Valley Ranch Insider

When Emmitt Smith was released in February, a new chapter in Cowboys football officially began. Now, not only will the Cowboys be looking to replace Smith in the lineup, they will be looking to replace his leadership in the locker room.

Troy Hambrick will get the first shot at taking over in the backfield.

For leadership, the Cowboys may not need to look any further than the man who now occupies Smith's old locker.

Fullback Richie Anderson, who followed Parcells from the New York Jets to Dallas, fits that bill because of his reputation as a hard-working and dedicated professional who will do what's necessary to impart his wisdom on younger teammates.

"It's important for me to have guys like that - smart, dedicated, productive football players that know what their job is," Parcells said of the 6-2, 230-pound Anderson who signed a free-agent contract with the Cowboys this off-season. "He knows what needs to be done, he knows which kids need to be talked to and which ones to stay on and get with.

"Richie blends. He can go with any person - young, old, it doesn't make a difference. He's got tremendous people skills."

Parcells said he has not asked Anderson, who started at fullback during their time together with the New York Jets, to mentor the younger players about the attitude and work ethic required in Parcells' system. Rather, Anderson said he welcomes the challenge.

"I just take it as part of my role," Anderson said. "It's not something that someone just asks, but as a player, that's my makeup. That's just what I do. That's what I did in New York and that's obviously what I'm trying to do here. Pretty much everybody's been very receptive."

Anderson likely will start at fullback this season in front of Jamar Martin, and could have a more expanded role than previous Cowboys fullbacks. With the departure of Smith, the Cowboys may use a platoon system at running back, featuring Troy Hambrick, Michael Wiley and Aveion Cason.

Anderson, a former Pro Bowl selection who showed his versatility in 10 seasons with the Jets, may get more carries and become a focal point in the Cowboys' passing game. There is a good chance the Cowboys will utilize Anderson's skills in one-backs, nickel offense sets since he catches the ball so well, but is experience picking up blitzes.

Anderson said Parcells' ability to connect with players has helped elevate him to the top of the coaching ranks.

"He's an excellent communicator and teacher," Anderson said. "The way he gets his points across, his expectations, his demands, all that stuff factors into it."

* Gov. Rick Perry has signed a bill that could ultimately allow Dallas County voters to decide whether to raise taxes on hotel and motel rooms and car rentals to help pay for a new stadium for America's Team.

But the governor's signature signifies only the opening kickoff to a complex process that will include negotiations with county commissioners, choosing a stadium site in downtown Dallas or Las Colinas in Irving and a spirited political campaign that officials believe will end with a vote in November 2004.

Some Dallas County commissioners played down Mr. Perry's stamp of approval. Some commissioners have been cheerleaders for the stadium and entertainment complex, which the Cowboys have valued at more than $1 billion, while others have remained dispassionate and say voters will decide whether the project is a good enough deal to raise taxes on hotel rooms an additional 3 percent and car rentals 6 percent.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones envisions a project that is more than a new home for his team, although the hotel and car-rental taxes would only fund the arena. The team currently plays in Irving's Texas Stadium, a 65,000-seat facility that lacks the amenities of newer football stadiums in Philadelphia, Denver and Seattle.

The stadium would be both lavish and whimsical, with gathering places in one end zone that would offer skateboarding, touch football and other activities for families. There would be a hotel, retail shops and year-round entertainment attractions.

* Cowboys linebacker Al Singleton, who played for Tampa Bay last season, is expecting to get his Super Bowl ring June 14. He doesn't yet know what it looks like, he said, having seen "only some of the designs (Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren) Sapp had done."

* Ever since Cowboys coach Bill Parcells showed up on NFL Draft day with brassy blond hair so shiny that Pamela Anderson called asking for his colorist, his hair has been a topic of conversation.

So, coach, what exactly is up with the hair?

"What happened was, the girl who usually colors my hair was in a hurry. She is expecting and had to go to a doctor's appointment," Parcells said, pausing to insist his story was true. "She came and did it and had to leave and told me to get this off at a certain time. Then something happened."

The phone rang. Parcells got distracted. An extra 10 minutes slipped by.

"It's supposed to be a little darker than this," Parcells said with a laugh.

"He really got on me when I was a rookie, and it got to me. But he's got a side to him that you like and can learn to love. The only time you see it is when you're working as hard as you can and reaching your best. That's why I'm here." -- Cowboys receiver Terry Glenn on Bill Parcells, who drafted Glenn when both were with the Patriots.

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