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Inside the Star Talks Cowboys With Mickey Spagnola



It was about this time two years ago when Lee and I created “A Cowboy Nation”. In the beginning Wow! The posts weren't so great, but over time we grew and they got better. Then last year I met Bryson at “Cowboys Nation” and together we created the site you see now.

I was born and raised in Arlington, Texas so being a fan of the Cowboys has been in my blood from the beginning, 36 years ago. A Cowboy Nation was started just to have an outlet for my joys and frustrations of being a fan of the Dallas Cowboys, nothing more and nothing less.

In December of 2004 my family and I moved to Houston, Texas to help take care of my wife’s mother after we lost my Father-In-Law to Cancer. Not being in the Dallas area around all my Cowboys friends is really what set these wheels in motion.

During my years of being a Cowboy fan there has been one person whom I have had a lot of admiration for, and just truly enjoyed when it comes to what is happening with the Cowboys. So a couple of months ago I reached out to him about the possibility of him participating in an interview with us.

I really never expected him to actually do the interview, after all he has nothing to gain by helping out a couple of guys he has never met, with a blog! But he gladly accepted the invitation, and now we are very proud to present to you our very first interview! With none other than long time Dallas Cowboy columnist Mickey Spagnola!

DCN (Inside the Star): As a professional sports writer, what is your process for reading the new outlets, such as blogs?

Mickey Spagnola:

Depends on their credibility. If they are creditable, I’ll check in, otherwise I don’t even bother, especially when blogs come from bloggers who don’t cover the team on a daily basis. I don’t consider blogs news outlets unless they are from a professional news-gathering outlet.

DCN (Inside the Star): When you write an article or blog post, or even answer Mick's Mail - what qualities do you really try to convey and emphasize to the fans? For instance, do you aim to be more technical, or freely opinionated? Is there a difference in your goals for your blog vs your newspaper articles?

Mickey Spagnola:

Tell the truth. Give people accurate information. No different. Blogs are just faster. More immediate, which you have to be careful of, because sometimes in the effort to be fast with information you do not take care to be as accurate as you should always be. Sometimes being first is not always best, which was one of the better qualities of newspapers in the days gone by because writers had more time to collect information than say the radio or TV.

DCN (Inside the Star): How is DeAngelo Smith developing so far? What do you think he needs to do to succeed at this level?

Mickey Spagnola:

Just learn the game. Gain more experience. I really like how athletic he is and how competitive he is. He already seems to be a quick learner, and I’d imagine he’ll be a huge contributor immediately on special teams.

DCN (Inside the Star): Of all the rookies this year, which one for each defense and offense do you believe will make the biggest impact in 2009 and why?

Mickey Spagnola:

I really don’t see a rookie making a huge impact on the offense this year, unless you want to count kicker David Buehler if he makes the team as a kick-off specialist. I mean if you don’t count Buehler, then only four of the 11 draft choices were offensive players, and one is competing to become the third quarterback and one is sort of a project offensive lineman. The other two, Jason Phillips and Manual Johnson, would seem headed toward the practice squad. On defense, well, that will depend on opportunity. None figure to be starters. Keep an eye on the outside linebackers, Victor Butler and Brandon Williams, if they have an opportunity to rush in passing situations and the DB’s on special teams.

DCN (Inside the Star): Coverage of the team seems to lead to the denigration of the chemistry of the team and that between Tony Romo and Roy Williams.  From what you see, is the chemistry getting stronger for the team?

Mickey Spagnola:

Chemistry always is strong when you win and before you play a game. I can say, though, the coaching staff has to be pleased with how hard these players have competed in the OTA and minicamp practices. When you compete hard, you tend to bond and when you bond chemistry improves and is strong enough for when things go bad, which they will at some point in a season for every team.

DCN (Inside the Star): What do you think would be the best possible rotation for our 3 headed beast of a running game?

Mickey Spagnola:

So the running game which gained one yard or less last year on nearly 30 percent of the carries already is a beast is it? That has yet to be proven. You are only a beast running the ball when the other teams know you are going to run it and you do run it successfully. My guess is Marion Barber will open and close and be used in short-yardage and goal line situations. You will see Felix all over the formations and on third downs and Tashard Choice will get a series here and there in the middle quarters. But have seen no evidence to suggest I’m totally accurate.

DCN (Inside the Star): Based on the draft, the free agent acquisitions of Keith Brooking and Gerald Sensabaugh, and the resigning of Miles Austin; which do you believe will impact the organization the most?

Mickey Spagnola:

Sensabaugh since that position has the most room for improvement. Remember, Zach Thomas wasn’t a liability out there last year, so if Brooking is at least a push, then that’s good. As for Austin, he can be, but again, how many snaps will he earn and how much do you want to count on from a guy with 19 career catches? But Sensabaugh, with his coverage ability should be a huge improvement over Roy Williams, especially since it doesn’t seem he needs to be substituted for on the nickel defense.

DCN (Inside the Star): There is a perception that you tend to write more fluff when writing about controversial players and issues, what do you say to that?

Mickey Spagnola:

Fluff is in the eye of the beholder I guess. My other guess is, if that’s accurate, just because I don’t take out a big hammer and bludgeon the subject away that could be the perception. But I do think I make my point in a more literary way. Plus, I’ve always valued being right more than being tough. Seems to me these days being tough but ultimately wrong is accepted more so than being fair and accurate.

DCN (Inside the Star): Is it difficult to manage calling things as you see them with regards to the coaching staff, players and decision making of the Cowboys, since you are employed by them?

Mickey Spagnola:

Not as long as I’m right. Not as long as I have all the facts and don’t buy into perceptions. No one here has ever, ever told me to change a story or take something down, so in my mind there would be no need to feel that way. Sometimes when you are around things and really know what’s going on then calling things as you see them means you see them far differently than the people who don’t really know the truth. Sort of like those stories at the end of the season on why the Cowboys charter flights were routinely taking off late. I was on those charter flights, so I knew that wasn’t accurate and when they did leave late I knew why. Sometimes it’s more difficult when your opinion stands alone. It’s easy to follow the crowd.

DCN (Inside the Star): How did you manage to end up as the top guy for the Cowboys and what is your official title?

Mickey Spagnola:

I was hired back when the Cowboys were trying to make their website something more than just a normal PR site as most professional team sites were back in 2000. And they decided they wanted opinions, meaning a columnist.

DCN (Inside the Star): Do you believe that the influx of youth is going to build a team that can contend for years to come?  If not, what is necessary to solidify the future?

Mickey Spagnola:

You can’t wait until you’ve grown old to get younger. Must be a constant process, and the Cowboys obviously have made a concerted effort this off-season to prevent growing old. The idea is to sustain goodness over a long period of time and avoid the inevitable down cycles that cripple franchises, as the Cowboys were in the late ‘80s and at the turn of the century.

DCN (Inside the Star): It appears as though the Cowboys are in the middle of making an organizational change in the way they look at players (looking more at their character issues). Do you feel that this is true? Or are they simply trying to relieve some of the scrutiny and will be back to collecting players that require team supplied body guards?

Mickey Spagnola:

Chances are the days of running a rehabilitation locker room are over for now. If you build from within, especially continually bringing in good, young players, then you avoid getting into situations where you become so desperate for help you take chances on guys with questionable character. If you already are a successful team, with a strong locker room, then you are better equipped to take chances on guys like Pacman Jones. But a team still seeking success is far too fragile.

  • Bryan Martin

    It’s just awesome that Mickey would take time to answer some of those questions. The same questions that have been running through our mind endlessly. Thanks for the insight Mick!

  • Jonathan

    Excellent interview.

Star Blog

Cowboys en Español: El Futuro Incierto de David Irving

Mauricio Rodriguez



Cowboys en Español: El Futuro Incierto de David Irving

En una agencia libre muy callada de parte de los Dallas Cowboys, como es costumbre, lo más interesante hasta ahora se revuelve alrededor de un talento increíble en la línea defensiva: David Irving. El joven de la línea defensiva de Dallas recibió un tender de segunda ronda (con un costo de casi tres millones de dólares) de parte de los Cowboys, lo cual significa que vestirá la Estrella Solitaria un año más... ¿o no?

No, no es tan sencillo.

A diferencia de la etiqueta franquicia que recibió DeMarcus Lawrence hace unas semanas, un tender permite a un jugador recibir ofertas de otros equipos. Si Irving llega a recibir una oferta externa, sin embargo, los Cowboys tienen la oportunidad de igualarla.

Pero no sólo eso, sino que si no quieren igualar la oferta, pueden dejar ir al jugador y en cambio, el otro equipo tiene que compensar a los Cowboys con una selección de segunda ronda. Así como el tender de segunda ronda que se le otorgó a David Irving, hay tender de primera ronda o tender de "selección original."

Sin embargo, Irving no fue seleccionado en el NFL Draft, así que esta última opción hubiera tenido poco sentido.

David Irving, Redskins

Dallas Cowboys DL David Irving

Ahora, pensando en el 2018 y una temporada ya incierta, nos sentamos preguntando: ¿No valía la pena cubrir a Irving con un tender de primera ronda? Al final de cuentas, sólo hay aproximadamente un millón de diferencia entre ambos. Irving es un jugador lleno de talento, y podría llegar a estar entre los mejores en su posición próximamente.

Sin embargo, si somos honestos, es una buena decisión de la administración. Irving ha tenido sus cuantos problemas y quizá este tender ayude a definir su valor en el mercado. Si ningún equipo alrededor de la liga se atreve a ofrecerle un contrato, los Cowboys mejoran su posición en las negociaciones y quien sabe, quizá consigan un acuerdo más amigable para el equipo.

Además, si un equipo decide llevárselo... ¿qué tan malo sería?

Con el pick #19 en la primera ronda del Draft de la NFL, no están en una posición muy cómoda. Como bien algún jugador talentoso como el DT Vita Vea o el WR Calvin Ridley pueden caer a las manos de Stephen Jones, Will McClay y compañía, bien puede estar vacía la tabla.

Con jugadores como el S de Florida State Derwin James o el LB de Georgia Roquan Smith, deberían considerar realizar un trade para subir algunas selecciones y llevarse a uno de estos talentos que no estarán disponibles en el #19.

Con las selecciones globales 19, 50 y una segunda ronda extra que conseguirían por Irving, es fácil visualizar a este equipo dispuesto a hacer un movimiento así el día del Draft.

A pesar de una mala temporada en el 2017, los Dallas Cowboys son un equipo que están cerca de ser contendientes.

Tell me what you think about "Cowboys en Español: El Futuro Incierto de David Irving" in the comments below, or tweet me @PepoR99 and let’s talk football! If you like football and are looking for a Dallas Cowboys show in Spanish, don’t miss my weekly Facebook Live! show, Primero Cowboys!

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Star Blog

Cowboys Free Agency: FB Keith Smith Signing with Raiders

Jess Haynie



Keith Smith: Will The Cowboys Carry A Fullback In 2017?

The Cowboys have lost an important role player from the offense as fullback Keith Smith is reportedly signing with the Oakland Raiders.

Ian Rapoport on Twitter

The #Raiders and FB Keith Smith have agreed to terms on a 2-year worth $4.2million, source said.

Smith, who has been with Dallas for four seasons, was the team's fullback the last two seasons. He started as a linebacker after going undrafted in 2014.

Whether on offense or defense, Keith has been a regular part of the special teams units. The Cowboys' previous special teams coach, Rich Bisaccia, just left this offseason to join the coaching staff in Oakland. That is a likely cause for Smith heading to the Raiders.

Dallas elected not to give Smith a restricted free agent tender, which made sense given his position. Even the lowest tender of $1.9 million would have been too rich for a part-time player.

Even with Keith gone, Dallas may not need to sign a new fullback. Backup RB Rod Smith has experience in that role. They could also use tight ends James Hanna or Geoff Swaim.

Fullback is obviously not the position it used to be in the days of Daryl Johnston, but there are still times you need that lead blocker out of the backfield. Given their reliance on the run game and the success that Ezekiel Elliott had with Keith Smith, Dallas will have to find a solid replacement plan.

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Star Blog

Will Another Team Snag David Irving Away From Cowboys?

Brian Martin



Cowboys' Pass Rush: Who Will Be QB Sack Leader In 2017?
Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It was somewhat surprising to learn that the Dallas Cowboys only placed a second-round tender on David Irving. A first-round tender would have likely dissuaded any other team from signing him to a contract and giving up a first-round draft pick, but signing Irving to a contract and giving up a second-draft pick is much more plausible.

I can almost guarantee there are teams around the league right now who are discussing the pros and cons of trying to acquire David Irving. The Dallas Cowboys likely know this which means one of two things:

  1. The Cowboys are hoping someone sets David Irving's market value with the hopes of matching.
  2. The Cowboys are willing to part ways with Irving for a second-round draft pick.

There are teams out there who have more salary-cap space than the Dallas Cowboys who could easily sign him to a contract the Cowboys can't match. And, giving up a second-round draft pick for a dominating, yet inconsistent, defensive tackle is probably better than anyone they can draft.

It's not completely out of the realm of possibility Cowboys fans have seen the last of David Irving with a star on his helmet. But, it seems like a risk Dallas is willing to take, whether fans agree or not.

David Irving

Dallas Cowboys DL David Irving

In 2017, David Irving recorded 22 tackles, seven quarterback sacks, six passes defensed, and one forced fumble. He did this after missing the first four games of the season due to a suspension and the last four due to a concussion. That's pretty impressive!

There is no denying Irving's impact when he's on the field, but it's all the other stuff that makes Dallas hesitant to commit fully to the 24-year-old DT.

I'm not going to sit here and pretend that I know what kind of person David Irving is in the locker room or off the field, but his past behavior and inconsistencies are concerning. Yes, he has immense upside, but that doesn't look as if it's enough for the Dallas Cowboys, at least not yet.

I think this ultimately comes down to the Cowboys not fully trusting David Irving just yet. Placing the second-round tender on him is more of a "prove it" kind of deal, if another team doesn't sign him away. The Cowboys probably want to see he has his head on straight and more consistency before fully committing. It's completely understandable.

It just doesn't seem as if David Irving is in the long-term plans for the Dallas Cowboys right now. I think they would be perfectly content receiving a second-round draft pick, but that decision might not sit well with a lot of Cowboys fans.

There is really no way of knowing if another NFL team will snag David Irving away, but I think the possibility of that happening is pretty high.

Will David Irving remain in Dallas in 2018?

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