Note: I totally bailed on you for Memorial Day weekend. My apologies. My eldest niece graduated from high school. Some things are, after all, more important than football — or writing about it, for that matter.
1. It never ceases to amaze me how, well, dumb, pro athletes can be. We’ve had two good examples in the past two weeks.
Exhibit A: Nolan Carroll.
Carroll was arrested early Monday morning on suspicion of DWI. Carroll will certainly navigate the legal system for the next few months and probably get suspended by the NFL. A 2-game suspension seems to be the minimum he would face. I had a hard time unearthing any other major off-the-field issues for Carroll during his time in the NFL, and it certainly doesn’t seem like he has a history of this.
Carroll expressed his disappointment in himself and took responsibility for his actions.
Well, that’s nice. But there is really no reason for anyone to drive home drunk, athlete or not. It used to be you could call a cab. Now you can just call an Uber. That’s what I do when I know I’m not sober enough to drive home (not that it EVER happens, of course). But it’s quite reckless in this case because the NFL Players’ Association has its own sober ride program that is available to any NFL player at any time, no questions asked. (The NFL and the Dallas Cowboys also provide such a service, free of charge.) There have been enough of these incidents for the NFLPA to put together its own program to cut down on this and you STILL drive home drunk?
Yeah, that’s on you bud. Thankfully he didn’t hurt anyone.
The Cowboys won’t release him because he’s a starter in OTAs, and even if he’s unseated during the course of the run-up to the regular season he’s good depth. He’s not going anywhere, suspension or no suspension.
Same goes for Exhibit B — David Irving.
Irving, of course, tested positive for a banned substance the week before. Reportedly Irving was interested in endorsing a product, used said product and tested positive for an ingredient in said product. It wouldn’t be the first time an over-the-counter supplement was laced with something on a league’s banned substance list. But, again, here’s a case where the player had a tool available to serve as a check for that and didn’t use it.
Our Mike Fisher broke the Irving story and says he believes Irving's story of ignorance. But ...
Every NFL team does its best to educate its players on what to put in their bodies. But they understand that players are looking for every advantage. So what they tell players is, “If you’re going to use something you’ve never used before, bring it to us so we can test it and make sure there’s nothing banned in it.”
Well, Irving didn’t do that. And he popped on a random test and now he’ll likely get a four-game suspension at a time when it can’t afford to lose defensive ends.
I’ve seen a lot of writers out there who want to make the narrative about “Well, it’s just the Dallas Cowboys coddling problem children again.” Well, no, that’s not the case in my opinion. Carroll had options to keep himself off the road. Irving had options to make sure he did run afoul of the NFL’s banned substance policy. Neither availed themselves of those options. So now they pay.
You can take a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can take a football player to school but you can’t make him think. These are both cases of the players not thinking their actions through. This isn’t on the Cowboys. It’s on them. But the Cowboys, like the players, will pay for it.
2. Just a reminder ...
The best and most complete Cowboys coverage you’re going to find led by Mike Fisher, who is as plugged in as any Cowboys watcher around.
3. Since I didn’t file First and 10 last week, let me direct you to Joey Ickes’ article on Ryan Switzer and his potential impact on the Cowboys’ offense. Now, understand, Joey isn’t predicting that Switzer is suddenly going to take this offense by storm. But as someone who got the chance to see Switzer live twice during his college career I can tell you there are things that Switzer did at UNC that will translate well at the pro level and he’ll be a great complement to Cole Beasley because he can do different things. He can be a more productive player out of the backfield when called upon (see: reverses and end-arounds). He can deceptively stretch the field. He can line up anywhere you ask him to. And he loves the return game.
It’s not a bold prediction to say that Switzer will make this team. I think everyone expects that. But Joey’s article goes in-depth into the areas — and plays — where it would make sense for Switzer to make an impact this season. It’s worth your time.
4. This week on Starcast, Jamie Horton and Mike Fisher discuss Dallas Cowboys OTAs, and do it with the help of our 1-on-1 visit with Sean Lee. Lee thinks Jaylon Smith is "the complete package'' and even calls him an "inspiration.'' Listen in on our visit with "The General,'' and also catch up on our thoughts on Nolan Carroll's DWI arrest and a Dallas Cowboys love fest at The Star this week, as Jason Garrett and Dez Bryant professed their love for one another for all to see on Twitter. ... with Dez as usual engaging in some back-and-forth with Fish.
It's good stuff ... And it's all right here on this edition of 'Cowboys STARCast' ... and below, click on more important Cowboys links! And remember, you can download the Cowboys Sports Radio app on your phone for iOS/iPhone and Google Play/Android. ... Come on inside!
5. Mo’ cap money. As you’re probably aware by now, the Dallas Cowboy got some scratch back in the way of Tony Romo’s official release via the Post-June 1 designation. Fish has more here.
You’re probably wondering what the Cowboys will do with all of that new-found money, right? Well, don’t expect a spending spree. Our Mike Fisher and Joey Ickes have been on record for a while that, if the Cowboys do extend OL Zack Martin this year — and we fully expect them to do so — it will probably be done with current money, not found money.
What this does is give the Cowboys flexibility down the line. Perhaps a pass rusher comes available via trade at midseason. Perhaps a coveted free agent becomes available next offseason. Or, perhaps, the Cowboys simply stick to the plan — draft smartly, spend smartly and manage the cap smartly. It’s worked for the last few seasons.
Also, don’t expect this cap money to immediately go toward either of the team’s budding offensive superstars, QB Dak Prescott and RB Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys can’t renegotiate Prescott’s deal until after the 2018 season. The Cowboys also have the fifth-year option on Elliott that they can exercise before the 2020 season before they even have to entertain an extension.
So, financially, the way they managed Romo’s impact on the cap turned out to be a winner. Having extra cap space is never a problem and they managed to extricate themselves from Romo’s cap hit far less painfully than I would have expected.
Oh, and technically, Romo isn’t retired yet, at least not in the paperwork sense.
6. Dez Bryant continues to bury the “immature” label. To be fair, I haven’t bought this argument for the past couple of years. But whenever someone starts in on Bryant from the outside, there’s potential for the narrative to return.
Washington corner Josh Norman baited the hook earlier this week in a long article in Bleacher Report. Here’s the complete exchange on Bryant (as reported by Tyler Dunne):
Let's get into a little word association with receivers. Dez Bryant?
That's a guy. Just a guy. Dez was Dez in 2012, '13, '14. Maybe '14. Now? He's a guy.
There's no specific aspect to his game that pops? He's bland?
He doesn't "wow" you. For me, he don't. For other guys, he probably will do the worst to them because he'll bully them. But you can't bully a bully. You know what I'm saying? That's why his game doesn't resonate to me.
So he comes across as a "fake tough guy?"
That's what I mean. That's his game: to bully. But how can you bully a bully?
You're the real bully out there.
If anything, it's the other way around. I don't bully people. I have conversations with people.
So what was your conversation with Dez Bryant then?
He's trying to be a tough guy and that's not him. That's not how you play ball. The media really created this "talk trash" with me. I don't really talk to these guys. They're talking to themselves. I just play them. And then they get a little snippet of me having a conversation with them and blast it on ESPN. So now when I go up against people, the coaches tell them: "Don't talk to Josh! He'll get in your head!" My coaches think I have this magic wand and just automatically make these people do something crazy.
So, of course, the notebook brigade got to Bryant during open media day at OTAs this week. They relayed Norman’s words. Bryant’s response?
“This is the best team I've ever been a part of,’’ Bryant said. "We have something special.''
“I’m an taking (leadership) extremely seriously. I want to lead by example. Not gonna run my mouth. Go hard each and every play. If not a pass, I’m going to go hard in the running game as if it’s a pass play. That’s my goal … to be better than last year.’’
Now, yes, Bryant and Norman did get into it a bit on Twitter. But the overall theme here is the Bryant took whatever disrespect he might have felt in a box, put it aside and focused on his team. That’s what mature leaders do in professional sports. That’s what Bryant is now on this team — a mature leader. Emotional? Sure. But when was the last time that became a full-blown distraction (no, I mean a REAL distraction, not something a blowhard on TV turned into a distraction.)? It’s been a good, long while.
Some are going to say this is a new Bryant. But, frankly, this is the current Bryant, the one we’ve seen for the past few seasons. If others deem it unnecessary to give him credit for his evolution, that’s fine. Something tells me Bryant will continue to prove it.
7. Best parlor game of the week? Our own Joey Ickes put it together:
I’m on record as Randy White. Easy choice. The Cowboys need pass rush help now and the “Manster,” in his prime, could play any position. Some people forget he could play tackle or end. You know Rod Marinelli would love that versatility.
8. Tweet of the Week
You know, sometimes OTAs are only THIS organized.
9. This week’s “Great Moments in Headline Porn?” “Dallas Cowboys: Is Jason Garrett Losing Control?” from TheLandryHat.com (Fansided.com)
This story basically outlines the recent suspensions and off-the-field incidents the last two seasons. The assertion is that perhaps Garrett may not have control over his team. I would contend that’s completely inaccurate when you know there’s a higher authority (Read: Jerry Jones) in your football organization. But, on a different level, Garrett didn’t stick Carroll in his car Memorial Day weekend or push Irving to try a supplement without getting it tested. The idea that we’re going to disable a player’s responsibility for himself by putting it on the head coach is ridiculous.
10. One More Thing ….
It’s OK if you don’t know who he is. Just let me assure you that there were few better in our profession than Frank Deford. Seek his work out. Sports Illustrated’s vault is a great place to start.