Tag Archives: Troy Aikman

MEET AMERICA’S TEAM CENTENARIAN: Troy Aikman surprises lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan Evonne Morgan | 100th Birthday visit delights adorable True Blue fan

MEET AMERICA’S TEAM CENTURIAN - Troy Aikman surprises lifelong Dallas Cowboys fan Evonne Morgan - Aikman with Evonne on birthday visit 06-23-15

The Dallas Cowboys have legions of fans, of all ages, in the U.S. and around the world.

Evonne Morgan stands out.  Continue reading →

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REAL BALLS, RED CARPET & RECORD BOOKS: Star-studded stadium stuffed–Guinness World Records set | 70,252 fans pack AT&T Stadium on ACM’s 50th anniversary | Tony Romo’s Real Balls | Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten & Troy Aikman

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The roof was open and the stars were out for as The Academy of Country Music held its annual awards show live from AT&T Stadium last night.   Continue reading →

‘BOYS BROKEN BRAND: Jason Garrett believes Greg Hardy can become a second-chance success | Troy Aikman advocates action | Moose calls for redemption plan

NFL Draft - Dallas Cowboys draft - Filling the holes in the roster

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NO EXECUTIVE DECISION: Unlikely that Troy Aikman will move into Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon

EXECUTIVE DECISIONS - Unlikely that Troy Aikman will move into Dallas Cowboys front office - The Boys Are Back 2014

IRVING, Texas – It doesn’t appear that Troy Aikman will be in the Dallas Cowboys front office any time soon.

The former Cowboys star quarterback and current television sportscaster’s interest in a front office job has been a topic lately (Super Bowl week rumor related to John Elway’s success after being hired by Denver as the Broncos General Manager), but Aikman quelled some of those notions and mentioned how Dallas would be an unlikely fit if he eventually decides to work his way into a managerial role with a team.

“I answered the question on Sunday and it’s just, ‘Oh, that’s an easy question, that’s an easy story, let’s go ask Troy about this.’ It just continues, and there’s not a story there,” Aikman said Thursday on Sportsradio 1310 and 96.7 FM The Ticket. “As it relates to Dallas, which is where everyone here in the Metroplex goes with it is, ‘Oh, OK, Dallas.’ Well that’s not going to happen in Dallas because of the structure of this organization. I think everybody knows that.”

Aikman said it’s an easy question and story to ask him about a potential move to the front office and a potential general manager job, but he said his comments on that have remained consistent the last two weeks with his thoughts the last 10 years. 

“I think some people maybe hear my comments and they think, ‘Oh, well he thinks he can just step right into a GM role after having been a broadcaster like Matt Millen did,’” Aikman said. “That’s not it at all. In fact, what I have said to many people is that if it were something I wanted to pursue – and I’m not sure that it is and I’m not sure that it’s not – but if it was something I wanted to pursue, now would be the time to start preparing myself for that and get involved with an organization, start learning what has to be learned.”

Before that can happen, he said there are steps that have to be taken. First, the timing has to be right. In addition, he wants to be able to put in the amount of time it would require for him to do his job to the best of his ability.

“I don’t believe there are any shortcuts in anything in life,” Aikman said. “Then the question becomes, well, whenever the timing is right for me to do that, how old am I going to be and how much time do I want to then serve in an apprenticeship-type situation to ultimately go on and do what I’d like to do?

“There’s a lot of factors in there, it’s just, I guess where I could have maybe handled it differently is just said, ‘No, I have zero interest in it.’ But then that’s not being honest. I’ve answered the question as honestly as I could.”

He’s not sure if anything will materialize at this point with him eventually taking a front office position. But any talk of him jumping at a specific job in the near future or him being in talks with a team right now doesn’t appear likely.

With Jerry Jones as the owner, president, and general manager of the Dallas Cowboys and him not relinquishing any of those titles in the near future, and with Jones’ son, Stephen, as the team’s executive vice president, it doesn’t appear likely Aikman’s future in the front office will be in Dallas.

“It’s a little bit like the question every year is, ‘Hey, all right, do you think Jerry the owner should fire Jerry the general manager?’ How redundant is that argument?” Aikman said. “So, it’s a little bit the same way, that nothing like that would happen in Dallas.”

UNCOMFORTABLE VALLEY RANCH VIBE: Former Detroit Lions OC Scott Linehan’s role with Dallas Cowboys publically undefined

UNCOMFORTABLE VALLEY RANCH VIBE - Former Detroit Lions OC Scott Linehan’s role with Dallas Cowboys publically undefined - Dallas Cowboys coaching staff 2014 - Linehan with Stafford

IRVING, Texas – After weeks of speculation, it appears some type of change may be coming to the Dallas Cowboys’ coaching staff.

One week after affirming the job security of offensive coordinator Bill Callahan, the Dallas Cowboys look set to add former Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan to their coaching staff. Linehan was at the Dallas Cowboys Valley Ranch facility this morning and took part in staff meetings.

UNCOMFORTABLE VALLEY RANCH VIBE - Former Detroit Lions OC Scott Linehan’s role with Dallas Cowboys publically undefined - Dallas Cowboys coaching staff 2014 - Linehan UNCOMFORTABLE VALLEY RANCH VIBE - Former Detroit Lions OC Scott Linehan’s role with Dallas Cowboys publically undefined - Dallas Cowboys coaching staff 2014 - Bill Callahan
Coach Scott Linehan Coach Bill Callahan

It’s been suggested that Linehan may serve as a passing game coordinator for Tony Romo and a Dallas passing offense that finished No. 14 in the NFL last year. Coach Bill Callahan’s role in the new hierarchy remains to be seen.

If hired, this will be the second time Jason Garrett and Scott Linehan have worked together. Linehan was the offensive coordinator for the Dolphins in 2005, when Garrett was hired as the team’s quarterback coach. Current receivers coach Derek Dooley was also on that staff as the tight ends coach, all under then-head coach Nick Saban. Linehan was hired as the head coach of the Rams after that season and went 11-25 in three years with St. Louis.

He joined the Lions in 2009 as the offensive coordinator. Linehan’s offense in Detroit finished No. 6 in the league overall and No. 3 in passing in 2013, before coach Jim Schwartz’s staff was released following a 7-9 finish. Linehan looks likely to take over as play caller for Callahan, who assumed that duty last season.

The development falls more or less in line with what Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones and coach Jason Garrett hinted at from the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., last week. Jones confirmed then that both Callahan and Monte Kiffin, widely speculated to be fired after a disappointing season, would stay on staff in 2014. What the two coaches’ roles would be going forward wasn’t so clearly defined, though.

“Those guys are under contract, and we feel good about that,” Garrett said last week. “We’re always going to try to do things that are in the best interest of our football team, so we’ll keep looking at how we can be better as a staff and what roles everybody is in and what we’re asking them to do.”

If Linehan does in fact take over playcalling duties, it would be the Cowboys’ third play caller in as many seasons. Garrett managed that responsibility from his initial hiring as offensive coordinator in 2007 up until last season, when he ceded the job to Callahan.

Halfway through the 2013 season, Garrett changed the organization of his staff to give himself a role in the process. Rather than Callahan calling plays to quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson, who then relayed the call to Romo, Garrett moved Wilson into the coaches booth and relayed the calls himself.

Despite that change, Garrett maintained that Callahan held playcalling responsibilities for the duration of the 2013 season.

Linehan served as offensive coordinator for Detroit from 2009 until this past season. The Lions finished 26th in overall offense in 2009, Matthew Stafford’s rookie season, and subsequently improved to 17th in 2010, fifth in 2011 and third in 2012.

The Dallas Cowboys plan to retain play caller/line coach Bill Callahan. Callahan is considered one of the better offensive line coaches in the NFL, and the improvement of Cowboys’ blocking front has improved since his arrival in 2012.

Recently, the Baltimore Ravens requested to speak with Callahan but were denied permission by the Cowboys. Similarly, the Cleveland Browns have been told they won’t be allowed to speak with Callahan either.


FLASHBACK 2005: Troy Aikman’s hand in Jason Garrett-Scott Linehan relationship

FLASHBACK 2005 - Troy Aikman’s hand in Jason Garrett-Scott Linehan relationship - The Boys Are Back website 2014

You may know that Scott Linehan was the first person to hire Jason Garrett as a coach in the NFL, selecting him to be Miami’s quarterbacks coach when he was the Dolphins offensive coordinator in 2005.

Did you know a call from former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman preceded the hire?

FLASHBACK 2005 - Troy Aikman’s hand in Jason Garrett-Scott Linehan relationship - Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Jason Garrett The Boys Are Back website 2014

“Jason was looking for a job and hadn’t coached yet,’’ Aikman said. “I called Scott and left him a voicemail and told him if I was starting a business, no matter what the business was, Jason would be one of the first guys I would call to be a part of it. I talked about how smart he was.

“I don’t recommend very many people for anything, but I told him if he made the hire that he would probably be thanking me in a short period of time.’’

Linehan hired Garrett 10 hours after meeting him.

Later, when Linehan was the head coach of the St. Louis Rams, Aikman asked him if he ever saw Garrett moving on to be a head coach.

“You know,’’ Linehan replied, “several years ago I got a call from a guy who strongly recommended him.’’

Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett teaching in classroom with players

Troy Aikman relayed that story Tuesday afternoon as he other Fox analysts were made available at the media headquarters for Super Bowl XLVIII. Now Garrett has returned the favor, adding Linehan to the Dallas Cowboys staff.

Does Aikman believe that Garrett and Linehan will be on the same page more than Garrett and Callahan?

“I don’t know,’’ Aikman said. “I’d like to think he and Bill were on the same page. They had been together already. I’d like to believe that they were in agreement in what they were doing on the offensive side of the ball. I couldn’t say if they will be more on the same page.

“But I think Scott has been doing it longer, he’s been calling plays for a long time and has had a lot of success doing it.’’

TWO SIDES OF THE FENCE: Tony Romo’s NFL legacy is still being written

TWO SIDES OF THE FENCE - Tony Romo’s NFL legacy is still being written - The Boys Are Back blog 2013

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.

TWO SIDES OF THE FENCE - Tony Romo’s NFL legacy is still being written - The Boys Are Back blog 2013 - 3

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.

fans head to cowboys stadium - the boys are back blog

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.

tony romo and jason witten - the boys are back blog

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.

dallas cowboys quarterback tony romo troy aikman roger staubach - the boys are back blog

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.”

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on NFL Network in May 2013 - The Boys Are Back blog

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.

dallas cowboys quarterbacks coach wade wilson laughs with quarterback tony romo during practice - the boys are back blog

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.

dallas cowboys qb tony romo broken ribs 2011 - the boys are back blog

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.”

TWO SIDES OF THE FENCE - Tony Romo’s NFL legacy is still being written - The Boys Are Back blog 2013 - 5

NFL LOST LEGEND: Sportscaster Pat Summerall (1930-2013)

Pat Summerall died Tuesday. He was 82.

That’s how Summerall, almost a decade ago, said he would craft the first sentences of his obituary — short and to the point.

The legendary sports broadcaster died in his hospital room at Zale Lipshy University Hospital, where he was recovering from surgery for a broken hip, a family friend said.

CBS sports commentator Pat Summerall at his Dallas home on Jan. 20, 1994.

Summerall’s comment about his obituary was made at his Southlake home after a 2004 liver transplant that saved his life. He was serious.

Typical … succinct … vintage Summerall.

His minimalist staccato style coupled with a deep, authoritative voice was his trademark as the pre-eminent NFL voice for a generation of television viewers.

Sportscaster Pat Summerall and his wife, Cheri Summerall, take a walk in their backyard at home in Southlake on April 21, 2002

Summerall worked 16 Super Bowls in a network career that began at CBS in 1962 and ended at Fox in 2002.

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MAN OF THE YEAR FINALIST: Jason Witten listed for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

dallas cowboys' jason witten takes a breather during a time out against the tampa bay buccaneers - the boys are back blog

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year for the second time in his career. Witten also was a finalist in 2007 when Jason Taylor won.

Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Browns tackle Joe Thomas are the other finalists, announced at halftime of the AFC Championship. The NFL will announce the winner Feb. 2, the night before Super Bowl XLVII, during its NFL Honors prime-time special.

Witten is involved in a number of charities, but his passion is The Jason Witten SCORE Foundation. SCORE, which stands for Support, Community, Overcome, Rebuild, Educate, supports families affected by domestic violence.

He has funded several building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee, and the SCOREkeepers program is a unique initiative placing full-time, trained male mentors in battered women’s shelters throughout Texas. The mentors demonstrate positive male behavior to the children in these shelters in an effort to break the cycle of violence that plagues families affected by abuse. JWSF has placed SCOREkeepers in six shelters across Texas, and Witten hosts children from these shelters for special events throughout the year. The foundation’s newest domestic violence prevention program, “Coaching Boys Into Men,” trains high school coaches to educate their players on the dangers of dating violence.

Witten set two NFL records this season for most catches by a tight end in a game (18) and most catches by a tight end in a season (110).

The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is based on a player’s community service as well as excellence on the field, is given annually. The Cowboys have had two winners in the 43-year history of the award: Roger Staubach won it in 1978 and Troy Aikman in 1997.

The Man of the Year’s designated charity receives a $20,000 donation in his name. Charities selected by the other 31 team finalists each receive a $1,000 donation. The three finalists for the award also receive an additional $5,000 each.

RELATED: Payton Award finalists: Fitzgerald, Thomas, Witten

NEW YORK (AP) – Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys are finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

The award will be presented in New Orleans, when The Associated Press announces the winners of its annual NFL honors, including Most Valuable Player, in a two-hour prime-time special on Super Bowl eve.

The show, “NFL Honors,” will be broadcast on CBS on Feb. 2 at 9 p.m.

The only league award that recognizes a player’s community service as well as his playing excellence, the Walter Payton winner will have a $20,000 donation made in his name to his favorite charity.

Fitzgerald, Thomas and Witten were chosen from among the 32 team nominees, all of whom receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation in their name.

The selection panel includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Connie Payton, widow of the Hall of Fame running back.

NFL FORGOTTEN RIVALRY–Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns (Special Feature)

Dallas Cowboys Vs Cleveland Browns rivalry game - The Boys Are Back blog

These Cleveland Browns have never beaten the Dallas Cowboys. These Browns – the new Browns, founded in 1999 as a sequel to the historic original franchise. They are 0-2 against Dallas in the regular season heading into today’s important matchup.

1960 Dallas Cowboys 0-11-1 - The Boys Are Back blog

The Paul Brown Browns, however, certainly had the Cowboys’ number over the years, beating up on the NFL newcomers for the majority of the 1960s in a series of matchups that bloomed into a classic rivalry, including three playoff games. After the league’s 1970 merger, when Cleveland moved to the AFC, the rivalry unfortunately faded into history, with the teams meeting only sparingly in the regular season until the late Art Modell relocated the club to Baltimore in 1996.

The Cowboys’ luck in their series with the Browns-Ravens lineage has taken a turn for the worse, of course, with Dallas having never beaten Baltimore in four tries, including the heartbreaker earlier this season and the woeful Week 16 matchup in 2008, when the Ravens turned out the lights on Texas Stadium with a 33-24 victory.

The arrival of Tex Schramm (left) and Tom Landry in 1960 was not immediately followed by much more than losses in Dallas. But the Cowboys stuck with their leadership - The Boys Are Back blog

These things go in cycles, evidently. The original Browns whipped Tom Landry’s upstart team in each of their first four meetings, beginning with their first game, in Week 4 of the Cowboys’ expansion season, 1960. To that point, the team of undrafted rookies and castoffs from other clubs had acquitted itself fairly well against established NFL competition, having lost to the Steelers, Eagles and Redskins in consecutive weeks, but only by a combined 21 points.

The Browns welcomed the Cowboys into the NFL rather rudely, however, one gorgeous October afternoon at the Cotton Bowl, allegedly in front of 28,500 fans, though many reports suggest the stadium wasn’t nearly as full as the club claimed in those early days. Cleveland scored first on a 46-yard carry by future Hall of Fame runner and receiver Bobby Mitchell in the first quarter, before the great Jim Brown plowed in from five yards out in the second. Mitchell then jaunted 30 yards to make the score 21-0 as the floodgates opened, with the Browns returning an interception for a score before halftime, and Mitchell coasting 90 yards for another touchdown on the opening kickoff in the second half. The Browns led 48-0 before backup quarterback Don Heinrich tossed a garbage-time touchdown to Billy Howton.

Dallas Cowboys end Billy Howton - The Boys Are Back blog

It was a sign of things to come that season, as the Cowboys went on to post an 0-11-1 record, managing one tie, late in the season against the Giants, while falling by multiple scores in six of the seven losses to come following the trouncing by Cleveland.

The Browns would repeat the favor twice in 1961, as they joined the Cowboys, Steelers, Eagles, Giants, Redskins and St. Louis Cardinals in the newly formed Eastern Conference. That October, they knocked off a surprisingly 2-0 Dallas team, 25-7, at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, and in December helped eviscerate any hopes of a playoff berth for the Cowboys by beating them 38-17 in Fair Park, in the second of four straight Cowboys losses that sunk their record to 4-9-1.

Dallas Cowboys Vs Cleveland Browns rivalry Cotton Bowl - The Boys Are Back blog

The Browns won a 19-10 decision over Dallas at home in the teams’ first meeting in 1962, but the second matchup was a different story, seen as something of a pivot point game for the Cowboys franchise and their young quarterback, Don Meredith. Dallas had jumped out to a fine start to the season again, sitting 4-3-1 on the year before losing five of their last six. The lone exception came on Dec. 2, when they tanned the Browns, 45-21, at the Cotton Bowl, in arguably the best performance of the club in its existence to that point.

Paul Eugene Brown September 7, 1908 – August 5, 1991 - The Boys Are Back blog

“You writers and the football public here don’t realize what a fine team you have here in Dallas,” Paul Brown, an admirer of Landry’s, told the assembled media after the game. “You folks just don’t seem to realize this team can give you a championship. They outplayed us all the way … they deserved to win. I congratulate Tom for a fine job.

“Dallas was an inspired team. They’d never beaten us and it had to come sometime, and they did it to us good today.”

The Browns had traded Cowboys-killer Mitchell to Washington the previous offseason (he scored on a 92-yard kickoff return against the Cowboys in his first game with the Redskins) and Dallas managed to hold Jim Brown to only 29 yards on eight carries. Meanwhile, Cowboys running backs Don Perkins and Amos Marsh combined for 209 yards on the ground, while Meredith was 10-of-12 passing for 147 yards and two touchdowns, keeping Cleveland’s defense off balance all day.

Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry and quarterback Eddie LeBaron - The Boys Are Back blog

Meredith had been struggling in previous games, and hadn’t yet wrestled full-time duties away from veteran Eddie LeBaron, but the fine day against Cleveland was a prelude of what was to come in his career.

“Meredith certainly had better results today,” Landry said after the game he called the Cowboys’ “best showing against a good team at home.”

Still, that impressive day remained the exception rather than the rule in the early years of the series. The Cowboys continued to muddle along in mediocrity while the Browns remained among the NFL’s elite. Cleveland won the next seven games in the series, not to mention an NFL Championship in 1964, while the Cowboys didn’t even experience their first winning season until 1966.

1967 Dallas Cowboys defeated Cleveland Browns in Eastern Conference Championship game - The Boys Are Back blog

Once Jim Brown retired after the 1965 season, the series turned a bit. Dallas won a measure of confidence that year with a 26-14 home win over a good Browns squad on Thanksgiving, the Cowboys’ debut on the holiday, in what would become an annual tradition. By 1967, the ghosts of Cleveland’s domination had been fully exorcised, or so it would seem. The Cowboys beat Cleveland twice that year, including a 52-14 destruction of the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game, the first playoff win in the club’s eight-year history.

1967 Ice Bowl - The Boys Are Back blog

A week later, on New Year’s Eve, the Cowboys lost to Green Bay on a last second Bart Starr sneak in the NFL Championship, the game better known as the Ice Bowl. It was the beginning of the Cowboys’ “Next Year’s Champions” era, though the unwanted legacy was only furthered by playoff slip-ups against … Cleveland.

1968 Cleveland Browns - The Boys Are Back blog

After beating the Browns convincingly in their run to a 12-2 record in 1968, the heavily favored Cowboys fell to the Browns in the Eastern Championship Game.

“A whole year shot in two-and-a-half hours,” Cowboys general manager Tex Schramm surmised afterward.

It turned out to be the last game of Meredith’s career and a rather disgraced ending. He completed only three of nine passes, connecting with the Browns as often as his own receivers. Meredith’s interceptions led to 17 Cleveland points, and he eventually gave way to Craig Morton under a deafening swarm of boos, the Cotton Bowl crowd en masse deciding their team could never win with Dandy Don, despite the fact he’d posted his best season yet in 1968.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton (14) talks to Tom Landry - The Boys Are Back blog

“We needed a psychological lift,” Landry said following the loss. “Morton was the only thing I had that I could use. I took Meredith out not so much for what he was doing, but to try to shake them up. … I hated to take him out. In my opinion, he wasn’t wholly responsible. I don’t know what he will do (in the offseason). I can’t speak for him, but you can bet he feels worse than anybody right now about this game.

“I wouldn’t say (we) got whipped physically – it was more mentally than physically.”

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith - The Boys Are Back blog

With Meredith retiring after the season, Morton accepted the offensive reins, but his luck against the Browns and in the playoffs was no better. He threw three picks in a 42-10 Week 7 drubbing at Cleveland in 1969, one of just two Cowboys losses in the regular season. Yet again, Dallas was favored in an Eastern Championship matchup with the Browns, and yet again they came up short. Way short.

The Browns jumped out to a 24-0 lead at the Cotton Bowl, and put the finishing touches on the game when Walt Sumner returned a Morton interception 88 yards for a fourth quarter score. Roger Staubach took over for Morton, but the lead was too far out of reach even for “Captain Comeback,” and the Browns advanced with a 38-14 victory.

“We’re not choke-ups,” receiver Bob Hayes said after the game. “There were 40 guys out there and every one of them played his heart out. … I don’t know what happened. Nobody does. It’s a mystery to all of us. We were ready.

Bob Hayes' speed gave opposing cornerbacks fits and Cowboys QB Roger Staubach an easy target down the field - The Boys Are Back blog

“I looked over to our bench and I could see shoulders sag. Guys who had been eager and jumping to get into the game seemed to be saying, ‘Oh no, here we go again. You play hard to get to this game – the playoffs – and you either have it or you don’t have it. We didn’t have it. Why? It’s a mystery to me. We’ve been pointing to this particular game since last September. It’s one we knew we had to win. We have to win a big one to shake off this image. Some day we’re going to do it.”

The Browns had played a huge role in the Cowboys’ earning of the “Next Year’s Champions” moniker. Cleveland had dominated the all-time series to that point, with 14 wins against only five losses, but Dallas has gotten the best of Browns since, winning seven of the 10 matchups between the clubs. None of the games was bigger than 1970, the Browns’ first year in the AFC, when chance pitted the teams in a late season battle once again. The Cowboys had opened the season 5-4, and needed a serious winning streak late in the season to earn a playoff spot. On a muddy, near-freezing day at Municipal Stadium, Dallas triumphed 6-2, the product of two Mike Clark field goals and an excellent day for Landry’s defense, which shut down the Browns running game and recorded four takeaways.

Dallas Cowboys vs. Cleveland Browns rivalry - The Boys Are Back blog

When the Cleveland franchise was reformed in 1999 – four years after the original club moved to Baltimore – their first preseason outing was against the Cowboys in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. It would prove to be a remarkable night, not only for the Browns’ rebirth, but also as the rare preseason contest that reached overtime, something coaches typically try their best to avoid.

Football is back in Cleveland - The Boys Are Back blog

Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell, Don Meredith and Bob Hayes had given way to the likes of Karim Abdul-Jabbar at running back and Tim Couch at quarterback for the Browns, with backups such as Ryan Neufeld and Singor Mobley playing big roles for the Cowboys by the end, when Cleveland’s Phil Dawson decided the game with a field goal.

“It’s good to see the Dawg Pound back in the NFL,” Troy Aikman said afterward, welcoming the return of the new, old Browns, three years after their apparent demise, and some 30 years since they last played the Cowboys for something truly meaningful.

The teams had certainly played bigger contests, but the history behind the preseason opener made it at least noteworthy, just like today’s game, echoes of an all-but-forgotten rivalry.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman Roger Staubach Don Meredith Craig Morton Danny White - The Boys Are Back blog

Photo: Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Don Meredith, Craig Morton, and Danny White

Blog hint: With nearly every photograph on The Boys Are Back blog, you can get additional information by hovering over the photo with your cursor. Many times, if you’ll click on the photo you’ll see a larger image.

First photo: Amos Marsh Jr. (jersey #31), Full Back/Return Specialist, 1961-1964

Amos Marsh Jr. was signed as a rookie undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 1961, because they were impressed by his speed. Back then his nicknames were "Moose" and "Forward Marsh".

He started his career as a wide receiver and special teams player. In 1962 to take advantage of his size and speed, he was moved to fullback, playing alongside Don Perkins where he became one of the league top 10 rushers with 802 yards and a 5.6 yards average per carry. That year he also set the franchise record for the longest kickoff return with 101 yards, a record that was broken by Alexander Wright 29 years later in 1991. The play came against the Philadelphia Eagles, when the Cowboys became the first NFL team in history to produce two 100-yard plays in the same game: a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown by strong safety Mike Gaechter and the 101 yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Marsh.

Marsh’s production regressed during the following years, leading the Cowboys to trade him to the Detroit Lions in 1965 after the team acquired fullback J.D. Smith

Courtesy: Dallas Star magazine | Cleveland Plain Dealer archives | NFL | Dallas Cowboys

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MILESTONES: Achieved during New York Giants @ Dallas Cowboys game

Here are the historical notes compiled after todays game with the New York Giants:

The Dallas Cowboys had three receivers top 100 yards tonight (Jason Witten, 167; Miles Austin, 133; and Dez Bryant ,110) for just the second time in franchise history. The first was at San Francisco (11/10/63) as Frank Clarke (190), Lee Folkins (112) and Billy Howton (107) were the first Cowboys trio to accomplish the feat.

Dallas finished the game with 415 net passing yards – the sixth-most in a game in franchise history:

Single-Game Passing Yards (team history)

Yards Opp (Date)
455 MIN (11/26/98)
452 @Det (9/15/85)
440 PHI (10/9/66)
427 @SF (9/18/11)
419 @SF (11/10/63)
415 NYG (10/28/12)

Miles Austin finished second on the team with nine catches for 133 yards today. His 133 yards marked his third 100-yard outing of the season and the 14th of his career. His 133 yards today were the ninth-most in a game in his career:

Austin’s Single-Game Yardage Total

Yards Opp Date
250 @KC 10/11/09
171 ATL 10/25/09
166 TEN 10/10/10
146 @Was 9/12/10
145 OAK 11/26/09
143 @SF 9/18/11
142 CHI 9/19/10
139 @NO 12/19/09
133 NYG 10/28/12

Austin’s nine catches today upped his career total to 245 to pass Kelvin Martin (237) for 13th in franchise history.

Austin’s 133 yards today upped his career total to 3,855 to pass Doug Cosbie (3,728) for seventh in team history.

Dez Bryant finished third on the team in both receptions (five) and yards (110) today. His 110 yards marked a career-high, his second 100-yard game of the season and the third of his career.

Bryant upped his career receptions total to 149 to pass Don Perkins (146) for 29th in team history.

Bryant improved his career receiving yards total to 1,977 to pass Timmy Newsome (1,966) for 28th in franchise history.

Bryant had a career-long 55-yard catch today.

Lance Dunbar had a 44-yard kickoff return today for the longest kickoff return of the season to date.

Dwayne Harris tied his career-long punt return of 14 yards today.

Felix Jones rushed 13 times for 19 yards and touchdown today. He now has 507 career rushing attempts to become the 12th Dallas Cowboy with 500 rushes.

Jones’ rushing touchdown today was the 10th of his career to make him the 18th Dallas Cowboy with 10-or-more rushing scores.

Danny McCray picked off his second career pass today.

John Phillips notched his second career touchdown reception – the first was also against the N.Y. Giants (12/11/12).

Tony Romo finished today’s game 36-of-62 for 437 yards. His 62 attempts established a club record while his 437 passing yards were a single-game career-high and good for third in club history:

Single-Game Passing Yards (Team History)

Player Yards Opp (Date)
Don Meredith 460 @SF (11/10/63)
Troy Aikman 455 MIN (11/26/98)
Tony Romo 437 NYG (10/28/12)

Romo’s 437 yards was his second career 400-yard game (first was 406 vs. Tennessee, 10/10/10) and his 34th career outing with 300-or-more passing yards.

Romo also rushed for his fifth career touchdown today.

DeMarcus Ware’s sack today was his fifth straight game with at least a half sack – the fourth such streak in his career.

Ware has 13.5 career sacks against the Giants – the second-most against any team in the league (Philadelphia, 15.5). He also has 13.5 sacks of Eli Manning – more than any other quarterback he has sacked in the league.

Ware now has 107.0 career sacks to take sole possession of third place on Dallas’ all-time unofficial (pre-1982) sack list:

Player Sacks
Harvey Martin 114.0
Randy White 111.0
DeMarcus Ware 107.0

Jason Witten led the team with a club-record 18 catches for a team-best and career-high 167 yards. Witten now owns the top-three and is tied for fourth for receptions in a single-game in club history:

Dallas Cowboys Single-Game receptions

Player Rec Opp (Date)
Jason Witten 18 NYG (10/28/12)
Jason Witten 15 @Det (12/9/07)
Jason Witten 14 @NYG (12/6/09)
Lance Rentzel 13 WAS (11/19/67)
Jason Witten 13 CHI (10/1/12)
Dez Bryant 13 @Bal (10/14/12)

Witten’s 18 catches tied for the third-most in a game in NFL history (Brandon Marshall, 18, vs. San Diego, 9/15/08) and were the most by a tight end in NFL history.

Witten’s 167-yard performance tied for the 20th-best single-game total by a league tight end and was a club tight-end record.

Witten also extended his club tight end record of 100-yard outings to 16.

Witten upped his season catch total to 51 to give him his ninth career and ninth consecutive season with at least 40 catches. He is now tied with Jeremy Shockey for the third-most 40-plus catch seasons and the third-most consecutive 40-catch seasons among tight ends in NFL history.

40-Plus Catch Seasons by a Tight End

Player Total Consec Years
Tony Gonzalez 15 15 1998-12
Shannon Sharpe 11 7 1992-98, 00-03
Jeremy Shockey 9 9 2002-10
Jason Witten 9 9 2004-12
Frank Wycheck 8 8 1995-02
Antonio Gates 8 8 2004-11

Witten’s 51 catches thus far also marked his ninth career and ninth consecutive 50-catch season for the second-most by a tight end behind Tony Gonzalez (14 total and 14 consecutive) in NFL history.

Witten now has 747 career receptions and trails Michael Irvin by only three for tops in team history.

SHORTER IN THE TOOTH: Dallas Cowboys Have Experienced Major Youth Overhaul

Jason Garrett's Dallas Cowboys Have Experienced Major Overhaul With Youth - The Boys Are Back blogA week or so after becoming head coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, Jimmy Johnson sat down to watch some film with his defensive coaches, Dave Wannstedt and Dave Campo among them. What they saw was stunning, with Campo later recalling, “We were pretty sure we had more speed the season before at (the University of Miami.”

The objective became quite simple. The roster needed to be overhauled; younger, quicker players would be targeted. For Johnson, stripping football down to its most simplistic level, speed and quickness equal success. Of course, this philosophy led Dallas to a trio of Super Bowl wins, the first with the youngest team in the league, and Team of the Decade status in the 1990s.

Fast-forward 20 years from the aforementioned film session, almost to the month, and Troy Aikman and Jason Garrett are in the Florida Keys, visiting with their former head coach on what was supposed to be a relaxing fishing trip. Instead, Garrett arrived with a notebook overflowing with questions on what it takes to be a successful head coach in the NFL. At the time, Garrett was the Dallas offensive coordinator, but he knew – heck, everyone knew – his time was coming, especially after having turned down head coaching offers from the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens.

Johnson later said of Garrett and the trip, “He wore me out.”

Now into his second full season as head coach, it’s obvious some of the sage advice Johnson offered involved adding more speed and quickness to the roster. A byproduct of those personnel changes has been a youth movement of sorts, one which has transformed this current Cowboys squad.

Consider: In Week 14 of 2010, the Cowboys’ 22 starters averaged 29.2 years of age, which was tied for the oldest in the NFL with the Ravens and Brett Favre’s Vikings.

Entering the 2012 campaign, not even two years removed, the average age of the Dallas starters was 26.9, coincidentally on both offense and defense, while the roster overall checked in at exactly 26.0, which was the 14th youngest in the NFL and second to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East. Even last year, Dallas finished as the 10th-oldest team in the league.

That is staggering. In 21 weeks of regular-season games, Dallas went from the oldest team to one of the younger squads in the league, while also going from a 6-10 finish to a promising 2012 campaign kicked off with a road defeat of the defending Super Bowl champions.

Garrett addressed this very subject at the conclusion of last season’s 8-8 finish.

“We had a lot of players, veteran players, who were really good players for us, Pro Bowl-type players for us, and we made some hard decisions to get away from those guys and move on,” Garrett said. “Those aren’t easy decisions to make. We went with some younger guys and we felt like that was the right decision for our football team now and going forward.

“We knew there were going to be some growing pains, but we felt like we had to get on that course and not only do that with a particular position, but also get the structure of our team right from a financial standpoint as well. So we started down that course and we feel like that was the right move for our team in 2011 and moving forward.”

Even in the ever-changing culture of the NFL, the transformation of the roster has been stunning in such a short time frame. Currently, 23 players on the Cowboys’ active roster are 24 years of age or younger, while just five are older than 30. Tony Romo, who turned 32 in April, is the second-oldest player on the team after defensive end Kenyon Coleman, 33.

Let’s look at the changes at each position from the Week 14 home loss against Philly in 2010 to this season:

Quarterbacks: The only real change here is behind Romo, where the team is almost a decade younger in having landed arguably the league’s premier backup in 29-year-old Kyle Orton this summer in favor of the retired Jon Kitna.

Running Backs: Marion Barber out, DeMarco Murray in. Am guessing no one has a problem with that exchange. And while Barber isn’t as old as most of the departed players, his physical running style certainly accelerated his football shelf life.

Wide Receivers/Tight ends: Not much has changed here with Dez Bryant and Miles Austin, although Roy Williams and Sam Hurd have been replaced by some younger, unproven options, including Dwayne Harris, Andre Holmes and Cole Beasley.

Jason Witten and John Phillips remain, with rookie James Hanna now the third tight end after Martellus Bennett signed with the Giants.

Offensive Line: Perhaps at no time in franchise history has the front seen such a dramatic overhaul inside of two years. The starters in Week 14 of 2010 were Doug Free, Kyle Kosier, Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis and Marc Colombo. Combined age: 153, with four of the five at least 31. The starters for Week 1 of 2012 were Free, Mackenzy Bernadeau, Phil Costa, Nate Livings and Tyron Smith, who doesn’t turn 22 until November. Combined age: 130, with none of the five older than 30. That’s a ginormous difference. Take away Free, and that’s 25 years younger among four positions, six-plus years per man.

Defensive Line: Little fluctuation here, although Sean Lissemore and Josh Brent are seeing extensive playing time and were just rookies in 2010. Igor Olshansky has also moved on, while rookie Tyrone Crawford, a third-round selection, has shown promise.

Linebackers: DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer are still on the outside, but there’s been a complete upheaval inside with Sean Lee and Bruce Carter replacing Keith Brooking and Bradie James. In terms of speed and quickness, perhaps no position has been improved more, with the possible exception of cornerback. Brooking and James were both respected veterans, stronger against the run than in pass coverage, while Lee and Carter are two of the team’s better athletes. There hasn’t been a more Jimmy Johnson-like pick over the last two years than Carter, the classic example of “give me the athletic talent, we’ll shape him into a football player.”

Of the eight linebackers on the roster, Ware is the oldest at 30, and six are 26 or younger.

Secondary: Never mind 2010, just look at last year’s team. Terence Newman was 33, Abram Elam and Frank Walker 30. Replace that trio with Brandon Carr, 26, Morris Claiborne, 22, and Barry Church, 24. And yes, Church was on the team, but has now replaced Elam in the starting lineup. Of the six corners currently on the roster, Mike Jenkins is the oldest at 27, while 29-year-old Gerald Sensabaugh is the oldest safety. Not a single 30-year-old among the secondary.

Special Teams: Even at punter, the Cowboys didn’t re-sign longtime veteran Mat McBriar in favor of 23-year-old Chris Jones.

So it really has been across the board, a youth movement much like the one orchestrated by Johnson during his first two seasons at the helm. Only time will tell if the same results follow for Garrett.

COWBOY STAR STRUCK AT SIX: CB Brandon Carr ‘stoked’ to finally meet childhood hero, Troy Aikman

Dallas Cowboys CB Brandon Carr grew up in Michigan but he was not a fan of the Detroit Lions - The Boys Are Back blog

Brandon Carr grew up in Michigan but he was not a fan of the Detroit Lions. He cheered for the Dallas Cowboys and Troy Aikman was one of the players he admired most.

Carr liked the Cowboys and playing football so much as a six-year-old that his parents bought him a replica Aikman uniform as a Christmas present. Carr was eager to mention having that uniform when he signed with the Cowboys in March. His father even passed along photos of his son wearing the outfit for a May story in The Dallas Morning News.

Entering his first season with the club, Carr had never met the Hall of Fame quarterback. But that changed the Friday before the Cowboys played the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3.

Aikman, an NFL analyst for FOX, was at Valley Ranch, preparing for FOX’s coverage of the Cowboys’ game against Tampa Bay. Following that practice, Carr tweeted: “Remember the first NFL jersey I wore many Christmases ago..? Yep, finally met the man! #)Stoked.”

Did Carr find time to tell Aikman about wearing his jersey around the house as a youth?

“I left that out,” Carr said with a smile. “I was hoping he’d read it one day.”

A few days later, Carr ran into Aikman again, this time at a United Way event at Charlotte and Shy Anderson’s house in Highland Park.

Aikman and Carr chatted longer than they did following that Friday practice, but Carr admits he was mostly a listener.

“Oh man, I just try to go with the flow of the conversation,” Carr said. “I didn’t want to sound like too much of a fanatic. We just talked about the (Tampa Bay) game. Just small talk. I tried not to open my eyes too big and seem too star struck.”

WHITE IN SIGHT: Tony Romo continues to move up in the Dallas Cowboys record books

Tony Romo and Troy Aikman

The best number Tony Romo can reach this week is 3. We all know that. We all know the top priority will be for Romo to lead his team a victory, put this team at 3-1 heading into the bye week.

For those who care about nothing else, the rest of this won’t matter much in the short term.

But Tony Romo is quietly moving up the charts on the Cowboys’ all-time passing charts.

With one good performance here Monday night against the Bears, Romo has a chance to surpass Danny White in three prominent passing categories.

Romo currently ranks fourth on the Cowboys’ list in passing yards with 21,675. He’s just 284 yards away from White’s mark of 21,959.

He’s third in franchise history in completions with 1,742 and needs just 20 to pass White (1,761) for second place.

Romo is tied for third with Roger Staubach for third most passing touchdowns at 153, just two behind White at 155.

So against the Bears, if Romo can complete 20 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns, not only would be quite a performance and one that would likely lead the team to a victory, he’d move into second place in completions, second in touchdowns and third in passing yards.

Troy Aikman is the Cowboys’ leader in those categories with 2,898 completions for 32,942 yards and 165 touchdowns.

Romo has a good chance to surpass Aikman for the most touchdown passes in franchise history later this season, currently trailing by only 12.

RANDY GALLOWAY: Robert Griffin III steals the show in Week One

Randy Galloway - Ft Worth Star Telegram - The Boys Are Back blog

Back there at the turn of the century, the Valley Ranch think tank was in agreement on Troy Aikman. Sadly, his career was kaput. Troy didn’t agree, but the great ones rarely know when to say when.

In something akin to a career eulogy, the Aikman praise flowed and so did the tears as the Cowboys said good-bye. Later, when Aikman finally agreed to call it quits, The Iceman himself even cracked. Troy cried at his farewell media conference.

Watching that so-long scene that day at Texas Stadium, front office football staffer Larry Lacewell wandered over to a reporter, who happened to be me, and in a wistful tone said:

"Well, we are now officially one of those teams wandering through the quarterback wasteland of the NFL. With Troy, we didn’t have to think about it or worry about it.

"But we are now going to run into clubs out there who have been wandering for 10 years, and still haven’t found a quarterback. It’s a vast wasteland."

And so it was.

Quincy Carter, Ryan Leaf, Anthony Wright, Clint Stoerner, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson, Drew Bledsoe …

Six seasons later, Tony Romo emerged.

Like him or not, Tony led the Cowboys out of the vast wasteland. And whatever your beef with Romo, you are a football idiot if you disagree he’s a top 10 QB in a league where there’s 32 of them.

But speaking of that dreaded wasteland …

Did we have another team make an emergence this week? Did a long, long trek through the wasteland come to an end?

Better yet, would it suddenly be wise to start taking the Washington Redskins much more seriously in the NFC East?

A nice young man from Copperas Cove, Texas, turned the NFL upside down over the weekend. If you were watching ESPN on Sunday night, SportsCenter was on fire with RG3 testimonials.

One game. One NFL start, and this one a mere few months removed from the Baylor campus, yet Robert Griffin stole the Week One show in the league.

Griffin even out-Peytoned Peyton Manning in the national headlines.

As good as Manning was in his Denver debut, as good as the 49ers’ defense was against Green Bay, as good as Romo was against the Giants, the rookie quarterback for the Redskins knocked ’em all off the shelf.

Having had an up close and personal look at RG3 in his Baylor days, and particularly last season, we all could lie and say we weren’t surprised. But nobody saw this coming. Not as a rookie starting and starring in the tough road environment of New Orleans against a Saints crowd and team jacked to the roof.

But when a quarterback pops like RG3 popped, perception and perspective goes radically nuts. Along the Potomac this week, it’s nuts. RG3 fever has consumed Redskins Nation.

A friend who lives in Washington and is a devout ’Skins’ backer, was telling me a story this week about the most-hated contingent of fandom in his universe: that would be the CowSheep.

All along the Eastern seaboard, the Cowboys have a massive fan base, from the New York area, down through Philly and certainly around D.C.

“I remember,” said my friend, “watching a Sunday night game in Carolina a few years ago [2006], and Romo, who had come out of nowhere, was great. I’m thinking, “Oh …spit. They’ve finally found a quarterback.”

“Well, on Monday, I’m talking to Cowboys’ fans, and all I heard from them was, ‘Oh …spit. The Redskins have finally found a quarterback.’ I was hoping I’d live long enough to hear a Cowboys’ fan have to say that.”

It’s been awhile, for sure.

The Redskins do have two playoff wins since 1996, compared to one for the Cowboys.

But they never had an Aikman, and going back to the Aikman era, the wasteland of D.C. quarterbacks is so bleak it makes the Cowboys of the early 2000s appear almost stable.

Cary Conklin, Heath Shuler, Gus Frerotte, Trent Green, Brad Johnson (who was OK in Washington, but washed up here), Tony Banks, Jeff George, Patrick Ramsey, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Hasselbeck, Mark Brunell, Todd Collins, Jason Campbell, Donovan McNabb and, lately, Rex Grossman.

The good names in that bunch were on their final QB legs by the time they got to the Redskins.

In one game, however, RG3 made us all rethink everything we thought about the Redskins in the NFC East for this season. It’s a good defense, and a team that always plays close games with the Cowboys, but Romo has been better than whomever Washington was running out there at quarterback.

The doubters can claim there’s been a vast overreaction to a rookie quarterback’s first game. But nobody (that saw the game) can claim they weren’t extremely impressed with the kid from Copperas Cove.

At the moment anyway, RG3 has taken the Redskins out of that vast wasteland of the quarterback wilderness, but the Cowboys don’t see RG3 until Thanksgiving Day.

By then we will know much more. Until then, he’s definitely worth watching.

Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.

 

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MIKE WOICIK: Strength coach’s awards help team camaraderie

Mike Woicik (right), pictured here with the Cowboys in 1994, returns for his second stint as the team's strength and conditioning coach - The Boys Are Back blog

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.

Dallas Cowboys coach Mike Woicik - 2012 - The Boys Are Back blog

“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.”

Continue reading →

INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Milestones achieved during the Dallas Cowboys vs. NY Giants game

Here are the Dallas Cowboys notes compiled after tonight’s game:

The win upped the Cowboys all-time record on opening day to 35-17 and snapped a two-game kickoff weekend losing streak.

Miles Austin’s four catches tonight upped his career total to 215 to pass Timmy Newsome (212) for 17th on the club’s all-time receptions list.

Josh Brent earned his first career start, taking over for Jay Ratliff (ankle) at nose tackle.

Bruce Carter made the first start of his career as one of Dallas’ inside linebackers.

Morris Claiborne made his NFL debut as one of Dallas’ starting cornerbacks tonight.

DeMarco Murray rushed for 131 yards to give him his fourth career 100-yard outing and the fourth-most rushing yards in a game in his career.

Murray upped his career rushing total to 1,028 to pass Chris Warren (948) Scott Laidlaw (997) and Troy Aikman (1,016) for 23rd on the Cowboys all-time rushing yards list.

Kevin Ogletree established career-highs in catches, yards and touchdown passes tonight. He finished with eight catches for 114 yards and two touchdowns. It was also his first career 100-yard performance and touchdown catches

As Murray rushed for 131 yards, Ogletree had 114 receiving yards and Romo threw for 307, it was the second straight games against the N.Y. Giants the club had a 100-rusher, 100-yard receiver and a 300-yard passer – vs. New York (12/11/11).

Tony Romo completed 22 passes tonight to give him 1,694 career completions. He is now third on the club’s all-time completions list, passing Roger Staubach (1,685) this evening. He trails Danny White (1,761) by 67 for second.

Romo threw three touchdown passes tonight to up his club high of three-plus touchdown games to 25.

Romo had a passer rating of 129.5 tonight. It was his 44th career game with a rating above 100.0 to tie Troy Aikman for the most 100-plus rating games by a quarterback in franchise history.

It was also the fifth time – out of six – that Romo had a rating above 100.0 on opening day – Romo’s five are the most in team history (Troy Aikman, 4), tied for seventh and represent the fourth-highest figure in NFL history:

                          Opening Day Passer Rating Above 100.0

            Player                       Games         Player                       Games

          Brett Favre……………….. 8              Ken Anderson………… 5

            Frank Tarkenton………. 7              Len Dawson…………… 5

            Tom Brady……………….. 6              Joe Ferguson…………. 5

            Drew Brees……………… 6              Sonny Jurgensen…… 5

            Dan Fouts………………… 6              Vinny Testaverde……. 5

            Dan Marino………………. 6              Tony Romo……………. 5

Below is Romo’s stat line for season-opening games:

                     GP       Att       Comp       Yds           Pct       TD     Int            Rating          Record

Romo………. 6      195         138       1,949         70.8      14         4             118.1               4-2

DeMarcus Ware had two sacks tonight to give him 101.5 for his career and make him the 28th league defender with 100-or-more career sacks. Ware reached the milestone in 113 career games – the second fastest league defender to attain 100 sacks:

            Player                     Games

            Reggie White………… 96

            DeMarcus Ware… 113

            Bruce Smith………… 115

            Jared Allen………….. 122

            Leslie O’Neal……… 127

Ware’s two sacks tonight also upped his streak of consecutive games with a sack to four games – the eighth streak of four-or-more sacks in his career.

Ware’s two sacks tonight also upped his club record of multiple sack games to 24. He now has three multi-sack games against the Giants and a career total of 14.5 sacks against New York.

It was also Ware’s second career and second consecutive multi-sack season opener.

Jason Witten’s 10 yards gave him 7,919 for his career and allowed him to overtake Jackie Smith (7,918) for fourth on the NFL’s all-time tight ends receiving yards list.

DALLAS COWBOY HALL OF FAMER: Roger Staubach sees the ‘Boys in playoffs

Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame QB Roger Staubach - The Boys Are Back blog

Roger Staubach admits he sometimes doesn’t always see straight when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys because of his loyalty to the team and the people he has gotten to know over the years.

When the Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback looks at the 2012 version of the squad, he sees a playoff team.

“I say it’s either going to be 10-6 or 11-5,” Staubach said after Thursday’s practice at Cowboys Stadium. “That’s not bad. That gets you in the playoffs … If you stay healthy and get people healthy at the end of the year, Dallas will be in the hunt.”

Staubach admits concern about the team’s overall depth, especially at wide receiver behind Miles Austin and Dez Bryant.

“They have a great quarterback,” Staubach said. “I think Jason (Garrett) is growing to be a heckuva coach. Last year we were hurting in the secondary and I think hopefully we’ve solved some problems there. Keep the run game healthy. Make sure the wide receivers, Miles, he’s got to stay healthy, and Dez, on paper if we keep people healthy, we’ll be in thick of it.”

Staubach has never hidden his affinity for Tony Romo.

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo Troy Aikman Roger Staubach - The Boys Are Back blog

“How do you not? I don’t get it,” Staubach said. “To be honest, this guy is one heck of a quarterback. He doesn’t have all the ammunition around him. I’m a big (Troy) Aikman fan and I think Troy will say he had pretty good people around him. I know I did. But Romo, they’re fortunate to have one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL.”

HOT SEAT II: Jerry Jones sits down with Bonnie-Jill Laflin

Bonnie-Jill Laflin talked recently with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones - The Boys Are Back blog

Sitting down with Jerry Jones at Dallas Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif., I’m greeted with simple southern hospitality that’s extended to anyone he meets. That holds true whether the person is a current member of the Cowboys family or a former Cowboys cheerleader like myself.

Jones’ business savvy, along with the power of the Cowboys franchise and its brand, makes him one of the most powerful owners in sports.

We recently discussed his background, Cowboys Stadium and his appearance on "Dallas” in an interview for ESPN Playbook.

How did you enjoy your guest appearance on the new “Dallas”?

They’ve done a great job with this "Dallas." We all know what "Dallas" meant years ago. I enjoyed my scene with J.R. Ewing (Larry Hagman), but I’m particularly excited that they showed different perspectives, different views of the stadium. I especially liked the scene with the helicopter flying into the stadium. I personally walked off the measurements and had the helicopter pad put in.

What is your favorite part of the stadium?

The Glass. I spent hundreds of hours looking at models that would show 40, 50 and up to 90 feet of glass in some places. But inside the glass is a material that is denser on the bottom and less dense on the top. This material allows the glass to reflect the actual color of the sky on that particular day. If it’s a grey cloudy day, then the stadium will have a silvery-grey appearance. If it’s a bluebird day, it will be blue.

We all know Cowboys football is 24/7 for you, but besides football, what other interests do you have?

Hunting. Before the Cowboys, I would take my business [clients] on Thanksgiving and go into the darkest spots in Arkansas. I would grow a beard and not come out till Santa Claus came.

Most people associate you with Arkansas or Texas, but…

I was actually born in Southern California and I’m a favorite son of El Segundo. I have so many cousins out here, and they say, "But Jerry, we don’t sound like you." My family moved to Springfield, Mo., when I was in college, and they still have holdings and a ranch there.

Can you talk about your relationship with the "triplets" — Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin — and how close you are with them today?

Those relationships developed right when I first came into the NFL. I was 45 when I bought the Cowboys, so there was 20 years difference in age. One of the reasons I do what I do is because I don’t look in the mirror and think, "I’m your age" or the players’ age, although sometimes I act it. I take some of the things that have happened to me and, as a friend, share my experiences. Troy is a great friend. Michael and I have an outstanding relationship. He asked me to introduce him when he was enshrined into the Hall of Fame. We have a real bond. As for Emmitt, I can remember like it was yesterday when he came to me and asked if he could slide into the back of the office and listen to me on the phone on his breaks during training camp. He was hoping to be exposed to some of the business aspects of the sports industry. At first I was a little hesitant, but then it worked out and he did it for several years.

How important are cheerleaders to the Dallas Cowboys brand?

The cheerleaders have represented us well. They have entertained our troops and have done more USO Tours than Bob Hope. We don’t have any part of the Cowboys legacy that is as well respected as the cheerleaders. Our cheerleaders’ appearances on battleships and behind the lines boost the morale of our troops. Of all of my "sweet nothings," and I call them my "sweet nothings," the biggest stack of letters of letters I have in my files are from people with 15-to-20 years of service, after seeing our cheerleaders and how much it meant to them.

Bonnie-Jill Laflin is a former NFL cheerleader and wrote this exclusively for ESPN.com.

MILESTONES: Records within reach for Ware, Witten, Romo

Without a doubt, there is one major focus for this Cowboys’ team in 2012 and that’s getting to the playoffs and possibly doing some postseason damage as well.

Team goals come first and that hasn’t changed. Obviously everyone from the front office, coaches, players and definitely the fans are hungry for that success. 

I felt the need to preface that before mentioning a few interesting individual accomplishments that are on the horizon for the 2012 season.

For the stat geeks out there who love milestones, this season could, and should, have a few big ones. In fact, three to be exact could happen around the same time of the season.

The three main faces of this current team are all in position to break franchise records this year.

For starters, tight end Jason Witten is closing in on Michael Irvin’s all-time receptions record of 750. Witten is currently in second place with 696 receptions and needs just 55 catches to surpass “The Playmaker.” Witten has averaged more than 77 catches per season in his nine-year career and since his rookie season in 2003, Witten hasn’t had a season with less than 64 catches. 

Next let’s go with DeMarcus Ware, who has 99.5 sacks, currently in fourth place in club history. But Ware needs 15 sacks to surpass Harvey Martin (114.0) as the Cowboys’ all-time sack leader. While the NFL didn’t make sacks an official stat until 1982, the Cowboys have always kept their own stats and still acknowledge Martin as the leader, followed by Randy White (111) and Ed Jones (106). That’s why there are some places where Ware is recognized as the all-time sack leader already. But after 15, he’ll have the most of any player in any era.

And quarterback Tony Romo can move up in the record books as well. While he currently ranks fourth in club history with 149 touchdown passes, just an average season would likely put Romo in first place, ahead of Troy Aikman and his 165 touchdown passes. Danny White (155) and Roger Staubach (153) are both currently ahead of Romo as well. But for a guy who threw 31 last year, getting to 17 shouldn’t be a problem as long as he stays healthy.

Those are three of the biggest milestones. Obviously, winning the team’s first division title since 2009 or getting a second playoff win since 1996 far outweigh those individual accomplishments. But for a season with so much hype already surrounding it, those are three more things to watch for.

ROGER STAUBACH: "I want to see Tony win a championship because I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan."

Sports Illustrated - December 2 1963 - Roger Staubach - Army-Navy Game - Dallas Cowboys QB - NFL quaerterback - The Boys Are Back blog

When Roger Staubach officially beat out Craig Morton to become the Cowboys’ full-time starting quarterback in 1971, the team was floundering at 4-3. From that point on, they won 10 straight games to claim their first Super Bowl title.

It’s fair to say, Staubach pushed his teammates to new heights. Flash forward four decades, and the Cowboys’ current quarterback is trying to do the same thing.

The team came out of the dark ages when Tony Romo took over as its starting QB in 2006, but despite Romo’s routine excellence – he has the second-highest passer rating of all time – it hasn’t been enough. The 2011 season was a classic example, as Romo put up career numbers, but the Cowboys still finished just 8-8.

Staubach believes Romo hasn’t done all he can, though. Speaking to KTCK (1310-AM) in Dallas, he said that falling short and often taking the greatest share of the blame for team failures is tough on Romo, but he must find a way to help his teammates help him.

Dallas Cowboy Tom Landry coaches Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach - The Boys Are Back blog

"It wears on him because he’s such a competitor," Staubach said. "He works really hard. His teammates love him. He’s got to continue to get more out of his teammates, and that’s his job, too, and he knows that. I think it wears on me that we lost a couple of Super Bowls, we lost some games. That’s just part of being a competitive athlete. So it has to wear on him. And not getting a championship – which is really the grade that people look at today – the (Dan) Marino’s and the Dan Foutse’s and some really great NFL quarterbacks never won championships.

Dallas Cowboy QB Tony Romo - Dallas Cowboys quarterback - The Boys Are Back blog

"I want to see Tony win a championship because I’m a Cowboys fan."

After Staubach took over the reigns in ’71, it seemed all the Dallas Cowboys did was win, appearing in four Super Bowls during his career, with two titles.

This is the standard Romo is judged against, one that was only raised when the club won three Super Bowls in four years under Troy Aikman.

"It’s harder, though," Staubach said. "There’s 32 teams, there’s free agency. There’s a lot of differences today in putting a team together and (it’s) getting a little harder, I think, to get to a Super Bowl and win it than the old days. But it still was tough then, and it’s tough today, and if you don’t get there, you should be disappointed. But that doesn’t mean you’re not going to try again."

Troy Aikman pays $1.75 million in divorce

Troy and Rhonda Aikman - The Boys Are Back blogFormer Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current Fox analyst Troy Aikman paid $1.75 million in a marital property agreement as part of his divorce.

Aikman and wife Rhonda were married 10 years before their divorce in April 2011. The couple met when she worked as a publicity staffer for the Dallas Cowboys and he was the team’s starting quarterback.

When they married on April 8, 2000, she had a daughter from a previous marriage. Together, the Aikman’s would have two more daughters.

In May, Alan Peppard of The Dallas Morning News reported that Aikman sold land next to his home in Highland Park that included a sport court and a 1,045 square-foot cabana. He did not sell his home. The land was listed at an asking price of $14 million.

METROPLEX VENTURE: Jones, Aikman announce new franchise partnership with Dunkin’ Donuts

Jones Family and Aikman plans to open at least 50 new Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area over the next five years.CANTON, MA – Dunkin’ Donuts, America’s all-day, everyday stop for coffee and baked goods, has added significant new star power to fuel its expansion in Dallas, today welcoming Dallas Cowboys Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman as the brand’s newest franchise partners.  As part of a limited partnership between Dunkin’ Donuts,  the Jones Family and Aikman, the group plans to open at least 50 new Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth region over the next five years.

“We have a lot of greats to be proud of here in North Texas,” said Jerry Jones.  “Great people, great sports teams and great traditions, which is why I am excited about being a part of bringing great  coffee, iced tea and baked goods from Dunkin’ Donuts to the area."

“In traveling around the country on business, I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Dunkin’ Donuts coffee in many other cities,” said Troy Aikman, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback and current FOX Network broadcaster.  “I’m excited to now be a part of bringing this same outstanding experience to everyone here in Dallas and Fort Worth.”

There are currently 19 Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants in North Texas, including four locations at DFW Airport and a new restaurant that recently opened in McKinney, Texas. Another Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant is scheduled to open in Southlake in mid-April.

“We are honored at the opportunity to grow our presence in the Metroplex through a partnership with Jerry Jones – one of the country’s most admired businessmen and a leading presence in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and Troy Aikman – one of the NFL’s all-time great leaders on and off the football field,” said Nigel Travis, Dunkin’ Brands, Inc. CEO. “We look forward to making America’s favorite coffee, as well as our delicious baked goods and food products, available to a growing number of customers in this area by teaming up with these outstanding franchise partners.

Under the agreement, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Jones Family and Aikman will share ownership of the new Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants and 11 of the 19 existing locations.  Together, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Jones Family and Aikman will be jointly responsible for strategic planning, expansion and marketing, with Dunkin’ Donuts responsible for the operations of the restaurants.

In 2009 Dunkin’ Donuts entered into a partnership with the Dallas Cowboys Football Club as the official coffee for the team. Since then, “America’s Team” has run on Dunkin’, with Dunkin’ Donuts pouring stations located strategically throughout Cowboys Stadium, serving “America’s Favorite Coffee” both hot and iced, hot chocolate and iced tea during Cowboys home games, college football games, concerts and other stadium events. Dunkin’ Donuts signage appears within the stadium and advertising is shown during events on the LED ribbon board and video board.

Dunkin’ Donuts has a long and proud history of partnerships within the sporting industry. Dunkin’ Donuts is the official coffee provider for many professional teams, including the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, New York Mets, New York Giants, New York Jets, New England Patriots, Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Capitals.

The expansion of Dunkin’ Donuts in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is part of the Company’s goal to more than double its current footprint of 7,000 restaurants in the United States over the next 20 years.

Michael Irvin trusts Troy Aikman in the pocket, Tony Romo outside it

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In case you missed it, earlier this week Troy Aikman was in South Texas to promote the opening of the chicken wing restaurant in his portfolio

In an interview with The Brownsville Herald, Aikman, a three-time Super Bowl champion and first-ballot Hall of Famer, said he didn’t play quarterback back then as well as Tony Romo does now.

"I think Tony already is a better quarterback than I was," the former Cowboys quarterback said.
I texted Aikman to ask if he stands by his quote. His response indicated that he did.

Aikman, who now earns a portion of his living analyzing NFL games for Fox, went on to explain to the newspaper what he meant. In essence, he was talking about pure athleticism. "I know how quarterbacks are judged, but as far as [Romo’s] playmaking ability and the things that he is capable of doing, he is a far more athletic quarterback, capable of making more plays than I ever was able to," Aikman said. "I believe he will win a Super Bowl before he is done playing."

I thought I’d get a second opinion. So I called Michael Irvin, who was the Ying to Aikman’s Yang on the Super Bowl Cowboys of the 1990s. Aikman has no bigger fan than Irvin, his Hall of Fame wide receiver.

Irvin, who hasn’t spoken to Aikman on the subject, agreed with his friend, providing an eerily similar explanation.

"Think about the evolution of the game," Irvin said. "Jim Brown was a bad man as a running back. But those were different times. He was playing against different kinds of players, different size players.

"I’ll tell you Terrell Owens was a bigger, faster, stronger Michael Irvin," said Irvin, who earns a portion of his living analyzing NFL games for NFL Network. "He was more physically gifted than me."

But that doesn’t mean better, does it?

"Look at Tony Romo’s ability to play quarterback outside the pocket," Irvin said. "That’s where the game is evolving. I think that’s what Troy was talking about."
But Irvin offered a caveat.

"If you have to make a dynamic play all of the time, you’re going to ultimately fail," he said. "You can go to that well too many times. To win a Super Bowl you have to be methodical and that was Troy.

"If you needed a ball thrown 17 yards down the field, two feet to the right of the receiver, bing, Troy would put the ball there every time, just like it was drawn on the chalkboard."

JASON GARRETT: Troy Aikman is ‘dead-on’ in his comments about Tony Romo

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Jason Garrett said Troy Aikman has a “dead-on” understanding of how good Tony Romo is as a quarterback.

And he’s modest.

The Cowboys coach said that’s why he believes Aikman told the Brownsville Herald last week that Romo is already a better quarterback than Aikman was.

“I think that’s a reflection on who Troy Aikman is,” Garrett told reporters Saturday at a high school football camp at Cowboys Stadium. “Troy Aikman was obviously an outstanding quarterback, first-ballot Hall of Famer, three-time Super Bowl winner, someone who was very talented, but also someone who was very modest. Troy understands the challenges of playing in the National Football League more than anybody else does, and I think his perspective on what Tony has done throughout his career is pretty dead on. He has a real appreciation for Tony as a player, as a person, as a leader in our locker room and on our football team, and I think those comments stem from that.”

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