Cowboys Sign Long-Shot Hoops Star Gathers

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The Cowboys historically have had success with cross-sport gambles. Particularly basketball players.

Rayfield Wright, Cornell Green and even Martellus Bennett played primarily hoops in college. Dallas even drafted a famous head coach named Pat Riley in 1967.

Above and beyond, they’ve at least made headlines by drafting track star Carl Lewis (’84) and a baseball prospect in Donald Harris (’92) . Oh, and track star Bob Hayes turned out to be a decent 7th-round pick in ’64.

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Still, their selection of Rico Gathers last month was curious at best. Back in the days of Wright and Green the draft was 17 rounds, with more enough wiggle room for risk-taking. When the Cowboys selected Hayes, their final draft haul was a whopping 20 players. Miss a pick? No biggie.

But this year’s rookie draft class numbers only nine. The quality-over-quantity nature of today’s draft makes the pick of Gathers more, um, interesting? At 6-foot-8 and 275 pounds, he’s certainly got the body to play tight end in the NFL. And, as of yesterday, he’s got the contract.

The Baylor power forward with long arms, big hands and raw ability signed a four-year deal that includes a base salary of $450,000 this year and a signing bonus of $100,000. Not bad for a guy who hasn’t played organized football since 8th grade. The Cowboys’ history of success with basketball players played a role in their pick, as did college hoops stars-turned-NFL stars such as Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham.

The potential for Gathers is rich. But the odds are long. If he makes the practice squad the Cowboys should consider it worth their gamble.

For now.

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 lives in McKinney with his wife, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.

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