The Gift of Thanks

With the holiday season in full swing, it's the appropriate time to extend gracious thanks for the following:

1. Parcells' decision to pull the plug on the Drew Bledsoe show. Many, present company included, thought it would never happen. Parcells has always been the skipper that needed a salty, battle-tested veteran first mate. It probably took an enormous leap of faith and a couple cases of Rolaids to squeeze the Romo trigger. Four games in it sure appears to be a shot worth taking.

It's funny how the back-up situation behind Bledsoe was shaky and unknown, especially with no third quarterback rounding out a threesome. In a simple role reversal, the Cowboys now have the enviable situation of veteran, proven insurance behind the teenage-like, hair on fire, permit issued signal caller. It conjures up images of Parcells standing in the locker room doorway which leads to the tunnel, hand extended, waiting for young Tony to fork over the keys to the sleek machine just parked in the Texas Stadium garage. Thanks Son, good to have you home.

The worst thing that could have happened was less than stellar Romo results causing Parcells to rotate quarterbacks like a CD jukebox. It seems to have been a pretty calculated risk, but if it confirmed anything, it signified the kid has talent and the decision was a voting party of one. This was Parcells walking the plank alone. Finally, some of the $5+ million dollars he's being paid is actually being earned.

2. Roy Williams is the hands down, heart and soul of this football team. Despite some coverage flaws, fans wouldn't want any other strong safety patrolling the field like a bull in the china shop. He's a one man wrecking crew. All obstacles, inclusive of teammates, are fair game if errantly in his path of destruction. He will blow up anything that moves. He may be the only player that causes both receivers and cornerbacks to keep their heads on a swivel at all times.

Roy, El Martillo (Hammer), Williams can individually set the tone for an entire contest with one of his patented explosive collisions. No one in the League has the ability to produce so much energy in a very condensed space. He only needs a couple of steps to deliver a full-impact blow. Many have fallen subject to his "sit down, my Brother" shoulder, and many more will find themselves in his destructive wake in the games and years to come. For the benefit of all, it's hoped this former first round selection, who absolutely salivated at the notion of becoming a Dallas Cowboy, plays for one team, and one team only. He may not be the most vocal, but his ferociousness speaks volumes.

3. Mid to late round Draft selections have earned their weight and value in gold. Gems found sprinkled throughout the last 3-4 NFL Drafts. In providing insight to the make-up of Kevin Burnett, Tennessee Volunteers' Defensive Coordinator, John Chavis, could hardly contain himself. He sang the highest of praises regarding Jason Witten. He absolutely knew this was a star in the making and complete larceny to have selected him in the third round. It makes the memories of Johnny Mitchell and David LaFleur fade like bad vapor.

Witten may top the list, but the likes of Chris Canty, Bradie James, Patrick Crayton, Jay Ratliff, Pat Watkins, Andre Gurode and Marion Barber III are all playing and contributing to the current climb back up the competitive ladder. Certainly, due to money and talent levels, a team needs its first round selections to stick, but the abundance of mid, late and undrafted free agents gracing this roster is pretty amazing. Hardhat, lunch pail, ego less ballers. Refreshing and radiant with a future brighter than the sun itself. Several probably deserve the accolades, but big thanks go to the Scouting Department, headed by friend of The Ranch Report, Jeff Ireland. Once the Cowboys stopped reaching for players and took the best players available, it became much more of a bumper crop as they reaped the harvest. This drafting philosophy needs to continue for years to come.

4. Jerry Jones' ability to get out of the way. This doesn't signify uninvolvement of any sorts, but Jerry has left the field of play, and associated matters, to Parcells and his staff. The way it should be. Jerry is his own worst enemy at times, and he has a tendency to get in the way of even himself. He is highly supportive of Bill Parcells, and he's on record saying he wants the coach back for the next year and into the future. Whatever he agreed to on that New Jersey airport tarmac, he's certainly stuck to his word and promises.

The man, and his family, wants to win as much as anybody, and it shows. How he continues to be the eternal optimist, even in the face of adversity is a true testament to the core of Jerry Jones. He will spend to win, and he's willing to take chances on proven commodities he feels will help his team win. He'll step to the plate and take his cuts with anybody bringing the heat. There are many times when he fouls out or goes down swinging, but he keeps coming back for more. You don't get to Jerry's stature and status without a few misses and a whole lot of rock solid hits. The man is a wildcatter. His history shows both empty holes and gushers. The fact he keeps drilling and trying should be every fan's stroke of reassurance. As long as you realize it's all about the bottom line for the Jones family, you can understand and appreciate the initiatives at hand.

5. Final thanks are extended to an organization desperately trying to pull themselves out of a drought of Sahara proportions. For all involved, the return to prominence is a thirst needing instant quenching. It's about that time, according to organizational history, where the itch and desire to get to the hardware store runs rampant. Going cold turkey on Lombardi fixtures is near fatal to all those bleeding silver and blue.

It's no guarantee, but Texas Stadium hasn't sounded like this past Sunday in a very long time. The game crowd was alive and into it, but the buzz that continued well into the parking lots was most notable. The most recent comparison had to be the post game activities following the 1993 NFC Championship game. People were talking, and smiling, well into the night. It's been too long, and the final thanks have to reside with hope and faith. The Cowboys Nation is holding onto hope, and they have the faith a return to their rightful place is not far away.

Happy Thanksgiving to All.

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