I’m nauseated by the pictures and stories coming out of San Antonio and Dallas Cowboys training camp. Forget Terrell Owens purposefully showing up in a Barry Bonds San Francisco Giants jersey when Bonds right now stands for everything that’s wrong with professional sports in this country. To intentionally align himself with Bonds at this moment in time says a whole lot about Terrell Owens. But not much more than we already knew. It also says a great deal about Jerry Wayne, who spent five million more dollars over the spring to make sure Owens was going to be a leader on this squad. This is the same Jerry who passed on Brady Quinn at #22 when Quinn was ranked as high as #5 on their Valley Ranch draft board. And as much as I love Tony Romo, this so very much reminds me of the Cowboys passing on Dan Marino because they’d already committed to Danny White and Steve Pelluer.
Even aside from those two things, where does all the optimism come from? Has a football team ever gone into a season with a brand new coach, a brand new defensive coordinator, and a brand new offensive coordinator who’s never called plays and done anything? It’s so crazy to me to hear people talking about the division and the conference being up for grabs and “somebody’s gotta win it so why not the Cowboys!”
In the history of organized professional football has a team ever opened up its training camp with a no-pads no-contact practice? I understand Wade Phillips is going out of his way to prove to his players that he’s no Bill Parcells. I understand that he’s relaxing every single aspect of player life in the lockerroom, on the field, during meetings, and even away from the team to show everyone he’s a player’s coach and not a strict disciplinarian. And I completely understand the players all agreeing to a man that they were tired of Parcells’ dictatorship and relieved to be a playing for a coach who “understands today’s player.” But I also recall vividly that four years ago, to a man, the entire organization was thrilled to be rid of the Dave Campo player’s coach model in exchange for Parcells’ rules. Don’t all the beat writers and reporters remember the same thing? Why do I keep hearing and reading that the players are completely buying into the Phillips system and that’s the most important thing? Remember the first Monday night game of the Parcells era, week two in New York against the Giants? The Cowboys blew a 17 point lead and wound up taking it to overtime on a fluke special teams play and a long pass at the buzzer and then winning with a field goal? No team has ever “bought into” a coach more than that team did in the early part of that year. That’s not the most important thing. The most important thing is good players and good coaches and team discipline and consistency over at least a couple of seasons.
And if you look at the most successful NFL coaches over the past 10 years, they are hard-nosed disciplinarians. Rules guys. Dungy. Cowher. Belichick. Fisher. Gruden. Shanahan. Holmgren. They always have been. Shula. Landry. Gibbs. Lombardi. Even Bill Parcells.
The scenes and stories coming out of the Alamodome are complete repeats of the Campo era scenes and stories. The loud music, the mascots and cheerleaders disrupting practice, mostly just once a day walkthroughs, a reduced number of two-a-day full-contact scrimmages, corporate displays and booths actually on the practice field, and Jerry Wayne and his ever-present publicity machine in the huddles and in front of every camera.
Elijah was taken up to heaven last night in an elaborately decorated fiery chariot with the aid of a Tommy-Lift. And thus ends another wonderful VBS at Legacy. Terri and Shellie and Kipi did a terrific job and are to be commended for organizing and executing a wonderful way to teach our children the stories of God’s people and God’s faithfulness to his people. I’m so looking forward already to next year. Someone’s mentioned that if we do Daniel next year there would be plenty of eager volunteers to throw me and Jason and Lance into the fiery furnace. I’m not sure how to take that. Enjoy some pics from the last night.
There are 35 more days until football season officially begins. And the best ever #35 is a Yale man. Calvin Hill was the Dallas Cowboys first-round draft pick out of the Ivy League school in 1969 and went on to become that season’s NFL Rookie of the Year. He was the first ever Cowboy to rush for a thousand yards and is still the team’s #4 all time leading ground gainer. He led the team in rushing four times, in receiving twice, and he’s still #8 on the squad’s all-time all-purpose yards list with 6,368. He scored 24 points on four TDs in a game against the Bills in ’71, which is still a team record.
Calvin Hill finished up his career with the Redskins and Browns. He’s also the father of the NBA’s Grant Hill, which, if you keep up with basketball, you know speaks to Calvin’s integrity as a great dad who raised a fantastic son.
Calvin currently works with the Cowboys, and has for a little over a decade, as the team’s player development guy. He counsels them and works with them on dealing with life in the NFL, trying to keep them out of trouble off the field and helping shape them into productive members of society. Tough job. But the Cowboys’ players have gotten into considerably less trouble with Calvin on the job.
And when the Cowboys are gearing up to play the Redskins, Giants, or Eagles and you get Calvin at just the right moment, off by himself, and in a talking mood, he’ll go for days on how things used to be in the bitter NFC East. He’ll talk forever about the genuine hatred between the teams and the things that were done and said on the field during those games in the early ’70s. He’s a super great guy. And one of the few positive elements you can point to right now with the Cowboys as an organization.