Zeke Tests Positive
Ezekiel Elliott and other unnamed Cowboys have tested positive for COVID-19 according to sources. But according to Elliott's agent, Rocky Arceneaux, the three-time Pro Bowl running back is feeling well despite the diagnosis. None of the Dallas players had been training at The Star, the team's facility, which, due to league rules, is only available to players rehabbing from injuries or surgeries.
“Due to federal and local privacy laws, we are unable to provide information regarding the personal health of any of our employees,” the Cowboys said in a statement. “We are following all CDC, local, and NFL guidelines to keep our facilities safe, including limiting employee access.”
It is unclear how the players contracted the virus, but it has also been reported that several members of the Houston Texans have also tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Oddsmakers Bullish on Boyz
According to virtually all of the best online sportsbooks, the Dallas Cowboys are the favorites for the first game of the preseason, installed as 1 ½ point neutral-site favorites over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Assuming the NFL adheres to the schedule, this will be the first action of the preseason as it is the Hall of Fame Game taking place on August 6th in Canton, Ohio.
Despite the fact that the exhibition season is pretty much a roll of the dice in terms of wagering, it is interesting to note that the Cowboys are favored to win the NFC East at even money odds, followed by the Eagles (+125), Giants (+1100), and Redskins (+1200).
If we dig a little deeper, we find that Dallas is the fourth favorite at odds of +1000 to win the NFC behind the 49ers (+525), Saints (+525) and Bucs (+550) while tied for sixth with the Packers to win the Super Bowl at odds of +2000.
It's not surprising that expectations are high for the Cowboys despite their mediocre 8-8 record last season and being on the outside looking in at the playoffs. Mike McCarthy is now the head coach of the Cowboys and Jerry Jones brought him into an underachieving franchise to work his coaching magic and get the best out of a very talented team, on paper. Few coaches can claim an offense with the explosiveness of Dak Prescott under center, Ezekiel Elliott pounding the rock, an elite offensive line, and a trio of receivers that could be the best triumvirate in the league with Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, and CeeDee Lamb.
It's easy to see why the oddsmakers are high on the Cowboys but will the interruption from the global pandemic disrupt Dallas's potential? Fortunately, it is a level playing field and every team in the league has to deal with Zoom conference calls and remote workouts.
Mike McCarthy should feel very good about his new landing spot after spending a dozen years in Green Bay. If McCarthy does pull off a minor miracle and brings the Lombardi Trophy home to Dallas, he will be the first head coach to ever achieve a Super Bowl title at two locations. Maybe history will be made in Dallas this season.
Former Cowboys Wide Receiver, Dez Bryant, spoke out about the absence of Jerry Jones at a protest march in Austin, Texas, “Somebody should have brought Jerry Jones, Stephen Jones and Jason Witten to this protest down in Austin. This is not a policy change; this is a heart change. And yeah, I said it.”
However, Bryant did dial back his comments later on when he stated, “I know Jerry's heart — he's a compassionate person, and he's not a racist.”
Bryant also told Sports Illustrated, “I have love for Mr. Jones. Almost everything I know about business — and of course I'm still learning — I learned from him. But I believe this is a time, right now, where Mr. Jones could learn some things too. To learn about the culture.”
But 49ers Cornerback, Richard Sherman, while applauding Roger Goodell, questioned the owner's support and commented, “It's not pulling them like it is the rest of the country. Because if it was, then they'd speak. Jerry Jones, especially, has no problem speaking up any other time about anything else. But when it's such a serious issue, and he could really make a huge impact on it with a few words, his silence speaks volumes.”