Cowboys Coverage: This Isn't a Coffee Klatch

Unnamed sources.'' "Secret meetings.'' "Newspaper rivalries'' – or non-rivalries. And the World-Wide Leader's unquenchable thirst for T.O. bashing. Put it all together and I think it says more about the media coverage of the Cowboys than it does about the 3-1 Cowboys themselves.

First to the Dallas Morning News' Tuesday night report that Terrell Owens engaged in a "serious discussion'' with QB Tony Romo and was "venting to Romo about his frustrations.''

Fair enough, I guess. I think it's weird that "unnamed sources'' would be required to publish such a story at 11:57 p.m. on a Tuesday, more than 48 hours after the incident would've taken place; I mean, isn't that enough time to actually ask the principles if there was indeed such a meeting? If this is some "first crack in the foundation'' of the franchise, as has been suggested, shouldn't the writer be banging on the doors of Romo and Owens, seeking information about the crack?

I also think the telling of such a story in this way could probably earn writer Calvin Watkins accusations of being "overwrought.'' So a receiver met with a quarterback to discuss routes, reads and throws. … so what?

But oddly, the tale doesn't end there.

The next day, Watkins' competitor from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Clarence Hill, wrote a rebuttal to the DMNews "exclusive.'' Hill's story debunked Watkins', as the Star-Telegram writer quoted Owens directly.

Owens was asked if he'd ever had a post-Redskins game conversation with Romo about his role in the offense.

"I have not," Owens said when asked if voiced his displeasure.

A simple case of 'He Said, He Said,' right? It happens all the time with beat writers trying not to get beat – and it happens all the time especially when a team is attempting to smooth over a wrinkle.

But oddly, the tale doesn't end there, either.

On Wednesday, DFW radio host Michael Irvin noted that he found the point/counterpoint stories fishy. Which was it? A meeting? Or not a meeting? A problem? Or not a problem? Are the Cowboys fibbing? Are the beat writers fibbing?

So he had on as a guest Calvin Watkins, who stood by his story.

Then he had on as a guest Clarence Hill, who stood by his story – but then added that his stand doesn't mean he is "discrediting'' Watkins' story.

Furthermore, during Irvin's radio visit with Hill, the host somehow detected that while Hill was on the phone, competitor Watkins was apparently standing alongside Hill, cozily listening in on the conversation.

What? Both papers and both reporters stand by their stories – AND they stand by each other and each others' stories?

The weirdness of it all even motivated Irvin to comment that the relationship between the two writers is "strange. …''

Finally on Thursday came the DMNews' tail-‘tween-its-legs acknowledgement of the strong denials from Romo and Owens that a "venting'' meeting ever took place. It is unusual for a paper to come out so strongly with a screaming-headline front-page story one day. … and then to sort of let it go out with a whimper two days later.

Owens, I believe, has a friendly relationship with both beat writers. Irvin – while taking them to task – is also friends with Calvin and Clarence. In the interest of full disclosure, I am an acquaintance of Calvin's, I consider Clarence a friend, and as a former Cowboys newspaper beat writer myself, have a great deal of respect for the demands of the job.

But this isn't a coffee klatch. We're not all supposed to be "pool reporters'' who share information and/or support each others' stories. ... especially when one story insists the sky is green and the other insists it is red. The reader – the Cowboys fan – would be much better served if somebody got to the truth, rather than mollycoddling colleagues.

And speaking of the truth. … why, with its massive staff of reporters and personalities, can ESPN do nothing more than pile on? Following Owens' "give me the ball'' press conference after Sunday's loss to Washington, the network's hosts spent days and days trashing Owens for selfishness. They continued to do so while using the DMNews' story as further evidence – without ever examining whether the DMNews story was accurate, overwrought, or a complete error.

It is especially humorous to watch ESPN analysts Cris Carter and Keyshawn Johnson trash Owens for his "give me the ball'' demands, inasmuch as both former receivers are infamous for having taken the exact same position throughout their careers. Owens suggests that Keyshawn's comments, in particular, are the result of an ex-Cowboy hangover.

During Owens' own radio show this week, he referred to Johnson as "She-Shawn'' at least three times and called him "The ultimate underachiever on that panel. I am the reason he is in the booth. Everybody is aware when I was brought to Dallas he was the one they let go to get me here."

That point could not be more clear. The rest of this is a murky mess.

But it's not the communication between Romo and Owens that I'm worried about. It's some of the people who cover this team who, I think, need to get their stories straight.

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