I love Inside The Star. I love everything about it and the chance its given me to lend my thoughts about the Dallas Cowboys, the National Football League, and the occasional tangent.
We preach the notion that Inside The Star is the "voices of a nation" for a reason. We strive to deliver content that will resonate 100% with the fans - you are our target audience.
This platform allows us to speak our thoughts with full honesty, and that's what I'm doing right now.
Tony Romo's National Fantasy Football Convention (NFFC) has officially been postponed. No, this isn't a headline from a year ago. This is news as of Tuesday, June 14th, 2016.
The articles you'll read and the tweets you'll see will tell you that it just couldn't work. They'll say that sponsors dropped out, players dropped out, or some hybrid of everything here.
The truth of the matter is that the NFL put their foot down for the second year in a row and won't allow this to happen. Why? They want a piece of that pie.
The National Football League is one of the most successful businesses on this planet, and to be honest part of the reason is because of this mentality. They carve every penny out of every single one of their properties, this time at the expense of the fans (again).
If you're unaware, I've alluded to this already, this happened last year. The NFFC was set to go down in Las Vegas, but the NFL had a problem with casinos being involved. As silly as that is I think we can all semi understand that, and that's why the NFFC moved to Pasadena, California for 2016. No problem, right?
The NFL is still not running this show. That's the problem. So what do they do? They nip it in the bud.
It's Not Just Business, It's Personal
So many people have sacrificed to make this happen: the coordinators of the NFFC, the players involved, and most personally to us... the fans who have spent non-refundable money on travel, lodging, and tickets.
I can say personally because it is personal. I've been talking about it on Twitter, Periscope, and the #RJOShow how Bobby Belt (Host of Cowboys Cast) and I were going to be there. Our objective? To deliver the highest quality content for you to enjoy from afar.
If you'll allow me, I'll get even more personal for a second. I'd already planned in my head how the first article I wrote from Pasadena was going to go. It was going to be titled I Hopped Off The Plane At LAX For The NFFC in tribute to the ballad Party In The USA by Miley Cyrus.
I was going to include a funny song written to the theme of hers with words that matched our situation. The best part was that I was going to at one point take a shot at DeMarco Murray, reference him being a Titan now, and drop it right before she says "This is definitely not a Nashville party" so that it all made sense. That joke will never happen now!
And it's not going to happen because the NFL is once again putting potential (and modest) profits over their fans.
The NFL: A Business Above All Else
As a young boy watching football, I absolutely loved the game. Everything about it. I mean everything. Down to the most minute detail of the jerseys. I assumed that everything the league did was done in fairness. The most important thing is the fans, right? That's what matters most!
When we grow up, the naiveties of life reveal themselves to us, but they do it softly. In due time. The NFL does it with a punch to your gut.
They are intentionally standing in the way of hundreds - if not thousands - of fans interacting with their favorite players in ways that have never been done before. The experience that they are halting is not achievable in any other way. I'm not exaggerating when I say that they are crushing dreams.
Why? Because the money you're paying for that once in a lifetime deal isn't going into their piggy banks. Not one dime. The sad truth is that even if it was just one dime, they'd still do this. Money is that important to them.
Let's assume that an average ticket to an NFL game is $300. This seems fair for the average considering there are box seats, blah blah blah. Let's also assume that each stadium can hold 70,000 people. This all feels fairly conservative, but hey let's keep math simple.
There are 256 games in an NFL regular season. Right there that's $5,376,000,000. Just on tickets for the regular season games. The most expensive ticket to the NFFC was $745. Say they sold 10,000 of them. That's a gross exaggeration, but hey. Let's roll. The NFFC would have then made $7,450,000.
Say the NFFC donated 100% their profits to the NFL. That would be 14% of what the NFL makes during the regular season. That's not counting playoffs, not counting sponsors, not counting TV deals, not counting jersey sales.
So the NFL wants to rip off the fans over what could, in an intense exaggeration, be at maximum 5-10% of their annual income. That's it!
Word trickled out that Commissioner Roger Goodell made $34.1M in 2014. Money talks.
It's a sad reality that the NFL is such a greedy monster. It really is.
We Love Football: No Matter What
While we're all disappointed that they are putting such a small amount of dollars ahead of the satisfaction of fans, let's remember why we love this game for a second.
We love football. We love the action. We love the drama. We love the debate. We love the touchdowns. We love the broken tackles. We love that feeling when we wake up on Sunday and our team's got a big game going. We love when we get the win we needed most.
We love football. No matter what. While some corporate entities are choosing to take advantage of that fact, I propose that in spite of that we celebrate this game.
Ultimately the NFL can't stand in the way of that, right? They can't stop us from loving football. That's ours.
That's how we triumph.
We love football.
For now. And for always.
As the late Steve Sabol once said, "Life is great. Football is better."
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 & DeMarcus Lawrence Fail to Reach New Contract
DeMarcus Lawrence will definitely be a Cowboy in 2018, but now the future beyond that remains in question. The Dallas Cowboys and their star defensive end did not agree to a long-term contract by today's deadline for franchise-tagged players.
According to NFL rules, teams had until 4:00 pm EST today to reach contract extensions with free agents who'd been assigned the franchise tag earlier this offseason. Players who did not get new deals will have to play the 2018 season on their one-year franchise tenders.
DeMarcus Lawrence and the Cowboys were unable to work out a long-term contract by today's deadline. Lawrence will play the 2018 season under a one-year franchise tag that will pay him $17.1 million
This does not mean Lawrence will be a free agent in 2019. The two parties can still discuss the contract in the months to come, but the deal cannot be made until after the end of the regular season.
Dallas also has the option of giving DeMarcus a second franchise tag next year. However, that would come at a considerably higher price for a second-straight season.
This year, Lawrence will still make plenty with one of the highest cap hits of any DE in the league. He earned the franchise tag last with 14.5 sacks in a breakout season.
Today's news may not really be a big deal in the long run. As long as Tank wants to stay in Dallas after this, the two sides now have over five months to keep talking and will hopefully agree on a new deal for 2019 and beyond.
There is risk on both sides, of course.
Lawrence's leverage could be less if his productions drops or he gets injured. On the other hand, his position could be even stronger with a second-straight year of strong play.
Now everyone, from the team to player to fans, is in wait-and-see mode until the end of the season.
Will Cowboys WR Noah Brown Do Enough to Make the Roster?
The Dallas Cowboys aren't short on numbers at wide receiver on their current 90-man roster. Looking to replace Dez Bryant and reshape their offense, the Cowboys will have to find the right group of pass catchers for Dak Prescott at their upcoming training camp.
The odd men out from this group will likely be the ones that can't sustain a consistent level of play, doing so across multiple units if needed. All ten receivers will have their flashes, but with only four being true locks to make the team, new Cowboys Wide Receivers Coach Sanjay Lal will be in on some tough decisions right away.
One such decision may be moving on from last year's seventh round pick Noah Brown out of Ohio State. Vouched for by former Buckeyes teammate Ezekiel Elliott thanks to his blocking ability on the outside, it may now be this strength in the run game and deficiency as a pass catcher that spells the end of Brown's run in Dallas.
Normally, a seventh round pick being on the roster bubble wouldn't be this noteworthy, but Brown clearly showed the potential to outplay this draft status as a rookie. Appearing in 13 games, Brown is a true X receiver, although not the dominant one the Cowboys are searching for.
Moving away from fielding a true number one receiver, the Cowboys did sign Allen Hurns to play this spot while prepared to spread the ball around to Williams, Beasley, and Gallup after that.
This leaves Thompson, Wilson, Cannon, Lenoir, McCay, Murdock, and Brown to prove their worth in other ways to make the roster. I've written plenty about the potential rookie Cedrick Wilson has, so I'll be expecting a strong showing from him to earn a role in the Cowboys offense.
Wilson's skill set could push a depth signing like Deonte Thompson off the team, although his ability to back up Cole Beasley/Tavon Austin on special teams is important. The same can be said about Lance Lenoir, who like Brown has the advantage over first year players given his trials through training camp and the preseason a year ago.
Long shots to make the team, Cannon, McCay, and Murdock fall just below this group -- and somewhere in the middle is Noah Brown.
Increasing his role on special teams as the season went on last year, Brown had fans throughout a coaching staff that is now drastically changed for 2018. From their shift to more speed on offense, to drafting of both Gallup and Wilson, calling Brown a fringe player on the Cowboys roster really sets up the fiery competition to come at wide receiver.
Should the Cowboys find a spot for Brown, one can only hope it means this new coaching staff has a clear plan for him to contribute on both offense and special teams outside of being a run blocker. A potential niche for Brown is his red zone ability, not afraid to put his body on the line for jump balls and fight through contact in his routes.
It won't be long until we sort out if this is enough to make the Cowboys as a wide receiver ahead of Quarterback Dak Prescott's third season.
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