Sixth grade can be a rough time for a guy.
You're getting acclimated to middle school, and is it me or did the concept of "class periods" confuse anyone else? The first time that bell rang and I had to pack up to leave my current class I was in a state of complete bewilderment. It must've taken me a full month to learn my schedule, but I digress.
Beyond social studies, science, and math... the toughest subject to tackle is girls. You're a sixth grader so you're innately awkward, that's just the way it goes. The best part about the whole experience is that someone came up with the idea of school dances for us to all partake in. Thanks a lot, whoever that was.
We've all been there. Leaning up against a wall, punch in hand, longingly (that's a pun that'll come back around soon, I promise) staring out at the dance floor. We hope and pray that somehow a girl will instinctually know that we want to dance and everything will work out like in the movies.
Then that one song comes on and the intensity rises. You know that this is your one shot, your one opportunity (shout out to Eminem!). For me that song was "All Or Nothing" by O-Town. I make no apologies as that is an epic song to this day.
The bass starts booming and the never-ending strobe lights go round and round. The butterflies in your belly start running rampant and you finally get enough courage to start just thinking about asking a girl to dance.
You scan the perimeter. "Well she might say yes... I have a class with her... She shared a Dunkaroo with me once... Oh gosh no not her..." Ultimately though you just want to Whitney Houston this thing and dance with somebody.
Finally it's 4th and Long. You've got to make a decision because the game depends on it. You didn't come here to punt so you take a deep breath and somehow put one foot in front of the other. Just as you come within striking distance you remember that this is the worst idea ever and you completely bail!
It feels like that's how the Dallas Cowboys have handled Free Agency this offseason.
Olivier Vernon was the most beautiful girl in school, but they lost out on him to their arch nemesis. The girl that they'd had a crush on forever, Lamar Miller, somehow slipped through their fingers towards a guy in their homeroom. It was tough to watch.
Sure the Cowboys made some noise by re-signing some of their own (Rolando McClain, Kyle Wilber, Morris Claiborne, James Hanna, Charles Brown, & Josh Thomas) and wooing Defensive Tackle Cedric Thornton away from the Philadelphia Eagles down to Big D. But those don't really count. That's like "dancing" with a girl to the YMCA or Cupid Shuffle, it's not the same!
Even after the Cowboys lowered what might have been lofty expectations down to Adrian Clayborn and Matt Moore... the two decided to stay with their current dance partners and not hit the floor with America's Team. Late Tuesday night the Cowboys reached a new level in terms of unwilling dance partners.
Chris Long, who was scheduled to have dinner with the Cowboys on Tuesday evening, decided that he'd rather blow them off entirely and signed with the New England Patriots. That's like asking a girl to dance and her saying, "Oh yea we will next song!" and then you see her twirlin' round the bend with someone else! It's humiliating!
Many have justified the unwillingness of Cowboys dance partners as the Front Office being wise and responsible financially, and that very well may be true. That song and dance seemed more believable before Chris Long decided that being wined and dined by Jerry Jones and Co. wasn't even worth his time. You can call it fiscal responsibility, but it also looks like no one wants to dance with the Cowboys.
The Cowboys are sorely in need of some help at multiple positions on their team. Sure the NFL Draft a month and a half from now will help fill some of those holes, but the NFC East isn't waiting like the Cowboys. The Giants, Eagles, and Redskins have all been wheelin' and dealin' their way through Free Agency like the kid who's asking every girl to dance (You can see every NFL Free Agent Acquisition right here).
So the Cowboys are currently playing the wallflower role at the 2016 Free Agency Dance. They're leaning up against the wall and acting cool while everyone else shakes, shimmies, and boogies the night away. They seem to be looking at the success of 2014 and treating 2015 as an aberration due to injury.
When O-Town spoke the immortal words "There's nowhere left to fall, when you reach the bottom its now or never," I thought that they were just trying to motivate me to ask a girl to dance. I now know that even back then they were giving advice to the 2016 Cowboys.
We would all be living in denial if we said that current Cowboy legends Tony Romo and Jason Witten are going to play forever. Even Dez Bryant is about to enter his sixth NFL season. Time is ticking, and it seems like the Cowboys are either being perhaps too stubborn with their willingness to pay players or they are simply being outdone by the competition.
I'm not advocating an "all-in" approach to this thing by any means. I'm not saying that there's a "window" or any other sort of cliche.
I'm saying that there's a dance happening right in front of us. Let's get off the wall and find a partner.
Noah Brown Takes to Twitter to Call Out ESPN
ESPN has long been considered "The Worldwide Leader in Sports," and for a long time that title was justified. If you wanted your national sports news, where did you turn to but the cable sports channel to watch that day's episode of SportsCenter. But over the last few years, it's become more and more clear that it's "The Worldwide Leader" in name only.
The ratings are dropping and the network has had to make a lot of business decisions as it relates to much of their on-air talent over the last several years. With their latest under 25 starting 22 -- ahem, troll job -- they seem to have finally come to terms that they are basically First Take.
Noah Brown put it best in his reaction to the ESPN "Insider" voting that led to Saquon Barkley being named to the starting 22 ahead of Ezekiel Elliott. Brown, Elliott's teammate when both were at Ohio State University, came to his defense upon seeing the list.
And here is the ESPN list:
43 of our NFL Insiders voted. Here's their best starting roster under the age of 25.
I'm sure there could be debates about different positions on the squad. Personally, quarterback is one where an argument could be made for Carson Wentz or Dak Prescott over DeShaun Watson, but that's for another time.
But to have a rookie, who has never played a down in the NFL ahead of the NFL's league leader in rushing for 2016, Ezekiel Elliott, is laughable.
The fact that they had 43, again I use the quotations, "Insiders" vote on this and Ezekiel Elliott wasn't listed as one of the two running backs just shows you how far they've come as a network.
Let's remember that Ezekiel Elliott has averaged a touchdown a game -- receiving and rushing -- in his 25-game career. No running back has more rushing yards than Elliott does over the last two years, including 2017 league rushing leader, Todd Gurley. No running back has more rushing touchdowns than Elliott's 22 rushing TDs.
Ezekiel Elliott's yards per carry is a healthy 4.63. Todd Gurley sits at 3.93. No player with more than 1,800 rushing yards over the last two years has a better yards per attempt than Ezekiel Elliott.
I get that you'd vote Todd Gurley in there, but to not have Ezekiel Elliott, arguably the game's best running back on your Under 25 starting 22 just makes you look like Skip Bayless or Stephen A. Smith. Not a sports journalism entity worthy of people throwing money at for "Insider" access.
I won't say that I never or will never watch ESPN, because where else am I gonna go for Monday Night Football, Todd Archer, or the NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships? When I'm at my father-in-law's, I'll watch SportsCenter first thing in the morning, because it will be on and you don't change another man's television.
"The Worldwide Leader," however, loses credibility when they promote a list like this that has such a glaring omission.
Perhaps, maybe the goal wasn't to put out an accurate list. Maybe the goal was to get us talking about their list, just like when NFL Network releases their Top 100 players list. Like they say, there's no such thing as bad publicity.
This troll job from ESPN has certainly gotten them some publicity, or should I say, notoriety.
Cowboys DE Randy Gregory Reinstated, Will Join Team for Training Camp
The Dallas Cowboys patience with Defensive End Randy Gregory has paid off. Suspended for the better part of 2016 and all of 2017, Gregory has officially been reinstated to join the team for their 2018 training camp. The projected starter at RDE, Gregory will report to Oxnard with the rest of the team on July 25th.
From here, it will be all hard work for Gregory to reconnect with Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and get his promising career back on track. The last time Gregory suited up for the Cowboys, he managed to sack Philadelphia Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz in a week 17 win. The Cowboys will be expecting much more of this from a player they've supported through multiple violations of the league's heavily criticized substance abuse policy.
Cowboys pass-rusher Randy Gregory's petition for reinstatement was not opposed, according to lawyer Daniel Moskowitz. He's back. "I've never been more proud of any individual in my life. I'm very excited for Randy and his daughter and the rest of the his family.
Among this support staff for Gregory were a number of teammates that wrote formal letters to the NFL as part of his bid for reinstatement. These last few days of preparation before the Cowboys are together again as a team will surely be uplifted by Gregory's presence.
They say no news is typically good news at this point in the offseason, something the Cowboys have come to realize far too often. Today's news shouldn't be confused with a pleasant surprise however, rather something the Cowboys were committed to in getting another premier pass rusher on the field.
Here is the NFL's official press release on their reinstatement of Randy Gregory:
Cowboys, Elliott Should Keep Close Tabs on Le’Veon Bell’s Situation
The deadline for reaching an agreement with franchise tagged players came to an end last Monday, in what turned out to be a pretty uneventful day all around the league. No agreement was reached by any of the teams with their respective players, including the Dallas Cowboys and their promising "War Daddy," DeMarcus Lawrence.
But the Cowboys' front office have something to learn in this process that doesn't involve a player of their own. Something that both the front office and Ezekiel Elliott should be keeping a close eye on.
The Pittsburgh Steelers also failed to secure their franchise tagged player: Running Back Le'Veon Bell. Really, no one expected a deal to be reached among the two parties. The 26-year old football super star is asking for too much money, which has led to the Steelers tagging him twice in consecutive years.
Bell, conscious of his abilities on the field, is asking for a lot of money from his football team. In 2018, he's set to earn over $14.5M under the tag. That's more than twice the money that Devonta Freeman averages per year - 8.25 million - who's next on the list of highest paid running backs in the league and the highest paid on a long-term contract.
Just to clarify: Steelers' offer to Le'Veon Bell last year averaged $13.3 million per year. Steelers' offer to him this year averaged $15 million per year. But Bell does not believe he should be paid as a RB; he believes he should be paid as an elite offensive weapon.
Le'Veon, whose agent has said 2018 will likely be his last season playing as a Steeler, was reportedly offered $15M per year but that wasn't enough for him. Bell wants to get paid as an elite offensive weapon, which he is. But it turns out he's also... a running back.
It's a complicated situation and one that, if it turns out well for him in free agency next year, could revolutionize the entire running back market in the NFL. If it doesn't, he might end up regretting passing on the Steelers' offer for he won't easily find that kind of money with a team that seems to be a Super Bowl contender on a yearly basis.
The Dallas Cowboys' priorities will rely on other players during the next couple of years, but that shouldn't keep them from keeping close tabs on these events since they could be dealing with a similar scenario when Ezekiel Elliott's turn for a new deal comes around.
Fairly assuming that the fifth year option on Zeke's contract will be picked up after the 2018 season, locking him up through 2020, it's a problem that will be down the road for the Cowboys. But it will have to be dealt with at some point.
When his time is up, Elliott should undoubtedly be looking to become the highest-paid in the game, but the amount of money he gets will depend on the outcome of this whole Le'Veon-Steelers thing. David Johnson and Todd Gurley will also play an important role in determining the future of the running back market.
While Elliott hasn't been used as a receiving threat during his first two seasons in the league, he's still an elite offensive weapon for the Cowboys. The team's offense is based around Zeke and the running game, so it will make sense if his demands are somewhat similar from those by Bell.
Elliott might even be franchise tagged once or twice by the Cowboys if things get complicated in the future. Unlike DeMarco Murray in 2014, surely they won't be willing to let him walk in free agency once his contract comes to an end.
For now, it won't be just the Cowboys who will be keeping close tabs on this situation, but also Ezekiel Elliott and his agent. Hopefully, both parties will manage to handle things better than what we're seeing right now in Pittsburgh.
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