RANCH EXCLUSIVE: Brooks' Patience Pays Off

IRVING, TX - It's not like Ethan Brooks hadn't been through this before. Drafted out of Williams (Mass.) College, Brooks had stints with the Falcons, the Arizona Cardinals and the St. Louis Rams. He started this season with the New York Jets before being let go Aug. 28, after which … he waited … and waited … and waited.

"I stayed in good shape," Brooks said. "But being at home, working out … that's not the same as being in football shape. It's been six or seven weeks, so I've got to get my feet to do what they need to do."

At his home in Atlanta, Brooks worked out -- he lifted weights and he ran, and he waited for the phone to ring.

"I thought something would come up, but I thought it would come up sooner than it did," Brooks said. "It's not like there's a lot of tackles with NFL experience out there. My agent kept telling me something would come up.

"I've been through this before."

The 6-foot-6, 330-pound Brooks admitted that he started to consider the idea that he might have hit the end of his NFL career, and even began to consider an alternative career (real estate) … when the phone rang.

"It's funny," he said. "When you start to look for something else, that's when the call comes."

When he signed Tuesday with the Cowboys, Brooks received no assurances from head coach Bill Parcells that he would be handed a specific amount of playing time with the Cowboys, who found themselves in need of an extra tackle when starter Flozell Adams went down in Sunday's win over the New York Giants with a season-ending knee injury. Veteran Torrin Tucker will start in Adams' place, while Brooks will back up Tucker and right tackle Rob Petitti.

"No, there was no specific talk about any of that (playing time)," Brooks said. "All (Parcells) said was 'just relax -- pick (the Cowboys' blocking system) it up. He said I'm a smart guy, and just do what I can."

Brooks said he expects it should take only a couple of weeks before he gets a grasp of the Dallas blocking schemes.

"I'm sure if I can get some reps, I'll be OK," Brooks said. "Having a guard like Larry (Allen) or Marco (Rivera) next to me, that will be a huge help. If I forget something, they'll be there to help. To play next to guards with their experience, that's a great situation for me. And we've got a bye week coming up soon (Nov. 6), so that will be another week for everything to sink in."

For Brooks, the main thing was getting a job -- it beats sitting at a computer all day, right? But the fact that he got picked up by Dallas made the news even better.

"I grew up a Cowboys guy," said Brooks, who grew up outside of Hartford, Conn. "My dad was always a big New York Giants fan, and my brother is a Washington Redskins fan. But the Cowboys were my team growing up. It's always been a dream to play for them, to put on that star."

So what would have happened with his father had Brooks been picked up by the Cowboys last week, before they faced the Giants?

"That would have been interesting, that's for sure," Brooks said. "But he's always a fan of wherever I am."

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