Out on a Limb

People are generally drawn to optimism more than pessimism, wouldn't you agree? Is there any better source of optimism than a NFL camp immediately following free agency, the Draft and the first Underwear Olympics gathering?

It comes by the boat load, and all 32 teams have rose-colored delivery trucks coming and going on a daily basis. Cowboys' fans are hoping the Cleveland vehicles are at minimum payload or deadheading. There isn't one team out there not feeling like fabric softener or a Cling-Free dryer sheet. It's all good in late May.

Or is it?

It all depends if your name is Randy Moss, Matt Schaub, Leonard Davis (more later), or Tank Johnson, Adam "Pac Man" Jones and Greg Ellis. Greg Ellis' name appears within the latter trio not for the fact he's committed a crime or is under League scrutiny, but for the mere fact of being unhappy. Again. Some story a year later. Hey Greg, zip it.

No one questions Greg Ellis being a "team" guy. During the regular season. In the off season he's developing an annual, agitating act which could have him saying, "Sure wish I had that back." Here are the facts. He took one for the team in regards to contract acceptance of upfront monies. He saw the team through the tail end of their cap crunch phase. Noteworthy and commendable. Was he held over a barrel? Without being in the negotiations, no one knows for sure, and no one is going to be forthcoming with what was discussed or promised. In hindsight, it's clear Ellis wants a "do over." Whether it was solely his decision or acting upon Agent counsel, Greg Ellis made a financial mistake. Greg Ellis signed a long-term contract in 2003, fully aware of all terms, and now he has no leverage. None whatsoever.

Greg Ellis' biggest mistake is not realizing who he plays for. Silence alone could buy him what he ultimately seeks. Good foot soldiers and organizational loyalists are usually rewarded, some unnecessarily so, in the Jones' Army. Jerry always finds a way to make things right by extending a gift of thanks or gratitude. That's if you don't cross him or create a public hissy fit. Not one headline or printed quote is going to bring Greg Ellis a penny. Take that to the bank. Actually, additional headlines and clamoring might land him in the unemployment line. Greg, there isn't anyone over at McDonald's or Wal-Mart pulling down $2.5M/year. Rest assured.

Each year a new arrival or position change brings about the "I'll get Jean-Jacques or Clarence to help me out" saga. Greg, play football, and it will be made right, but fully understand the actual size of "made right" reduces with every whimper. A 34 year old, DE/OLB, coming off a ruptured Achilles and sporting a long-term contract does not equate to bargaining power. A stable full of defensive linemen and linebackers renders a potential holdout useless. The sour grapes make other teams cringe when considering his employ.

Move on.

Something says Jerry will make good on your portfolio of work, especially standing in for what should have been Randy Moss, but the generosity fund depletes every time you step into the statement pulpit. And, you're one of the likeable ones. Sort of. Before leaving this subject matter, three additional words are offered up to the likes of both Marcus Spears and Kevin Burnett. Regarding your recent spouting and pouting, "do something first."

From sour grapes to vintage wine, meet Julius Jones' new best friend. "Leonard is so big and, at times, the game is so easy for him. He can do whatever he wants whenever he wants. He comes to work every day on time, and he takes care of his body. He's like Shaq—he's bigger than everybody. If somebody gets him on one play, then the next play he'll pretty much maul them. If you watch film, you won't see him get beat back-to-back. Things come easily. – Edgerrin James.

To date, the resounding highlight of this signing is the money involved. Jerry was bound and determined to secure offensive line help regardless of today's market price. The Cowboys are banking on a Texas rejuvenation. Maybe not so much rejuvenation as an up tick in potential and production. Environments have a way of bringing out the best and worst in players. Facts are facts; professional football life in Phoenix is ho-hum at best. Always has been and might always be. Without any shred of evidence to put forth, something says Leonard Davis' return to the Lone Star State may eclipse that of a certain Phillips family member.

The great debate is who has the bigger smile these days, Tony Sparano, Tony Romo or some guy named Jones. Jerry certainly has a vested interest, but Julius is banking his Cowboys' career on Mount Davis. This could be a short-term Larry Allen. The start of the season will find Leonard Davis turning a mere 29 years of age. The organization, despite the eye-opening price tag, may have purchased a bargain entering his prime. At 6'6", 366 lbs, a scratch-the-surface 6 NFL years logged and full potential yet to be realized, what's not to like? Here's to hoping the Wortham, TX native renders Darren McFadden unnecessary.

This will undoubtedly make many fans bristle as a vast majority, present company included, has visited to take in the freak show. Impressive and jaw-dropping are tremendous understatements, but the hope is Julius, and his new best buddy, squelch the need for running back must haves. When all is taken into account, it's in everyone's best interest #21 manufactures his best season ever. No one knows it better than Jones himself, and the opportunity will be in full view for the football world to see.

Speaking of "on display," put the popcorn away. Instead, get your DVR or TiVo ready. You don't want to miss the season Terrell Owens is about to amass. This is the year Jerry and T.O. are both going to love'em some #81. Put bluntly, and to the chagrin of many, the Dallas Cowboys need Terrell Owens to secure a sixth Lombardi Trophy and it's going to happen. There will be unbelievable economic and marketing advantage if Owens secures a ring while donning the blue star. Owens craves this more than people know, and there aren't enough words to adequately describe the windfall to be bestowed on Jerry Jones. One needs the other to solidify legacy purposes. There is a ton on the line, and to borrow a Parcells' safe haven, winning long-shot tickets are about to be cashed. The Cowboys Nation, much do to the signing itself, is blinded to the magnitude of Owens' 2006 season.

Inclusive of the soap opera episodes and Roberto Duran School of rock catching, the season amassed, with more restraints than a straight jacket, had mind-boggling production. Pure stubbornness and power plays kept the wraps fully adhered to the NFL's most gifted (at this time) wide receiver. Let that one sink in, pit the stomach and light the incendiary fires within. Say what you will, but you're about to pay homage to someone who will define all-world wide out. To be clear, we're talking the player versus the person until proven otherwise.

Amidst the laughter, cursing and hair-pulling, get the recorders ready. The only unknown is how the meteoric performance will transcend to the personal accountability display. One can only pray the accolades will be spread abundantly amongst the masses, but the past dictates differently. The beauty of the anticipation is the element of "what next?" 2007 will not be the year to earn your keep as a NFC East defensive back. At least not when the Cowboys appear on the slate. Terrell Owens will hoist his first, and the organization's sixth, Lombardi Trophy in Glendale, AZ. This venue is the former home of Leonard Davis and the site, although different facilities, of the Cowboys last Super Bowl victory. How fitting.

There is only one thing which would prevent or derail this all-out optimism. To fully comprehend you must listen closely to The Ranch Report's own Mike Fisher. If there is any extended time frame during the 2007 season where the self-proclaimed "I'm not here to mentor or tutor" is behind center, all bets are off. Contrary to popular belief, he's certainly not here for his velocity. For if he is, insert your prayers here.

So, how's that for outright optimism? There are times in this world when all the stars are aligned (also a story for another day), and currently the constellation is positioned directly over Dallas. Like moths drawn to the light, the return to the top is eminent.

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