<![CDATA[NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth - Blue Star]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcdfw.com/blogs/blue-star http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC+5-KXAS+Logo+for+Google+News.png NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth http://www.nbcdfw.com en-us Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:39:05 -0500 Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:39:05 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Anthony Barr Was Starstruck by Jerry Jones]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 14:36:29 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-barr-jerry.jpg

In all likelihood (barring a trade), the Dallas Cowboys won’t have a chance at UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr, who was at Valley Ranch on Tuesday for a pre-draft meeting with the team, as he’s a projected Top 10 pick. But if he slipped to No. 16 and Dallas grabbed him there, Barr would be a-OK with that.

“There’s pros and cons to every team and everywhere you go, but if I were a Cowboy, that would be really a blessing, truly a dream come true--a team I watched growing up,” Barr told the team’s official website. “It would just be surreal. I would be really appreciative to be here.”

A consensus All-American in 2013, the converted running back admitted to being a little taken aback by the whole experience here in North Texas--and a little starstruck by Jerry Jones.

“If you coach in the NFL, obviously you’re going to get some respect right off the bat,” Barr said. “But these guys that I’ve watched growing up and coaching, it’s just real humbling to speak with these guys. I met Jerry Jones last night, and I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t even talk at first, like, ‘This is Jerry Jones.’ It was a pretty cool experience, so these guys get my respect right off the bat.”

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<![CDATA[Gil Brandt: Cowboys Need a "Banner Draft"]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:46:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/gil-brandt-draft.jpg

Longtime Dallas Cowboys front office member Gil Brandt believes the team has backed itself into a corner over the past few years, and are now in dire need of a good draft.

Under the title of vice president of player personnel, Brandt (pictured here with UCF quarterback Blake Bortles) is generally considered one of the three men--along with Tom Landry and Tex Schramm--to build the franchise from 1960-1988. He left after Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989, and stayed away from football for a few years before returning as an analyst.

Now with NFL Network, Brandt believes the team he left 25 years ago is one of a few who have a lot riding on next month’s draft.

The Cowboys have been stuck at 8-8 for three years,” Brandt writes. “They're facing what promises to be a tough NFC East. And their salary-cap picture is not looking good. Which means they desperately need to have a banner draft.”

Dallas put itself behind the eight ball with a run of bad drafts--as Brandt says, “consider that none of the players they picked in the first round from 2005 to 2009 is still with the team (though Anthony Spencer, who is still a free agent at the moment, could change that if he re-signs with Dallas)”--but Brandt believes they may have stemmed that tide with the 2013 class, highlighted by center Travis Frederick (first round) and receiver Terrance Williams (third round).

“Owner Jerry Jones provides the tools the Cowboys need to be successful, in terms of money for scouting and supporting cutting-edge analytics,” he writes. “Dallas needs to have a dynamite draft--like the class we landed back in 1975, when we had 12 rookies make a team that went on to reach the Super Bowl.”

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<![CDATA[Eli Manning Glad to See Ware Leave NFC East]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 13:20:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/demarcus-vs-eli.jpg

As it turns out, when the Dallas Cowboys made the tough decision to part ways with all-time franchise sack leader DeMarcus Ware, both of the Manning brothers benefitted.

Peyton got a teammate who, if he can bounce back from the worst and most injury-plagued career of his season in 2013, will immediately upgrade the Broncos’ defense.  Eli was just glad to see Ware leave the NFC East where, as a member of the Cowboys, he made a habit of terrorizing the Giants’ signal caller twice a year.  

"Eli told me he was excited about DeMarcus leaving his division; he can no longer hit him,” said Peyton this week, per FOXSports.com. “And I'm glad he's on my team.”

To be sure, Ware quite enjoyed facing the younger Manning. His 13.5 sacks of Eli are his most on any quarterback and, as you may remember, Ware intercepted Manning’s first pass of the 2013 season--setting a tone of frustration for the Giants that would last all year.

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<![CDATA[Report: Cowboys Visit Georgia QB Aaron Murray]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:50:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/aaronmurray-cowboys.jpg

Having signed Brandon Weeden just about a month ago, the Dallas Cowboys have three quarterbacks on the roster--Weeden, Kyle Orton and, of course, Tony Romo--but that won’t stop them from making sure all their bases are covered going into next month’s NFL Draft.

A contingent of Cowboys staffers, including quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson are in Athens, GA today to look at (and meet with) former Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray.

As Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas points out, the team had a similar meeting with Weeden when he was coming out of Oklahoma State. They very predictably didn’t draft him--he went to the Browns with the 22nd overall pick in 2012--but the meeting helped their decision to bring him in when he was released by Cleveland last month.

Murray is projected to be a mid- to late-round selection, but Super Bowl winning head coach turned ESPN analyst Jon Gruden believes he could be “the steal for somebody” in this year’s draft.

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<![CDATA[Marinelli Would Move Anthony Barr to DE]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 12:24:01 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-barr-cowboys.jpg

Former UCLA linebacker and potential draft target Anthony Barr says Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wants to convert him to defensive end if he winds up with the team in next month’s draft, and he says that’s fine by him.

Barr was in town for a pre-draft visit on Tuesday, where he met with Jerry Jones, Marinelli and the rest of the staff.

I spoke with him at length today,” Barr said of Marinelli, per the team’s official website. “He showed me a lot of tape of (Julius) Peppers and Simeon Rice and (Warren) Sapp, so I think he wants me playing that defensive right end position to go after the quarterback, and that’s something I’m all for.”

This wouldn’t be Barr’s first position change. He spent his first two years in college as a running back before converting to linebacker where, in his final year with the Bruins, he was named a consensus All-American.

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<![CDATA[5 Worst Draft Picks in Cowboys History]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 11:26:05 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP612893429718.jpg

Lowndes Shingler. John M. Longmeyer. Lou Cioci. Ring any bells?

No? Then how about Bill Van Bukleo? Sonny Utz? Linc Harden? Or the one and only Fallon Wacasey? Fuzzy memories of Lorenzo Bouier, Topper Clemons of Charvez Foger?

If you’re a draft geek, you know that those are former draft picks of your Dallas Cowboys. And if you know your football, you know that they all sucked.

Yep, even the legendary Cowboys' computer and the hallowed triumverant of Tom Landry-Tex Schramm-Gil Brandt made draft gaffes. Lots of 'em. Big ones.

No matter what the Cowboys do with the 16th overall pick, it’ll be difficult to top their worst draft picks ever. Keep a barf bag handy as I present the Bottom 5 draft picks in the history of America’s Team:

5. Bill Thomas – The Boston College was taken ahead of Robert Newhouse in ’72, but never scored an NFL touchdown.

4. Tody Smith – Southern Cal stud defensive end was drafted 25th overall in ’71 but produced 0 sacks in 69 games with Cowboys.

3. Kevin Brooks – Forgettable defensive lineman picked 17th overall in ’85, one spot behind some guy named Jerry Rice.

2. Rod Hill – First-round cornerback in ’82 wasn’t even good enough to flop, never starting a game for Cowboys.

1. Scott Appleton – University of Texas Outland Trophy winner was taken 4th overall in ’64, but instead signed with the AFL’s Houston Oilers and never played a down in Dallas.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Marcus Spears: Wonderlic Not That Big of a Deal]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:01:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/marcus-spears9.14.11.jpg

Late last week, it was reported that Johnny Manziel’s 32 on the Wonderlic test was the highest among all top quarterbacks in the 2014 draft class. According to former Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears, who’s working as an NFL analyst with the Dallas Morning News these days, having a high score certainly won’t hurt Manziel’s stock.

But Spears added that players don’t view the Wonderlic as a big deal.

It was sort of quirky,” Spears said of taking the Wonderlic. “I’m sure that’s a method the brass uses in the NFL to see how it’ll translate... I think it’s more of an information retaining system as opposed to seeing how smart a guy really is. Can you directly coordinate what we’re giving you in the playbook and kind of think things out on the fly. "

“To me and most guys that’s being drafted, the Wonderlic isn’t that big of a deal, especially when you just ran a 4.4 40 and jumped high and the athletic side, so the Wonderlic, I think it’s just a tool, an extra tool they like to give us to see if we’re draft worthy.”

Dallas fans should know as well as any that NFL prospects have been known to disregard that particular portion of the NFL Scouting Combine. Cornerback Morris Claiborne, who somewhat famously scored a four on the test, remarked that he didn’t  take it seriously because the questions were not related to football.

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<![CDATA[Chris Johnson at Jets Headquarters]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:02:22 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/215*120/AP823697493226_1.jpg

Ever since Chris Johnson was released by the Tennessee Titans 10 days ago, the Dallas Cowboys have been rumored to have interest in the former rushing champion. Those rumors might die pretty soon though, as it’s being reported that Johnson is currently at the Jets’ team facility.

The Jets have seemingly been the frontrunners for Johnson’s services since he hit the market, so this isn’t terribly surprising. But the two sides meeting is the most concrete development we’ve seen thus far in the sweepstakes for the man they used to call CJ2K.

Earlier this week, Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown said he was happy with the team’s stable of running backs, which includes DeMarco Murray, Lance Dunbar and Joseph Randle. Randle was drafted in the fifth round just a year ago, and Murray is coming off a 1,000-yard season and a Pro Bowl nod, both firsts for the University of Oklahoma product.

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<![CDATA[Jenkins on Dallas Defense: "It Must be the Players"]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:47:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/malcolm-jenkins-smacktalk.jpg

The Dallas Cowboys defense has to be better in 2014. Right?

After all, statistically, last year was the worst defensive season in franchise history. The unit was hampered by injuries early and often, made a habit of allowing monstrous offensive performances and finished dead last in the league. It would be kind of difficult not to improve upon that dumpster fire, to some degree at least. I mean, right?

Well, not according to new Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins. Jenkins, who came to Philly from New Orleans this offseason with a three-year deal, believes the personnel is the problem on the defensive side of the ball and that there’s no reason to believe the defense will be any better.

Jenkins sounded off on his new rivals on NFL Network this week.

"A couple years ago, their scapegoat was Rob Ryan, and they got rid of him, and he was the cause of all their problems,” Jenkins said, via Philly.com. “He went to New Orleans and took the worst defense in NFL history and turned them into a top 5 defense. So he couldn’t have been the problem. And then you look at this year, I had the best seat in the house when I watched the Saints get 40 first downs in one game. Forty. In one game. So it must be the players.

“The offseason comes and you don’t do anything in free agency to get any big name players to come help you out, so I really don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for this defense in improving when you got the same guys and the same coaches."

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<![CDATA[Will McClay & Co. Gearing Up For May 8]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:26:23 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/will-mcclay-cowboys.jpg

Last June, Will McClay was promoted from director of football research to assistant director of player personnel, which makes him the senior most personnel guy not named or related to Jerry Jones. In May, McClay will have his first draft in his new position and he’s looking to find, if not hidden gems, players that can come in and play a role for the team.

As executive vice president Stephen Jones points out, McClay has a track record of pulling this off.

"Everything equates in looking at talent," Jones said, per ESPN Dallas. "He found some really unique guys in the arena league and then of course when he was back in scouting. He has had a passion for it, and it just seems like every step of the way he's done a good job for us. I commend him on the job he did finding guys like [George] Selvie and [Nick] Hayden, people like that. People that everybody had a shot at, but he brought them in."

According to McClay, he and the staff are logging 15-18 hour days at Valley Ranch in anticipation of the opening of the 2014 NFL Draft on May 8.

“This is our gameday,” McClay said. “And we want to try to leave no stone unturned.”

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<![CDATA[Ranking: Romo Was 14th Highest-Paid Athlete in '13]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 13:03:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/458910811.jpg

Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo got a sweet payday a year ago when Jerry Jones & co. gave him an unprecedented six-year, $108 million extension. But how does that payday stack up against the rest of the sports world?

ESPN has the answer.

The so-called “Worldwide Leader” recently put together a ranking of the 25 highest paid athletes in the world based on their salary last year--endorsements are not taken into account--and Romo ranks 14th, between Formula One drivers Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton (T-12) and Wayne Rooney, the English Premier League superstar (15).

Romo made $26.5 million last year in salary.

The NFL quarterback club is represented well on the list, with Aaron Rodgers (4), Matt Stafford (6), Tom Brady (7), Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco (T-9) joining Romo in the Top 15. The only non-QB NFL player in the Top 25 is Lions receiver Calvin Johnson.

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<![CDATA[Pitt Defensive Tackle Among Best Available]]> Tue, 15 Apr 2014 09:55:32 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/156901043.jpg

The Cowboys’ desire for defense in the upcoming NFL Draft is sharpening its focus this week at Valley Ranch as top prospects roll in for visits.

UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr is expected to meet with the Cowboys today, Florida State defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan later this week and yesterday it was Pittsburgh defensive lineman Aaron Donald’s turn.

Though Donald, an All-American and the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, plays the same defensive tackle position as new Cowboy Henry Melton, if he’s on the board at No. 16 it would make total sense for Dallas to draft him.

And, in turn, Donald told the team’s official website that he’d love to wear a star on the side of his helmet.

“I had the opportunity to talk to (Cowboys’ defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli) a couple times at the Scouting Combine, I talked to him last night and I talked to him today,” Donald said yesterday to DallasCowboys.com. “He’s a great coach, and just talking to him and looking in his eyes – the way he talks, he’s got a passion for the game of football and he loves the game of football. He loves doing what he does, so that’s a coach I’d love to play for and learn from. Knowing he coached guys like Warren Sapp, that just gets you excited just knowing he’s got history and is one of the best to do it. If I was able to play for Coach Marinelli that would be a blessing, but we’re going to see.”

At 6-feet, 288 pounds with immense quickness and power, Donald fits the mold of the "under tackle" necessary to disrupt offensive rhythm and put the oomph in Marinelli’s Tampa 2 scheme. In 13 games last season, Donald had 28.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks in winning the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior lineman.

After the defense we’ve been forced to watch the last couple seasons and with the departure of Jason Hatcher, the Cowboys can’t have too many quality linemen.
 

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Marinelli a Big Factor in McClain Coming to Dallas]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:37:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/terrell-mcclain3-21.jpg

It’s no secret that the presence of Rod Marinelli’s presence in Dallas helped the Cowboys land defensive tackle Henry Melton, who went to a Pro Bowl under Marinelli in 2012 when both were with the Bears. Apparently, Melton wasn’t the only defensive player who was drawn to the Cowboys this offseason, at least in part, because of their respect for Marinelli.

In an interview with Sirius XM’s NFL Radio over the weekend, defensive tackle Terrell McClain was asked how much of a factor the defensive coordinator played in his decision to sign a three-year deal with Dallas in early March.

It factored in a lot,” McClain said, via the Dallas Morning News. “He actually came down to my pro day and actually did the drills at my pro day three years ago when I was coming out of college, so I had a chance to talk to him. He was telling me all about himself. He’s a great guy, a great coach and I’m really fortunate to be able to be coached by him the next three years.”

After three seasons with the Panthers, the Patriots and the Texans, McClain comes to town with 29 career tackles and a sack.

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<![CDATA[Report: UCLA's Barr to Visit Dallas on Tuesday]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:38:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/anthony-barr-cowboys.jpg

It was reported last week that All-American UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr would be one of the Dallas Cowboys’ 30 allotted pre-draft visitors. According to the Dallas Morning News, that visit will come on Tuesday, the same day they’re reportedly hosting Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan.

Of course, Barr may not even make it to the Cowboys, who hold the No. 16 overall pick. According to his draft profile on NFL.com, the converted running back is likely a Top 10 pick.

“A highly disruptive, athletic specimen with the pass-rush potential to effortlessly emerge as a double-digit sack producer,” the profile says. “Is far from a finished product and his best football is still ahead of him, yet he plays the game with more of an offensive temperament and could require some patience."

"Is the type of rare athlete that could even contribute as an offensive playmaker once he learns to grasp defensive concepts and the game slows down for him.”

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<![CDATA[Report: Timmy Jernigan to Visit Valley Ranch]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:39:48 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/461095035.jpg

Potential draft target, former Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will make a pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch this week, according to Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A second-team All-American with the ‘Noles in 2013, Jernigan will fly into North Texas on Monday evening.

Aside from Pitt’s Aaron Donald (who visited Dallas last week), no defensive tackle in this year’s draft class has been linked to the Cowboys through mock drafts more than Jernigan. He finished last season with 63 tackles, 11 for a loss, and 4.5 sacks.

At 6-foot-2, 299 pounds, Jernigan isn’t exactly a giant for his position, but he is lauded for his strength on the inside.

From Jernigan’s NFL.com draft profile: “Slightly undersized, stoutly built, country-strong run stopper with the ability to drop anchor inside an odd front and develop into a solid, 3-4 movement nose tackle. Strength is his calling card despite his relatively modest size.”

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<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Giants Looking at Backup QBs]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:41:28 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP788810873530_1.jpg

With Eli Manning down for around six weeks following ankle surgery last week, the New York Giants are looking to the free agent market to find some security at the quarterback position. According to Kim Jones of NFL Network, Matt Flynn and Josh Freeman will arrive in East Rutherford today and work out for the team on Tuesday.

Aside from Manning, the Giants have QBs Curtis Painter and Ryan Nassib on the roster. Both came to New York last year, the ex-Colt Painter in free agency and the Syracuse product Nassib via the draft (fourth round).

Freeman, the 17th overall pick out of Kansas State in 2009, spent four seasons and change with the Buccaneers--and for awhile looked like a potential star in the NFL--but was released last October. He spent the rest of the season as the third string quarterback in Minnesota.

Like Freeman, Flynn was once viewed as a rising star. He spent 2008-2011 backing up Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay before signing with the Seahawks in 2012. In 2013, he spent time with the Raiders and the Bills, before returning to the Packers in the wake of an injury to Aaron Rodgers.

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<![CDATA[RBs Coach: Murray "One of the Better Backs" in NFL]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 16:42:34 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/152722931.jpg

Dallas Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray had his first career 1,000-yard season in 2014, and was rewarded with his first career Pro Bowl nod. But Cowboys running backs coach Gary Brown says the University of Oklahoma product is just getting started.

“He’s just scratched the surface. I think he’s one of the better backs in the league--he just has to go out and prove it now,” Brown said. “People now know his name, he’s been in the Pro Bowl--people are going to know who he is. So now it’s more of a challenge to go out and play well, and I think he’s going to go out and take that challenge full force and have another good season.”

Murray’s totals in 2014: 217 carries for 1,121 and nine touchdowns.

But his contribution wasn’t limited to the ground game. He also caught 53 passes for 350 yards and a score--his first career receiving touchdown and the difference in the team’s Week 16 comeback victory over the Redskins.

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<![CDATA[Mocking The Experts Picking the Cowboys Draft]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:15:41 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/474649589.jpg

I’ve never put much stock in mock drafts. Here’s why:

Less than a month before the NFL holds its annual selection process in New York there are as many as 30 mock drafts from experts, broadcasters, former players and various websites. And of those 30 how many different players are predicted to be drafted by your Cowboys?

11.

Truth? Nobody other than defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli has a clue what the Cowboys are going to do with the 16th pick. Other than they will – almost assuredly, right? – take a defensive player.

If you had to have a “consensus” pick from the mock drafters, it’s Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan. Seven of the 30 mocks had the Cowboys taking him, followed by Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald (six), Louisville safety Calvin Pryor (four) and UCLA defensive end Anthony Barr (three).

Any of those picks make sense, as the Cowboys need help both along the front four and the back two. But don’t be shocked if of the 11 names on the current mock drafts, none of them is on the card the Cowboys hand in on May 8.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys K Dan Bailey Rides With Blue Angels]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:09:30 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/20130409BlueAngels.jpg

Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey has had a nice offseason.

Back on January 23, Bailey was signed to a seven-year deal worth $22.5 million, $7.5 million of which is guaranteed. The deal also came with a $4 million signing bonus. Then, this week, Bailey got to mark something off his bucket list when he flew with the world famous Blue Angels.

"Growing up, I've always wanted to come out and take a ride in one of these aircrafts," Bailey said, per NFL.com. "It's always been a dream of mine. It's just always something I've had on my bucket list."

No word if landing such a long-term deal with the Cowboys was on Bailey’s bucket list, but he’s still pretty excited about that, too.

"In The NFL, job security is at a premium, so anytime you can afford yourself that on some level, it's always nice to work something out," Bailey said. "But from a personal standpoint, (Dallas is) one of the best places to kick in the league. Eight of my games are inside, so that makes my job easier. It's a first-class organization. It's a good city, a good place to raise kids, so I couldn't be happier to stick around here a little longer."

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<![CDATA[Cowboys to Get Defensive in Draft: Uh-Oh]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:07:18 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/terence-newman-done.jpg

We all agree the Cowboys need defensive help, right?

You know the nauseating numbers from 2013: 432 points allowed, including seven games over 30 and three games over 40. A league-worst 415 yards surrendered per game. And just, in general, a whopping liability on a team that again finished 8-8.

The NFL Draft is now only a month away and unless Dallas is trading the farm for Johnny Manziel – which they’re not – we can assume the first pick will be used on defense.

If history is any indication, prepare to be disappointed. In the Jerry Jones era the Cowboys have taken a defensive player with their first pick in the draft 14 times. Of those 14, it can be argued that as many as 11 of those players failed to live up to their potential.

A look at the Cowboys’ defensive first picks:

  • 2011 6th Morris Claiborne -- Only 2 INTs in 2 years and minimal impact.
  • 2009 69th Jason Williams -- Nada.
  • 2007 26th Anthony Spencer -- One good season in an otherwise underwhelming career.
  • 2006 18th Bobby Carpenter -- Blame Bill Parcells for this one.
  • 2005 11th DeMarcus Ware -- One of the greatest Cowboys’ linemen of all-time.
  • 2003 5th Terence Newman -- Only 2 Pro Bowls in 11 years as the 5th overall pick makes it a bad selection.
  • 2002 8th Roy Williams -- 5 Pro Bowls, 1 All-Pro year and a difference-maker on defense.
  • 2000 49th Dwayne Goodrich -- What a waste of talent.
  • 1999 20th Ebeneezer Ekuban -- Nope.
  • 1998 8th Greg Ellis -- Passed up Randy Moss for a linebacker who made 1 Pro Bowl in 12 seasons.
  • 1996 37th Kavika Pittman -- See: Ebeneezer Ekuban.
  • 1994 23rd Shante Carver -- See: Kavika Pittman.
  • 1992 17th Kevin Smith -- 3 Super Bowl rings and 19 INTs in 8 seasons at cornerback.
  • 1991 1st Russell Maryland -- Solid, but never spectacular on defenses ranked No. 1 and on Super Bowl teams.

 A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ex-Cowboy Rips "Me" Culture at Valley Ranch]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:45:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/scott-shanle-cowboys.jpg

Earlier this week, former Cowboys defensive lineman Marcus Spears publicly questioned Jerry Jones’ decision to host Tony Romo and Jason Witten in his suite for the NCAA Basketball Championship between UConn and Kentucky on Monday, suggesting that it might send the wrong message to the rest of the team.

Fellow former Cowboy Scott Shanle, who played for Dallas from 2003-2005 before moving onto the Saints from 2006-2012, picked up Spears’ comments and ran with them. He praised Spears for his candor on Twitter, before launching into an indictment of the culture at Valley Ranch.

"I believe Marcus had tweet of the day! I've been part of a team in (New Orleans). It works! (Dallas') biggest issue is individualism," Shanle tweeted, per the Dallas Morning News.

This caused something of a stir, as anything remotely controversial on Twitter tends to, but the former linebacker held fast: "Getting players not the issue (it's) the environment that needs (to) promote team-first mentality, and that can do wonders."

Shanle made clear that, to his eyes, this “team-first” mentality was not present when he was in Dallas: "Turned into some ME guys. Need leaders. Never forget where you came from!"

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<![CDATA[Why Are Cowboys Fans Threatening One Direction?]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:26:26 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/177453680.jpg

We had been operating under the assumption that no one really cared about the NFL preseason.

But when word got out that the Dallas Cowboys’ preseason schedule was altered to accommodate a One Direction concert at AT&T Stadium on August 24, a few fans were apparently pretty upset.

According to the Daily Mirror (U.K.), fans of “America’s Team” took to Twitter to lash out and even lob threats at the boy band for “f****** up” the season. Kind of a harsh accusation, considering we’re talking about meaningless exhibition games, here, but the vitriol didn’t stop there.

Per the Mirror, other users threatened to “hunt the boys down” and “punch their smug little faces.”

Usually, because they spend training camp in Oxnard, CA, the Cowboys prefer to play their first two preseason games on the west coast before returning home for the final two. But this year, they’re alternating home and away games in order to accommodate the boy band, who will take over JerryWorld in Week Three of the preseason. They will be back home the next week, to finish up the preseason against the Broncos.

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<![CDATA[NFC East Watch: Eli Manning Has Ankle Surgery]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:16:13 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/451794375.jpg

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning will undergo arthroscopic surgery he injured in the season finale last year, the team’s official website announced Thursday.

Manning had been rehabbing the injury--a high left ankle sprain--all offseason, but after experiencing some lingering discomfort, he met with foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson. Together, they decided that going forward with the procedure now was the best route for the two-time Super Bowl winner.

I went through the recovery and rehab after suffering the sprain,” Manning said. “I was still experiencing some discomfort as I began my normal offseason preparation, and after consultation, we felt the right thing was to have Dr. Anderson clean out the ankle. The doc tells me I should be running in about six weeks.

“I’m looking forward to the start of the offseason program on the 21st. I will be in the weight room and in the meeting rooms so we can all learn the new offense. I got some good work in this week at Duke, and I think it’s smart to get this procedure done now so the ankle isn’t an ongoing issue. I’m eager to get to work with our new offensive coaches and system.”

Like the Cowboys, the Giants offseason conditioning program will kick off on April 21.

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<![CDATA[Retired Redskin London Fletcher Takes Shot at Romo]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 15:05:19 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tony-romo-golf722.jpg

On Thursday morning, NFL Network’s NFL AM posted a photo of Tony Romo and Tiger Woods golfing together to their Twitter page--this in honor of the opening round of The Masters--and asked fans to caption the photo. Recently retired Washington Redskins linebacker London Fletcher took this as an opportunity to take a pot shot at his old NFC East foe.

In response to the photo--which shows Woods and Romo carefully measuring a shot--Fletcher suggested the caption: "why is he taking all this time just to choke?”

Hoho! Looks like someone’s after David Letterman’s soon to be vacant seat at The Late Show.

Or, as Rainer Sabin of the Dallas Morning News points out, this could just be a case of sour grapes.

Fletcher’s long and decorated career came to an unceremonious end last year, as the Redskins went 3-13 and were swept in the season series by Romo and the Cowboys. In his last home game, a 24-23 loss to Dallas, Romo played through what turned out to be a season-ending back injury to lead the Cowboys on a game-winning, fourth quarter drive, capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Romo to DeMarco Murray with just 10 seconds left--pretty much the opposite of a choke job.

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<![CDATA[Jason Witten: "We Have a Lot to Prove"]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:37:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/186726751.jpg

Jason Witten, who spent Sunday driving the pace car at the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway before heading to AT&T Stadium to take in the NCAA Basketball Championship with Tony Romo, Jason Garrett, Jerry Jones and a couple ex-presidents among others, says the Cowboys are coming into the 2014 season with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.

This chip won’t likely do much good if Romo isn’t healthy, of course, but Witten believes his pal is “right on track” in his rehab from back surgery and poised for a great season.

Seems like he’s excited to get back and get healthy,” Witten said, per the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “And I think all of us are eager to get going. I can’t speak for him, but I think everything’s on track. We’re excited for the offseason. We have a lot to prove. We know exactly what we have to do.”

Romo has suffered some disappointment this offseason but, thankfully, it had nothing to do with football. Rather, it had everything to do with the University of Wisconsin basketball team losing in the Final Four.

“He was pulling for Wisconsin pretty hard, being from there,” Witten said. “What a game, man. You could tell a lot of people in his family were cheering for Wisconsin.”

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<![CDATA[Aaron Donald Headlines First Wave of Pre-Draft Visits]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 16:17:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/aaron-donald-cowboys.jpg

Former Pittsburgh defensive tackle Aaron Donald, long linked to the Dallas Cowboys through mock drafts, will headline a group of defensive players set to make a pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch next week, according to Todd Archer of ESPN Dallas.

Joining Donald will be Boise State defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward and linebackers Anthony Barr and Ryan Shazier--from UCLA and Ohio State, respectively.

Donald has been described as a “perfect fit” for Rod Marinelli’s defense, another step in the makeover of the defensive line, which started in free agency with the signings of defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackles Terrell McClain and (the big fish) Henry Melton.

Owner Jerry Jones said this week that the team would likely go defense-heavy in the draft, having addressed a number of weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball in last year’s draft. Most every mock has Dallas either taking a defensive lineman or a safety with their No. 16 overall pick.

According to Archer, since 2005, the Cowboys have only selected two early round picks--DeMarcus Ware in 2005 and Morris Claiborne in 2012--who didn’t visit Valley Ranch prior to the draft.

All NFL teams are afforded 30 such visits leading up to the draft.

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<![CDATA[Nike Jacks Up Prices on NFL Jerseys]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:07:35 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28576a%29.jpg

NFL fans will have the shell out a little more to get the highest end replica NFL jerseys sold by Nike in 2014.

Beginning on April 1, the change showed up on the websites of official retailers of the jerseys. “The Elite” jersey, which is the highest end replica offered by Nike and the closest to what players actually wear on the field, jumped from $250 to $295. “The Limited” jersey went from $135 to $150.

The price of “The Game” jersey, which is the best seller of the three according to Darren Rovell of ESPN, is staying put at $100.  

Per Rovell’s report, the prices of jerseys are determined by Nike and their licensed retailers and not the NFL. In that same report, Nike spokesman Brian Strong did not give a reason for the increase in prices, but said the company’s tiered pricing system is designed to accommodate a wide array of fans.

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<![CDATA[Familiar Faces, Different Preseason Vibe]]> Thu, 10 Apr 2014 10:34:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/demarcus-ware-midseason.jpg

DeMarcus Ware will play in AT&T Stadium this season after all. And for the first time since 2008 the Cowboys will not have a game on national television.

Those are just a couple of the interesting tidbits that arose from Wednesday’s announcement of the NFL preseason schedule.

The Cowboys will commence training camp in Oxnard in about 16 weeks. And before they open the regular season they’ll have exhibitions against the Chargers, Broncos, Ravens and Dolphins.

Ware, the Ring of Honor-destined former Cowboy, will play in Arlington as a visitor with Denver on Aug. 28, though it will be the preseason finale with starters playing minimal, if any, snaps.

The Cowboys won’t play an NFC team in the preseason and none of their four games will be televised nationally.

Another sign that this season — even this preseason — will be more about substance than style.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys 2014 Preseason Opponents Announced]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:28:52 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/157366013.jpg

The NFL announced the sites and matchups for the preseason on Wednesday, with the Dallas Cowboys’ first exhibition game set for around four months from today.

The Cowboys will open the preseason against the Chargers in San Diego sometime between August 7-10. Their preseason home opener will come the following week (August 14-17), when they host the Baltimore Ravens at AT&T Stadium.

Dallas travels to Miami for a matchup with the Dolphins in Week 3 (August 21-24) before wrapping up the exhibition schedule at home with a matchup with the reigning AFC Champions, the Denver Broncos.

That final game, the only one with a set date at this point, will take place on August 28.

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<![CDATA[Phillip Tanner Works Out for Bears]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:03:54 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/phillip-tanner-interception.jpg

Former Cowboys running back Phillip Tanner was in Chicago on Monday to work out for the Bears, according to the Chicago Tribune.

A Dallas native and graduate of Kimball High School, Tanner spent three seasons with the Cowboys after the team picked him up as an undrafted free agent out of Middle Tennessee State. In that time, he posted 56 carries, 149 yards and two touchdowns.

After a 2013 campaign that saw Tanner post just 12 yards and a touchdown on nine carries, he entered the offseason as a restricted free agent. But the Cowboys did not give the 25-year-old a tender offer, leaving him to test the free agent market.

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<![CDATA[Arizona Will Host 2015 Pro Bowl]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:04:40 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tyron-smith-pro-bowl.jpg

The NFL has announced the 2015 Pro Bowl will take place at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, AZ on January 25, a week before the Super Bowl takes place in the same building.

The game is set to return to Aloha Stadium in Honolulu in 2016, “but final confirmation of the game will be made at a later date.

The league’s sparsely-watched all-star game has only taken place outside the state of Hawaii twice in the last 35 years, the last time coming in 2010 when it took place in Miami.

The Dallas Cowboys sent five players to the Pro Bowl a year ago, with RB DeMarco Murray, WR Dez Bryant, TE Jason Witten, LT Tyron Smith and DT Jason Hatcher making the trip.

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<![CDATA[Report: Cowboys Not Interested in Trading Up]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:35:31 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/113257395.jpg

Reports this week have the St. Louis Rams looking to trade away the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft. According to Calvin Watkins of ESPN Dallas, the Dallas Cowboys are not interested in moving up to that spot.

Currently (thanks to a successful coin flip with the Ravens earlier this offseason) the Cowboys hold the No. 16 overall pick. Dallas will likely target a defensive player with that pick--perhaps a safety, but more likely a defensive lineman--to revamp a defense that posted the worst statistical season in franchise history a year ago.

"Yeah and it's because I think we're in better shape to compete position wise on offense, our skill position, frankly our offensive line," Jones said. "Last year, we drafted a player like (tight end Gavin) Escobar. Escobar will and needs to become an important part of our offense. That's an example and we saw in (wide receiver Dwayne) Harris and we saw the playmaking ability and got the benefit of the playmaking ability that he has. We've got some playmakers, we got skill players. We got a good sound offensive line. We're in good shape on the offensive line is the best way to say it.

“The defense, is obvious. We need players and there's only two ways to go get them, that's through free agency, that's bring them in the different types of free agents that you have and the draft and that's what we're doing."

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<![CDATA[Jerry Gushes About Cowboys' TV Ratings]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:22:06 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jerry-jones-stephen-aikman.jpg

While announcing that the 50th Academy of Country Music Awards would take place at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Sunday evening, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones gushed about the team’s TV ratings--this despite their being consistently mediocre of recent.

As you know, the Cowboys have not gone to the playoffs in several years,” Jones said, per the Dallas Morning News. “We have not gone, yet we’re the most popular TV show there is on television. We lead all teams in TV ratings.

“We lead, 24 of the last top 25 shows were NFL games, and any time your Cowboys play they’re up there at the top and leading. Now, what causes that? What causes that is creating some aura, creating some excitement. We want to use that as best we can to make this award show the greatest ever.”

It’s not at all surprising that Jones is happy about the ratings staying high, of course. But these numbers certainly don’t come as any consolation to the scores of frustrated Cowboys fans around the country--fans who will likely only grow more frustrated to hear the owner boast about the team’s visibility.

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<![CDATA[Staubach Compares Manziel to Russell Wilson]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:02:41 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/158988487.jpg

Johnny Manziel or Jadeveon Clowney? That is the question.

Well, it was the question when legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach appeared on NFL Network’s “NFL AM” on Wednesday, and the Hall of Famer went with Manziel.

“He doesn't have the height, he has a strong arm, he throws with accuracy,” Staubach said of Manziel, when asked who he’d take if he possessed the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft.

The praise didn’t end there.

“I just think there’s something about this kid,” Staubach said, adding that Manziel “is a Russell Wilson-type player.”

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<![CDATA[Spears Knows Special People Get Special Treatment]]> Wed, 09 Apr 2014 09:57:14 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tony-romo-finalfour.jpg

Once upon a time Curvin Richards fumbled, and Cowboys’ head coach Jimmy Johnson cut him.

Once upon a time Michael Irvin missed the team’s charter flight to Detroit, and Cowboys’ head coach Jimmy Johnson cut him.

No, check that. Johnson didn’t cut the Hall of Fame receiver, but merely sat him out the game’s first series. File it under “special players receiver special treatment.” It’s a sports adage Marcus Spears should be very familiar with. That's the way this works. Backups get cut for mistakes. Stars sit out a couple plays.

Spears, the former Cowboy who retired this week, stirred up some controversy when he tweeted that Tony Romo and Jason Witten are “sending the wrong message” to teammates by sitting in owner Jerry Jones’ suite during the Final Four.

Jealousy, my friends, is ugly.

We learn from grade school that there is a class system. Students who arrive on time, do their homework and study hard make the best grades. Spears and his jealous ilk refer to them as “teachers’ pets.” Employees who quickly fulfill the boss’ orders make their way up the corporate ladder quicker. Spears would deride them as “brown nosers.” And then there is sports, where the best players make the most money and are lavished with the most fame.

How in the world is this a surprise? Or anything negative?

Witten and Romo have been Cowboys since 2003. They are team captains. They own 12 Pro Bowls and almost all of the franchise’s tight ends and quarterbacks records. They don’t have championships on their resume, but they are in every way special players.

And those people – those players – get special treatment. Sports, like life, isn't about socialism.

I guess Spears and his jealous folks actually want Romo to take a pay cut, to divorce Candice because she’s prettier than the other players' wives, and to turn down offers to rub shoulders with the boss. But ask yourself honestly: If you’d earned that right, would you turn it down?

Didn’t think so.

We now return you back from Spears’ warped version of life to your regularly scheduled programming called reality.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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<![CDATA[AT&T Stadium Will Host ACM Awards in 2015]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 15:24:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/482980667.jpg

AT&T Stadium will play host to the 50th annual Academy of Country Music Awards in 2015, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones announced Sunday night from the 49th edition of the show.

"We couldn't be more thrilled about the ACM Awards coming to AT&T Stadium next year," Jones said in a statement. "It will be the first event of its kind at the home of the Dallas Cowboys.

“The stadium was built to host world class events such as this, and it doesn't get any bigger than the ACMs. The excitement from fans across the country, our great fans in Texas, and this venue will provide the biggest and best stage available to showcase country music and its stars to the world.”

The actual awards show comes at the end of a three days of events, including a two-day music festival across the way at Globe Life Park, the home of the Texas Rangers.

The 50th ACM Awards will be hosted by country artists Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan.

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<![CDATA[Spears Wonders About Witten, Romo at Final Four]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 14:51:15 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/tony-romo-finalfour.jpg

Former Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears believes Tony Romo and Jason Witten attending Monday night’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Final in Jerry Jones’s suite at AT&T Stadium could send the wrong message to the other 51 players on the roster.

Among those in the suite were Romo, Witten, Jones (obviously), head coach Jason Garrett and Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Seeing the seating arrangement on TV, Spears tweeted (sic): “Wonder if any other players get invited to these events off the cowboys team! Sends the wrong message to me”.

Spears discussed his tweet with the New School show with Shan and R.J. on 105.3 The Fan on Tuesday.

“You understand in this league that your star players are going to have things come their way that most guys don’t,” said Spears, via CBS DFW. “I’m not benign to think that. I’ve had opportunities that some guys didn’t have ... The team aspect has always been first to me. That’s just the bottom line. I don’t know if it sends the right message when your head coach is hanging out with one particular guy.”

Spears went on to clarify that he wasn’t accusing Jones of anything too egregious, but added that even the perception that some players are treated better than others can be harmful for locker room chemistry.

“When you have that type of situation in the locker room, possibly it causes problems,” Spears said. “That was my point. It wasn’t to make anybody look bad or say Jerry is doing something wrong or anything like that. I just wondered if any of the other guys felt like they should be there or if they ever were invited to any other events.”

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<![CDATA[DE Jarius Wynn Headed to Buffalo]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:53:07 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/2013-cowboys-eagles--%28244a%29.jpg

One of the Dallas Cowboys’ stop-gap solutions to the wave of injuries that hit the defensive line last year, defensive end Jarius Wynn has a new home with the Buffalo Bills, according to the Buffalo News.

Wynn split time last year between the Chargers (five games) and the Cowboys (10 games), finishing with a pair of starts (both with Dallas), a pair of sacks and 11 tackles.

A sixth round pick by the Packers back in 2009, Wynn spent his first three seasons with Green Bay, winning a Super Bowl with the team in 2011. He spent time with the Titans in 2012 before moving on the Chargers and then the Cowboys last year.

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<![CDATA[Marcus Spears Retires]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 14:28:09 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/marcus-spears9.14.11.jpg

Defensive end Marcus Spears, who along with DeMarcus Ware was one of the Cowboys’ two first round picks in 2005, has decided to walk away from the game after nine seasons. Well, the pro game at least.

The LSU product Spears will retire and take a job with the new SEC Network. He will be joined by fellow former LSU defensive lineman Booger McFarland.

"You guys should remember when I was here I always loved the interviews and give insight to the fans, what was going on with the team," he said, per NOLA.com. "It's always been there for me. I've always admired guys who called NFL and college games. When you have a player up there that actually played. They can give a more detailed view of what is going on."

Spears played all but five games of his NFL career with the Cowboys. He signed a two-year deal with the Ravens last year, but was cut midway through the season and never returned. He finishes his career with 236 tackles and 10 sacks.

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<![CDATA[Cowboys Must Improve Team Health]]> Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:36:08 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/1066577941.jpg

Some of you want to get rid of Tony Romo, the choker. Others want Jerry Jones the owner to fire his general manager. Me? If I could ask for one and only one change for the Cowboys in 2014 it would be…

Health.

Sometimes injuries are excuses, other times they are reasons. The Cowboys haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, and I contend that their health problems are more legit reason than lame excuse.

In 2010 Romo broke his collar bone and missed the final 10 games.

In 2011 Miles Austin missed six games and DeMarco Murray missed eight with various injuries.

In 2012 linebacker Sean Lee suffered a season-ending toe injury and Dez Bryant dealt with finger and back issues the final month.

And of course last year the Cowboys played an NFC East Championship Game without their quarterback or middle linebacker or starting cornerback Morris Claiborne.

"You have to be careful when you talk about injuries to make it not feel like excuses," head coach Jason Garrett said at last month’s NFL owners meetings. "Injuries are a part of the game. There are no excuses. They have been a factor on our football team. But they have been a factor for a lot of teams."

The Cowboys problem isn’t talent, its depth. Salary-cap mismanagement, talent evaluation and age have all contributed to a lack of production from second-team players. Dallas still has stars at important positions, but its margin for error and injury are minuscule.

But if they’re going to break their four-year streak of missing the playoffs, those stars – and not their backups – have to be on the field come December.

"We just got to make sure we do everything we can as organization, as a coaching staff as players on our team to minimize the injuries to the best of our abilities going forward," Garrett said. "It is better to have your starting players in: That’s why they are starters. Throughout the season and certainly at the end of the season when you are playing some of these big games that determine whether or not you make the playoffs."

This year, of course, Romo is recovering from back surgery. Keep that excuse, er reason, handy. 

 

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jimmy Says He Has a Spot in the Ring of Honor]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 16:49:49 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/jimmy-johnson1.10.14.jpg

Jimmy Johnson, the man who led the Dallas Cowboys to back-to-back Super Bowl victories in the early 90s, says owner and general manager Jerry Jones has told him he will be placed in the Ring of Honor, according to the Dallas Morning News. It’s just a matter of when.

Johnson’s time with the Cowboys came to an abrupt end in early 1994, shortly after the team’s second championship, because he and Jones’ relationship had turned sour. There’s been no public burying of the hatchet in the years since, but Johnson says he and Jerry are fine nowadays.

If he was put in the Ring of Honor, Johnson would be the second head coach to earn the honor and the third non-player. Legendary head coach Tom Landry was inducted in 1993 and longtime front office member Tex Schramm went in back in 2003.

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<![CDATA[Ware Thinking About Life After Football]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 14:51:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/DeMarcus_Ware16x9_722x406_39039555644.jpg

A few years ago, DeMarcus Ware says he would’ve been a lot more crushed by the Dallas Cowboys releasing him after nine seasons. But now, having emerged on the other side of a (relatively) rough couple of years with a three-year, $30 million deal with the Denver Broncos, Ware is beginning to think beyond football. 

“If I wasn’t in a business state of mind and I was thinking about my ego, I would ask, ‘Why?’” Ware told MMQB this week. “Before 2009 I would’ve been devastated, like, ‘What is going on? Why do they not want me here? What did I not do last season?’ But in 2009 I had my career almost ended by a neck injury. I started thinking seriously about life after football. Now it’s like, I’ve had a fulfilled career, I know what I want, and it’s business. You have to move on knowing you created a lot of relationships you still have, and now this is another hurdle. Just jump and keep running as long as you can.”

Ware spent last Thursday at Notre Dame, attending a seminar in connection with the NFL’s Player Engagement program.

“It’s a great program, and it’s free, so why wouldn’t you do it?” Ware said. “When it’s in the offseason, a lot of guys feel it’s going to take away from their time off. It’s about your priorities and what type of person you are. You can go on vacation, but this right here is a vacation to me. You learn a lot and you’re stimulating your mind instead of staying stagnant.”

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<![CDATA[Lovie Smith: Melton, Marinelli a "Great Combination"]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 14:21:10 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/melton1517790632.jpg

Suffice to say, new defensive tackle Henry Melton thinks pretty highly of Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

He’s a great guy,” Melton recently told the team’s official website. “I am excited to play for him. He genuinely cares about you as a person, not just what you can do for him on the field. Of course, he cares about that. But he actually does care about you off the field.”

The last time Melton and Marinelli worked together, with the Bears in 2012, Melton went to a Pro Bowl. Then Chicago’s head coach, the Buccaneers’ Lovie Smith had a front row seat for Melton’s career year.

“That’s a great combination,” Smith said of Melton and Marinelli. “Henry will tell you, the guy that had the most to do with his progress as a defensive linemen, of course it was Rod. Rod is just a great technician and was able to really reach him.”

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<![CDATA[Champions Calling AT&T Stadium Home]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 10:13:43 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/ncaa-att-stadium-01.jpg

Looks like Kentucky, UConn and George Strait will do something Jerry Jones hasn’t been able to do: Win a championship in Arlington.

With Sunday’s news that the American Country Music Awards are coming to AT&T Stadium next season and Monday night’s NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Game between the Wildcats and Huskies, the billion-dollar shed that Jerry built continues to be a hub for glitz and glory. For, um, everyone except the home team.

Since Strait officially christened the joint with a concert on June 6, 2009, the stadium has hosted everything from the Jonas Brothers to Monster Trucks to international soccer friendlies to Professional Bull Riding to Professional Bowling to even high-school proms.

Championships won inside the stadium range from Texas beating Nebraska in a Big 12 Conference Championship Game, high-school football titles at every classification, four Cotton Bowls, Manny Pacquiao whipping Antonio Margarito and, of course, the Packers over Steelers in Super Bowl XLV.

The Cowboys are only 22-18 in regular-season games in Arlington since moving from Texas Stadium in 2009. They have, however, technically won a championship there.

On Jan. 3, 2010 Wade Phillips’ team shut out the Eagles, 24-0, to clinch the NFC East. The Cowboys won a playoff game in Arlington the next weekend and … haven’t been to the postseason since.

It’s not the stadium’s fault. AT&T Stadium set an NCAA Final Four record on Saturday with almost 80,000 fans, college football will crown its first Championship Game winner on Jan. 12 and next April 19, Strait and his country music stars will hold the 50th ACM in Arlington.

Shame that most of the highlights from inside the Cowboys’ stadium don’t actually feature the Cowboys.

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[It's Official: Titans Release Chris Johnson]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:09:47 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP245037097006_2.jpg

In a move that comes as a surprise to no one, the Tennessee Titans have released former NFL rushing champion Chris Johnson after six seasons.

"As an organization, we want to thank Chris for his contributions to the Titans," said Titans GM Ruston Webster in a statement, per ESPN. "Chris produced many memorable moments, broke franchise records and was durable over his six-year career with our team. We have had an open dialogue with Chris' agent, Joel Segal, over the last few weeks, and we appreciate the patience and professionalism they have shown throughout this process."

"We made an effort to trade Chris but were unable to do so. We wish Chris the best and thank him for the six seasons he spent with us."

Johnson, one of just seven backs in history to rush for over 2,000 yards, was due $8 million next season. He rushed for over 1,000 yards last season, but averaged just under four yards per carry--a far cry from his production early in his career, when he went to three consecutive Pro Bowls.

The Dallas Cowboys are one of a few teams reportedly interested in Johnson.

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<![CDATA[Frederick Excited About Wisconsin's Final Four Run]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:10:53 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/travis-frederick-cowboys.jpg

University of Wisconsin product Travis Frederick is feeling the school spirit this week, with the Badgers men’s basketball team in his newly adopted hometown for the Final Four, which kicks off Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.

Yeah, that’s exciting,” Frederick told the team’s official website. “It’s been so long since they’ve been in the Final Four. I know I saw pictures of State Street, wish I would have been back there for that. It looked crazy, everybody celebrating. Wisconsin’s one of those schools that has such pride, and I mean every school has that, but I feel like Wisconsin’s one of those that’s on top, being a big party school and all that stuff, most of the students are really cheering for them.”

It’s been a big year for Frederick all around. And that might be an understatement.

This time last year, not only was Wisconsin not in the Final Four, Frederick wasn’t in the NFL. He was a prospect gearing up for the draft, where he was taken 31st overall by the Cowboys. The pick was criticized widely at the time, but Frederick silenced the doubters with a campaign that landed him on the All-Rookie team.

“It sure has, it’s been crazy,” Frederick said. “You come to know nothing is the same. The whole year was a whirlwind.”

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.

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<![CDATA[Mo Claiborne Feeling Good, Getting Stronger]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:12:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/mo-claiborne-hurt-shoulder.jpg

In the two seasons since he was selected sixth overall by the Dallas Cowboys, Morris Claiborne has--to put it lightly--failed to live up to expectations.

Claiborne has two interceptions (one each season) and 13 passes defended in his time with the Cowboys. He has also missed seven games due to injury over that time, but he says he’s feeling good and ready to move past questions about his unimpressive production.

I’m feeling great,” Claiborne said, per the Dallas Morning News. “I feel like my mind is getting stronger as well as my body. Just rehabbing every day and trying to get stronger. I’ll be ready for when we start up our workouts and on to OTAs and minicamp.”

Head coach Jason Garrett has maintained that the team remains confident in Claiborne, even following a year in which he lost his starting job to Orlando Scandrick, but added that Claiborne needed to continue to develop as a player and get stronger.

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<![CDATA[Jerry's Business Philosophy Remains the Same]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:17:16 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/cowboys-jerry-jones.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones wants to be clear that the team’s conservative approach to free agency this offseason is merely a matter of circumstance--namely, their being up against the salary cap--and not a sign that he has changed the way he does business.

"In my life, in my career, I've had many times when I could be more aggressive because of the financial shape that I was in and times I had to be pretty conservative because of the financial shape I was in," Jones said, per ESPN Dallas. "That's the art of the deal is to make the adjustments. Now, you would say wouldn't it be better to get ahead of it and not have to make adjustments. The one who can look in that crystal ball, I want to meet, whether it be managing our salary cap or just business in general."

Dallas has added defensive line help in the form of defensive end Jeremy Mincey and defensive tackles Terrell McClain and Henry Melton. Melton comes with the largest price tag, potentially, but his deal is loaded with performance and playing time incentives.

On the other hand, the team cut defensive end DeMarcus Ware and receiver Miles Austin, and let defensive tackle Jason Hatcher walk in free agency.

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Photo Credit: Frank Heinz, NBC DFW]]>
<![CDATA[Cowboys Off-Season Schedule Announced]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:40:57 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/AP761251181608_1.jpg

The 2014 NFL schedule hasn’t been released. But in less than three weeks the 2014 season begins.

The offseason, that is.

The Cowboys, coming off back-to-back-to-back 8-8, non-playoff seasons, will take their first baby steps toward a winning campaign when their off-season program officially begins April 21 at Valley Ranch. Organized Team Activities – or OTAs – featuring players and coaches on the field together will take place May 27-29, June 2, 4-5 and June 9-12.

A mandatory minicamp will follow June 17-19 leading to training camp in Oxnard in July.

Other than individual conditioning, the next big date on the Cowboys’ calendar is May 8-10 and the NFL Draft.

Quarterback Tony Romo, coming off season-ending back surgery in December, is expected to take part in at least some of the team’s off-season programs and be 100 percent for training camp.
 

A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Cowboys Interested in Chris Johnson]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 13:48:36 -0500 http://media.nbcdfw.com/images/213*120/Chris-Johnson-Tennessee-Tit.jpg

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson is meeting with the team today and will be released any minute now, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport, and the Dallas Cowboys have been mentioned as a potential suitor for the services of the 2009 NFL rushing champion.

Aside from the Cowboys, the New York Jets and New York Giants are said to be interested.

Johnson is one of just seven players in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season (2009) and he went to three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2008-2010. Lately, his production has dropped off, but he still managed 1,077 yards and six touchdowns last year.

If Dallas does bring Johnson in, he’ll act as a complement to the more physical DeMarco Murray, who is coming off his first career 1,000 yard season and Pro Bowl, himself.  

Stay on top of the latest Dallas Cowboys news with NBCDFW.com. Follow NBC DFW on Facebook or have breaking Cowboys news sent directly to your phone with Blue Star SMS alerts. Text "bluestar" to 622339 (NBCDFW) to subscribe, text HELP for more info, and text STOP to end the subscription. Message and data rates may apply.Read more about it here.


 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>