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Fact Or Fiction: NFL Officiating Conspiracy Against Cowboys?

Brian Martin

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Believe it or not, there is a rumor going around Cowboys Nation that NFL officiating is purposely avoiding calling penalties against the Dallas Cowboys opponents these last few weeks. It's a little strange to think such a thing possible, but it's hard to argue against it after watching the Cowboys play the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon.

It's a little bit difficult to believe there is some kind of conspiracy going on in the NFL. But then again, it wouldn't be the first time conspiracy theorist stirred things up. I mean, look no further than the entire Colin Kaepernick situation and the rumors of collusion between NFL owners to keep him out of the league. Anything's possible I guess and there certainly seems to be enough ammunition in the barrel to believe the NFL might have it out for the Dallas Cowboys.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Dallas Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones are obviously on the outs with one another. Jerry Jones has recently hired a lawyer in an attempt to block Goodell's new contract, but this fight started long before this.

The NFL has seemed to have it out for the Dallas Cowboys ever since they started the investigation into Ezekiel Elliott's domestic violence accusation. A lot of people believed it was a witchhunt from the get-go since Elliott was acquitted because of lack of evidence after a police investigation, but for some reason the NFL decided to conduct their own investigation anyway.

This of course all spilled over into the on-again/off-again suspension situation that Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys find themselves in currently. Who knows how this will all work out in the end, but this was the ammunition I was speaking about that has fueled the conspiracy theory fire.

I personally don't know if there's a conspiracy between the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys. But, one thing is for sure. The NFL officiating has been absolutely terrible in the Cowboys games the last few weeks and it has definitely benefited their opponents. But, don't take my word for it. Let's take a look at a little bit of evidence from the Cowboys/Falcons game.

QB Dak Prescoott

Nov 12, 2017; Atlanta, GA, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott (4) is sacked by Atlanta Falcons defensive end Adrian Clayborn (99) during the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY

I want you to take a good long look at the picture above and try to explain to me why a photographer from the sideline can take a picture like this, but an NFL official standing a few yards away misses the facemask/hands to the face penalty? It doesn't really seem possible they can miss a blatant penalty like this, especially with the focus on protecting quarterbacks.

That of course was just one of many missed penalties that should've been called on the Atlanta Falcons. Let's take a look at a few more, because the conspiracy theory doesn't look that far off base.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

One of these was called roughing the passer. Another one was not. https://t.co/MvtR8wDOKY

This is yet another example of the NFL officials missing an obvious penalty against the Atlanta Falcons. The officials could've called a roughing the passer penalty, a helmet to helmet hit, or even a launching penalty. They could've gone any direction they wanted here, but instead they failed to unleash the flag. Strange isn't it?

The missed penalties not called on the hits on Dak Prescott should have absolutely been seen by the officials, but the hit on Dez Bryant should have been seen as well and flagged.

Marcus Mosher on Twitter

This was somehow not a foul. Don't tell me your league cares about safety, @NFL https://t.co/eCkFRnyxa2

I don't know how this wasn't flagged by the back judge. This is the definition of a hit on a defenseless player and this wasn't the only time it happened in Sunday's game. The Falcons secondary was extremely aggressive and there were a few other instances where they completely laid out the Cowboys WRs like they did Bryant in the clip above.

I want to show you one more example that feeds into the conspiracy theory that the NFL officials have it out for the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys Nation on Twitter

HOW DO REFS MISS THIS https://t.co/IUzhYTdW3p

Dak Prescott wasn't the only Dallas Cowboys player who failed to get a facemask penalty recognized by the officiating Sunday afternoon. I honestly don't know how they didn't see Alfred Morris get his head and helmet twisted by a Falcons player pulling his facemask. It looks pretty obvious to me, but I wasn't wearing a zebra suit.

Now, I don't know if there is some kind of conspiracy going on or not, but it is blatantly obvious that the NFL officiating has been absolutely terrible when the Dallas Cowboys take the field. It's hard to argue there isn't some kind of conspiracy, but I'll let you decide for yourself.

I do know one thing though. It's going to be really tough for the Dallas Cowboys to win games when they have to beat their opponent and the officials week in and week out.

Do you think there is a conspiracy against the Dallas Cowboys?



Level C2/C3 quadriplegic. College graduate with a bachelors degree in sports and health sciences-concentration sports management. Sports enthusiast. Dallas Cowboys fanatic. Lover of life with a glass half-full point of view.

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25 Comments
  • http://www.facebook.com/DallasCowboyBooksBlog fgoodwin

    Blaming losses on the refs is a time-honored tradition. Cowboy fans are especially good at it.

    • Brian Martin

      Who is blaming the loss on the refs? I was merely stating all of the missed penalties on the Falcons. The same thing happen against the Chiefs, but the Cowboys won that game.

      • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

        This is the cowboys fans mantra…..’the refs’… Why would anyone write this idiotic story and give life to this stupid theory that isn’t there. EVERY team complains about the same exact things….. the refs are human yet we expect them to find every little thing…..not happening. As a Cowboys fan my theory is this……hire a real coaching staff, get better at depth and play football, The End. Writing idiotic stories and whining about and blaming others for losses and trying to invent some conspiracy theory because you want to believe that this team is SB bound every year is just not smart. With the current situation there is NO way this team is seeing a SB anytime. How about you write a story on the puppet and the fact that he really didn’t start winning games until they brought in 3 former HC’s to basically do his job for him……..THOSE are FACTS. Use that.

        • Brian Martin

          Never once in the article did I blame the loss on the refs. I was merely stating that they have missed way too many calls here lately against Cowboys opponents. I’ve tried to buy into Jason Garrett as a HC, but I think it’s time to clean house with the coaching staff. I doubt it happens though. I don’t think they want to change things up, especially with Dak Prescott playing well in the system.

          • http://www.facebook.com/DallasCowboyBooksBlog fgoodwin

            No you didn’t literally blame the refs for the loss. You just left it up to the reader’s imagination. It’s cool.

        • Datschu

          Bro a main player in this Jerry against the world issue is Arthur blank…. who owns the falcons. BLANK AND GOODDELL are boys! And all of a sudden the falcons don’t get ANY severe possibly Game changing g penalties called against them while playing Jerry Jones team? The refs were going to let players be injured and IRed for the year it looks like. Just to send a message to Jerry. Bank on it!!

          • Brian Martin

            I hate to think such a thing is possible, but there were way too many missed penalties against the Falcons. So, I guess it’s possible.

  • Edward Wehrenberg

    You left out the most egregious part:

    There hasn’t been a holding penalty called against an opposing Offensive Line in six straight Cowboy’s games.

    And who leads the NFL in holding penalties? You guessed it, the Cowboys.

    Can you please tell me how Dallas’ much improved D-Line hasn’t drawn a SINGLE flag for holding by an opponent in six games?? Almost seems impossible – haven’t we heard for years that holding can basically be called every play, blah blah blah…

    • Brian Martin

      Edward, you’re absolutely right. The Cowboys DL gets held just about every single play, but there hasn’t been a single flag. I don’t know if there is a conspiracy or not, but I think we can agree the officiating has been downright appalling.

  • Albert Smith

    A penalty called here or there which was plain to see, and we would’ve at the very least had a chance to fight it out fairly.

    • Brian Martin

      That’s really all I want to see. A fair game called both ways.

  • Rodney Lawhon

    This was the worst of the worst what the NFL’s Officiating crew did in the history of pro football as we the fans seen it on TV. Hey if you are blind ! an betting with the bookies this not blaming losses on the Refs. This is a fact Jerry Jones save clips an sue the hell out of the NFL this one you will win an the NFL thinks it’s to big to fail. Guess what its going to happen to the NFL !

    • Brian Martin

      There are way too many missed calls against the Falcons, but I doubt anything ever comes of it.

  • Richard Hamblen

    ..definitely rigged..Stevie Wonder could have seen those penalties..the officials were told to do that..they had to be..it’s not like they were hidden in the pile..I saw Morris get that face mask on-screen, but no call?..buncha political B.S..not giving the fill-in tackles any help was also stupid..they had him out 3 yards..hell, anyone could have gotten by and they did..six by one rusher..he’s good, but not THAT good..

    • Brian Martin

      I don’t really buy into the entire conspiracy, but it’s obvious the refs are missing way too many penalties against Cowboys opponents.

      • Datschu

        It’s goodell sending a message to Jerry. It happens in every business in every walk of life. The nfl is run by humans. Why would it be any different….

        How about this conspiracy theory… all pro sports in this country are fixed controlled regulated to control the flow of money to certain cities in this country. Houston had a catastrophe? Let’s guve them a title in baseball… generate some revenue there

  • John Williams

    The refs were very very bad on Sunday. It was mind boggling. I don’t know if it’s related to a conspiracy or not, but it’s awful.

    • Brian Martin

      John, that’s my way of thinking as well.

      • John Williams

        But after Thursday, I’m beginning to lean towards conspiracy.

  • http://www.dallascowboyschat.com Cowboysdude

    Waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh my mangina hurts….. STOP it. Go to ANY teams forum and you’ll read the same things over and over again ……’the refs are against us…..’ You know what? Here’s the real issue that no one wants to address….. how about you just hire a real coaching staff, have a better team and stop relying on other outside factors to help you win?

    • Brian Martin

      I’m actually ready for a complete coaching overhaul, but you can’t deny that the officiating was atrocious Sunday against the Falcons. It did have a huge impact on the game, but I don’t know if it would have helped the outcome many.

  • Datschu

    And if y’all out think about it… it alllll started with the zeke ordeal. All the penalties/non calls against the cowboys should’ve been an earlier sign of Jerry making waves against goodell.

  • Datschu

    The American sport sports fans are lemmings

  • Rodney Simpson

    Brian I love your points that first facemase non call was early in the game on 3rd down it would have been big, The big Dez missed calls of grabbing and hits etc each week no call. No our DBs called each time Anthony Brown lol now coaching is ok these clowns sayinv refs have nothing to do with it are DILLUSUONAL now with all that BS ATL played a good game I still think we could have won. I live in ATL note timely calls can sway a game PERIOD .

  • Scott Lesher

    How about Jason Witten getting thrown down LONG after the whistle directly in front of an official on Thanksgiving against the Chargers? I saw several Charger lineman holding the Dallas D, NO FLAGS…. I know they are human. We all miss things. But when the Dallas line is getting holding calls and the opponent from week to week doesn’t get flagged, that’s not right. Dallas is the only team I will watch with the BS going on in the NFL. If this keeps up I will be done all together. Please don’t forget the Packers playoff game last year. That final drive where Rodgers completed a pass to put them into field goal range. Look at the tapes, a Dallas defensive lineman WAS held. No flag….

Dallas Cowboys

5 Winners from Dallas Cowboys OTAs and Minicamp

John Williams

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Cowboys en Español: Caras Nuevas, ¿Tenemos Cornerbacks?, Adiós Ware
James D. Smith/Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys have completed the offseason part of their practices and are now eyeing the start of training camp in Oxnard, California on July 26th. The offseason stuff doesn't necessarily show what a team thinks about a player near as much as training camp, so I won't look at any losers because these practices have varying personnel at times.

That being said, there certainly were some winners during the offseason.

1. Jaylon Smith, Linebacker

Every day removed from his injury in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl is another day closer to potentially seeing the All-American linebacker that would have been a top-10 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

With the knee injury, there's always been some doubt about Jaylon returning to that level of play, but as offseason practices wore on it was becoming clear that he's much healthier and much more mobile than he was in 2017.

Both of those things are strong signs in the right direction for the third year pro.

After sitting out his rookie season to rehab and then having some good moments and some really bad moments in 2017, it sounds like he's making progress to be a difference maker in 2018.

During OTAs and minicamp sessions that were open to the media, Jaylon was seen running with the first-team defense every time they took the field. Now, some of that is due to the Cowboys limiting the snaps of veteran All-Pro Sean Lee and rookie first round pick Leighton Vander Esch, who came up with a sprained ankle, but the fact that Smith's snaps weren't limited should only be seen as a good sign.

We still have a long way to go until the Dallas Cowboys strap it on for their week one matchup with the Carolina Panthers, but Jaylon Smith is on an excellent trajectory.

Anyone with a Clear, Eye, View can see that.

2. Anthony Brown, Cornerback

One of the bigger surprises during the offseason practices so far has to be Anthony Brown, and not Jourdan Lewis, running with the first team nickel defense.

Jourdan Lewis proved he was a really good corner in his rookie year, both in the slot and on the outside, while Anthony Brown struggled at times. Knowing that new Defensive Backs Coach and Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard prefers his corners to be tall, long, and strong has led to some speculation that Lewis may not be a fit in Richard's scheme.

That's certainly a possibility. The more realistic possibility is that Brown, with more seniority, was getting the opportunities first as is often the case with Jason Garrett coached teams during the offseason.

While Brown is a pretty good slot cornerback in his own right, this might only be temporary.

Understanding Cowboys Remaining Offseason "To-Do List"

Dallas Cowboys WR Michael Gallup

3. Michael Gallup, Wide Receiver

As I read reports from OTAs and minicamp practices, one thing that stood out is that Michael Gallup was winning and winning a lot.

When asked in a mailbag who had been building the best rapport with Quarterback Dak Prescott, Bryan Broaddus from DallasCowboys.com had this to say:

"Bryan: That’s a great question. The guys that come to mind for this [sic] me are Michael Gallup and Blake Jarwin. Those guys have found ways to generate space and have been reliable catching the ball when it’s thrown in their direction."

Bryan Broaddus - DallasCowboys.com

Just a few days earlier Broaddus stated that Cole Beasley and Gallup were the only ones getting open with any consistency.

Now, it's still early and it's padless practice, but that's an encouraging sign for the third round pick out of Colorado State.

Typically it takes a year for wide receivers to adjust to the NFL game, especially with how much press coverage is played by NFL defensive backs. One of the byproducts of Kris Richard's existence as the defensive backs coach is that they're playing more press coverage. He's teaching his DB's to be more aggressive and more physical at the line of scrimmage.

For Gallup and the rest of the wide receiver group, that can only help them as they get ready to face opposing defenses. One way to disrupt timing-based routes or an offense that relies on separation and yards after the catch is to disrupt the receiver at the snap. Every practice, these guys are working to beat the press.

As a rookie wide receiver, this can only benefit Gallup -- in particular -- as that will be a big transition from college where defenses are playing off the line of scrimmage against the countless number of spread offenses that exist.

The fact that he's already winning reps during practices against some pretty good corners is a great sign for the Dallas Cowboys.

He may not be a starter in this offense right away, but I doubt it takes long before he's cemented himself in three and four wide receiver personnel groupings.

4. Chaz Green, Guard

I'm sure you aren't a fan of seeing Chaz Green's name anywhere near a "winners" list. As bad as the Atlanta Falcons game was for him, we can't ignore the fact that Green got a lot of first team repetitions during OTAs and minicamp while Zack Martin negotiated his contract extension.

Either that means the Dallas Cowboys haven't given up on their third round pick from 2015 or they're trying to get as many practice snaps out of him as possible to be able to make a clearer decision regarding his future with the team.

Getting to play with the ones is encouraging, but he still has a lot to prove during training camp to keep a spot on the roster. Green's going to get a long leash as a former premium draft pick. We'll see if he takes advantage of it.

5. Jihad Ward, Defensive Tackle

Maliek Collins hurt his foot -- again -- and David Irving was dealing with off the field stuff -- again -- leaving Jihad Ward with a lot of opportunities to play against the first team offensive line as the three-technique defensive tackle.

On June 4th, I asked Bryan Broaddus from DallasCowboys.com who his biggest surprises on offense and defense were during OTAs:

Bryan Broaddus on Twitter

Cedrick Wilson and Jihad Ward https://t.co/kgcgJkTj3U

If Broaddus is encouraged by Ward's progress, I am too.

He's going to have a lot of opportunity to get a strangle hold on the 3T defensive tackle spot with Maliek Collins not set to be back until late in training camp, and David Irving suspended the first four games of the 2018 season.

The Dallas Cowboys liked Ward coming out of college and had him just behind Maliek Collins on their 2016 NFL Draft Big Board.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

There's still a lot of practice reps that have yet to take place, but the Dallas Cowboys have gotten some encouraging contributions from these players. As we look to training camp, who will you be watching to see if the stand-out and can make the Dallas Cowboys 53-man roster?



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Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys Roster: Who Are the “Best” Players on the Bubble?

Sean Martin

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Cowboys Roster: Who Are the "Best" Players on the Bubble? 1

It may still seem very far away, but the days of NFL clubs holding 90 players on their roster are numbered. By September 1st, each team will cut down to 53 players, thinning the roster following training camp. For the Dallas Cowboys, this is surely going to leave some talented players off the 2018 squad, as the team is once again entering Oxnard with a deep group.

We all have our "pet cats" that we'll root for to make the roster however possible. Be it a wide receiver like Noah Brown, now stuck behind a wave of new pass catchers, or a cornerback like Marquez White, the roster crunch for the Cowboys will come at a cost to some.

Forecasting exactly where the team will "go long" and where they'll be short on numbers is hard to predict without the team back on the field, but here is my initial look at some players that Cowboys Nation may have to move on from.

Cowboys Roster: Who Are the "Best" Players on the Bubble? 2

Dallas Cowboys CB Marquez White

Cornerback Marquez White

Previously in this offseason, I wrote about how Cornerback Anthony Brown may be one of the Cowboys better all-around players to miss this year's cut. With a strong showing in front of new Passing Game Coordinator Kris Richard at OTAs and mini camp, Brown feels well on his way to earning a spot with the Cowboys, leaving Marquez White in a precarious situation.

White spent his rookie season in Dallas on the practice squad, a sixth round pick out of Florida State. Sliding in the draft because of his rawness as a prospect, White has the ideal size and length to play anywhere in Richard's defense if given the chance.

Getting this chance may come difficult to White though, as Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie are slotted to start on the boundary for the Cowboys at cornerback. Not as well suited to compete in the slot against both Brown, Jourdan Lewis, and Duke Thomas, White's time with the Cowboys could be limited.

Moving on from White would be an important vote of confidence in the rest of the secondary for the Cowboys. Teams around the league would waste no time recalling their initial draft grades on White to potentially add the CB to their roster.

Defensive End Charles Tapper

The Cowboys have very much so built their roster with a "what have you done for me lately?" type approach, and for Charles Tapper this answer is disappointing. Constantly dealing with injuries since entering the league in 2016, Tapper has appeared in two games and recorded one sack.

Tapper couldn't escape this year's offseason program without another setback, suffering a concussion that kept him out of workouts. Even without assuming that the Cowboys add a reinstated Randy Gregory to their roster, the team is prepared with more proven options at right defensive end.

Rookie Dorance Armstrong, FA signing Kony Ealy, and last year's first-round pick Taco Charlton are all capable of playing this spot. Doing so with more availability than Tapper may be all this group needs to earn their spot over the third-year draft pick out of Oklahoma.

Cowboys Roster: Who Are the "Best" Players on the Bubble?

Guard Marcus Martin

Yesterday here at Inside The Star, I wrote about how the Cowboys potentially keeping more offensive linemen compared to recent years could be bad news for the team's tight ends. Logically, this also means that some of the Cowboys embarrassment of riches on the OL will be looking for a new job.

With starting experience as a member of the 49ers, Marcus Martin was brought in as insurance for the departed Jonathan Cooper, prior to the Cowboys drafting Connor Williams. With Williams expected to start immediately at left guard, Martin has a long way to go in holding his spot over the likes of Kadeem Edwards and Damien Mama.

The Cowboys value Edward's swing ability, although Martin is capable of lining up at center along with guard. At any interior position, he may have more experience and skill than Mama, but if the Cowboys feel certain about their five starters they can afford to keep a cheaper player like Mama compared to Martin.

A free agent signing like Martin not making the Cowboys roster would only solidify the team's status as the best OL in the game, with Offensive Tackle Cam Fleming being their other veteran FA signing.

Running Back Bo Scarbrough

Bo Scarbrough and the Dallas Cowboys is a fun concept, but it may be just that as the roster trims in Dallas. The star running back out of Alabama fell all the way to the Cowboys final pick in the seventh round at this year's draft, joining Ezekiel Elliott, Rod Smith, and now Darius Jackson in a loaded backfield.

Scarbrough stands out as a back with true power and finishing ability, but he'll have to do so on special teams to justify a roster spot. Simply playing as a short yardage back won't be enough for Scarbrough to survive in a RB room full of complete play makers, yet still reliant on a true workhorse back.

Wide Receiver Deonte Thompson

When the Cowboys drafted both Michael Gallup and Cedrick Wilson, they created a logjam at wide receiver. Through competition, the team is hoping their best five/six receivers for Dak Prescott to throw to will reshape this offense.

The latest signing as an outside receiver with over-the-top speed, Deonte Thompson was brought in by the Cowboys in free agency via the Buffalo Bills.

Thompson's ability to impact a game with this speed is enough for him to secure a spot in Scott Linehan's offense. Without a strong showing in camp and the preseason though, its realistic to see Thompson losing out on this spot. The Cowboys have already seen what players like Noah Brown and Lance Lenoir can do, which fills up their depth chart at WR when adding Allen Hurns, Terrance Williams, and Cole Beasley.

✭ ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭

By taking a look at where the Cowboys have depth to spare -- prior to any actual roster battles taking place next month -- it's easier to understand the types of decisions that lie ahead for this team.

All of the players listed above will have their opportunity to prove me wrong and earn their spot with the team, capable of helping in a big way. Regardless of how this list was constructed, going from 90 players down to 53 will be as difficult as ever for Dallas in 2018.

Tell us what you think about "Cowboys Roster: Who Are the “Best” Players on the Bubble?" in the comments below. You can also email me at Sean.Martin@InsideTheStar.com, or Tweet to me at @SeanMartinNFL!



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Report: QB Dak Prescott Signs Multi-Year Deal With Campbell’s Chunky Soup

Kevin Brady

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Jekyll or Hyde: Year 3 "Prove It" Season For Dak Prescott? 1

Being the Dallas Cowboys starting quarterback comes with its challenges, but it certainly comes with its perks as well. One of those perks is the opportunity for endorsement deals, and income outside of his football salary.

Dak Prescott is embracing those perks now, reportedly signing a multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup through 2020. Prescott will continue to endorse Chunky MAXX, Campbell's protein soup line.

Brandon George on Twitter

Cowboys QB Dak Prescott has re-signed a new multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup through 2020. This is the first QB multi-year deal for Chunky Soup since Donovan McNabb in 2001. He'll continue to promote Chunky MAXX, the protein-packed line of soups, this year, per Edelman

Campbell's Soup has had some legendary football related commercials throughout the years, none more memorable than those with former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb and his mother.

In fact, Dak Prescott is the first NFL quarterback to sign a multi-year deal with Campbell's Chunky Soup since those McNabb commercials.

Hopefully, Dak Prescott can continue to "prove it" on the field and still be the Cowboys starting quarterback throughout this entire Campbell's deal.



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