Absence of Malice

As a human society we stink at saying thanks to those who have given their all, especially in sports, the ultimate "what have you done for me lately" forum.

Case in point….Dat Nguyen.

His days were numbered and dwindling due to size requirements within the Parcells' barracks. A developing Bradie James and the desire for a smash mouth second tier of defense were bound to make the former Aggie expendable. This warrior fought all odds and obstacles life and football could muster, and like his Dr. Booth eyesight, he came through with flying colors and clearer than 20/20. Dat's intensity, desire and heart will be missed tremendously. In an apparent and very unceremonious departure, his efforts will never be fully appreciated for the player he was. Hey #59, gig'em.

Knowing public perception sometimes forms societal reality, the relationship between Michael Irvin and Terrell Owens has taken on a life of its own. With the recent, and well-chronicled, antics of both, the question needs to be asked. Who has desecrated the famed blue star more? The Ring of Honor inductee who remains in the Hall of Fame holding pattern or the dancing clown darning a 49ers uniform that the great George Teague sought to dismantle at midfield? Both have done a marvelous job of tarnishing one of the classiest symbols in all of sports. With T.O., it's almost expected and semi-understood, but Michael, your empathy well hast runneth dry. How could you? Again??!!

How about a cease and desist restraining order on all future T.O. to Dallas gibber jabber? Please!! The mere thought of Sybil darning a Cowboys uniform would have both Coach Landry and Tex Schramm turning in their sacred resting places. Yes, they dealt with their fair share of characters, but no past Cowboys roster was done in by cancer.

Apologies for the analogy, but it has to be called for what it is. If an individual is convicted of raping a family member, does one let bygones be bygones and invite the guilty party to the dining room table? Think about it. Counter every thought you have of the tremendous football talent he would bring with a pledge to fire up the VCR to witness the unstable menace run, not once, but twice, to the famed midfield piece of real estate and having the audacity to showcase himself as bigger than both the game and life itself. For every 10% Pro Bowler you get 90% Jack Ass. As always, big-named, highly-personified free agent mercenaries will always be linked to Dallas, but similar to sitting on two face cards at the Vegas tables, you immediately pass on the future BUST!!

Can someone, anyone, pull Michael Irvin aside and teach him the meaning of two simple words. Perception and distance. In a span as long as his playing career, he's clearly learned neither the importance of nor the need for both. If it walks, talks and smells like a duck, the chances of water fowl (or in this case, foul) are highly-favorable. All the stories and explanations have been conveyed and deciphered, and the masses will choose to believe what they want to believe.

Whether he believes it or not, Michael has no room for or margin of error. His self-admitted past allows him no additional Hall passes. If nothing more, he's guilty by association. Association with all the wrong and damaging elements. Yes, the very ones committee voters are summonsed to disregard as they cast ballots. Ya, right.

In the most intelligent of conveyances by Rick Gosselin in the past three years, he correctly denotes, "They don't look for criteria to screen you in." How does Michael Irvin remain oblivious to this fact, and why does he continuously contribute to a dissenting and disapproving public? For every finely-tuned and executed 15 yard skinny post, there is a public-perceived turnover to counter the accomplishment, and as much as the playing and personal careers yearn to remain separate, the more and more they become fused together. Playmaker or Playmistaker?

Oh Billy, Billy, Billy. Judge Elihu Smails crafted a Caddyshack beauty while muttering to his famed "Baroo" putter. The same axioms and verbiage to grace the lips of every fan, coach and player from now until the 2005 Cowboys season draws to a conclusion. Each and every time Sir Cundiff steps onto the field of play. With the exception of names like Vinatieri, Vanderjagt and Elam, aren't NFL kickers symbolic of Golf's version of the magic wand? Sink a winning 45-foot birdie putt, and the blade is gracefully re-hooded and gently placed back in the bag amongst all the other contributing clubs. Shank a two-foot gimmie in a sudden-death playoff and listen for the helicopter blade sound while being whirled ballistic into the nearest oak tree. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't. Every team has to have one.

Personally, the Larry Allen to Jose Cortez greeting needs to be seriously explored and implemented. Suffice it to say, knowing there's more than a remote possibility of "meeting your maker" upon missing a chip shot just might net Parcells the 85% proficiency rate he so desires and desperately seeks. Couple this incentive with the margin of victory, and defeat, in this year's Cowboys contests, and there's going to be a boatload of oh Billy, Billy, Billy's murmured throughout December. Kickers!!

From the word of advice frontier, Keith Davis, you don't take down a frigg'n Mack truck at the shoulders. It's much more advisable and advantageous to shoot out his tires. Talk about a gnat on the back of an elephant. Make no bones about it, Jason Elam is a whale of a kicker, but wouldn't you rather have him sighting it up from 50+ yards than a distance he can do with his eyes closed in the middle of R.E.M. sleep? In a conference where there's absolutely no margin for error, the Cowboys can ill-afford any more "that's one that got away" games.

And finally, screen left. For the love of Mary, someone please find, implement and execute screen left. Dig into the Landry archives. Call Alicia, and politely ask to comb through the Coach's memoirs and coveted foot lockers. Assemble Tony Dorsett, Preston Pearson and Robert Newhouse. There has to be a viable source to consult for screen left. Opposing defenses are currently getting a double bang for their collective bucks when attacking the Cowboys offense. It's not a new book, and it's been on the shelves for years. You attack Drew Bledsoe up the middle. Blitz schemes are raining in over the center/guard gaps, and the Cowboys insist on running right into the jaws of the attacking dawg. One strategy for accomplishing two tasks. Pretty efficient defensive game plan. Bounce it outside, get to the perimeter or implement screen left. Torrin Tucker continues to be touted as the most athletic of all the offensive linemen, and even at age 84, Larry Allen is still a major force when on the move. Get the left side out in the flat and either slow down or curtail the barrage up the gut.

The mercury is dropping, division ball commences and every contest matters. Even a blind man would know its December. Time to buckle in as the ride gets no easier from here. Please keep your arms and legs in the car at all times. Please refrain from all obnoxious wide receivers and gut-wrenching place kickers. For now, sit back and enjoy the ride.

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