He calls to one of the dogs who has wandered off; suddenly there is a whirring sound, a tiny blur, a smooth motion and a blast, and a bird no longer than a foot drops to the field 30 yards away. Novacek had surveyed his surroundings, ascertained that his dogs were safe, lifted the gun from his elbow, identified the bird as a male by the small markings on its throat (he tries not to shoot females), sighted, fired and killed the bird. In less than a second.
Marlow retrieves the kill, and as Novacek takes the quail from the dog's mouth, he studies it. The bird is unmarked, seemingly asleep, its feathers soft as silk. Will Novacek worry about pellets when he eats the quail? He almost smiles. "I only shoot them in the head," he says.
On a live 6:30 to 8 p.m. broadcast from a pub called the Yegua Creek Brewing Company on Henderson Street, Nate Newton and safety James Washington, hosts of their own weekly radio show on KTCK, are wrapping up a raucous interview with their special guest, Michael Irvin. Not long ago Novacek told the immensely verbal Newton, "If you talk enough, you're bound to say something funny sooner or later." Indeed, Newton is such a ham that he seems genuinely distressed when station announcer Chuck Cooperstein tells him that it is almost time to end the show.
"I'm going to tell one more little story," says the Kitchen. "About beans."
"You already told that!" yells Washington.
The conversation degenerates from there, and pretty soon all three players are hollering at once. Newton, who enjoys playing the role of the put-upon fat man, built a kennel for his pit bull puppies yesterday, and in the middle of that exhausting experience he wiped his brow and considered the great affection the pups had shown for him. "It seems like love," he says, "but what they're really thinking is, Cool, the fat guy's here to feed us."
Now he rips into Irvin, ridiculing the receiver for his deprived upbringing in a family of 17 children. "Didn't know what a Van Camp's beans label looked like till he was 12," bellows Newton.
Irvin is the most flamboyant personality on the Cowboys—loud, talented, arrogant, childish, passionate, dedicated—but he can take ribbing as well as he can dish it out. He laughs along with the crowd.
But business is never far from any player's mind. Irvin's agent, Steve Endicott, is at the bar. Irvin is unhappy with his contract, and Endicott is already talking to the Cowboys. Agents never hang out just for the jokes.