And the blonde who made pink jerseys a best-seller is out of the picture.
Dallas Cowboys training camp has a different feel this year, a vibe that's lacking buzz - and expectations. That's what happens when a team misses the playoffs and is widely considered third-best in its division.
"There are a lot of good teams out there and we're not up there with the people that are being named," tight end Jason Witten said. "I think it's good for us. We aren't looking for anyone to feel sorry for us. ... I think the team is embracing that opportunity."
Some more than others.
"I'm loving it right now," receiver Patrick Crayton said. "It's a fresh start."
Things went stale awfully fast for this club.
After going 13-3 in 2007, the Cowboys were billed as locks to win the NFC in '08, especially after adding Adam "Pacman" Jones. Team owner Jerry Jones was so convinced of his team's infallibility that he let "Hard Knocks" film their every move in training camp.
Then the season unraveled like a cheesy reality show, complete with bickering teammates, horrible performances and, ultimately, a change of characters.
Dallas went 1-3 in December to blow a spot in the playoffs. Jones got rid of Pacman and several others, many for how they were hurting the team in the locker room. Terrell Owens was the headliner of that group, but the list also includes Tank Johnson and Greg Ellis, a longtime standout who became a constant complainer the last several years. A few weeks before camp, Tony Romo cut down on the paparazzi following him by dumping girlfriend Jessica Simpson.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants got into the playoffs last year, with Giants winning the division and the Eagles knocking them off on the way to the conference finals. Both are picked to finish ahead of Dallas this season.
"I think that's fair," Jones said. "We've just got to go see. ... I'm excited about the possibilities."
Dallas didn't add any splashy free agents. Instead, the club is ready to find out what it has in several second-, third- and fourth-year guys, like running back Felix Jones, tight end Martellus Bennett, receivers Miles Austin and Sam Hurd and cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick.
So this training camp - which, coincidentally, moved from the lip of the Pacific Ocean to inside the Alamodome - the focus is back on football. Even without many position battles, the intrigue right now is rooted squarely on what happens on the field: Can Roy Williams replace T.O.? How will the trio of running backs be used? What will DeMarcus Ware do for an encore to his 20-sack season?
More importantly, the intrigue is NOT on Owens vs. Romo and other subplots that pulled apart last year's team.
"We're kind of tired of hearing the same old questions, the same old situations," Crayton said. "It's 2009. 2008 is over. We can't go back and change history. Now it's our turn to write our own book."
That start-with-a-clean-slate metaphor was used among the players at the start of camp to help emphasize the new mindset. Something else they talked about was solidarity, which extends to keeping whatever happens in the locker room strictly in the locker room.
"We're going to handle it a little different this year," Crayton said. "Don't be offended by us not answering questions."
The consensus prediction for the Cowboys is a 9-7 record. Even the most optimistic outlooks don't have them winning their first Super Bowl since 1995. Of course, they still could. Jones pointed out that late last season no one considered the Arizona Cardinals as being Super Bowl material.
"We got a good core group together and were just trying to build on that," Witten said. "I don't know what that means as far as where we're going to end up, but when your approach is the right way and you have the right focus, you put yourself in a very good position to be successful."
Expectations different in 2009
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