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Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Perfect fit: America's Team and Michael Sam

By Jean-Jacques Taylor

Sam
A struggling Cowboys defense could use Michael Sam, the reigning SEC defensive player of the year.

IRVING, Texas -- If there were ever a team built to add Michael Sam, the NFL's first openly gay player, it's the Dallas Cowboys.

Sam, expected to join the practice squad if he passes a physical Wednesday, will fit right in.

Just like Deion Sanders did. And Bill Parcells did. And Terrell Owens did. Hey, this is America's Team, the NFL's most polarizing franchise.

No other franchise is even close.

That's why they're still a regular part of the league's prime-time television package even though a generation has grown up in north Texas with no clue the Cowboys used to rule the NFL.

Love them. Or hate them. You can't live without them, which is why whatever the Cowboys do -- even signing a player to the practice squad -- still makes big news.

While other teams might've been reluctant to sign Sam because they feared his presence would be a distraction that's a non-factor in Dallas where Jerry Jones believes the more mini-cams the better.

These players are used to having a locker room full of media every day during the season. Five, 10 or 20 more isn't going to be a big deal.

Jerry Jones
Remember, Jerry Jones is a marketing genius who believes every word written or spoken about the Cowboys, positively or negatively, is good for business.
Remember, Jerry is a marketing genius who believes every word written or spoken about the Cowboys, positively or negatively, is good for business.

Jerry's approach is among the reasons the Cowboys have one of the world's most recognizable logos.

Remember there's an article in the current edition of ESPN The Magazine in which Jerry bemoans the fact he didn't draft quarterback Johnny Manziel in the first round, "because it would've kept the Cowboys relevant for 10 years."

See, to Jerry, a player who keeps the Cowboys in the headlines is as important as a player who helps them win. A player who can do both is invaluable.

Frankly, there's no one who can tell you absolutely why Sam is getting an opportunity in Dallas.

The Cowboys didn't like him as a player as they researched him leading up to the draft. Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli wants a defense built on speed and quickness, which is not Sam's forte.

The Cowboys had the 16th, 23rd and 33rd picks in the seventh round and passed on Sam each time.

Maybe, the Cowboys' perspective has changed because the defense has the potential to be the worst statistical unit in NFL history. Then again, he could be joining the Cowboys' practice squad because it'll help Jerry sell even more Cowboys' jerseys than he does now.

After all, Sam's jersey has been among the highest-sellers since the Rams took him in the seventh round.

Those of you who deal in conspiracy theories will find it interesting that news of Josh Brent's reinstatement -- he's eligible to play Week 11 -- arrived a couple of hours after news broke that Sam would potentially be joining the Cowboys' practice squad.

If Sam can contribute to the Cowboys' raggedy defense then great, but Jerry is always beyond thrilled anytime he can create one more reason for folks to talk, write or lead their sportscasts with the Cowboys.

It's no accident Forbes recently valued the Cowboys at $3.2 billion, making them the NFL's most valuable franchise. Imagine, how much the Cowboys would be worth, if they actually won some games?

The Cowboys are 136-136 with one playoff win since the start of the 1997. They've missed the playoffs each of the past four years and most people think coach Jason Garrett will be fired if the Cowboys miss the playoffs again.

The Cowboys are expected to have one of the NFL's worst defenses, so giving last year's SEC defensive player of the year a chance to earn a roster spot isn't out of the realm of possibility.

The Cowboys gave up 27 points and 415.3 yards per game last season, and they're without their top three players from that unit. DeMarcus Ware (Denver) and Jason Hatcher (Washington) left via free agency and Sean Lee tore his ACL and is out for the year.

The current unit is filled with journeymen, youngsters trying to make a name for themselves and veterans determined to reclaim their careers.

Since Saturday, the Cowboys have traded a conditional pick to Tennessee for defensive end Lavar Edwards and signed Jack Crawford and linebacker Korey Toomer to the active roster.

Sam, trying to prove he can play in the NFL after a great college career, should fit right in.

One way or the other.