Farewell to an All-Time Great?

Dallas owner Jerry Jones said recently that there is a possibility the Cowboys will release left tackle Flozell Adams this offseason as the team tries to get younger and more athletic on the offensive line.

It seems unlikely that will happen — even if Dallas drafts an offensive tackle who is ready to start, the offensive line is so woefully thin it would be silly to dump Adams — but if it does, the Cowboys should come up with a significant tribute to the man who has anchored the offensive line for the last 12 years.

He hasn't always been the most popular player — Adams rarely talks to the media, and fans have soured on him at times in recent years because he has been more prone to penalties and speedy pass rushers in recent years — but the Cowboys' second-round pick in the 1998 draft has had an exceptional career.

When he arrived after being selected out of Michigan State, Adams immediately impressed his teammates and the gathered media with his size — he is modestly listed at 338 pounds on a 6-foot-7 frame that for most of his career was so lean he looked more like a small forward than an offensive tackle — and extraordinary quickness and athleticism. Dallas rarely left a tight end in on his side to block through most of his career, because Adams is big and strong enough to handle power rushers and quick enough and light enough on his feet to handle speed rushers.

His 2005 season was cut short by a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his right knee; other than that, he has been remarkably durable at a position that requires its occupants to tax their bodies at an extraordinary rate, both in the twisting and cutting of legs, and the physical pounding their upper bodies take from hard-charging pass rushers. Through it all, Adams has helped keep a slew of quarterbacks — including Troy Aikman, Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchison, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Bledsoe and of course Tony Romo — largely upright and in one piece.

He was named to the NFL's 1998 All-Rookie Team, was designated the Cowboys' Franchise Player in 2002 and was named to five Pro Bowls.

Again, it's not likely the Cowboys will part ways with Adams this offseason, regardless of his contract — he has four years remaining on a six-year deal he signed with the team in 2008 for more than $43 million — and regardless of what Jones says.

But if it does happen, the team, fans and media alike need to focus on just how good Adams has been over his career. Hopefully he won't be forced to decide whether to retire or sign with another team — there was something so wrong about seeing Tony Dorsett in a Denver Broncos uniform, and Emmitt Smith finishing his career as an Arizona Cardinal.

Adams never got the attention some of his more talkative teammates garnered, but whenever his playing days are over, he will be on the short list of the best offensive linemen ever to wear the silver helmet with the blue star.

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