'Molly' And Top-10 Cowboys Camp Folly
When it comes to Camp Cowboys, it's always something. Or in the case of this week with the Cowboys in Oxnard, two somethings, as Jerry Jones has some explaining to do because of his involvement with two ladies and Orlando Scandrick has some explaining to do because of his involvement with one Molly.
But they don't bust into my Top 10 Cowboys Camp Shenanigans List:
• Irvin stabs Everett McIver in the neck
On July 29th, 1998, as the Dallas Cowboys opened their first training camp under new head coach Chan Gailey in Wichita Falls, not even six months into his job, Gailey had to deal with an altercation between superstar receiver Michael Irvin and guard Everett McIver.
McIver was signed by the Chargers in 1993 as an undrafted rookie free agent. They cut him, and Dallas signed him to the practice squad. He later played for the Jets in 1994, and then played for the Dolphins from 1995-96. Jerry signed him to a five-year $9.5 million contract. He wasn’t a mere rookie, but Irvin nonetheless felt disrespected when McIver was receiving a haircut ahead of him.
As the story goes: When McIver wouldn’t leave his barber’s chair, the yelling match turned into a shoving match. Once McIver punched Irvin in the face, the Playmaker flew into a fit of rage and slashed McIver across the neck with a pair of scissors. Thankfully, McIver didn’t suffer any life-threatening injuries, only an 18-stitch gash. Irvin, who was already on probation for his 1996 arrest, didn’t suffer any further legal troubles. Dallas finished 10-6 that year, winning the NFC East, but faltering in the first round to the Cardinals in the wildcard round.
• Asthma Field
While not technically a camp memory, no Cowboy fan can help but recall the presence of Jimmy Johnson’s “Asthma Field” when training camp rolls around.
In March 1989, during the team’s OTA’s, free agent kicker Massimo Manca showed up to the minicamp out of shape.
According to Manca’s account in Jeff Pearlman’s "Boys Will Be Boys,'' when an assistant coach yelled at Manca to run sprints with the rest of the team, the 25-year-old kicker was drenched in sweat and exhausted after his eighth sprint.
Jimmy Johnson pulled him aside and excoriated him, saying he was embarrassing himself. Manca blamed his asthma, and Johnson told him to talk to the doctors and come back when he was ready. Somehow, that simply exchange with a free agent kicker turned into the legendary “Asthma Field,” where Jimmy Johnson ruthlessly banished men wearing the star.
• Emmitt Smith waits it out
Training Camp 1993 opened July 15th in Austin at St. Edward’s University, and the league’s two-time rushing champion was nowhere to be found. Coming off the end of his three-year rookie contract, Smith was a restricted free agent, and the Cowboys had the chance to match any offer presented. The standoff between Jerry and Emmitt even went so far that Emmitt contemplated retirement, becoming a pro basketball player, re-enrolled in classes at the University of Florida, and even requested a trade two days before the season opener.
Dallas thought they could get by with rookie Derrick Lassic from Alabama, but Lassic wasn’t Emmitt. When the Cowboys dropped to 0-2 on the season, three days after Smith’s live interview on Monday Night Football conversing about his contract situation with Al Michaels, the eventual 1993 MVP signed a four-year $13.6 million contract that made him the NFL’s highest-paid running back.
The losses, by the way, caused Charles Haley to throw his helmet through a Texas Stadium wall. That caught Jerry's attention, too.
• Terrell Owens wears a Lance Armstrong suit
In the 2006 off-season, Dallas signed Terrell Owens to a three-year, $25 million deal. During training camp in Oxnard, the 32-year-old veteran developed sore hamstrings and was unable to participate in team activities. Relegated to riding an exer-cycle on the sidelines, Owens poked fun at his condition and sported a Lance Armstrong cycling suit and helmet during his rehabilitation during team activities.
Such antics drew the ire of head coach Bill Parcells, who began referring to Owens simply as “the player.” The gruff disciplinarian wouldn’t acknowledge T.O. otherwise.
The 2006 season was a wild ride for Parcells and Owens, what with Owens nearly overdosing on pain pills in late September and claiming to have fallen asleep during Parcells’ recollections of the Giants Super Bowl runs.
• Clint Longley punches Roger Staubach
One of the great things to come out of 1974 was the emergence of rookie quarterback Clint Longley, who filled in for a concussed Roger Staubach on Thanksgiving and pulled out a comeback that evoked the style of the Dodger himself. In 1975, in the midst of a race with the Redskins for the lone NFC wildcard spot, Longley led Dallas to a 31-21 victory against the Jets.
All of the successes had gotten to Longley’s head, and he announced ahead of 1976 training camp that he should be No. 1. As it was, Longley had trouble even keeping the backup quarterback job with newcomer from the WFL, Danny White, impressing Tom Landry. After cussing at Drew Pearson for running the wrong route, Staubach pointed out that Longley was in the wrong for overthrowing him. Longley wanted to fight Staubach, and so the Navy officer took Longley to the bottom of a hill and cold-cocked him.
To get revenge against Roger, legend has it, Longley waited until the next day’s practice when Staubach was putting on his pads and didn’t have use of his arms. Longley cold-cocked him and knocked the Super Bowl VI MVP into a set of scales and cut open his head.
It took Randy White to break up the fight, and there would be no Round Three as Longley literally left town. ... courtesy of Cowboys management.
• Quincy Carter cut
With the 53rd pick of the 2001 NFL Draft, Jerry Jones reached and took Georgia quarterback Quincy Carter in the second round when draft experts felt the Bulldog could have been snagged in the middle rounds. Carter had not played a full season as the Cowboys’ signal caller until 2003, when Parcells used him (and the league’s best defense) on the way to a 10-6 wildcard berth. The next season showed much promise since Parcells was able to get a solid performance out of Carter for 16 games.
On Monday, August 4, 2004, with over a week’s worth of training camp in the books, Dallas cut Quincy under dubious circumstances. It wasn’t until after Carter’s release that Parcells indicated he cut Carter because he couldn’t handle the pressure of being the starting quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. When the media questioned Parcells as to what he may do to solve the crisis behind center, the Tuna famously quipped, “You can’t just call 1-800-Quarterback.”
In fact, of course, the call Quincy truly needed to make was for help with a substance-abuse problem.
• Hard Knocks, 2002 and 2008
In the midst of going 5-11 in three consecutive seasons under head coach Dave Campo, the Cowboys still had enough star power to headline HBO’s NFL training camp reality show/documentary "Hard Knocks.'' After following the 2001 Ravens in their quest to defend their championship, HBO went to San Antonio to cover the Cowboys’ first training camp in the Alamodome in 2002.
Fans remember such moments like Coach Campo’s installation of a time clock, and also a victorious scrimmage in Austin against the expansion Texans, who would best the Cowboys on Opening Day.
"Hard Knocks'' returned in 2008 and followed America’s Team out in Oxnard. This edition gave fans a chance to get a glimpse of how competitive then-offensive coordinator Jason Garrett really was behind the scenes, and also instilled a disdain for rookie tight end Martellus Bennett as his position coach, John Garrett, continuously conflicted with the Texas A&M product.
• Cowboys first ever training camp
Before the Cowboys trained in Thousand Oaks and Oxnard, the team’s first-ever camps were in Wisconsin and Oregon during the summer of 1960. Yes, before Jerry’s infamous dual training camps of 2001 and 2010, Tex Schramm had the club started off the franchise holding training camp in two different states.
The Oregon training camp was held at the University of the Pacific in Forest Grove. The veteran players didn’t really want to be there. After exhibition games against the 49ers and Cardinals, Dallas opened camp in Delafield, Wisconsin on the campus of St. John’s Military Academy. When they played the Giants, Rams, and Packers to end the preseason, Dallas went back to the University of the Pacific in Oregon and held camp for two more weeks until the start of the regular season.
Over 200 players tried out for the Dallas Cowboys in 1960. A lot of prospects. A lot of camping.
• Duane Thomas in 1971
Running back Duane Thomas’ 151 carries for 803 yards and five touchdowns earned him 1970 NFL Rookie of the Year honors and comparisons to rushing legend Jim Brown. Entering only his second season in the league, Thomas wanted Schramm to rewrite his three-year rookie contract. When Thomas didn’t get his way, he refused to report to training camp in Thousand Oaks.
Schramm solved the problem by sending Thomas and two other veterans to the Patriots in exchange for their first-round pick in the ’72 draft and halfback Carl Garrett, a native of Denton. Thomas was so defiant in Boston that coach John Mazur couldn’t work with him, and the Patriots wanted the traded voided. NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle (a good friend of Schramm’s) nullified parts of the trade. Garrett and the first-round pick would go back to New England, who would keep the two veterans Dallas sent in the package. Thomas would return to the Cowboys, and Dallas would take New England’s second- and third-round draft choices in exchange for the veterans.
Thomas refused to speak all season except badmouthed Landry and Schramm, but ultimately led Dallas to a Super Bowl VI win with 175 rushes for 793 yards and 11 touchdowns.
• Jerry and Stephen fistbump over Nhamdi Asomuga
The 2011 preseason was a strange one around the league thanks to the lockout. Dallas was one of many teams conducting free agency during training camp. On Friday, July 29th, owner Jerry Jones and executive vice president Stephen Jones traded a cell phone while pacing the sidelines. The father-son front office duo even interrupted defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s drills to get him over and talk to Asomugha. When the call was over, Jerry and Stephen subtly celebrated with a fistbump, thinking they had landed the best cornerback in free agency.
Ultimately, Asomugha chose the Eagles over the Cowboys, and the national media showcased it as another inauspicious sign of Jones’ front office failures. Meanwhile, in Realville, Asomugha only played two seasons with the Eagles, who failed to post a winning record during his tenure. In his four games against the Cowboys, Asomugha recorded 18 tackles but no interceptions and little impact. In retrospect, maybe Jerry and Stephen benefited from fate ... or from somebody's summer shenanigans.
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