Football is a beautiful thing.
At its core it's a game, but the umbrella of football stretches so wide, it can be quite astounding at times.
Pro Football History is a library of umbrellas, each covering its own special area in time. The story of this game, of this league, is a tale as old as time... and each teller has a unique way of expressing it.
I like to consider myself a student of NFL History. I enjoy few things more than speeding my DeLorean to 88mph, traveling back in time to see where this league has come from. My "DeLorean," as in the magic of books - they're beautiful. I've read many a different book, watched many a different documentary, my brain soaking up everything it can in the process.
As a Staff Writer for Inside The Star, it's no secret that beyond the love I have for the NFL is a special place for one of its most storied teams, the Dallas Cowboys - America's Team.
The Dallas Cowboys are arguably the greatest franchise to ever exist, not just in the NFL, or North America, but in the world of sports. Theirs is a story well worth telling, and one which invokes a full gamut of emotions. From laughs and sighs, to fist pumps and tears.
Recently, I recounted the great history of the Dallas Cowboys via the works of prize-winning sports writer, Jim Reeves. A longtime sports columnist for the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, Jim has a new book...
"The hapless victims -- again -- were the Buffalo Bills, 30-13. What Troy Aikman had done through the air a year earlier in a 52-17 rout at the Rose Bowl, Smith had done on the ground this time around. The (counterfeit) Bills lost their fourth straight Super Bowl."
~ JIM REEVES, PROLOGUE, DALLAS COWBOYS: LEGENDS OF AMERICA'S TEAM
To call this 192-page journey just a book doesn't do it justice.
Jim Reeves has managed to intertwine the wealth of knowledge an encyclopedia brings, with a story only a great author can pen. He guides you year after year, season after season, Super Bowl after Super Bowl, all through his very own DeLorean. Mr. Reeves touches on every aspect of Cowboys Ownership.
What was the environment like with Clint Murchison?
Where was Bum Bright's heart all along?
How is Jerry Jones a saint/Santa to many?
All of those questions, and many more, are answered inside.
The Cowboys Coaches are summarized all the way from Tom Landry's square-chin mannerisms to Jimmy Johnson eating at Mia's on The Saturday Night Massacre's eve. How did Jerry Jones manage to bring in a coach like Bill "The Big Tuna" Parcells and relinquish control?
The legendary stories are all here.
Each Dallas Cowboys Legend is featured and expanded on. Roger Staubach and the story of how he climbed to the 11th story window, Troy Aikman and the palpable tension he experienced with Barry Switzer. Michael Irvin's stories are too many to list. Current Cowboy Dez Bryant, and many more are here for you to learn about.
The best part about Dallas Cowboys: The Legends Of America's Team is that it's told through an incredibly objective lens.
Jim Reeves' impartial perspective is well-established here as he tells you all about the most glorious days the Dallas Cowboys have ever seen. The Ice Bowl, The Catch, and all eight Super Bowl appearances by the Cowboys are all expanded upon for you to re-live in an epic fashion.
This book is perfect for any fan of the Cowboys, and football in general. Jim's superb writing gives each page the same level of energy as a Roger Staubach comeback drive, or one of Michael Irvin's speeches, or a Tony Romo spin-move.
''Who better to tell the 'Legends of America's Team' than Jim Reeves, one of the most trusted and reliable sources for your Cowboy news and history.'' -- Daryl ''Moose'' Johnston, former star Cowboys fullback (Sept. 6, 2016). Meet the characters and relieve the games and controversies that captur...
You can purchase your copy at Silver Star Mercantile in Carollton, Texas Star Trading Book Store in Abilene, Buc-ee's in Forth Worth, The Last Word Book Store in Forth Worth, Amazon.com (click here), Dallas Cowboys Pro Shops, or in E-book Kindle/Nook versions. It's also available from Great Texas Line Press, the book's publisher who is also based out of Arlington, and from Barnes & Noble.
I also encourage you to reach out to the author and show your love of the Cowboys with the man who has spent a lifetime documenting the team, by visiting and liking the book's Facebook Page. Jim Reeves will even be doing a book signing/sale on October 10th from 6pm-9pm at Legal Draft Beer Co., 500 E Division, Arlington, TX. If you buy a book, you get a free beer!
Get the book today. It'll be the best $9.95 you've spent on your passion for the Cowboys yet.
I'd like to offer a special thanks to Great Texas Line Press for giving us an early look at the book, and the opportunity to tell our readers about it.
Are the Dallas Cowboys Distancing Themselves from HC Jason Garrett?
Training camp is always an exciting time for the Dallas Cowboys, with 2018's proceedings being no exception. A major difference this year is the hype carrying over to the Cowboys coaching staff, featuring newcomers at the positional level everywhere but running back, safety, and defensive tackle.
Experienced coaches like Kris Richard, Paul Alexander, and Sanjay Lal will have a big impact on the Cowboys development as a 9-7 team that's only gotten younger this offseason. Still likely in need of a playoff appearance to save the job of Head Coach Jason Garrett and his coordinators, one can't help but question Garrett's effectiveness with this year's team.
The Cowboys appearance on NFL Films' latest All or Nothing series offered Cowboys Nation a rare look inside this team's day-to-day activities, including Garrett's role as a motivator and leader to many coaches no longer with the team.
Garrett's walk through a proverbial hall of mirrors at The Star reflects much deeper though. Ultimately, it's the players that decide games on Sundays, and the Cowboys didn't have enough of their blue chip ones on the field together for 2017. Whether or not this changes in 2018, the Cowboys can do little to shake the truth that conditions must be perfect for Garrett to captain this team to success.
If having a future Hall of Fame tight end like Jason Witten around wasn't enough for Garrett, going all in on this team in their first year without not only Witten but Dez Bryant feels foolish.
This underdog status and youthful nature may very well bring the Cowboys back to their 2016 form. I've already mentioned mirrors however, and how about the smoke? Garrett's best year out of eight full seasons, that 13-3 campaign was surely not all 'smoke and mirrors', but it is now far enough in the past to expect improvement from the Cowboys head coach.
Garrett must overcome massive changes on the offense he once coordinated to see third-year Quarterback Dak Prescott put this team back in the playoff picture, or the Cowboys will only continue to change face even more dramatically for 2019.
Long gone are the innocent days of Garrett playing catch under the California sun with a rookie Prescott, who had no idea the impact he'd make on the entirety of this franchise so quickly. Now, the Cowboys may have to quickly separate this duo if looking to preserve a window of contention under Dak's rookie contract.
It truly will be fascinating to see the new points of emphasis this revamped Cowboys coaching staff brings to the team not only on the field in Oxnard but through their team meetings and into the regular season. As Garrett allows the likes of Richard and Lal to oversee important changes at CB/S and WR respectively, his overarching message of character, competition, and respect will still echo throughout the team.
Whether or not the slew of new players Garrett has to coach can inspire him to implement this message effectively, or if his days are numbered given the slack the Cowboys have already provided, is the most important story line for the Cowboys in 2018.
By most team's standards, a 9-7 season given the circumstances around the Cowboys a year ago is acceptable -- which it ultimately was for Dallas as they kept Garrett, Scott Linehan, and Rod Marinelli.
This team's shortcomings through a disappointing season was enough for the Cowboys to begin reevaluating the coaches below this trio though, leaving only their ninth year head coach to fall victim to the level of turnover NFL teams are experiencing on the fly right now.
The Cowboys roster has received this message loud and clear. Will Garrett's carry the same impetus, and will it truly matter for the 2018 season?
Is WR Cedrick Wilson the Player With Most to Gain in Training Camp?
Within the Dallas Cowboys' uncertain wide receiver core, is sixth-round pick Cedrick Wilson. Considered a draft steal by many, Wilson's name is often lost in the mix among Allen Hurns, Cole Beasley and third round rookie Michael Gallup. Just days away from the start of the 2018 training camp, Cedrick Wilson might be the player with the most to gain on the team.
Wilson comes from the Boise State Broncos, where he set the school record for receiving yards in a season with 1,511 last year. As a sixth-round rookie, the young 22-year old receiver has an uphill battle ahead of him to earn a spot on the Cowboys' 53-man roster.
It shouldn't come as a surprise if he emerges victorious in this battle, though.
You see, the lack of a #1 receiver has been one of the main story lines for the Cowboys and for good reason. Heading into the preseason, there is no clear-cut "#1." But even though there isn't a big name such as Dez Bryant, I'm sure we'll feel way better about the wide receivers once the season starts and the offense manages to sustain a good passing attack led by Dak Prescott.
Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup seem like the two front-runners for being the "X" receivers on offense, the position in which Wilson lined up at Boise State during his last year in college football. It's tough to imagine a sixth round rookie being the starting "X" receiver in his rookie season, but that doesn't mean he can't earn an important role at some point of the year.
In 2017, the offense struggled due to the receivers failing to create separation downfield. Wilson, although a raw route-runner, was a very dangerous vertical threat in Boise State and could be just that for the Cowboys down the road.
He needs to improve as a player, but with Sanjay Lal focusing hard at route-running with his receivers, Cedrick could become an important target for Dak earlier than expected.
In order to do so, the young wide receiver will have to find success in training camp. Wide receiver will undoubtedly be one of the most intriguing position battles on the team, with many young yet unproven talent.
There's too many receivers that will be fighting for a roster spot over the following weeks, so Cowboys Nation is bound to be disappointed with so many so-called "pet cats." One or two of these guys will be released and I bet it'll hurt, just as it happens every year.
In all seriousness, though, with his ability to stretch the field and be a vertical threat plus his experience as an "X" receiver, Cedrick Wilson might not only make the roster, but become a significant piece for this new-look offense in Dallas during his rookie season.
Will DeMarcus Lawrence Be Franchise Tagged Again in 2019?
The deadline for extending players under the franchise tag has come and gone last Monday, in a day in which none of the remaining tagged players reached an agreement with their respective teams. That includes Dallas Cowboy Defensive End DeMarcus Lawrence, who's set to earn $17M in 2018.
The front office and the 26-year old defensive end failed to agree to a new contract before the season's start, but we saw that coming. After all, there was never a point in which we had the classic "X player and his team are close to a new deal" headline.
All of this makes the future of the Cowboys' promising "War Daddy" very uncertain. What lies a head of the player that put on an impressive show in 2018?
Since 2017 was Lawrence's breakout year, racking up 14.5 sacks trough the season, we have leaned towards the narrative of last season being his only good one. His performance last season was impressive and clearly his best one yet, but we tend to overlook 2015.
In his sophomore season, the only other year in which he has played 16 games, he finished the campaign with eight sacks and 35 tackles (55 combined). Really, the idea of 2017 being his only good year is not as accurate as we might think.
That being said, I think it's more likely that we see another great year from him this upcoming season than seeing a disappointing one. This, of course, will end up being the main thing that determines his future in Dallas.
The Dallas Cowboys front office really took a risk by tagging Lawrence this offseason. #90 was reportedly asking for an average of $17M per year in his long-term contract, which is Olivier Vernon kind of money.
So what if he puts a similar season or an even better one? Lawrence and his agent could end up asking for even more money. Perhaps in the 18 or 20 million dollars per year range. If that ends up being the case, the team will find itself in a tough position when trying to reach an agreement with its promising pass rusher.
Which leads us to the possibility of seeing the Cowboys franchise tagging Lawrence for the second consecutive season. Dallas will already be negotiating a contract extension with QB Dak Prescott, and things will get complicated. Even more if they decide to pursue a big-time free agent in March, such as Earl Thomas.
It would make sense, from a financial perspective, to hand the tag twice in consecutive years to D-Law. However, it shouldn't be the priority. If he plays like he did in 2017, the front office will be more than wise to extend him for good.
According to OverTheCap.com, the Cowboys will have approximately $50.6M. Seemingly, the team's cap woes will be over soon.
Fortunately, Lawrence didn't become a headache by threatening to holdout for offseason programs and even training camp. However, don't expect that to happen if he finds himself under the tag next year.
Careers in the NFL are short, so DeMarcus will surely want to get paid. If he keeps it up, he'll deserve it. As much as he deserves it, though, football is a cold business. If the Jones need to tag him, they will.
Do you think the Cowboys will franchise tag Lawrence in 2019?
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