Dallas Cowboys: 2013 HOF

HOF tour an 'awesome experience'

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio -– After arriving around 6 p.m. ET on Saturday in Akron, the Dallas Cowboys made the short drive to the Pro Football Hall of Fame to take a tour of the facility before listening to some of the speeches.

For some of the players, it was at least their second time through the Hall, with the Cowboys playing in the 2010 Hall of Fame Game against Cincinnati. For some of the players, it was their first trip.

“That was awesome, great experience,” Jason Witten said of the tour. “The favorite part of being there was with the busts and seeing all those great players. Like any player you always visualize one day the dream of that being able to be accomplished.”

Witten and Sean Lee are at different points in their careers. Witten is entering his 11th season, has played in eight Pro Bowls and is the Cowboys’ all-time leader in receptions. Lee is entering his fourth season and has yet to play in a Pro Bowl.

Lee said he didn’t allow himself to wonder about the Hall of Fame.

“Your goal is to be the best player you can be,” Lee said. “You look up to these players growing up and try to emulate them and how they worked.”

Special feeling for Jason Witten, Sean Lee

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio – As Bill Parcells unveiled his bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Jason Witten was among the thousands in the crowd taking a cell phone picture.

Witten was coached by Parcells from 2003-06 and views the now Hall-of-Fame coach as a mentor. The team arrived before the Hall of Fame ceremony and had a private tour of the shrine before sitting in the audience to hear Parcells and Larry Allen speak.

“It was a special feeling,” Witten said after Parcells’ speech. “Obviously coming into the league under a guy like him, you learn so much. He was a legendary coach before he got to Dallas, but he had a huge impact on a lot of us. I think I’m the player I am today because of the impact he had. It was neat to see him at this moment.”

Sean Lee did not play for Parcells, but the linebacker was riveted to Parcells’ speech. Parcells described the locker room and a “mythical kinship,” that develops and all of the good and bad that happens.

“I just know that it was fun to hear him describe the locker room,” Lee said. “I thought that was pretty appropriate. It was fun to see a guy that had that much success describe it like that point. It was awesome to hear.”

Cowboys comment on Larry Allen's speech

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio – Outside of the locker room, Larry Allen rarely let people get to know what he was really like. He was just shy.

“My goal was simple, to earn a seven letter word called respect,” Allen said, adding, “Today, my mission is complete.”

With teammates Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith on the stage and teammates like Alvin Harper, Russell Maryland and Nate Newton in the seats in front of him, Allen spoke for more than 16 minutes in a heartfelt acceptance speech at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He thanked family, friends and teammates.

And those close to Allen could not say enough good things about what they thought about his speech.

“What I love is that everybody got to see what Larry Allen was all about,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said. “That’s probably more than he said in 12 years with the Cowboys. It was amazing.”

Jason Garrett, the current coach and Allen’s former teammate, said teammates were texting him during the day about the length of Allen’s speech. Thirty seconds? A minute? Ninety seconds?

“He was just tremendous,” Garrett said. “He’s such a genuine person and I think he captured what made him great really, really well. Dominate your opponent and all those things, he’s such a prideful person, and I think that was a big contributing factor to how great a player he was.”

CANTON, Ohio -- Larry Allen's speech lasted 16 minutes. Not sure anyone thought it would go more than 10 since he's a man of so few words.

Here are some highlights:

About being a man of few words: "During my career, I didn't talk that much, but I didn't have to. I used my helmet."

About his wife Janelle: "On our first date, she cooked for me. She cooked me two chickens, french fries, baked me a cake and gave me a 40 ounce. I knew then, that was my wife."

About his son, Larry III: "Very polite. But once he gets on that field, he's a beast just like his daddy."

About his grandmother: "When I was 14, she sat me down and said, 'Larry, you need to find out what you're good and go do it.' I think I did that, Granny."

About bench pressing 700 pounds: "I got in that weight room and became the strongest man in the NFL. I did it naturally. What's funny is once I benched 700 pounds, they tested me two times a week for the rest of my career."

About his career: "My goal was simple: to earn a seven-letter word called 'respect.' The respect of my teammates, opponents and the NFL. Today, my mission is complete."

Stephen Jones: Larry Allen HOF tackle, too

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio – Larry Allen made his bones as a guard during his Hall of Fame career.

Dallas Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones believes part of Allen’s greatness was versatility. Allen arrived as a right guard in 1994, and the plan was to move him to left tackle on a permanent basis in 1998. Instead, he played left guard for most of his time with the Cowboys.

“He’s certainly a legend,” Jones said. “And you heard of all the people that got the Larry Allen flu when they played the Cowboys. He’s another one that’s best in class as far as an offensive guard in the NFL. What a lot don’t know is when we signed him I guess to his second contract we thought he’d be our left tackle and he made the Pro Bowl at tackle. We ended up with some tackles, so we kept playing him at guard, but I think Larry would’ve been a Hall of Fame guard or tackle. Either side. He was special like that.”

Bill Parcells: Sean Payton 'gets it'

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio -- Bill Parcells has a tall and successful coaching tree that features Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin and Sean Payton, who have combined to win six Super Bowls since 2001.

All three will be in attendance at Saturday night’s Hall of Fame ceremony.

“I had a pretty good crew,” Parcells said. “That’s what we say in Jersey. I really did.”

Belichick was an assistant coach under Parcells with the New York Giants, New York Jets and New England Patriots. Coughlin was Parcells’ assistant with the Giants. Payton had a three-year run with the Cowboys from 2003 to '05.

It was almost only a two-year run when Payton initially accepted the Oakland Raiders' offer to become head coach following the 2004 season, but Parcells and owner Jerry Jones talked Payton into staying with Dallas, bumping Payton’s salary to $1 million.

Payton left after the ’05 season for the New Orleans Saints.

“Sean gets it,” Parcells said. “He really gets it. Like all of us when we’re young, he didn’t always get it, but he gets it now. And he knows what’s important, and he’s absolutely a terrific listener. He’s very bright, creative and I have a high regard for him. I really do.”

Story behind the Larry Allen pump

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio -- It was easy to tell when Larry Allen was excited during a game.

He would raise his right arm and pump it up and down after a long gain.

The crowd noticed, but Allen said he never really caught the reaction.

“I don’t think the crowd knew what that meant,” Allen said. “Whenever I did that, that was to Sean Payton because I wanted him to run the same play over again. So if I did something good on that play, I’d do that and he’d run the same play.”

John Madden has said Allen is one of the three best guards to ever play, along with John Hannah and Gene Upshaw. Bill Parcells had Allen with Hannah and Mike Munchak as one of the three best.

The reason? His strength.

“I’d punch them, two-handed punch, pass protection,” Allen said.

He learned it from Hudson Houck, his line coach when the Cowboys drafted him in 1994.

“I think he has four Hall of Famers he’s coached,” Allen said. “Players he coached played in over 100 Pro Bowls, so he’s a great coach.”

Warren Sapp praises Rod Marinelli

August, 3, 2013
CANTON, Ohio – Warren Sapp’s introduction to Rod Marinelli was rough, but as Sapp enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he’s not so sure he would be here if not for the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive line coach.

From 1996-03, Marinelli was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive line coach and Sapp was at the top of his game. Or so he thought.

“He made me dream beyond anything I could see for myself because he spent more hours there,” Sapp said. “I realize that now. I get Defensive Player of the Year in 1999, 12.5 sacks, and we lose in the championship game, 11-6. I get back the next day and I walk into the meeting room with my chest out, ‘What you got for me now?’ He said, ‘Let’s see if your play can catch up with your athletic ability.’ What does that mean? He says, ‘What can you do athletically?’ I said, ‘Almost anything,’ and he said, ‘There you go.’ I come back with 16.5 sacks. He always had the next challenge for me. He would never let me rest.”

It was a tough love, too.

“If he wanted to talk to the group, he would yell and curse at me,” Sapp said. “When he first started doing it, I waited in the meeting room and said, ‘Me and you got to talk.’ He said, ‘I’m not talking to you. I’m talking to the unit. But if I talk to you like that they’ll allow me to talk that way.’ I couldn’t fathom it, ‘Coach, I’m giving you everything I’ve got. Look at the tape.’ He says, ‘I know, but I want to get that from the rest and if I talk to you, they’ll follow.”

Larry Allen and Bill Parcells found themselves at the wrong point in their careers, when Parcells took over the Dallas Cowboys in 2003.

Allen, a great player, was a 10-year veteran trying to squeeze a few more years out of his body. Parcells, a great coach, was trying to make the Cowboys a winner after the worst three-year stretch of the Jerry Jones era.

We shouldn't be surprised they clashed.

The surprise is that it was rooted in Allen's offseason approach. Allen wanted his offseason conditioning program built around the bench press, which is what he'd always done. Parcells wanted him doing clean and jerks as the base of his offseason program because it's an exercise that builds strength and power.

"I was paid to play football," Allen said. "I just wanted to do what I had always done. It's what made me the player I was and I wanted to do it my way."

Parcells said Allen's personality made it difficult for them to develop a rapport or find a common ground. If Allen hadn't signed a six-year, $37 million contract extension in 2002, he probably wouldn't have lasted three seasons with Parcells.

"I think he’s a good person. I always thought that. He was a little overweight at the time," Parcells said of the 2004 training camp. "He wasn't in great condition. I’m trying to get my program started and I got him -- one of my best players supposed to be running wind sprints up and down the field not practicing. That was hard for him and that was hard for me.

"I never really conversed with Larry on an intimate basis. I see him and he’s cordial and nice. He had a great career."

Despite their differences, Parcells said Allen is one of the top three guards he's ever seen.

"He’s right there at the top with John Hannah and Mike Munchak," Parcells said. "Larry was very powerful, probably the most powerful player I’d ever seen."
Bill Parcells knows exactly why Quincy Carter failed with the Cowboys. And it has nothing to do with drugs. Or mental illness.

The 2001 second-roound pick -- the 53rd player taken -- had a substantial fear of success.

That's why he figured out a way to get released in training camp less than a year after leading the Cowboys to a 10-6 record and their first playoff berth since 1999.

"I became pretty close with Quincy personally, and this kid had a lot of good qualities," Parcells said. "He was smart. He understood it. But I just couldn’t save his ass. I really couldn’t.

"You just didn’t have the time. There he is, he got his team in the playoffs, he’s the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, he’s playing good, he’s improving, he can get out of trouble, he’s pretty smart, he can make almost every throw -- and it’s just, some people just can’t fight the pressure to succeed.

"They just can’t fight it. It’s too much on them once the bar gets up a little bit. It’s too much. I don’t know all the problems or the demons exactly, but that’s what eventually took him down."

Carter started three games for the New York Jets in 2004 and never played another NFL down.

Tony Romo was an undrafted free agent on the 2004 Cowboys, hoping to prove he belonged in the NFL. Forty-one-year-old Vinny Testeverde, who started 15 games, and Drew Henson were also on the roster for the Cowboys, who finished 6-10.

Less than three seasons later, Romo started his first game for the Cowboys. Now, he's one of the league's best quarterbacks.

Parcells wasn't surprised Romo received an opportunity to play.

"There were a couple of guys there that I knew I was going to have trouble counting on," Parcells said. "Henson because of his newness and he didn’t seem to be able to sort things out and Quincy because of, you know ... "

Bill Parcells 'proud' of DeMarcus Ware

August, 2, 2013
CANTON, Ohio – On Aug. 22, 2005, it did not take DeMarcus Ware long to make an impression.

Going against Seattle’s perennial Pro Bowl tackle Walter Jones in just his second preseason game ever, Ware had three tackles, two forced fumbles, a sack, an interception, a pass deflection and a fumble recovery.


Parcells was quick to remind those asking questions after the game to not get Ware’s bust for the Pro Football Hall of Fame ready just yet.

“With this media the way it is nowadays and the internet and the social media, we’re quick to anoint these guys,” Parcells said Friday. “You know, that’s the last thing he needed to hear, in my opinion, at the time because he really didn’t know what the hell he was doing and that was the truth. But he found out and he continued to do it well. I’m proud of him and he’s turned into quite a football player.”

Perhaps one who could have his bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame with Parcells’ bust. Ware has been named to the Pro Bowl for the last seven years and his 111 sacks are a team record.

“He’s done a terrific job, that kid,” Parcells said. “He’s a good competitive kid and he’s a high-quality person, highly motivated. He’s a quality guy.”
A year after Bill Parcells retired, the Cowboys went 13-3 and posted the best record in the NFC.

So does Parcells have any regrets about not hanging around at least one more year because there’s a good chance he could’ve taken his third different team to the Super Bowl?

Instead, he wound up with same number of playoff wins as Dave Campo after four seasons. The difference, of course, is that Parcells built the foundation of that 2007 team.

“We had talented players by that time, and it had transitioned from what you would call a smaller, quicker style of play to a bigger more powerful style,” Parcells said of the transition to the 3-4 defense. “We had some good backs. We had some pretty good receivers. Tony (Romo) was coming along, but I don’t look back at that stuff.

“You decide what you’re going to do. You don’t base it on what might be in the future because you just don’t know.”

Larry Allen: Jerry Jones is 'father figure'

August, 2, 2013

CANTON, Ohio – In 2007, Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones introduced Michael Irvin at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In 2010, Jones did the same for Emmitt Smith.

On Saturday, Jones will introduce Larry Allen.

“He’s like a father figure to me,” Allen said. “If I had a problem I couldn’t solve on my own, he would help me and say, ‘Let’s see what we can do about this.’”

Jones and Allen were able to speak for a little bit Friday afternoon before attending the gold jacket ceremony.

“Seemed like every day at practice, he’d be there over the 12 years I was there,” Allen said. “Anytime you could just go up and talk to him.”

Allen said he spoke with Smith, the man he helped become the NFL’s all-time leading rusher, about what to expect during Hall of Fame weekend.

“He said, ‘Get ready,’ and he said I have to talk for 10 minutes,” Allen joked.

Allen, who is not a man of many words, has practiced his speech for the last three weeks. And it will be close to that 10-minute mark.

“I’m going to go longer than two minutes,” Allen said.

Allen said he hopes to get to Cowboys training camp next week in Oxnard, Calif., to see the offensive line. Considering the state of the interior of the line, can he still play?

“Yeah, if I had to, I could get out there,” Allen said.


“No, I’m done,” he said.

For modern game, Parcells will take Romo

August, 2, 2013

CANTON, Ohio – Bill Parcells was extremely hard on his quarterbacks when he was a head coach.

He would have mostly one-sided arguments with Phil Simms, Drew Bledsoe and Vinny Testaverde over the years when something would go wrong and even when things would go right.

At the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday, Parcells, who will be inducted Saturday, was asked which quarterback he coached that he would want forever and Tony Romo was mentioned.

“Well, what do you want them for?” said Parcells, who coached the Cowboys from 2003-06. “If you want them for fighting it out, just fight it out to death -- Phil Simms. You want them for, OK, just passing the ball, you want to make this 100 percent passing, picturesque and classic, then I have to have Vinny Testaverde. Now if you want to play the modern game and you got to be elusive and get away from then, you give me Tony Romo.”

Parcells took to Romo quickly after signing him as an undrafted rookie, but he didn’t have Romo throw a pass in a regular-season game until 2006. Romo started 10 games in what turned out to be Parcells’ final season, going 6-4 and directing the Cowboys to the playoffs.

Over the years, they have stayed in touch mostly by telephone and Romo, like Jason Witten, can still hear Parcells in the back of his mind when he’s on the field.

“Bill is a big influence on me,” Romo said. “He taught me a lot about the game and the approach. He had some great wisdom in a lot of areas. It wasn’t just to manage the team. It was about people. It was about his ability to know little things you might be thinking or might be going on in your head. I think he’s pretty gifted at that.”

Parcells' players remember former coach

August, 1, 2013
OXNARD, Calif. -- Bill Parcells has not coached the Dallas Cowboys since the 2006 season, but his impact on the team remains through the seven players still on the roster.

Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff, Jason Hatcher, L.P. Ladouceur and Miles Austin all played under Parcells in Dallas.

“There’s a few left there,” said Parcells, who will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. “They still have my long snapper (LaDouceur), right? There’s a few, I don’t think too many, but still a few. I look forward to seeing them.”

ESPN Dallas asked the remaining players for their favorite Parcells story.

Undrafted free agent, 2003

"Going against the Giants the day they put me in at halftime. I remember we were leaving the hotel and he goes, ‘Hey, are you ready to go today?’ He’d done that before and he’s sitting down and I said, ‘I’m ready,’ and he’s just like, ‘No, are you ready to go today?' I said yeah. ‘Make sure you are.’ It was just something different about it in the way he approached it. He was letting me know that if the opportunity came up he had come to the conclusion, I feel like, that if the game wasn’t going the right way he was going to go to me. He ended up doing that. I just remember he made me feel very comfortable in the sense of knowing. I had gone three and a half years and played maybe two snaps in the NFL, so it was going to be a big moment for me no matter what, so he allowed me to get a little bit ready. He made it easy on me so I only threw three interceptions in that half."

[+] EnlargeJason Witten
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireJason Witten remembers receiving baby food from coach Bill Parcells during his rookie season.
Third round, 2003

"I broke my jaw my rookie year. I get out of the hospital on a Tuesday and I come in Wednesday morning to the meeting and we had treatment at 6:30 a.m. I come in there and my mouth is swollen. I’m obviously off that week’s game and he walks in at 6:45. It’s 15 minutes into treatment and there’s really nothing they can do other than give me an ice pack to help with the swelling. I’m just kind of there because I have to be there. Bill walks in and looks at Jim Maurer and Britt Brown, ‘Where’s Witten?’ and he made a beeline to me in the corner. I’m still on pain meds, the whole deal. I haven’t been out of surgery 24 hours and he’s like, ‘Listen to me. I’ve got the key to what’s going to get you back out there quickly. Now, I’ve been here with guys and I’ve seen guys go through this and the big thing is keeping weight on and your stamina up. You’ll be OK. I went to the store and I got you this … ' He pulled out two jars of baby food, sweet potatoes. And he was dead serious. He goes, ‘Go get this. There’s good calories, good fat. It’ll keep your weight on.’ And was completely serious about eating baby food. No, I didn’t eat it. But it was pretty cool to think he really believed that I could come back and play. And I did play, obviously, the next day. I still think he probably thinks I ate that baby food."

First round, 2005

"For me as a rookie coming in, it’s your responsibility of getting his Gatorade. You think about getting a guy a Gatorade, and, 'Ah, I can do that every practice,’ but he would play mental games with it. He made it challenging to the point where right before the defense and offense guys would get done, he’ll go to the other end of the field and I’d have to run all the way down the field to him. He liked orange Gatorade and on the first one I brought to him somebody gave me blue and I ran down and it was wrong, so that was my first mess-up. Secondly, he’d just talk to me the whole time either about Lawrence Taylor or some other pass-rushers that sort of played like I did to him. So he’d be on the side of the field and the horn would ring and I had to run full speed all the way back to the huddle, so that was like an extra thing he did. I could tell he had a smirk on his face and he was laughing. He always played those games with me. I figured it out one day. I put the trainer right beside him and told the trainer, ‘Hey, just make sure you get him this orange Gatorade. You see me running down, just make sure it’s right no matter what.’ He’d start talking to me and I was like, ‘Coach, I’ll be right back. I’ve got something to do.’ He figured it out though pretty quick."

[+] EnlargeHatcher
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezJason Hatcher calls Bill Parcells one of the best coaches that he's ever had.
Third round, 2006

"My favorite Parcells story kind of stunk for a minute, but it was my rookie year and I had a baby. My wife went into labor at like 1 o’clock, so we were at the hospital at like 5:30 in the morning. I called Bill and I said, ‘Coach, my wife just had a baby. No one is in town to kind of support her, what should I do? He said, ‘I tell you what, you do what you think is best.’ I did what I thought was best and stayed with my wife. About three hours later my D-line coach called and said, ‘You got to get up here at 5:30 (in the morning) and watch all the film.’ And Bill fined me $5,000. But I ended up not having to pay thanks to Jason Ferguson and Terrell Owens. They went and got it changed for me. But just a great guy; I don’t hold that against him. That’s just who he is. He’s a straight shooter, and if not for that guy, I wouldn’t be here. That’s one of the best coaches I ever had."

Undrafted free agent, 2006

"He was always hard on me. Todd Haley was our receivers coach and he made sure Todd was always hard on me. I remember we played a game in Atlanta and I broke my hand. I never broken anything during a game, especially up to that point because I didn’t play much football, but I remember thinking, ‘Damn, my fingers are messed up.’ I don’t know if I should talk to a trainer or what. I’m like working my way over to trainers, about to say something and he’s like, ‘Miles, get back in there. Tape it up.’ They literally gave me like an Advil essentially and taped me back up and played the game. But it’s one of the things you’re glad you did it later. At the time, I’m like, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’ve still got to kick return. I’ve got to cover kicks and run and tackle somebody and my hand is banged up.’ It’s one of those things where you’re happy you did it afterward. Those are the coaches you look at that you remember and feel a great way toward because they’re the ones that helped you through adversity."

Free agent, 2005

"We were at camp my first (full) year in 2006 and I go to weigh in, and right as I weigh in he’s sitting there with Joe Juraszek and he tells me, ‘There’s the only guy who doesn’t have any competition at camp,’ and I’m like, whatever. He says, ‘Don’t you forget that I got four guys lined up just for you.’ Hahahahahaha. He was just playing with me head, but he was good at it. He knew what he was doing. He’s in the Hall of Fame, so he did something right a few times."

Seventh round, 2005

"My draft call on draft day, I don’t remember what Jerry (Jones) said, but I remember Bill getting on the phone and he says, ‘Well, I guess we’re going to draft you,’ and in my mind I’m like, ‘You guess?’ I was like, ‘Well, Coach, I appreciate the opportunity,’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ll get a fair shot,’ and he hung up the phone. That’s been my motivation ever since."