions of dollars negative to millions and millions of dollars positive,” Schnatter said of Jones’ stores, declining to be more specific. “He’s by far the most talented businessman I’ve ever met.”
Arlington contributed $325 million to the cost of Cowboys Stadium, funded primarily through an increase in the local sales tax. An additional $148 million of the original stadium debt involved bonds issued by Arlington and backed by Jones.
That obligation has two dedicated funding sources: a 10 percent ticket tax on stadium events and a $3-per-vehicle parking tax that produces minimal revenue.
The NFL estimates that the ticket tax for the game will total about $9.5 million, said Bill Lively, president and chief executive of the North Texas Super Bowl Host Committee. According to the committee’s agreement with the league, the NFL pays the tax to the city, and the committee reimburses the NFL. It’s the host committee’s single largest expense.
The ticket tax ultimately benefits Jones by paying down a debt that he guarantees.
Indirect benefits for the host owner and team go beyond prestige and exposure. Even though the NFL gets all the revenue, the extra tickets that the host receives can benefit current ticket holders and be used as marketing incentives for season ticket and suite renewals.
The Jaguars, according to Prescott, the team’s CFO, were able to increase renewal rates because of Jacksonville’s Super Bowl.
As host, the Cowboys receive 5 percent of Super Bowl game tickets. The two participating teams each receive 17.5 percent of the tickets, the 29 other teams each receive 1.2 percent and the NFL gets 25.2 percent.
Also, every suite holder at Cowboys Stadium is entitled to buy his or her full allotment of tickets, half in a suite (not necessarily their own), half elsewhere in the stadium. These tickets come out of the NFL’s allocation.
“The Super Bowl enhances value for everybody,” Jones said, and makes the stadium more attractive for events in the future.
Last year, less than three weeks before the Super Bowl, Sun Life became the naming rights sponsor for the Miami Dolphins’ stadium. Some think hosting the game helped the timing of that deal, which directly benefited the Dolphins.
That won’t happen this year for Cowboys Stadium. But New York Giants co-owner John Mara has said that hosting a Super Bowl could help his new stadium attract a named sponsor.
New Meadowlands Stadium, shared with the Jets, hosts the 2014 game. Still, Mara said last year after the site announcement: “You do not make any money hosting the Super Bowl. You are lucky if you break even.”
He could take some tips from Jerry.
Courtesy: GARY JACOBSON | DMN
Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine decided to count down the best of the best, the top 25 plays in franchise history. Here is No. 5 and a snippet from the Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine story:
Simply Spectacular, Jan. 15, 1978:
The Cowboys led the Denver Broncos, 13-3, midway through the third quarter of Super Bowl XII. After dominating early, forcing three fumbles and four interceptions in the first half alone, Dallas should’ve been in command, but momentum was starting to change. The Cowboys were facing a third-and-10 at Denver’s 45-yard line.
There is nothing like the national, heck, worldwide stage of the Super Bowl. Make a spectacular catch in Week 3 at Cincinnati, and sure, it’s going to be replayed that night, maybe make a few Plays of the Week reels, but the highlight is quickly lost in the passage of time. Not so on the final Sunday of the football season. Just ask Lynn Swann, John Taylor … or more recently Santonio Holmes.
And then there’s Michael “Butch” McColly Johnson, the Cowboys longtime return specialist and third wide receiver who hauled in a Roger Staubach pass in such aerobatic brilliance that it’s impossible to watch any collection of outstanding Super Bowl plays without its appearance. Just recently, in an ESPN poll, the catch was rated among the most memorable plays – that’s plays, not just catches – in the 45-year history of the Big Game.
The call came in from head coach Tom Landry, “Spread orange left, ray 15,” but quarterback Roger Staubach slightly altered the play in the huddle, later explaining, “(Broncos free safety) Bernard Jackson had been hanging in the middle. He wasn’t dropping into a deep zone as he should have been doing. Our receivers had mentioned it to me and I remembered it in the huddle. Butch wasn’t supposed to figure in the play, but I told him ‘Run a good post pattern.’
“When I faded, I saw that Jackson hadn’t dropped quickly enough. (Cornerback) Steve Foley did a good job, but Jackson should have stopped the play. When I threw, I thought the pass was too long. I couldn’t believe it when Butch made a sensational catch.”
For what it’s worth, the catch never would’ve counted today, especially with the recent addition to the rulebook of completing the reception. Johnson left his feet just inside the 5-yard line with outstretched arms and fingertips and somehow, someway, hauled the ball in around the 1-yard line, his left shoulder landing on the ground as he completed the 360-spin while crossing the goal line. Before he was standing upright, though, the ball was on the ground in the end zone.
In the locker room after the game, according to Sports Illustrated, a reporter said, “It looked spectacular,” to which Johnson simply replied, “It was.”
Courtesy: Jeff Sullivan | Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine