"There's been less media attention here for me than at U-Dub," said Stanback recently to Dawgman.com. "Seattle is a pretty big city as far as U-Dub football is concerned. Down here in Dallas, the media was just trying to get to know me, and see who I was. I pretty much got the same attention as everyone else, except for the first round pick (DE Anthony Spencer)."
As Husky fans recall, Stanback severely injured his ankle in a 2006 game against Oregon State, which prematurely ended his senior season. In his rookie season last year, he injured his shoulder and required surgery. He was asked how he is faring physically, especially with the ankle.
"The foot is doing good and I'm doing OK," he said. "Especially during rehab, it definitely made me more patient. I had no choice but to abide by what the trainers were saying I needed to do. I tried to make strides every day, but it was certainly humbling."
In 2007, Dallas enjoyed a stellar 13-3 regular season. But for Stanback personally, his best moment came in August, as he was transitioning from being a college quarterback to a NFL wide receiver.
"It was in a pre-season game vs. Minnesota," he said. "I made a touchdown reception here at the stadium. It meant a lot coming off the foot injury and having my grandfather pass right before the draft."
As the regular season progressed, Stanback noticed the notoriety that comes with simply being a Dallas Cowboy.
"They told us when we got here to be ready for the added attention," he said. "I really saw it when we started going on trips and going to other cities, and seeing how many fans were waiting for us at the team hotel. We also have almost every game we play on national TV. I realized real quick that being a Dallas Cowboy brings more attention."
Dallas suffered a stunning early exit in the playoffs, falling to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New York Giants 21-17. Stanback was asked if that outcome surprised him.
"Very much so," he said. "When we play New York it is always a tough-fought game, but we always come out on top every time. They really outplayed us in that one quarter, and they beat us when they needed to beat us. That makes you
realize that no matter how many times you beat a team, if they beat you at the right time, the rest of it doesn't matter.
"It was a big surprise for me to see them beat New England in the Super Bowl."
The Dallas Cowboys, having won a first-round bye in the playoffs, saw their quarterback Tony Romo take his celebrity girlfriend Jessica Simpson to Mexico during the off days. The national media severely scrutinized the move, before roundly blaming Romo for misplaced priorities, following the loss to New York.
"Man, that was just `Whatever,'" said Stanback. "It's just people looking for
something to write about. Before the season, everyone expected there to be so much drama on our team because we had a new coach (Wade Phillips) and nobody expected us to have a good
season. And everybody thought T.O. (star receiver Terrell Owens) was going to be bad-mouthing in the media and stuff like that. But it didn't happen. The media didn't have anything to write about. They were searching for every little thing, you know? They tried to make a big deal out of something that was so
Stanback was asked if there was anything about Romo that might surprise people.
"Tony Romo drives a Ford Explorer," says Stanback with a laugh. "He does not spend his money on cars, I can tell you that much. On top of that, he wears old K-Swiss (shoes). We talk about it with him and (kid around), but I think that's probably the reason why he keeps them."
As Stanback conditions rigorously in the off-season, he is asked what role he will have in future years in Dallas.
I don't really know yet," he said. "I still have to learn the basics. And find out what I do best. I have faith that the coaches will put me in the right place to be successful. I still need to get more knowledge of the game, from studying and working hard and watching some of my teammates and opponents. It opens your eyes to watch them and learn what they're doing to
Derek Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
His website is www.derekjohnsonbooks.com
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