A Strictly PG-Rated Team

Assembling the right mix that comprises a team is one of the most underrated aspects to a head coach's resume. Choosing that exact player, one that fits a scheme, one that has personality, and one that has the right amount of talent is the focus of every off-season.

These machinations are what produce the wins and losses of a team filled with the Boys of Winter. (And the reason some head coaches are seeking employment as assistants every off-season.)

Certainly Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson shopped from their wish list.

They selected the groceries for this franchise, and reaped the dividend of their exceptional talent evaluation.

Then the Dark Ages struck the Cowboys in the form of GM Jerry Jones. A man, to some, better suited to pick an oil well than a strong side linebacker.

And if proof is required in regard to this boast, one only need look at the draft picks from 1998 through 2002. Flozell Adams, Greg Ellis - from 1998 – Dat Nguyen – 1999 – Roy Williams and Andre Gurode – from 2002. The remnants of four wasted draft classes, with only five players still on the team, the series of 5-11 seasons becomes crystal clear.

This includes the serious whiffs that occurred in both 2000 and 2001. Not one player from those two years remains on this team today. More evidence that Jones kept Dave Campo on such a short leash - he wasn't even allowed to pick his own socks.

But the announcement of Bill Parcells as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys heralded in the era of the PG rating. Or more commonly known around Valley Ranch as the age of character – the players who make up a squad of "Parcells' guys."

Richie Anderson, Dan Campbell and Vinny Testaverde were three players brought in for their leadership and character. Parcells' guys who knew his system, but more importantly what it took to play for the Tuna.

Jason Ferguson was added this off-season along with Marco Rivera. While Ferguson had played for Parcells before, Rivera came from the Green Bay Packers, and is under the head coach for the first time.

"You couldn't ask for a better guy to look at," Bill Parcells said. "I have already seen the impact that Rivera has on some of these young players because he is a pretty determined, dedicated, hardworking and there-every-day guy."

Which proves Parcells' guys don't have to have a history with the Bill to be in that exclusive club.

Thinning the herd and forming the foundation of a winning team has always been a hallmark of Bill. Dropping the mal-contents and forging chemistry and a mental toughness is a given at each of his coaching stops.

Derek Ross and Pete Hunter were players who had talent. Yet talent isn't enough to stay on a Parcells' team. Lack of effort was behind the cutting of Ross, and the desire to be elsewhere led Hunter to be traded.

And no one who witnessed the firing of the quarterback formerly known as Quincy can deny Parcell's fingerprints were all over that event. While talented, his erratic play married with his drug addiction caused Bill to show him the door at the beginning of the 2004 training camp. Antonio Bryant, the much talented receiver from Pittsburgh, wowed the fans and coaches with his highlight reel catches while in Dallas.

Even now he thrills teammates and coaches in Cleveland. Trent Dilfer, a Superbowl winning quarterback, now in Cleveland, heaps praise on him.

"What you're seeing is a result of what A.B. and I did in the off-season,'' Dilfer said. ''It was more than going out to the field house and throwing balls. It's something we've worked hard on as a group -- getting to know each other, how to react to one another, the freedom to chew each other's butts when things aren't going well and to encourage each other when things are going well."

But temper and the me-attitude over rode the talent he exhibited on the field, precipitating a trade with the Browns for Quincy Morgan last season.

You just don't toss a jersey in Bill's face and expect to be a Parcells' guy.

But can you be a Parcell's guy and not have ever played in the NFL?

During a rookie symposium in Palm Beach Gardens, under the sunny skies of Florida, the 2005 Dallas Cowboy rookie class elected to workout instead of enjoying the newfound perks of being in the NFL.

"Our theme was we're working when everybody is sleeping," rookie LB Kevin Burnett said. "When nobody else is doing anything, that's when you gain ground on people."

Burnett, a team captain two years at Tennessee, took a leadership role in pushing the group to workout. Parcells mentioned his stewardship after the draft. Pointing out Burnett as a guy who steps up in regard to being a captain of the Tennessee Volunteers team.

But each player in this class of rookies, from first-rounders in Demarcus Ware and Marcus Spears, down to the last picks in Rob Petitti and Jay Ratliff are high caliber character guys. A roadmap of Parcells when entering the 2005 draft.

"Hopefully, if you get enough good character kids who are motivated, you have a chance. I hope we're starting to," Parcells said Thursday at the press conference.

But Bill, one never to applaud a rookie, showed rare insight into his feelings for these players.

"Don't let me go to far on this group. I don't want to anoint them. It just looks like eventually some of these guys could be good players. Nobody here looks like they don't have a chance to play. That's a big statement."

For Bill Parcells, that was a big statement indeed. His comments were as close to gushing over rookies as ever witnessed in Dallas.

"You never know how these kids will perform under pressure or what kind of heart they have…" Parcells he tempered his comments. "If it works out well for them, it will put the Cowboys in a good situation for a while. I think we have a pretty good-looking group of rookies this year." With seventeen players from the last three years still vying to play for Bill. And all of the players this season standing out at some point in training camp. It truly does look like things have turned a corner for the Dallas Cowboys.

Being PG-rated means taking the edginess off.

The barometer pointing more toward the bland than the bold. Closer to oatmeal than enchiladas. For the Dallas Cowboys, being PG is a step in the right direction. A team filled with Parcells' guys, oozing character and changing the face of this franchise.

To quote Winston Wolfe from "Pulp Fiction, "Being a character doesn't mean you have character."

You could almost see Parcells in that Tarantino line.

Perhaps after football, Jersey Bill could become a cleaner. Or at the very least get his newfound buddy Kevin Costner to get him a role in his next monumental epic production.

Maybe even a leading role.

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