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Friday, May 9, 2014
Manziel never really a thought for Cowboys

By Todd Archer

IRVING, Texas -- Forget everything you think you know about Jerry Jones.

When faced with the chance to take Johnny Manziel and all that the Texas A&M quarterback would have brought to the Dallas Cowboys, Jones opted for offensive lineman Zack Martin.

And to hear Jones tell it, it was not a hard decision. Till death do him part, Jones is married to Tony Romo.

Johnny Manziel
Johnny Manziel would have brought a bright spotlight to Dallas, but the Cowboys opted for an offensive lineman instead.
Jones said he was surprised Manziel was still available when the Cowboys picked at No. 16. He was more surprised that having Manziel available did not bring about a "bonanza" of offers to make a trade.

"Romo, by contract as well as by commitment, is going to be certainly the quarterback for several years to come," Jones said. "Don’t care who we drafted, that's the way it was going to be. So that's what was going through our minds. That's why we didn't spend a lot of time considering Manziel."

It might be surprising to many. Jones has long been known for wanting a buzz around his team. Manziel would have offered more buzz than any player the Cowboys could have drafted. The marriage of Jones, the NFL's king of marketing, and Manziel, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from Texas A&M, would have kept the Cowboys in the news from May through whenever Manziel took over for Romo.

"John Madden once told me when I was telling him about this idea of personalities and being involved with the Dallas Cowboys," Jones said. "He said, 'Jerry, the Cowboys have all the flash, have all the visibility that you could ever conjure up. Make your decisions, get the best players and coaches that win the games. You got all the rest you'd want. You don't need to have big-time flash to be involved in the NFL and be successful in the league.' I've always remembered that. No, frankly that [picking Manziel] wasn’t even a thought. This was such an obvious football … decision."

Jones might not have always remembered Madden's words during his time as the Cowboys' owner, but they came to his mind on Thursday when nobody really thought they would.

In 1998, Jones passed on Randy Moss and took Greg Ellis instead. Moss tormented the Cowboys for years. Every time the Cowboys played the Minnesota Vikings, Ellis had to answer questions about Moss.

Coach Jason Garrett, who gets to avoid the circus that would have followed had Manziel become a Cowboy, described Martin as the right kind of guy. Martin was a four-year starter at Notre Dame. He was a two-year captain. He epitomizes Garrett’s "right kind of guy" ethos.

"He's everything you want," Garrett said. "Someone referenced him as one of the safest picks in the draft. And that's a compliment, but we don’t see him as safe. We see him as a damn good football player."

Manziel wasn't safe. He would have come with risk. Good and bad. Maybe he develops into a franchise quarterback, using the disappointment of slipping so far in the first round as fire the way Moss did when he fell to the Vikings.

Sixteen years after Ellis had to do it with Moss, Martin now steps into that shadow of being the guy the Cowboys took instead of Manziel.

"That's fine by me," Martin said. "I can live up to that."