Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips, a much maligned figure in the media, never lost the support of his players or his owner/ general manager this season, even at times when -- whether we'd prefer to remember them or not -- the great majority of Dallas sports fans were frenetically calling for his job.
Jerry Jones, in particular, spent much of the season discussing this very topic. Jones was never short on words of confidence for Phillips, but these words were never, say, put on paper in the form of a contract extension, a disconnect that only led to more questions. Jones skirted many of these, and we were left to guess at the old ball-coach's future. A month ago, his leaving after this season seemed a near certainty; now, after Phillips' first career playoff win, his pending extension seems a forgone conclusion.
Not that Jerry wants to talk about that just yet.
"I'm proud for this win and certainly for Wade," said Jones after Saturday night's victory. "[I'm] really proud for him. They can't take this away from him as far as this playoff victory...And I'm so proud for him and, of course, this team is inspired and they're playing at that level but they've done it not out of some kind of pep talk or something like that. They've done it because they've worked hard."
Keith Brooking, who played under Phillips in Atlanta and thought enough of him to come to Dallas this off-season, has also served as a tireless advocate for the head coach. The linebacker and emotional leader had high praise for Phillips after Saturday's 34-14 victory.
"I'm just so happy for Wade, what he means to this team, what he's fought through, a lot of negativity, and he deals with it in a way that I probably couldn't deal with it, just to be dead honest with you," said Keith Brooking. "You've got to commend him for that, just the type of person he is and obviously the team, you see the way we're playing, our whole football team, defensively..."
"He's the MVP of our football team right now, no doubt about it," Brooking said.