During his Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Speech last summer, Ron Wolfe referred to Lambeau Field as, "football's most storied cathedral."
I've been very blessed in that I've been able to attend a lot of Dallas Cowboys games in my life. A majority of the time I've been accompanied by my best friend - my Dad.
A year ago we decided that we'd seen Texas Stadium, we'd seen AT&T Stadium, and now it was time to explore the rest of the National Football League.
We settled on Soldier Field in Chicago and saw the Cowboys pull of a nice victory on Thursday Night Football against Da Bears.
When the 2015 schedule was released we saw that the cathedral Ron Wolfe referred to would be part of the Dallas Cowboys' tour. There was no second choice. This was Lambeau. We had to go.
We brought reinforcements this time. My Dad, his best friend, his best friend's son, and his best friend's son-in-law all accompanied us as we made our way to Green Bay, WI last weekend.
Here is a bit of our trip at what I can now say, from my own experience, is unquestionably football's most storied, historic, and illustrious cathedral.
Brett Favre's Steakhouse
We first laid eyes on perhaps the most iconic venue in sports on the night of Friday, December 11th. We were making our way towards dinner at Brett Favre's steakhouse and passed by Lambeau in all her glory.
For the time being our eyes, and stomachs, were focused on something else. Talk around the town was that Favre's put one fine piece of meat on a plate, and we had to check it out.
This thing is a living shrine to the 'Ol Gunslinger. The food is almost as manly as his style of play was.
There's a mini museum that highlights all of the accomplishments by Favre during his time in Green Bay. Magazine covers grace all of the walls and cheeshead hats are for sale in the gift shop.
There are footballs from Super Bowl XXXI, photos of Brett and his family, and just about everything Favre-related that you can dream up.
There's also food. Lots of it.
We each ordered a ribeye steak and baked potato that came with ice cream sized scoops of butter on top. One bite in we knew that the trip was already well worth it.
The only sound that came from our table for a solid ten minutes was that of satisfaction as we each feasted on what I think was a whole cow.
We raised a glass to friends, family, food, and of course the Dallas Cowboys. With a weekend of good times ahead of us... we were on top of the world. Did I mention that we were a few blocks away from Lambeau Field?
After dinner we ventured over to Lambeau. I had waited long enough, I wanted to stand in her presence.
We pulled up and got out of the car. You can't help but just stare at the stadium and let your mind wander over the course of history as you reflect how football was built here.
Right outside the stadium they have some statues. Vince Lombardi, Curly Lambeau, and a little monument to the Green Bay fans. This "statue" serves as a spot where fans can emulate the iconic "Lambeau Leap." You know that I had to get in on this.
I closed my eyes and pretended that I scored the winning touchdown during the Ice Bowl... avenging one of the most heartbreaking losses in Dallas Cowboys History. I then proceeded to find some fans in the crowd, jumped up, and soaked in the moment. They were happy... you can see it on their faces!
That wrapped up our experience for the night, but we'd be back in the morning.
Green Bay Packers Hall Of Fame
As it was Saturday there wasn't any football going on that needed to be watched. We loaded up the car and set sail to see Lambeau with some sun on her.
The stadium is incredibly large with so much going on. We wanted to check it all out, see the pro shop, but more than anything we wanted to tour the Hall of Fame.
The Packers have their own mini museum inside of Lambeau Field that is dedicated to the greatest to put on the green and gold. They also have a larger-than-life Vince Lombardi Trophy that is fifty feet tall!
Both Cowboys and Packers fans filled the line to get into the museum. Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, Ray Nitschke, Troy Aikman, Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and Sean Lee were just a few of the many different jerseys well represented.
The museum encompasses everything related to football. There's a portion completely dedicated to the scouting process of the NFL... you can even measure yourself at the high jump!
There's fine details concerning the NFL uniform, the Packers weekly preparation, Ron Wolfe's contributions, the rise and fall of the Packers... it's got it all.
There's a particularly great portion of the museum that has bronze footballs dedicated to each player/coach/contributor who has helped make the Packers great over the years. Once you make your way through that you find yourself in the Trophy Room.
Super Bowls I, II, XXXI, and XLV are represented by their respective Vince Lombardi Trophies.
There are smaller level trinkets in this room that stick out as well, though.
During the days of NFL Championships they didn't hand out Super Bowl Rings. Watches, pocket watches, and even lighters that were commemorations for those particular teams are on hand for you to see.
The one that I found most interesting is Aaron Rodgers' Super Bowl XLV Ring. This thing, his ring, is just sitting here!
I can't believe that Aaron wouldn't want to keep it on him at all times, but I mean... it's obviously safe in the museum.
It's pretty sweet that all Packers fans can cruise through the museum and see the exact ring that belongs to their MVP quarterback that they watch Sunday after Sunday. Nobody does things like the Green Bay Packers, that's for sure.
Our tour for the day ended and we decided to head on over to a local casino and play some slots. The real deal was only a day away.
Dallas Cowboys Vs. Green Bay Packers
Sunday, December 13th was a day circled on all of our calendars for a long time. When it finally arrived we put on all of our gear (there was 100% chance of rain) and headed out for Lambeau.
Upon arrival you can immediately sense that this place is completely different from any NFL environment. It feels like, in some ways, a high school game in terms of the excitement in the air.
I say that in the sense that it is awesome. Every fan... young and old is a complete die-hard and you can feel it in the culture of the place.
There were Christmas carolers singing, "God Bless The Packers" as we walked by the entrance gate. The electricity was tangible. It felt like, just because of where we were, a playoff game.
We got inside and went straight for our seats. At Lambeau the bottom level isn't your traditional stadium seats... it's even more traditional with bleachers!
Before I knew it kickoff was upon us and the magic of it all started to settle in.
The Dallas Cowboys. The Green Bay Packers. Lambeau Field. I don't know that I've ever seen anything like that in person.
Every sense of the stadium is incredibly rich in history... and that extends towards the Packers fans. This isn't a game for them and its not even a tradition. It's a ritual of time, family, and a deep love for their Green Bay Packers. Everything that happens there, whether on gameday or when no one is watching, is magical.
If you're looking for an NFL stadium to visit then I cannot recommend Lambeau Field enough. It was the experience of a lifetime. Go now. Take me with you. I'll show you around.
Should Cowboys Reunite Shea McClellin With Rod Marinelli?
Since becoming the defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys, Rod Marinelli hasn't had too many of his former players follow him to Dallas. In fact, I can only think of one… Henry Melton, and we all know how that turned out.
I don't know about you, but I found that a little strange. It's pretty common for coaches to try to bring some of their players with them when they accept a new job. Familiarity goes a long way in the NFL and former players can also help make the transition easier for everyone.
Strangely enough, Rod Marinelli hasn't really been afforded that luxury, whether it was his doing or not. But, there is a free agent who played under Marinelli's tutelage in Chicago who might make sense for the Dallas Cowboys, linebacker Shea McClellin.
Rod Marinelli was the defensive coordinator in Chicago when the Bears decided to draft Shea McClellin 19th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft. Marinelli likely had a big say in that decision, and if he still feels the same, a reunion could be in order.
Shea McClellin started his career in the NFL as a 4-3 left side defensive end playing opposite Julius Peppers, but was also viewed as a potential Brian Urlacher replacement. He showed flashes of becoming a solid defensive end his first few years in the league, but was eventually moved to linebacker, where he seemed to find a home for himself.
After his contract expired with the Bears, the New England Patriots decided to bring him aboard to help with their linebacker depth. He only ended up starting four games for them in 2016, but made some memorable plays to help the Patriots become the Super Bowl champions.
Unfortunately, the 2017 season wasn't very kind to him. His entire year was wiped out due to a concussion, which probably had a lot to do with why they recently released him.
This of course could be good news for the Dallas Cowboys. They currently need some depth at the linebacker position and Shea McClellin could provide that, if he's healthy. The healthy bit here is key, because he has had problems with concussions in the past.
If McClellin is indeed healthy, he could bring a versatile skill set to the Cowboys defense. His best spot is probably at strong side LB (SAM), but I think he could play middle linebacker (MIKE) as well. He also could provide depth at defensive end, the position he played to start his NFL career.
With the LB depth a concern, Shea McClellin makes quite a bit of sense for the Dallas Cowboys. Of course, his past history with concussions is a red flag, but it also drives down his asking price. I think he would definitely fall into that "bargain shopping" mentality the Cowboys have been using these last few offseasons.
He probably wouldn't be viewed as a very important signing, but you still need these types of players on your team in order to succeed in the NFL. Let's see if the Dallas Cowboys agree.
Do you think a Rod Marinelli and Shea McClellin reunion is in order?
Redskins Have Not Had Success With Former Cowboys
Now that he's signed with the Washington Redskins, cornerback Orlando Scandrick joins a lackluster list of former Cowboys players and coaches who have gone from Dallas to its historic rival. The history of these moves is ugly for Washington, going back over 40 years, and can't have their fans too excited anytime they sign an ex-Cowboy.
The most recent example was just last year with defensive tackle Terrell McClain. After a strong season as a 15-game starter in Dallas, McClain got a four-year, $21 million deal to join the Redskins. He missed four games with injuries and was only credited with two starts; hardly what the team wanted given the money they paid.
Before him it was Jason Hatcher, whose 11-sack season for the Cowboys in 2013 got him a four-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington. Hatcher would battle knee injuries for two season, getting only 7.5 sacks from 2014-2015. His early retirement in 2016 brought an abrupt end to a disappointing tenure.
Continuing the legacy of defensive linemen was Stephen Bowen, who Washington paid a shocking amount of money ($27.5 million over five years) to in 2011 to pick up in free agency. Bowen had a great first year for the Redskins with six sacks and 16 starts, but injuries would soon cost him 14 games from 2013-2014. He was eventually released after only one standout season in four with the team.
Going back even further, DT Brandon Noble joined Washington in 2003 after being a full-time starter for Dallas for over two seasons. He would miss all of 2003 with a knee injury, have an unimpressive year in 2004, and then missed all of 2005 with more health issues. He retired after being released by the Redskins in 2006.
Orlando Scandrick won't be the first cornerback to go from Dallas to Washington, or the best. At age 32, Deion Sanders was released in 2000 by the Cowboys and then got a huge seven-year, $56 million deal from the Redskins. This came less than a year after Daniel Snyder bought the franchise and was desperate to get them relevant again.
The Sanders move backfired horribly. Even after a solid season by his lofty standards, Primetime was disgruntled with both the coaching staff and his increasing struggles as an aging player. He suddenly retired after just one season of the seven-year contract.
Washington also tried to tap into the Cowboys' glory days when they signed receiver Alvin Harper in 1997. Harper had left Dallas in 1995 and spent two years with Tampa Bay, but had not carried over the same success he enjoyed playing in the Dallas offense.
The Redskins hoped that reuniting him with Norv Turner, who had been Harper's offensive coordinator and was now their head coach, would help Alvin get back to form. But between ongoing injuries and the absence of Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith as teammates, Alvin Harper was never the same guy as when he won two Super Bowls in Dallas.
The failed poaching attempts go back many more decades, another one being running back Calvin Hill. The fourth-leading rusher in Cowboys history and a four-time Pro Bowler while in Dallas, Hill joined Washington in 1976. He served as a backup only, averaging only 3.8 yards-per-carry as he played behind the likes of Mike Thomas and John Riggins.
The bad history doesn't stop with players. The aforementioned Norv Turner, who was one of the hottest assistant coaches in history after the Cowboys first two Super Bowl wins in the 90s, was hired as the Redskins' head coach in 1994.
Turner's run started with a whimper, drafting quarterback Heath Shuler third overall in that first year. Shuler would go down as one of the biggest QB busts in NFL history
Norv's Redskins never seemed to recover from that blunder. He only had two winning seasons and one playoff appearance from 1994-1999, and was fired midway through the 2000 season.
Far more recently, Cowboys offensive line coach Bill Callahan left the team in 2015 and took the same job in Washington. He didn't get to bring the offensive line or DeMarco Murray with him, though. As such, the Redskins have remained one of the league's worst rushing teams for the last three seasons. They fell to a new low of 28th in the NFL in 2017.
~ ~ ~
Of course, none of this means that Orlando Scandrick won't have success in Washington. But with the Redskins generally the most mismanaged team in the NFC East, all of the Dallas players and coaches who've gone there have not walked into good situations. For all that Cowboys fans love to complain about Jerry Jones, he handles the owner and GM roles better than any pair Washington's had in almost 30 years.
Given the nature of the rivalries, we naturally can't wish success for Scandrick or anyone else who leaves Dallas for a division opponent. With the track record we just discussed for Washington, it's not something I'll be losing any sleep over.
Xavier Woods, the Real Reason Cowboys Didn’t Pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
It's not uncommon for Dallas Cowboys fans to zero in on certain free agents in hopes that they will bring their talents to America's Team. In fact, just about any "big name" player to hit the open market is often linked to the Cowboys in some way or another. That was the case when the Arizona Cardinals decided to move on from Tyrann Mathieu.
Once Tyrann Mathieu became available, Cowboys fans immediately wanted to see him with a star on his helmet. But, despite the fans petitioning, the Cowboys brass seemed to show almost zero interest in the former Cardinal.
The decision to not pursue Tyrann Mathieu certainly didn't sit well with a lot of Cowboys Nation, but I think it was the right decision.
Despite Mathieu's perceived talents and youth (he's just 25), the Cowboys weren't interested in paying the price to bring him to Dallas, especially since they already have a similar player on their roster.
It may sound crazy, but I think the real reason the Dallas Cowboys didn't show much interest in Tyrann Mathieu is because of Xavier Woods.
I honestly believe Xavier Woods and Tyrann Mathieu have a similar skill set. Both players are little undersized to be a full-time safety in the NFL, but each of them have the versatility to play several different roles in the secondary.
Mathieu may have been listed as a safety on the Arizona Cardinals roster, and now the Houston Texans, but the truth is he played mostly out of the nickel/slot in his professional and collegiate career. That is where he is at his best, and the same can be said about Xavier Woods.
As a rookie, Xavier Woods showed his versatility with the Dallas Cowboys by playing a variety of different roles in the secondary. His versatility was one of the reasons the Cowboys decided to trade up in last year's draft to acquire his services.
His name might not carry the same kind of weight as Tyrann Mathieu right now around the league or amongst NFL fans, but I don't think Xavier Woods is that much of a drop off talent wise.
Personally, I believe Mathieu is starting to decline a little as a player. I think injuries are starting to take a toll on his play, although it may be minimal. I actually prefer Xavier Woods' upside, especially when you take into account the difference in salaries between the two.
Surprisingly enough, Xavier Woods might just have been more productive in 2017 then Mathieu. Woods started just four games and finished the season with 42 tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception. Mathieu on the other hand started all 16 games and accumulated 78 tackles, one quarterback sack, one forced fumble, and two interceptions.
As you can see, Xavier Woods was almost just as productive as Mathieu in nearly a third of the playing time. What's even more impressive about this is that Woods accomplish this as a rookie.
Of course, all of this is speculation, but I for one am not all that upset the Dallas Cowboys missed out on Tyrann Mathieu. I'm willing to bet on Xavier Woods being able to do everything Mathieu can and at a fraction of the cost.
Were the Cowboys right not to pursue Tyrann Mathieu?
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