Sports Of All Sorts Scattered Between The Dots………Dallas Cowboys And Another Flawed “Superstar”……………By R.C.

I am sure that in this day and age of super –sized egos and “me first” attitudes that the Dallas Cowboys are not the only NFL team that has a supposed “superstar” who flirts daily with self destruction. But it sure seems that in the Jerry Jones era they have wasted a lot of time and money on those players who have a world of talent yet cannot discipline themselves any better than a neglected ninth grader………………….Michael Irvin spoiled Jerry Jones and left him feeling as though he can provide the answer for any troubled “stud” who needs a new beginning. But let’s start out with why the second famous #88 became a Hall of Famer wearing the Cowboy Star on his helmet. If you remember, he came out of the University of Miami at a time when the Hurricanes were pretty much ruling college football. They had an endless stream of talent coming through the doors and while they were producing All American players at almost every position, they were also producing players who lived on the edge and had a braggadocio about them that easily led the nation. Michael Irvin was just one of the crowd and he brought much of that with him to the Dallas Cowboys. In my less than complimentary remarks above I also did not mention that those players from the U had a work ethic second to none and a burning desire to be champions……………………..I mentioned that Irvin was there during the beginning of the Jerry Jones era which is correct. He, however, was a draft choice under the great Tom Landry. It did not take him long to make a name for himself as one of the most feared receivers in all of pro football. But living on the edge was simply second nature to him. However, the best news for Michael was that he was surrounded by equally talented teammates who did not live on the edge. They instead represented “America’s Team” just the way their fans would want. And so Irvin, because of their influence, began to clean up his act even though he had some well documented near escapes with the law………………………And the other ingredient to keeping him grounded was that the Cowboys were on the rise and soon to become the team of the nineties. He was more than just an integral part of their success; he became the clutch receiver when all hope seemed lost. He actually was an upgrade, talent-wise at least, from the previous #88, Drew Pearson, who had been a key player in the Tom Landry days of glory. But being on those championship teams and championship contenders had much greater influence on him than any off-field antics that would lead to the demise of his team and disappointment of his teammates. So even though as time went on in his storied career he wandered off the straight and narrow path of doing all the right things, he never became a hopeless case or a detriment to the team and it’s extremely cohesive chemistry………………………….The strength of those Cowboys was the core group of offensive players who gave into no one no matter the circumstance. That group included players such as Troy Aikman, Emmett Smith, Daryl Johnston, Alvin Harper, and Jay Novacek. It was incredible how a group of such talented players, playing as a unit and always on the same page, improved their individual talents by contributing to the group. Michael Irvin had no choice except to keep up because reckless and irresponsible behavior had no place in that bunch. Add to the fact that Jimmy Johnson was the “no-nonsense” coach who had no place for self-adoring players and players with a need for the spotlight. So Irvin was exactly where he needed to be and on a team that basically self-disciplined themselves while watching their careers flourish…….……………………..And as usual Jerry Jones came to believe that anyone that he drafted, signed, or provided a new beginning for would have the same kind of career that the “Playmaker” had enjoyed just because they were around Jerry himself. I truly believe that he thought that he almost single handedly had been the reason for the Hall of Fame career of Irvin and that because he was a tolerant owner that he had kept him on the right path toward stardom…….. So it wasn’t that surprising to watch him latch on to another receiver named Terrell Owens who seemingly had all those same gifts and even flaws as Irvin. I’m sure the owner believed that even though Owens whose past was littered with questionable behavior and self adoration would correct itself simply because he was now a Dallas Cowboy. After all T.O. brought an Irvin-like work ethic with him. It is quite evident just looking at his chiseled body that he has a great deal of pride in his conditioning regimen………………….The question then is why didn’t Owens live up to at least a partial resemblance of Irvin. Here is my reasoning: he simply didn’t have the supporting cast of those guys in the 90’s. He needed someone to throttle him down both on the field and on the sidelines. I think that it has been said that when Irvin questioned Aikman about the lack of throws that he was getting that #8 would come right back at him with an absolute answer that he was getting the ball to the open receiver, of which he had plenty. Out of respect Michael would shut it up because not only did he know that in the clutch that he would get more than his fair share of chances. And when the ball got there it was going to be on the money and the responsibility to make the play would be his……………….Terrell Owens had to rely on a talented but young and inexperienced Tony Romo at quarterback. Not only that but Romo did not have the pedigree of an Aikman that would allow him to silence a proven but mouthy wide receiver. So it was a recipe for disaster. Jones should never have brought Owens into the fold, but rather should have developed players through the draft that fit into the team philosophy. Also there was no Jimmy Johnson to rein in the out of control ego of Owens. Thus T.O. left the Dallas Cowboys as damaged goods never to shine again……………….I will only briefly mention the signing of the ticking time bomb, Adam “Pacman” Jones. He came in more of a suspect than a prospect and didn’t disappoint. But his talents led the proud owner down the path of failure once again. Just another flawed “superstar” that brought memories of yet another Hall of Fame player by the name of Deion Sanders. To think that he could even come close was ludicrous….……………………And now here we are with one Dez Bryant. Drafted out of Oklahoma State he had missed his final collegiate season on suspension for violating an NCAA bylaw by not coming clean about his dealings with Deion Sanders. So that basically was strike one for this talented kid. In 2011 he was sued for hundreds of thousands of dollars for legal fees and for being accused of taking jewelry for which he did not pay. Now it is strike two for a kid who grew up in a tough environment. And then this summer he was arrested for supposedly striking his mother. Now if I understand correctly, his Mom did not have a glowing reputation either, but for goodness sakes how can any man with the size, speed, and strength of Bryant even think about hitting his mother. Now it is strike three for Bryant…………………….And for the Cowboys they must deal with yet another off field distraction. And this time he is the guy who was assigned number 88. Yes the same 88 worn by Pearson and Irvin. One in the Hall of Fame and the other should be there. I think that he was given the jersey with the hopes that it would light a fire in his conscience to the point that much like Irvin: he would never allow himself to become a detriment to the team. But he is already ahead of Michael Irvin in that category in just now his third year…………….Now if Tony Romo can finally prove that he has the leadership to match his ability, and players such as Jason Witten and Miles Austin can be strong enough to demand his very best game in and game out then Bryant has a chance to live up to the standard set by the other two 88’s. Perhaps the most important person in the mix to bring the promise of greatness to fruition is Head Coach Jason Garrett. He doesn’t need to be another Jimmy Johnson or even coach with the same demeanor. But what he must do, in his own way, is find a way to control his troubled player……………………With Bryant and Austin spread wide and Witten requiring double coverage in the middle of the field much of the time there is no reason that the passing game should not get pretty close to that of Aikman and company. And if DeMarco Murray picks up where he left off just before his season ending injury then the offense should be able to play with anyone in the NFL. The Rob Ryan led defense has added some key players and looks to be improved as well. They should be good enough to turn the ball over to the offense in crucial situations and add to the chance of victory …………..Heading into the 2012 season Bryant is the headliner for the “make or break” player that could and should put the Cowboys back in the playoffs. For me I will have to see an “about face” from yet another notoriously flawed dream signee of Jerry Jones. I just don’t think that Bryant has it in him to do that. Maybe he does and maybe I will have to eat crow at the end of the year but Dez Bryant has yet to show me the character and sacrifice that it takes to earn the right to be compared to the other two guys who graced #88. For me only a Super Bowl ring will bring the any further comparison………… RC

About Ronnie Clifton

Ronnie Clifton was a Texas Football Coach for 29 years. In addition to football, Clifton also served as the head coach in basketball and both girls and boys track. “I loved being involved in and playing sports as a kid, and I soaked up every ounce of available information about any sporting event; I also love to write. What better combo for me than becoming the writer of a sports blog?”
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One Response to Sports Of All Sorts Scattered Between The Dots………Dallas Cowboys And Another Flawed “Superstar”……………By R.C.

  1. Dennis Marken says:

    I believe Vince Lombardi has the answer for these young troubled super jocks. “The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” Maybe Jerry Jones needs to put that up in his office.

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