Acclaim For the Cowboys
How to recognize if you’re a spoiled Cowboys fan: If you think a weekend featuring honors – and honorable mentions – for Haley, Romo, DeMarco, McClain, Garrett, Marinelli and Linehan represent a ‘snub.’ Let’s do some calculations here.
Just a few weeks ago, the idea of Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo being an MVP finalist was seen as absurd to many…despite the case we built for him as a contender at regular-season’s end.
We were right. Romo was recognized as a contender, on Super Bowl Saturday recognized as a runner-up, tying teammate DeMarco Murray for third in the voting, behind landslide winner Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay (with 31 votes). Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt finished second with 13. Romo and Murray finished with two votes each.
This is a good thing, and part of a wonderful weekend that also saw Murray win the honor as the NFL’s top offensive player.
“It’s a privilege,” said Murray, who showed just enough emotion regarding the Cowboys to suggest to Dallas fans that the window for his return to the team via free agency remains ajar. “It’s definitely an honor to receive that award. Obviously I got the award, but a lot of the success and everything has to go to the offensive line and coach (Scott) Linehan and coach (Gary) Brown and the entire team, and the work they put in alongside with me…I love those guys.”
Murray is the first Cowboy to win the Associated Press award. Murray won the rushing title with 1,845 yards, breaking Emmitt Smith’s team record of 1,773 records. Romo, a close friend of Murray’s who obviously would like to campaign for his return to Dallas, endorsed the win.
“He had an incredible season,” Romo said. “It’s well-deserved. He’s amazing.”
Also amazing: Charles Haley’s climb into the good graces of media voters who allowed him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Haley, as gifted as he was, was extremely difficult for teammates and coaches to deal with in his two stops (I could tell you stories.) He’s mellowed in recent years…but maybe his on-the-edge persona served as the driving force to the of his 11-year wait for HOF acclaim.
Haley is the only player to win five Super Bowl rings. He recorded 100.5 sacks, earned five Pro Bowls, twice was named All-Pro, was usually one of the two best defensive players on Niners and Cowboys teams that went 153-66 — including 19-6 in the postseason. His teams won 10 division titles and participated in seven NFC Championship Games. The Hall of Fame doesn’t ask players to represent a team, a good thing in Haley’s case because while he is a constant presence even today at Valley Ranch, he has deep roots with both franchises…as evidenced by the fact that he’d debating between Eddie DeBartolo (the former Niners owner) and Jerry Jones as his presenter.
Another major figure on those dynastic Cowboys, coach Jimmy Johnson, didn’t quite make the HOF cut. But there was more acclaim for Dallas names, as Jason Garrett finished tied for second in Coach of the Year voting (to the Cardinals’ Bruce Arians), Cowboys defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli was second in Assistant Coach of the Year voting (to the Cardinals’ Todd Bowles), with Linehan also getting votes. Cowboys guard Zack Martin finished second to Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting. Linebacker Rolando McClain finished tied for second in Comeback Player of the Year voting to Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
This is good stuff. Not as good as your team spending Super Bowl weekend preparing to play, of course. But you had seven guys in the Pro Bowl, not counting your coaching staff. You have the offensive honoree and you have a Hall-of-Famer and you have finalists in most every category. And you have Dez Bryant coming out of hiding to play basketball.
Short of actually playing in the game…Good Cowboys stuff.