The Cowboys do not believe Jaylon Smith will play in 2016. The Cowboys are not guaranteeing they will make the playoffs in 2016. The Cowboys do not believe and are not guaranteeing Jaylon Smith will participate in the playoffs in 2016.
So why are national media people reporting that they are, they are and they are?
Nope. That's not what Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told "Shan & RJ'' on 105.3 The Fan on Thursday. He did NOT say he "believes the Cowboys will have Jaylon Smith on the field in eight months'' and while the ever-optimistic boss always envisions his team as a playoff participant, no thinking listener would tie the two thoughts together into a single screaming headline.
Or maybe there is plenty of "thinking'' going on here. Warped, cynical thinking.
The Cowboys stunned the football world this NFL Draft when they selected linebacker Jaylon Smith in the second round (34th overall). I thought Dallas would take a shot at the gifted Smith in, say, the sixth round based on what I believed to be their inside knowledge of his knee surgery, which was performed by Dallas team physician Dr. Dan Cooper. Smith isn't just fighting to return from torn ligaments in his knee, a nine-month process dating from the Jan. 1 injury in a bowl game; he's also hoping the the nerve in his knee can regenerate -- that is, "fire up.''
Said Smith, who is on his way to Valley Ranch today to participate in the weekend's rookie minicamp: "For me it's just progressing each and every day. I've been running for three and a half weeks now. It's just a progress and time is definitely a place where you have to be patient. I've been killing it. ... Never doubt God.''
Because of Dr. Cooper's involvement, Dallas has intimate knowledge of Smith's condition. That doesn't make the pick the right one, not even with the knowledge that had he not gotten hurt, Smith would've been a top-10 with credentials that make him sound like a combination of Ray Lewis and Dick Butkus. The pick is a risky one because Smith truly may never play again.
As Jerry said on The Fan regarding "percentages": "That's B.S. ... There’s no guarantees . . . don’t put a lot in these estimates.”
It's also B.S., though, that Dallas has any real plans for Jaylon Smith to play in 2016. You hope and you dream but you don't "plan.'' Want a fascinating glimpse into the two men now atop the organizational chart? Review their comments on the subject:
Jerry's son, COO Stephen Jones: "We don't expect him to play for us this year. But we really believe we're gonna have a special football player for years to come.''
Jerry hisownself: “We will not IR him. We’ll take a chance he’ll be back for the playoffs.”
Stephen is a pragmatist. Jerry is a dream-big billionaire loves to attach himself to dramatic stories. So does Cowboys icon Michael Irvin, who revealed the pick at the podium in Chicago and tells 105.3 The Fan that he's keeping the Jaylon Smith announcement card so the kid can sign it when he someday makes the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Sometimes the media is late on a story. (Irritating example: This weekend's "breaking news'' on the Cowboys' decision to stay divorced from Greg Hardy, a decision that was made/a story that was written on Feb. 22.) Sometimes the media is wrong on a story. (I've been at this for 32 years, so, been there/done that.) But in this case, we're late/wrong/twisted ... on purpose.
Either that or there is in the minds of some in the media an ignorance of how the football world and humankind in general works. Is ProFootballTalk.com accidentally ignorant in not understanding that this story is about blossoming hope, about a rehab carrot on a stick, and about the sugar-spoon delivery of Jerry Poppins? Or, is ProFootballTalk.com purposefully misleading and malevolently devolving this story into one about clicks, controversy and headline porn?
There is a third explanation here, of course. Maybe the national media doesn't see itself as twisted and ignorant. Maybe the national media feeds us this because it believes we are the twisted and ignorant ones.