- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
They sell tickets and trinkets and advertising space in national magazines. A lot of people get rich off the Cowboys. When they win the Super Bowl, business weeklies and psychology journals assign reporters to do in-depth studies on organizational planning and motivational techniques. When they fail, the hee-haws start. America's Team, huh? What a laugh.
Then the drug investigations hit, and all of a sudden it just wasn't fun to pick on the Cowboys anymore. Poor devils, leave 'em alone. They've got enough problems. Going into the playoffs last year, Tom Landry said, "The spark is missing." But no one believed him. They took him a bit more seriously when rumors surfaced that some Cowboys were out after curfew the night before the Redskins NFC title game. "I heard enough stories from enough people that there must have been some substance to it," Cowboy President Tex Schramm said. In the off-season Landry studied his charts and scratched his head.
"Some things mystify you," he said. "In each of our last five games we had an interception or a fumble run back for a touchdown. That's never happened to me before—probably to no one else either. How do you figure it?"
Landry called for more dedication and self-sacrifice this year, and he ran a tighter and tougher camp. He said all starting jobs would be wide open, including that of Quarterback Danny White, who engaged in a spirited battle with Gary Hogeboom. "It's for real, it's not hype," one Cowboy says. "Gary could really end up with the job." There is a feeling of the tightening of ranks on the club, "an us-against-them, circle-the-wagons type of thing," says team publicist Greg Aiello. And that's when the Cowboys perform best, when a little hunger creeps into the operation, and for that reason I think Dallas will be the NFC rep in Supe XVIII.
The offense and defense remain basically the same, which is plenty good enough. Oh, there's a little fiddling here and there, more one-back offense with Fullback Ron Springs shifting to the slot, outside linebackers setting up in conventional left and right instead of strong and weak, a few new faces in the lineup. Anthony Dickerson, the nickel linebacker, is now the regular on the right side; he brings a capacity for the big play—and the big mistake. After an off year in '82, Defensive Tackle Randy White is ready for a big season. The club told him to bulk up last year, to get heavy to face the massive guards. It didn't work. Now he's light—and nasty. And that should help a rushing defense that has been having a case of the slips.
They've been robbed of their best one-liner: "Nobody believes us; we'll show 'em." So they showed 'em, and now we believe. What next? History majors might point out that the last three Super Bowl champs nosedived the following year. The most recent two even had losing records. Can't happen here? Well, maybe not. The Redskins' off-season certainly hasn't been peaceful.
Strong Safety Tony Peters was busted for drugs. Peters' absence widens a hole in the secondary that started when Cornerback Jeris White became a contract holdout. Right Guard Fred Dean, who started in the Super Bowl, jumped to the USFL. Another guard, Mark May, tore a triceps but should be ready for the season opener. Wide Receiver Art Monk hurt his knee. The draft was only so-so.
Now, none of these ailments is terminal if the fires that burned so brightly in Coach Joe Gibbs's club last year are still there. But an off-season as defending champ in the nation's capital? Well, that's a lot of tinsel.