Cowboys In London: Putting Curfew To Bed
The Dallas Cowboys have a sorta "corporate'' desire to own London. Owner Jerry Jones wants the "cachet'' and coach Jason Garrett wants the honor and star Dez Bryant wants all the little schoolchildren to Throw Up The X and maybe mix in some Roc and, if you score two touchdowns on six catches for 158 yards in a single quarter in a pounding of the Jaguars, as happened Sunday at Wembley Stadium, maybe you mix in some sort of LeBron-themed dance, too.
"I just kept adding on,'' Dez joked of a Sunday celebration that was almost as extended as his Friday celebration, when the clock struck midnight and he and some of the fellas hadn't returned home to the Grosvenor Hotel on a night when there was either a curfew, a "soft curfew'' or no curfew at all.
Let's dispense with this issue first, because it was a lead story on the NFL Network as the Cowboys will always be a lead story if they are 7-3 for the first time since 2009 and winners of five straight roadies for the first time since 2007 and a team that moves the needle in ways not 1,000 Jaguars teams could do.
The national report insisted "20 Cowboys missed curfew on Friday" and that coaches were irate. That's a lotta guys to be going rogue. Is there dissension in the ranks? Almost half the team coming unglued? Way too many guys violated the "business-trip'' concept that had been uttered almost by rote to me by dozens and dozens of guys all week?
Shortly after the TV report, I went to the Wembley Stadium field and visited with a trio of coaches. They essentially said: Yes, we had some late guys. No, it was nowhere near 20. No, nobody was pissed. No, it won't have any impact on lineups, relationships, or the game.
And then the Cowboys went out and kicked the Jaguars' ass all over the mushy field.
Coach Jason Garrett himself told me a few days ago there was a midnight curfew. But did that get loosened for Friday? Or misunderstood? Did it matter?
"It was no problem," Bryant told me after the game, conceding that he was with the late group. "We really didn't know (about any curfew) because it was a Friday night. We had a good time. We didn't think nothing about it. It's not an issue at all."
Later, at the hotel, outside Red Room, Garrett told me, "We had one bed check all week. That was Saturday. There's nothing here."
What there is is a semantic game, with COO Stephen Jones informing me that the club "monitored'' the players and warned them about late-night trouble in a foreign country - but insisting there is absolutely no indication of trouble between "irate" coaches and "disrespectful" players.
"We won the game, didn't we?'' said Dez, effectively dismissing the issue.
On Saturday, Garrett announced to a crowd that "it's important everybody here understands that the Dallas Cowboys are not only 'America's Team,' but they're 'Great Britain's Team,' too!'' That goes hand-in-hand with Jerry's revenue-stream wishes and with a player like Dez who wishes to be, in his words, an "icon.''
But really, it's a grand enough accomplishment not to conquer Great Britain and not to conquer the United States, but rather to handle two other foes: The aforementioned distractions that come with being Dallas and with being good ... and the Jags, who are now still stuck on one win.
Dallas ran DeMarco Murray and company at Jax' No. 24-ranked run defense, the NFL's leading ground-gainer chewing up 100 yards on 19 carries on a turf that got increasingly chewed up. In the second quarter, Tony Romo (20/27 for 246 yards and three TDs) and Dez went to the air, Bryant recording all of his six catches for 158 yards and two spectacular TD's in the period. The Cowboys offense, even after mediocre work in two straight losses to Washington and Arizona, came in leading the NFL in third-down conversions at 53 percent and the O-line was muscular here with more of the same. ... and the man they protect, Romo, is now a world-beating 26-4 in the month of November.
The defense pitched in with upfront pressure from Melton and Mincey and company (and a first-career sack by corner Brandon Carr) and rookie middle linebacker Anthony Hitchens getting nine tackles playing in place of Rolando McClain.
And now, once we stagger out of "Red Room,'' get on a Monday morning plane and get home, they get a bye. Well-earned. Much-needed.
But hey, DeMarco, didn't you guys have fun here? Once the NFL achieves its Manifest Destiny, could you maybe envision yourself playing running back for the London Whatsits?
"I love playing for the Cowboys and I love Dallas," DeMarco said, and once we put this curfew thing -- and ourselves -- to bed, there's a lot to like.
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