Category: Cowboys (page 2 of 38)

Hello, 5-4!

The Vikings were without their best receiver and best corner, the Cowboys were totally healthy, Dak threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns, Amari Cooper dominated the whole field, and Minnesota still beat the Cowboys in Arlington.

How much are they paying Ezekiel Elliott to average 2.4 yards per carry?

Jerry Wayne says the Vikings game-planned to shut Elliott out, that they should have put a sign up at the beginning of the game that said, ‘Elliott’s not going anywhere.’ If that’s the case, isn’t it up to Moore and Garrett to be more creative in getting the ball to their best player?

Dallas is 4-0 within their division; 1-4 outside the NFC East. The Cowboys have only beaten one team with a winning record.

The Cowboys linebackers were the best unit the team had last season, this year they’ve been neutralized. Jason Witten is a shell of his former self. If Jason Garrett is inserting himself into the play-calling in the final two minutes, he should stop.

The wild-card teams are not coming out of the NFC East, the worst division in the NFL. To make the playoffs, Dallas has to win this division. The Eagles are going to win this division. Dallas will completely miss the playoffs.

There are at least half a dozen NFC teams better than Dallas: 49ers, Saints, Vikings, Bears, Packers, Panthers, Seahawks, Rams. Why do people still talk about the Cowboys as a Super Bowl contender? Why are they even in the conversation?

Hello, 5-4. I can see 8-8 on its way.



Who Dak?

I typically operate under the rule that if one can’t say anything bad about the Dallas Cowboys one shouldn’t say anything at all. I’ll try, but it’ll be tough. They really looked (gulp) pretty good.

I really believed (hoped) going into yesterday’s season opener against the Giants that the Cowboys weren’t going to be ready. Their starting center and their starting tight end had both been out of football for over a year. Their starting tailback missed all of training camp. Their top receiver missed most of the preseason. Their slot receiver was brand new to the team. Their offensive coordinator was new.

But they were playing the Giants.

You and I and six of your friends could give the Giants a good game.

So, Dak Prescott absolutely went off. He threw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, he spread the ball around to seven different receivers, and I’m not sure he ever got touched. His quarterback rating was perfect! Jason Witten got an easy touchdown, Randall Cobb was all alone on his, and Cooper looked as good as he looked at his best last season. And Moore’s offense? I know Moore looks like his mom dropped him off at the stadium with a $20 bill and instructions to call her when the game is over, but that was some kind of game plan and some kind of play calling he showed yesterday. Lots of substitution, multiple formations, and lots of pre-snap motion. It worked to the tune of 35-points, but it felt like Dallas could have scored twice that if they wanted.

But they were playing the Giants.

Some people are observing that Dak didn’t make any throws yesterday that any of 60 NFL quarterbacks don’t make every day. He wasn’t pressured, his receivers were all wide open, and some of his throws looked (ahem) a little less than crisp and tight. Others are saying Dak looks like the best quarterback in the league not named Brady. Some are saying he should sign Jerry Wayne’s contract offer right now and others are saying he should wait until the year’s over when he can demand even more.

My advice would be to take the money right now. Prescott can’t possibly ride any higher or be regarded any more or gain any additional leverage than he has right this minute.

Wait. Next week they’re playing the Redskins.


The Amarillo Sod Poodles scored seven runs in the second inning yesterday and held off the Rockhounds in Midland to capture the Texas League South Division title and advance to the Texas League Championship Series. Amarillo went to Midland trailing two games to none and needing to win three in a row, all on the road, to avoid elimination. When I left the downtown Amarillo ballpark on Thursday, I was resigned to the series loss and to that being the Poodles’ last home game of the season. But they’ve pulled off the impossible and will host the Tulsa Drillers at home tomorrow and Wednesday in the best-of-five Texas League Championship Series.

My T-shirt size is still XL.


Somebody set fire to one of the iconic Cadillacs at Cadillac Ranch overnight Saturday. It was the oldest Cadillac in the line, a 1949 Fastback Coupe, and authorities have no idea who did it. Or why anyone would.

You can see some of the local stories by clicking here, here, and here.  Here’s an old video of CBS’s Charles Kuralt interviewing Stanley Marsh about Cadillac Ranch shortly after it was installed in the early 1970s. And the Dallas Morning News has published this editorial lamenting that we live in a world now where somebody would do something like this.

Carrie-Anne and I first encountered Cadillac Ranch right after we were married and lived in Pampa. We came to Amarillo on most weekends and saw this strange sight back when the cars still had their tires, their interiors, and all the dashboard instruments. That was back before people were spray-painting. For years now the Cadillacs have just been metal shells of their former glory. But it’s still such a weirdly wonderful thing.

When we moved here in 2011, one of the very first things we did as a family was take a picture at Cadillac Ranch. Untold thousands of people do it every year. Nobody’s ever lit it on fire before.



Zeke Gets Fed

I would never fault a guy for getting as much money as he can. We live in America — the free enterprise, capitalism, free market economy of this country is based on and depends on guys getting as much money as they can. Supply and demand — come on, we all learned this stuff in high school. I don’t question Ezekiel Elliott. He made it work today.

The Cowboys caved this morning and signed their star running back to a six-year contract extension worth $90-million,  with $50-million of it guaranteed. That makes Elliott the highest paid running back in NFL history, both in terms of the guaranteed money and the average annual salary of $15-million-per-year.

As of this moment, the Cowboys have the highest paid running back in history, the highest paid offensive line in history, and top-five-at-their-position contract offers on the table to quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Amari Cooper.

This is the offense that ranked 22nd in the NFL last season.


Now, I do have a few  questions about that.


The inaugural season for the Amarillo Sod Poodles extends into the playoffs tonight with game one of the Texas League South Division series against Midland at our downtown ballpark. It’s a best-of-five series with the first two games here in Amarillo and the final three, if needed, in Midland. The winner then plays the North Division winner for the Texas League Championship.

It’s Wednesday, so I’m not able to take in the opener this evening — it’s a work night. But I’ll be there in Dale Cooper’s awesome seats for the first pitch tomorrow.

I still can’t believe our AA team is called the Sod Poodles. I refuse to refer to them as the Soddies or to call the stadium by its paid-for name. Principles, man. But I do love going to that beautiful ballpark on a clear dry night in Amarillo, eating nachos and drinking Texas Tea, and watching our team hit homeruns, steal bases, and dive at the sharp liners on their way to a win.

If the baseball game has been the place to be in Amarillo this summer, tonight and tomorrow night are going to be beyond fantastic.



Cowboys and Texans

Before I get to a couple of sports points, here’s a first-day-of-school picture from Valerie and Carley who began classes yesterday at Oklahoma Christian University. This first-day selfie was taken before the tornado sirens interrupted dinner last night and forced them into storm shelters during the “inland hurricane.” Of course I phoned both of them early, way before their scheduled 9am classes, to sing “School Bells” and to say, “Work hard, learn a lot, be sweet.” I think they still appreciate that. Maybe.


Ezekiel Elliott is into the fifth week of his holdout, he is yet to sign the latest contract offer from the Cowboys, and I’m not sure where this is headed. There’s so much wrong with this stalemate between the NFL rushing champion and Jerry Wayne — so many weird twists, he-said-she-said stuff, and timing questions. But isn’t that just like the Cowboys? Nothing will ever make sense, it’ll all go against every football maxim and norm, it’ll blow up in the most agonizing way possible, and somehow Jerry’s Death Star will still sell out every Sunday and he’ll still make a jillion dollars and they’ll still go 8-8.

Jerry postures by claiming you don’t need a rushing champion to win a Super Bowl. How in the world would he know?!? He’s never won a Super Bowl without a rushing champion / league MVP and the last time he did that my two daughters at OC in the above picture weren’t even born! Since then, he hasn’t even won a single divisional round playoff game!

The Cowboys have reportedly made an offer to Elliott that is worth between what Le’Veon Bell and Todd Gurley are making, so somewhere between $53-60 million or $13-14 million per year. That would make Elliot the second highest-paid running back in the NFL. And he hasn’t said ‘yes.’ Who’s giving Ezekiel advice? He’s not in the last year of his contract; he has two years remaining. If he holds out the whole season, who’s going to trade for him or sign him to more money next year? If he plays this year and somehow he wins the league rushing title again and the Cowboys go a conference championship game for the first time in a quarter-century, wouldn’t he be in a much-better bargaining position?

This isn’t at all like Emmitt Smith holding out in 1993. Smith had only one year remaining on his current deal, he was a Super Bowl champion and MVP, and the Cowboys had the pieces around him to legitimately win another couple of titles. None of that is the case with Elliott. Ezekiel Elliot has been involved in more league investigations than playoff appearances.

And — people are forgetting this — after the Cowboys went 0-2 during Emmitt Smith’s holdout, he was in the best bargaining position imaginable. And the NFL’s all time greatest running back wound up signing the same deal the team had on the table all along.


I feel like I have to remind people at least once a year that I am not a Cowboys fan. I stopped rooting for the Cowboys when Jerry Wayne fired Jimmy Johnson and replaced him with Barry Switzer at head coach. I am a Houston Texans fan. It’s like rooting for the JV. It’s brutal. I mean, how bad does your organization have to be if you’re an irrelevant football team in Texas? I cheer for the Texans as a protest against Jerry Wayne and to spite ridiculous Cowboys fans. And it’s terribly lonely. It’s awful. I’ve made the five-dollar bet every year with our Central youth minister — Tanner in the past, Josh now — that Houston will finish with a better record than Dallas. And I’ve won that bet four out of eight years. But they’re just as bad as Dallas. No divisional playoff wins. For almost two decades, the same level of success as the Redskins and the Bills.

Now Lamar Miller is out for the year after tearing his ACL on his first carry of the preseason and they’re refusing to pay Jadeveon Clowney. The only intrigue or suspense for me this year will be in which team, Dallas or Houston, goes 9-7 and which team goes 8-8. Just like last year. And the years before.



Dirk Owns Dallas

The Big German owns Big D.

Dirk Nowitzki took out a full page ad in yesterday’s Dallas Morning News to say “Thank You” to Mavericks fans and to the city after 21 Hall of Fame years in Dallas. It’s a rare kind of letter from a professional superstar athlete of Dirk’s caliber. Humble. Grateful. Selfless. Sincere.  Reflective. Kind. Two DMN sportswriters have confirmed that Dirk worked on this letter for a couple of weeks; these are all his words; it’s not ghost-written. And you can tell it’s from his heart.

Dirk could run for mayor of Dallas and win it today. When it comes to Dallas sports, he’s in an exclusive club with Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman. Staubach, of course, is in a class all by himself. He spent his entire career with the Cowboys, he won two Super Bowls in Dallas, he was a model citizen and team player, and he made his permanent home in Dallas when he retired. For the past 39 years and for the next 39 years, Staubach could run for Governor of Texas or the U.S. Senate and win it immediately. He’s that beloved in Dallas and throughout the state. Aikman also spent his entire career with the Cowboys , he won three Super Bowls, he was a model citizen and team player, and he also made his permanent home in Dallas when he retired. For some reason — somebody help me articulate this — it doesn’t feel like Aikman’s in the exact same category as Staubach. But he’s close. Right there with Dirk.

Mike Modano’s not in that class. He won a Stanley Cup as the face of the franchise with the Stars in 1999. Model citizen and team player, advocate for the sport and the city, but he finished his career in Detroit. And it’s hockey.

The very nature of baseball means nobody’s going to play their entire career with the Rangers. Plus, the Rangers have never won a championship. Nolan Ryan could be governor of Texas whenever he wants, but he doesn’t own Dallas. Jim Sundberg and Pudge Rodriguez could make the Dallas city council, but they don’t own the city. Besides, they played all their home games in Tarrant County.

Am I missing somebody? I think it’s Staubach, Aikman, Dirk. In that order. Does anybody else in Dallas sports belong in that group?



Lowering the Bar

The bar used to be really high for the Dallas Cowboys. Before Jerry Wayne bought the Cowboys in 1989, the longest the team ever went between league or conference championship game appearances was six years. That six year drought came in the last six years of Tom Landry’s tenure, from 1983-88. And it was the main factor in the sale of the team.

Prior to that, the Cowboys made it to the championship game almost every year. A divisional playoff win was a gimmee.

It took them five years from that initial expansion season to playing Green Bay in the NFL Championship game. They went from absolutely nothing in 1960 — they missed the draft that first season! — to playing the Packers for the league title in 1966 and 1967. Until Jerry bought the team, that was the second longest championship game drought in team history, those first five years!

They experienced a two-year drought from 1968-70. A one-year drought in 1974, another one-year miss in 1976, and another divisional round loss in 1979. They appeared in the conference championship game four straight years from 1970-73 and five out of six seasons in 1977-1982. In total, in the 29-years before Jerry bought the team, the Cowboys appeared in twelve conference championship games, never going more than six years in between appearances. The Cowboys were not just relevant, they were at the top. They were a dynasty. They were in every conversation. For almost 30-years, the Cowboys dominated the NFL. The championship always went through Dallas. The legitimate expectations were Super Bowl or bust every single season. The bar was high.

Then they suffered that longest ever six-year drought. No divisional playoff wins in six years. And it caused a panic. Tom Landry didn’t know what he was doing. Gil Brandt couldn’t evaluate players. Tex Schramm couldn’t keep up with the times. The league had passed the Cowboys by. It was time for wholesale change. Little tweaks wouldn’t fix what was broken. Everything needed to be cleared out. The owner, the coach, the GM, the assistants, the trainers, the scouting department, even Tommy Loy the Texas Stadium trumpet player! Everybody had to go. The entire culture of the whole franchise had to be changed. The Cowboys hadn’t been to the conference championship game in six years! It was the worst playoff drought in franchise history!

And it worked. With Jimmy Johnson at the helm, they turned it around. With his players and the culture he created, Johnson’s Cowboys went to four straight conference championship games. They won three Super Bowls.

That was 23-years ago.

The Dallas Cowboys right now are mired in a playoff drought that is four times longer than any other drought in the team’s history. It has never been this bad, it’s never even been close to this bad before. But I don’t sense that anybody’s panicked. I don’t hear the outcry. Somehow, the Cowboys are still the most valuable sports franchise in the world, they sell more merchandise than any other team, and that oppressive stadium is still sold out every week. Just making it to the divisional round is lauded by the owner, the coach, and the players as a great success. The expectations have changed. The bar has been lowered. The Cowboys are the Browns and the Bengals.



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