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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones ended his self-imposed silence following his infamous Marion Barber comments from last Sunday to shed light on the latest drama at Valley Ranch on Friday. Reports of a growing divide in the Cowboys' locker room continue to unfold, but Jones said it's all part of the club's cutting-edge "continual communication" program in which players are allowed to complain about each other without fear of retribution. Think of it as the Cowboys' whistle-blower rule.
Bill Parcells once benched a quarterback for having the audacity to ask about his role on the team. My how things have changed. Fortunately, Jones cleared the whole thing up on his weekly radio show on 1310 "The Ticket" in Dallas.
"There is no issue between the players. None," said Jones. "I'm underlining none. If you could be out there right this minute, or right out there today, you'll see these players. They're co-captains. You'll see these guys -- Witten, Owens, Bradie James -- you'll see these guys talking it up and getting ready for a ballgame Sunday.
"There's just no issue. And I think if you and I continue to talk about it and speculate and give what-ifs, then you make something that's not an issue an issue. Let's talk about something else that's going on out there. Who's Wade meeting with right now? Do you think he's meeting with Brian [Stewart], or do you think he's meeting with the special teams coach? Let's talk about that."
So you can see Jones' strategy is to pretend that nothing out of the ordinary took place at Valley Ranch this week. And with this team, he may not be far off. If I have this straight, Witten did a radio interview with a New York radio station Thursday that was booked before the latest controversy. He confirmed his close friendship with Romo, but said he and his pal were not secretly drawing up plays in their private time.
Cornerback Terence Newman went on ESPN's "First Take" on Friday and said the team chemistry was "great," but then he insinuated that coaches aren't owning up to their mistakes. But let me once again stress that team chemistry is better than ever.
Terrell Owens responded to the controversy last night in an interview with the Dallas Morning News.
"I'm not jealous of Witten," Owens said. "I'm not jealous of nobody. I can take the approach that I got paid, so screw everything, but that's not me."
The nobility of this man is stunning. He's continuing to play football -- after he's already been paid. T.O. called the meeting with Garrett "productive" and said there was "nothing negative about it."
Jones said he had the opportunity to visit with T.O. for 10 to 15 minutes during Thursday's practice, but said the subject of the meeting with Garrett never came up. And honestly, that points to the larger problem: These players aren't accountable to their teammates and coaches, in part, because they can always run to Jones' office. He is the ultimate enabler, and as long as he's running the team, this type of stuff will go in.
Phillips will go back to the time-honored tradition of blaming this entire episode on the media -- and maybe many of you guys will agree. Certainly, if the Cowboys beat the Giants on Sunday, all will be right with the world. But if they don't, the "secret meeting" will be another chapter in the story of how the 2008 Cowboys missed the playoffs.
Jones called Sunday's game the "most important one we've had in many, many years." And we'll have more on that game -- as well as the other two games involving NFC East teams -- in Audibles later today.