NFC East: Roger Staubach

IRVING, Texas -- If all goes according to plan on Sunday, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo will surpass Hall of Famer Roger Staubach for number of starts in franchise history at 115.

Romo
When Romo plays against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium he will have 115 starts, second-most in franchise history behind Troy Aikman (165).

"Roger is the elite of the elite," said Romo, who is behind Staubach (85) and Aikman (94) in wins with 68. "I think anytime you're good at anything and you're mentioned in the same breath, playing the same number of games, it's obviously a huge honor. You're just humbled by it, but knowing Roger the way I do, he's excited by what we've been doing. I'll be excited to see him after one of these home wins and get a chance to communicate with him."

Staubach reached out to Romo after he became a full-time starter in 2006, and the two formed a close relationship. Staubach has said many times that he believes the Cowboys will win a Super Bowl with Romo as the starting quarterback.

"It's been great," Romo said of having Staubach in his corner. "I think just knowing you have a guy like that reaching out and saying positive things and believing in me, it makes you feel that you are doing something right. He's been great to me and my family, and we will be huge Roger Staubach fans."

Roger Staubach and Drew PearsonAP Photo/Bill Kostroum
Score: Cowboys 17, Vikings 14
Date: Dec. 28, 1975 Site: Metropolitan Stadium

With nearly 40,000 votes cast, Roger Staubach’s Hail Mary pass to Drew Pearson was voted as the most memorable play in Dallas Cowboys' history by the ESPN.com readers.

Troy Aikman’s fourth-quarter pass to Alvin Harper in the 1992 NFC Championship Game against the San Francisco 49ers that set in motion the 1990s dynasty finished second. Bob Lilly's sack of Bob Griese in Super Bowl VI was a distant third even if it propelled the Cowboys to their first championship.

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Cowboys' history?

  •  
    57%
  •  
    36%
  •  
    7%

Discuss (Total votes: 38,414)

The voters got this one right. Staubach is the most iconic player in franchise history, and that play is frozen in time. It was one of the most iconic plays in NFL history and introduced “Hail Mary,” into the league’s lexicon. You cannot write the history of the NFL without that play.

To recap the play: With time running out in a 1975 divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys had the ball at midfield and needed a miracle. They had dominated statistically, but the Vikings had a 14-10 lead.

Staubach pumped to his left after taking the shotgun snap, in hopes of moving safety Paul Krause away from the sideline. As he pumped, Staubach said he nearly lost the ball and as a result the pass was underthrown.

Subsequently, Pearson had to pull up and either knocked Nate Wright down (Minnesota's version) or made an excellent adjustment to the ball (Dallas' version) to score the winning touchdown, pinning the ball against his right hip.

Some of you wondered why Tony Dorsett's 99-yard run, Emmitt Smith's carry in which he broke Walter Payton’s rushing record or his stiff-arm of Lawrence Taylor playing with a separated shoulder, Clint Longley's Thanksgiving Day heave against the Redskins or even Leon Lett's miscue in Super Bowl XXVII didn’t make the list.

Two of my personal favorites: Marion Barber’s run out of the end zone against the New England Patriots breaking seven tackles and Tony Romo's first-down scramble vs. the St. Louis Rams after a shotgun snap sailed over his head didn’t make the list either.

There needed to be some historic value to the play. The Hail Mary had that, so did Aikman-to-Harper and Lilly’s sack.

But there’s no question which play had the most value.
Bob Lilly and Bob GrieseAP Photo
» VOTE HERE » NFC Plays: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

This is one of three finalists for the most memorable plays in Cowboys history. We already discussed the Troy Aikman-to-Alvin Harper pass in the 1992 NFC Championship Game and the Hail Mary from Roger Staubach to Drew Pearson.

Please vote for your choice as the Cowboys’ most memorable play.

Score: Cowboys 24, Dolphins 3
Date: Jan. 16, 1972 Site: Tulane Stadium

The Cowboys were known as "Next Year's Champions" after losing the 1966 NFL championship to the Green Bay Packers, the ’67 title game (better known as the Ice Bowl) to the Packers and Super Bowl V to the Baltimore Colts.

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Cowboys' history?

  •  
    57%
  •  
    36%
  •  
    7%

Discuss (Total votes: 38,414)

But the Cowboys quickly put to rest any doubt that they would win Super Bowl VI against the Miami Dolphins.

After taking a 3-0 lead, the Cowboys forced Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese into retreat mode. Larry Cole had the first chance at Griese but jumped in the air, allowing the quarterback to escape. Briefly. And in reverse. Eventually, Bob Lilly, Mr. Cowboy, was able to bring Griese down for a 29-yard loss.

Doomsday had dominated, and with their 24-3 victory, the Cowboys were “This Year’s Champions,” becoming the first team to win a Super Bowl the year after losing one.

The Cowboys lost Super Bowl V to the Colts on a Jim O’Brien field goal that led Lilly to flinging his helmet in disgust. A year later, Lilly had his championship moment.

The sack remains the largest negative play in Super Bowl history. The Cowboys are the only team not to allow a touchdown in a Super Bowl. A Miami offense built around Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield and Jim Kiick was shut down. Csonka and Kiick had 40 yards rushing each. Warfield had 39 receiving yards, with 23 coming on one play.

Roger Staubach was named the Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI with two touchdown passes, completing 12 of 19 passes for 119 yards. But it was the defensive dominance, highlighted by Lilly’s sack, that brought Tom Landry and the Cowboys their first championship.
Roger Staubach and Drew PearsonAP Photo/Bill Kostroum
» VOTE HERE » NFC Plays: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

This is one of three finalists for the most memorable plays in Dallas Cowboys history. We already discussed the Troy Aikman-to-Alvin Harper pass in the 1992 NFC Championship Game. On Wednesday, we will include Bob Lilly's sack of Bob Griese in Super Bowl VI.

Please vote for your choice as the Cowboys' most memorable play.

Score: Cowboys 17, Vikings 14
Date: Dec. 28, 1975 Site: Metropolitan Stadium

What if Roger Staubach didn't grow up Catholic? Would "Hail Mary" be part of today's lexicon?

With 24 seconds left in a 1975 divisional playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings, the Cowboys had the ball at midfield and needed a miracle. They had dominated statistically, but the Vikings had a 14-10 lead.

SportsNation

Which is the most memorable play in Cowboys' history?

  •  
    57%
  •  
    36%
  •  
    7%

Discuss (Total votes: 38,414)

As happens many times before iconic plays, smaller plays get overlooked, but to just get the ball to midfield for the Hail Mary, Staubach and Drew Pearson connected on a fourth-and-16 pass at the sideline that by today's rules would have likely been ruled incomplete or overturned on replay. On first down, a Staubach check-down to Preston Pearson was off. Had the pass been complete, the Cowboys might not have gotten off another play because they didn't have a timeout.

With 32 seconds left, Staubach mentioned in the huddle a double-move route Drew Pearson used against the Washington Redskins earlier and to do it again on this play. Pearson took a couple of steps to his left, then sprinted down the right sideline to create separation.

Staubach pumped to his left after taking the shotgun snap in hopes of moving safety Paul Krause away from the sideline. As he pumped, Staubach said he nearly lost the ball, causing the pass to be underthrown.

And here's where allegiances matter. Vikings players, coaches and fans will forever believe Pearson pushed cornerback Nate Wright. Cowboys players, coaches and fans will forever believe Wright slipped.

Wright went down. Pearson pinned the ball against his right hip and backed into the end zone. Replays show Krause pointing at Pearson, expecting a pass interference penalty. An orange flew past Pearson in the end zone, and soon he was surrounded by celebrating teammates after heaving the ball over the scoreboard.

"It was just a Hail Mary pass; a very, very lucky play," Staubach said after the game.

Staubach's Hail Mary was answered ... and born.

Johnny ManzielRonald Martinez/Getty ImagesIs Tony Romo's back enough of a concern for the Dallas Cowboys that they'd take a flier on the media circus that would come with drafting quarterback Johnny Manziel?

IRVING, Texas -- Johnny Manziel is the most polarizing player in this draft, so naturally people believe he will end up with the Dallas Cowboys, the most polarizing team in the NFL.

With the first round coming fast, ESPNDallas writers take a roundtable look at what a union of the Cowboys and Manziel would mean.

SportsNation

Should the Cowboys take Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel with the 16th pick if he falls to them?

  •  
    56%
  •  
    44%

Discuss (Total votes: 16,137)

Todd Archer: Let's make an huge assumption here that Manziel will be available at No. 16 when the Cowboys pick in the first round. I ask this question first: Should the Cowboys pick the Texas A&M quarterback? We'll get to "Would the Cowboys pick him?" in a second.

My take is, yes, the Cowboys should take him, and I'm not even thinking about the marketing opportunities and off-field stuff that Jerry Jones thinks about. From a football standpoint, I'd argue it would be a great value pick. There is no way the Green Bay Packers thought they would get Aaron Rodgers in 2005 late in the first round, but they took him even when Brett Favre was playing well. Tony Romo is 34 and coming off two back surgeries. I think he'll be fine and return to form, but what happens if he doesn't or he takes a big hit in Week 8 and is down for the year?

Jerry always tried to find a quarterback on the cheap after Troy Aikman retired and he never found a guy until Romo. And that was lucky. I think he'd be lucky again if Manziel were there at No. 16.

Calvin Watkins: I don't believe the Cowboys should take him. No. 1, I don't believe he'll fall to No. 16 or even out of the top 10. If he does fall to No. 16, the Cowboys should either bypass him or trade down. This team has bigger holes to address such as secondary and defensive line before quarterback. There are quarterbacks later, such as Aaron Murray from Georgia, who can be taken in the second or third round. Yeah, I know Romo is coming off back surgery and he's 34 and all of that. It's a back injury and you never know about backs. However, getting Manziel at No. 16 isn't worth it to me. You can find a good quarterback to groom in the later rounds.

Tim MacMahon: Heck, yes. If you can get a guy you feel is a franchise quarterback in the middle of the first round, you do it, especially when the fate of your franchise rests on a 34-year-old back that has been operated on twice in the past year. This isn't about trying to run Romo out of town. It would be a chance to extend the window of having a Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback another decade or so, an opportunity the Cowboys shouldn't pass up after navigating that rickety bridge from Aikman to Romo. It would be complicated for a couple of years because of Romo's massive contract and the potential chemistry issues that Roger Staubach mentioned, but it would be well worth it if Manziel can make plays in the NFL like he did in the SEC.

Jean-Jacques Taylor: No. No. No. A thousand times no. This team has way too many holes to draft a quarterback in the first round to sit behind Romo for at least three years. That makes absolutely no sense. When Green Bay drafted Aaron Rodgers and let him sit, they were a contender. They could afford to do it. There's a good chance Jason Garrett gets fired at the end of next season if he's not in the playoffs. Do you think he wants to take a first-round pick and stash him for the next coach? Heck, no. This was the worst defense in the universe last year. Are they really going to miss out on a chance to help it to draft a quarterback who may or may not be a star?

Archer: OK, let’s move on to the second part of the question: Would the Cowboys take Manziel if he is there at No. 16?

I believe they would. We always talk about how the Cowboys should draft a quarterback every year, so now when they could do it, we’re going to say, "No, not that guy?" I don’t think the next Cowboys quarterback will be developed by this team. In other words, a middle-round pick who sits for a few years and takes over. Almost all of the top quarterbacks come from the first or second round. The Cowboys would have Manziel ready to go without the burden of having to carry the franchise early on. He is skilled. He has ability. And he is a draw. I do think it would be incumbent on the coaches to manage this thing the right way because the second Romo throws a poor pass, fans will be calling for Manziel. You can't operate that way.

Watkins: Say the Cowboys do take him, which I doubt, can you imagine if Romo has a bad game? He has been known to have them from time to time. Garrett would be under pressure to send Manziel into the game when he's not ready. Then if he does use Manziel, you've got a media and fan circus. The Cowboys have endured their own type of drama from Terrell Owens, Pacman Jones, Romo's own issues, Jerry Jones and how he runs the franchise among other things, but a quarterback drama isn't fun for anybody. Having Manziel around isn't fun. But if Jerry drafted him he wouldn't care, it would be about the business of marketing and not the business of football.

MacMahon: Well, that might depend on who gets the last word in with GM Jerry. I can’t imagine Garrett, a head coach fighting to keep his job as he enters the last season of his contract, would be thrilled with the idea of using a first-round pick on a guy who might be holding a clipboard and still drawing a media horde as a rookie. But Stephen Jones seems just as enamored with Johnny Football as his father is. I don't think Jerry could help himself if Manziel were available when the Cowboys are on the clock. A strong football argument can be made for Manziel as a fit, and it’d be a home run for the marketing department. And we all know the Cowboys' GM cares about marketing almost as much as he does about football.

Taylor: Jerry loves collecting baubles. We know this. Dez Bryant was a bauble. So was Terrell Owens. And Rocket Ismail. He loves any marketing aspect that added more cash to the family treasure trove. I can absolutely see Jerry using the force of his personality to persuade Garrett and vice president Stephen Jones the right move to make is adding Johnny Football to the roster, even though he's going to sit for multiple seasons and wouldn't make an impact on the team unless Romo was hurt. Hey, at least the preseason games would be sold out.

Archer: Let's be honest, he won't be there at No. 16 and I think we all believe it would cost too much to trade up to get him, so who takes Manziel and why is he a better fit there than with the Cowboys?

I’m going with Jacksonville. They need a quarterback and they need a draw. It’s probably not the most sound football decision to think of it like that, but the Jaguars have no juice. Manziel would give them some juice. And the Cowboys will see him at Wembley in November. Perfect.

Watkins: It's interesting, but when I read Ourlads' mock draft, it didn't have Manziel going until No. 26 to Cleveland. But when I look at the top 10, I can see six teams taking him. I think Cleveland takes him at No. 4, but you have to wonder about the weather in the AFC North. Manziel hasn't played in that on a regular basis in college. Can he produce in cold weather in Pittsburgh and Baltimore in November and December? Oakland seems logical as well at No. 5. Matt Schaub should start in 2014 and Manziel would get his chance the following year. It's just no easy place for him to go. Houston, I don't believe, thinks Manziel is better than the two defensive players. So, I guess to answer this question, I think Cleveland takes him at No. 4.

MacMahon: I think the Browns take him at No. 4. The Browns have been searching for a franchise quarterback since cutting Bernie Kosar, and drafting Manziel would fire up a rabid fan base desperately searching for a reason to be optimistic. Strange as it sounds, I also see Cleveland as a team that would give Manziel a chance to succeed early in his NFL career. Josh Gordon just led the NFL in receiving yards as a 22-year-old despite dealing with a QB rotation. Tight end Jordan Cameron is coming off a Pro Bowl season as a 25-year-old. The Browns have two Pro Bowl offensive linemen -- left tackle Joe Thomas and center Alex Mack -- who are in their prime. And Cleveland addressed its need for a running back by signing Ben Tate. Add an electrifying quarterback, and the Browns might actually have one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses.

Taylor: On the surface, Jacksonville should be really intrigued by Johnny Football because they need a quarterback and they need someone to put butts in seats. They're going to be bad again, so they need a playmaker on offense. That said, coach Gus Bradley is a defense-minded dude, so he'll probably go defense and take Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack. That leaves Johnny Football to Cleveland. The Browns have a really good, young defense. They have a young star in receiver Josh Gordon. What they need is a triggerman. Since 2002, the Browns have had 10 different players lead them in passing, which is not a positive. If he's the star some project, Johnny Football will turn that franchise around and he'll own the city.
video

IRVING, Texas -- Roger Staubach found out he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 10th round of the 1964 NFL draft by reading the Washington Post.

“I was in my room at the Naval Academy,” Staubach said. “No one called me. They had this little story, ‘Staubach drafted in Round 10.’ … To me, it wasn’t a big deal. I had five years to go before I could go play.”

Staubach is the greatest 10th-round pick in NFL history. He surely is part of one of the best draft classes ever. The 1964 NFL draft produced a record 11 Hall of Famers, and three were drafted by the Cowboys: Mel Renfro (second round), Bob Hayes (seventh round) and Staubach.

“You know why it was special?” said Gil Brandt, the Cowboys' vice president of player personnel at the time. “Because basically Tex [Schramm] and I did it by ourselves. We didn’t have nine scouts and all that stuff.”

The only team to produce more Hall of Famers from the same draft class in NFL history is the Pittsburgh Steelers, who drafted Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, John Stallworth and Mike Webster in 1974.

The Cowboys had 19 picks in 1964, and Brandt can recite scouting reports on all of them to this day. Only seven played for the club, but the Hall of Fame trio makes it Brandt’s favorite draft.

[+] EnlargeRoger Staubach
AP Photo/Tony DejakRoger Staubach led the Dallas Cowboys to five Super Bowl appearances in his Hall of Fame career.
The Cowboys’ 1975 draft became known as the "Dirty Dozen" with 12 picks making the team, led by Hall of Famer Randy White. From 1988 to 1990, the Cowboys' first-round picks were Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. All three call the Pro Football Hall of Fame home.

Drafting Renfro, Hayes and Staubach spoke to the Cowboys’ advantages over other teams in that day -- and a little bit of good fortune.

Had they not held training camp in Forest Grove, Ore., it is doubtful Brandt ever meets Renfro as a high school senior. Air Force assistant coach Pepper Rodgers was recruiting Renfro and brought him to Cowboys camp, where he met Brandt.

Brandt remained in contact through Renfro’s time at Oregon. When it came time to pick in the second round in 1964, the Cowboys held up the draft for six hours so a doctor could examine Renfro’s injured wrist. After getting the news they wanted, they picked Renfro, and Brandt was on a flight from Chicago to Portland the next day.

“I called Mel. ‘Mel, I’m coming in on United flight so and so, and I get in at 1,’ or whatever time it was, and he said, ‘OK, I’ll meet you at the airport,’” Brandt said. “I get off the plane, go down three or four steps and there’s Mel. We signed right there in the airport.

“Now the coup de grace is you had to get the contract witnessed at the time because this was during the war between the two leagues. So we’re in Portland and we’ve got to get down to Eugene, but we’ve got to get this contract witnessed, so we stop at Oregon State to get a contract for an Oregon kid witnessed.”

Renfro made the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons, six at safety and the final four at cornerback. His 52 career interceptions remain a team record, and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1996.

Like Staubach, Hayes was a future pick, but not many teams knew he was eligible. Brandt went to Florida A&M to visit with the coaches.

“I saw him in person, but he was like a third-team running back,” Brandt said. “He wasn’t a typical sprinter. He was well-defined. I mean he was a strong guy.”

He also visited Hayes’ mother in Jacksonville, Fla., at the restaurant where she worked.

“The big thing then was Pepsi Cola, 12 full ounces for a nickel too,” Brandt said, recalling the soda’s jingle at the time. “When you ate those chitlins, you drank one of those big 12-ounce Pepsis.”

With Hayes’ speed, Brandt saw a game-changing wide receiver. Hayes went on to win two gold medals in the Tokyo Summer Olympics, earning the “fastest man in the world” title, and joined the Cowboys in 1965.

[+] EnlargeHayes/Renfro
AP Photo/NFL PhotosThe Cowboys selected three future Hall of Famers in the 1964 draft, including Bob Hayes (20) and Mel Renfro.
The Cowboys took Hayes with the 88th pick in the draft, one spot before the Detroit Lions took a future Cowboys head coach in Bill Parcells. Hayes caught 46 passes for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns in 1965 and was named to the Pro Bowl three times in his career. Because of his speed, Hayes changed the game, forcing defenses to use zone coverages.

In 2009, Hayes was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Staubach wasn’t even sure he was eligible for the draft. Because he spent a year at the New Mexico Military Institute in 1960 before going to Annapolis, the Cowboys were able to use a future pick on Staubach.

“It was about 2 o’clock in the morning when we drafted Roger,” Brandt said. “At that part of the draft, it’s all about taking risks.”

The summer before Staubach’s Heisman Trophy season, Brandt visited the quarterback’s parents in Cincinnati. Brandt wanted to see if Staubach could get out of his five-year commitment to the Navy after graduation.

“Gil likes to tell the story about talking to my mother and she threw him out of the house. ‘Roger has an obligation to the Naval Academy,’” Staubach said. “And that was that.”

The AFL’s Kansas City Chiefs also drafted Staubach, but he chose the Cowboys because he was an NFL guy, growing up as a Cleveland Browns fan. It also helped that they agreed to pay him $500 a month and a $10,000 signing bonus in his years with the Navy.

After returning from Vietnam, Staubach was stationed in Pensacola, Fla., and took two weeks leave to go to Cowboys training camp in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in 1967.

“That’s what made the difference, changed my life, really,” Staubach said. “I had a really good camp, and I think Coach [Tom] Landry thought I was mature enough so they possibly wouldn’t have to get a veteran quarterback.”

In 1969, Don Meredith retired unexpectedly. Craig Morton, the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 1965, would take over. Jerry Rhome, who was picked in the 13th round in 1964, was traded to Cleveland.

“We’re getting ready to leave Pensacola and then go to Thousand Oaks, and I told [his wife], ‘I’m second team and I haven’t done anything. Don’t worry,’” Staubach joked. “But if not for that year before, I think Coach Landry would’ve traded for a veteran quarterback behind Craig.”

By 1971, Staubach delivered the Cowboys their first title, winning Super Bowl VI and earning Most Valuable Player honors. The Cowboys won Super Bowl XII and appeared in five Super Bowls with Staubach, who earned the Captain Comeback nickname for his 23 late-game wins.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1985.

Like fishing stories, scouts have famous stories about the ones that got away. As good as the ’64 draft was, Brandt knows it would have been better if they were able to get Paul Warfield and Dave Wilcox, who went on to Hall of Fame careers.

The Cowboys would have drafted Warfield in the first round but made a wink-wink trade with the Steelers for wide receiver Buddy Dial. The Steelers received the Cowboys’ pick in return, Scott Appleton, who signed with the Houston Oilers instead of the Steelers.

Dallas did not have a third-round pick in 1964 but were so confident they would land Wilcox that Brandt had scout Red Hickey with the defensive end. Instead, the San Francisco 49ers took Wilcox with the first pick of the third round.

“We could’ve had five [Hall of Famers] if it would’ve gone right for us,” Brandt said. “We could’ve had four, but we had three. And I thought that was pretty good.”

More than pretty good.
IRVING, Texas -- Roger Staubach has been a fan of Tony Romo since the beginning. He also believes Johnny Manziel will have a long career in the NFL.

But the Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback does not want to see Romo and Manziel on the same team.

Manziel
Recent talk has the Cowboys interested in picking up Manziel in the first round of next week's draft, ranging from doing anything they can to get him to hoping that he would fall close to the 16th pick. On 105.3 The Fan in Dallas on Monday, executive vice president Stephen Jones said any interest in Manziel is "purely speculation,” and that the team has yet to rate the quarterback position as a group.

Romo, who turned 34 last week, is coming off his second back surgery in less than a year, but he has been involved in the offseason conditioning program in the last two weeks and is expected to be ready for on-field work when Phase 2 of the offseason begins.

SportsNation

Which quarterback would you rather have for the next five years?

  •  
    49%
  •  
    51%

Discuss (Total votes: 10,683)

"I try to make people understand that if you brought Tom Brady here last year or Peyton Manning or Andrew Luck, it's a team effort and you need a solid defense or you're going to be 8-8,” Staubach said. "If we had a really good defense we would've been 11-5 easily, I think. I hope (Romo) has three, four more years left in him. The people that really understand football understand how good he is but those with second opinions would be screaming for Manziel all the time.

"I think Manziel has got great instincts. I think he'll be a fine player, but I don't think you want a Manziel when you have a franchise quarterback. Jerry has paid (Romo) as a franchise. I think Tony is that. He's not the reason we're 8-8.That's my feeling.”

To Staubach, a quarterback controversy is the quickest way to hurt a team.

In 1971, coach Tom Landry had Staubach and Craig Morton alternating series before settling on Staubach, and the Cowboys went on to win their first Super Bowl.

"We probably had half of the people want Craig on the field and half of them wanted me, and even teammates might've felt the same if you polled the team early in the year when Craig and I were going back and forth,” Staubach said. "Whoever's going to be the quarterback, you need a quarterback that's the leader and the person in place. Coach, God love him, but that kind of divided the team. You don't want to divide the team on your quarterback. That would be wherever Manziel goes. He's going to get a chance to be a starter. That's what he wants. I think he deserves that. I think he's got that starting quarterback talent.”

Storied pasts loom over Cowboys, Packers

December, 13, 2013
12/13/13
8:00
AM ET
IRVING, Texas -- As the Cowboys walk to the team meeting room every day, they are met with pictures of Dallas' five Super Bowl winners. Each collage has a team photo and pictures of smiling players, coaches and executives from winning NFL championships.

At Lambeau Field, the photos from the great moments in Packers history line the wall from the tunnel to the locker room. When the stadium was renovated years ago, they took a row of old bricks and moved it to the new tunnel so players can say they walk over the same ground as the greats who played at Lambeau Field.

With a loss Sunday, though, either team will need even more help to just make the postseason.

[+] EnlargeTony Romo and Aaron Rodgers
AP Photo/David StlukaCowboys QB Tony Romo, right, and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers know the burden that comes with playing for franchises trying to recapture past glory.
Like the Pittsburgh Steelers and San Francisco 49ers, the Cowboys are constantly chasing ghosts from past teams.

The Packers and Cowboys have combined for 18 NFL championships (Green Bay 13, Dallas five) and nine Super Bowls (Green Bay four, Dallas five). They produced one of the NFL’s iconic games -- the Ice Bowl -- in the 1967 NFC Championship. They were coached by legends in Tom Landry and Vince Lombardi. They rekindled the rivalry in the 1990s, meeting in the playoffs from 1993 to 1995.

The current teams carry something of a burden with them because of the successful pasts.

“We always look at it as a sense of pride and energy to tap into,” Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy said. “We think it’s very important to have that and recognize it and honor it, so I always refer to it as there’s pride in the bricks of Lambeau Field and it’s something we need to tap into. We talk to our current team about it and how important it is to win and represent the Green Bay Packers the right way.”

Jason Garrett does not talk about the expectations laid out from the likes of Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Mel Renfro, Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. He talks about the standard those players and teams set.

“You want to be in a place where there’s a high standard for achievement,” Garrett said. “I think that’s a good thing. That brings the best out in people. What we try to do each and every day is be our best. Come to work as players and coaches and put our best foot forward and get ready for our challenges each week and again, embrace the past. That’s a good thing. ... That drives us. That’s part of what drives us to achieve, really, each and every day, and certainly each season.”

Tony Romo is constantly measured against Staubach and Aikman. Aaron Rodgers is measured against Bart Starr and Brett Favre, but he has the Super Bowl ring that Romo is still looking for, having beaten the Steelers at AT&T Stadium in Super Bowl XLV.

Rodgers has 23 teammates on the roster with a Super Bowl ring.

Romo hopes one day to have his own, so he and his teammates can have their pictures on the wall holding the Lombardi Trophy.

“You want to be a part of a storied franchise,” Romo said. “It just makes it important. You want a challenge. You want it to matter, and you want it to be important. That’s what’s great about this organization and great about our fans.”
ARLINGTON, Texas -- One of the reasons why Jason Garrett likes to have a training camp practice at AT&T Stadium is for the current players to mix and mingle with the former players and learn the history of the Dallas Cowboys franchise.

Cliff Harris spoke at the dinner following the two-hour practice and was one of six members of the Ring of Honor in attendance, along with Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Rayfield Wright, Mel Renfro and Charles Haley.

Players representing every era of Cowboys’ football were on hand, as well, including Butch Johnson, Jay Novacek, Billy Joe DuPree, John Fitzgerald and Ken Hamlin.

“I want to get my helmet and go through some of these exercises with some of these guys,” said Wright, a Hall-of-Fame offensive tackle who played for the Cowboys from 1967-80.

Wright was looking forward to talking to some of the offensive lineman at the dinner.

“There’s just little techniques that you could communicate with some of the young guys,” Wright said. “We have the talent, skills and ability. These guys have great talent. They’re a lot bigger than we were when I played the game. But they have great talent and if I had the opportunity to sit down and just talk to some of these guys on a personal, one-on-one level, it would be fantastic for me.”
"You know my feelings. Every day's a gift. It's just... Does it have to be a pair of socks?" -- Tony Soprano

Washington Redskins

The Redskins still somehow have about $1.4 million in salary-cap space entering the summer break, so if they wanted to sign a veteran defensive back or someone like that, they theoretically could. Rich Campbell wonders about tackle Eric Winston, whom they liked once upon a time.

World-famous baseball writer Bill James is on the side of the people who think it's a silly idea to change the Redskins' team name. Who'd have imagined James would even care? And be capable of such backward thinking?

Dallas Cowboys

Roger Staubach thinks Tony Romo is a championship quarterback. This doesn't mean that Staubach mistakenly thinks the Cowboys have won a championship with Romo, only that he believes Romo capable of leading them to a championship. You'd like to think that support from someone as iconic as Staubach would help Romo with his Cowboy-fan critics, but I doubt it. People don't like to change the way they think, generally.

On a related matter, this somehow won't go away.

New York Giants

Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi says Eli Manning is to the Giants what Derek Jeter is to the Yankees. Ernie must have finally got around to reading this column I wrote a year and a half ago.

Dave Jennings, a popular former Giants punter and broadcaster, has lost his fight with Parkinson's disease. I never met the man, but a lot of people I like a lot seem to have liked him a lot. RIP.

Philadelphia Eagles

Having a hard time trying to figure out Chip Kelly? Mark Saltveit has taken a whack at it. Having studied Kelly's time at Oregon extensively, Saltveit has written the book on Kelly. Literally.

In preparation for the training camp they'll hold there starting next month, the Eagles have renovated the practice fields at their NovaCare complex.

Roger Staubach, don't be that guy

November, 9, 2012
11/09/12
4:55
PM ET
I live, as many of you know, in northern New Jersey, not far from New York City. We get a great deal of local coverage here of the New York Jets as well as the New York Giants. Part of that Jets coverage, for the past couple of years, has included a relentless string of critical commentary of the team and its management by the greatest player in team history, Super Bowl III-winning quarterback Joe Namath. Broadway Joe lambastes the Jets, their front office, their head coach and their quarterback(s) at every turn, sounding far more like a petulant, overreacting fan who happens to have a platform than a former NFL star offering his perspective to help others analyze the game. I have long been of the belief that Namath's rise to media prominence over the past few years -- he has regular paid radio appearances, is active on Twitter and is often interviewed by those who cover the team -- has become a contributing factor to the crushing negativity under which the Jets operate. And if I ran the team, it would infuriate me to have the best player in team history contributing to the negativity.

Why do I bring this up on an NFC East blog? Because I saw this piece about former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, who said on Mike & Mike on Friday that he thinks Jerry Jones should think about changing the way he operates the team, maybe pull back a bit from his GM duties and cede some control:
"Jerry is trying real hard," Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach said Friday on the Mike & Mike Show on ESPN Radio. "He goes back to the old days when they won three Super Bowls. I think the formula is he's got to find a medium ground and delegate more authority."

Now, when I read the headline on our site that says "Staubach: Jerry Jones should shed duties," the Namath comparison sprung instantly to mind. It's hard enough to run a high-profile sports franchise these days without your Mount Rushmore superstars echoing the same irrational criticism you so often hear from fans angry after a loss. In point of fact, Jones has pulled back and ceded a great deal of the day-to-day control and personnel decisions to both Stephen Jones and coach Jason Garrett.

But reading through Staubach's comments, you see they're a lot more tame and respectful than what we hear around here from Namath on the Jets. For instance:
"If they're out of it this year, he'll continue to get more and more criticism as far as how he's handling the team," Staubach said. "It's his team. He owns the team. He's passionate about it, and I can't tell him what to do. So I'm just a big Cowboys fan and hoping for the best."

That sounds more like a guy trying to help, who's just expressing his opinion and obviously wishing the team he supposedly loves success rather than piling on in the wake of more failures. And that's fine. If you're a Cowboys fan, or a Cowboys coach or player, you'd surely hate to see Staubach go down the Namath road and start being quoted every couple of days about how rotten things are. That just adds unnecessary noise and chaos and doesn't really do anything to help make things better. That's what these teams have us in the media for. They don't need their own Hall of Famers adding to it.

So what Staubach says here seems harmless enough. Hopefully he doesn't get the itch to keep firing away.
If you've ever thought to yourself, "I wonder what it would be like to get a glimpse into the mind of 'First Take' host Skip Bayless as he agonizes over the question of whether Tony Romo will ever win a Super Bowl as quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys," well, then, you're in luck. Skip's weekly column for ESPN.com is a lengthy debate between Skip's head and his heart on this very topic.

Romo
Skip concludes that the answer is "no," which is something of a departure from his long-held and oft-stated belief that Romo takes too much blame in Dallas. Along the way, he hits on a number of key issues at the heart of the perpetual Romo conundrum, including this one:
An NFL coach who loves Romo's talent and stays in touch with several Cowboys assistants told me: "That team badly needs Romo to take over as its leader. And all he really wants to be is a good soldier. Not a general. Just a very good soldier."

That's because, deep down, Romo knows he's still your basic undrafted free agent. Staubach won the Heisman. Aikman was the first pick in the draft. Romo doesn't trust he can be routinely great. He keeps waiting for someone to tap him on the shoulder and tell him he just got punked -- he isn't really a Dallas Cowboys quarterback. That's why he was so happy-go-unlucky in those first couple of seasons. He was trying to grin away the Texas-sized pressure, shrug off the voice inside telling him, "You know you don't belong here."

That voice keeps telling him he WILL self-destruct. And he does.

I think the "leader" stuff is overblown, and that it comes from people who don't ever visit the Cowboys' locker room, where Romo is looked at as a leader in all of the critical ways. But I think there's something to the idea of Romo's relationship to potential greatness. Guys who win Heisman Trophies and get picked first overall are the types of guys who have spent their whole lives crushing everyone and everything in their path -- for whom doubt was never company and therefore can't even be a memory. Romo hit more than his share of bumps and setbacks along his way to the NFL, and therefore the idea that he might possess more innate self-doubt than did his Hall of Fame predecessors is not a crazy one at all.

Where I fall short on this -- and I guess one of the reasons I was never going to make it on "First Take" -- is that I can't sit here and say Romo will never win a title with the Cowboys. Very few quarterbacks have ever filled us with certainty that they could win a Super Bowl until they actually did it. They used to say the Broncos would never win one with John Elway, that the Giants would never win one with Eli Manning. Someday, we may look back on this Romo conversation as preposterously silly.

But that's who Romo is right now. Even if you want to like him and believe in him, there are just enough reasons -- some of his own making, some not -- for doubt. And jeez, if he's lost Skip, that's a tough one.
Good morning. Welcome to your Friday links. We remain stuck in a very slow part of the NFL calendar, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. This time next week, your links will be coming to you from Albany, N.Y.

Washington Redskins

Rich Campbell has been writing this week on the big personnel questions that will face the Redskins when they open camp next week, and his most recent entry is on the health of the knee of running back Tim Hightower. Good stuff in there on the reasons why Hightower is slated to be the starter if healthy and why there are concerns about Roy Helu as the lead back.

And you know what? Since I just now stumbled on this feature Rich is doing (mainly because I wasn't looking in the right place on the Washington Times' web site until yesterday), here's Rich's entry from Wednesday on tight end Chris Cooley, who likely has to prove he's healthy, accept a reduced role and agree to a pay cut if he wants to stay on the team. I imagine those last two things won't be a problem, since as Rich points out, Cooley loves the Redskins. The first thing is something no one can predict.

Dallas Cowboys

Roger Staubach weighs in on the Dez Bryant situation. Speaking generally, the Cowboys great says that when the player's behavior starts to affect the team in a negative way, it's time for the team to "cut the cord." Fair enough, but again, when we're talking about the Bryant situation we're talking about a player the Cowboys drafted with full knowledge that having him on the team wouldn't always be easy. When they picked him, they committed themselves to sticking with him through tough times, and it's not as simple as just cutting the cord at this point.

The Cowboys are off the hook for the Super Bowl XLV ticket fiasco, as a judge on Thursday dismissed them from the complaint. Apparently, since the NFL and not the host team officially sold the seats that didn't actually exist, the NFL is the entity that should be sued for it.

New York Giants

Victor Cruz is out selling his book, making stops all over your cable channel lineup as he's enjoying the fame that has resulted from his breakout 2011 season. Not that you asked, but since it's a slow time and this is the line I've selected, I'll take this time to make the point that I don't think there's much chance Cruz's fame goes to his head, and I think he will have another excellent year with Eli Manning throwing him the ball.

David Diehl has advice for Jason Kidd on how to carry himself in the wake of his DUI arrest. Not that you asked, but I expect Diehl to take and answer any questions anyone has about his own offseason indiscretion once training camp opens. My sense from what I know of Diehl is that he'll want to take full responsibility for what he did and not duck the issue. This concludes the high-character Giants portion of today's links.

Philadelphia Eagles

Jeff McLane muses on the idea of DeMeco Ryans as a three-down linebacker, which the Eagles are likely expecting him to be. The questions about Ryans have only arisen because he was injured in 2010 and was a poor fit in the first year of Houston's 3-4 defense in 2011. He was a monster three-down linebacker prior to his injury, is still eight days shy of his 28th birthday and should have no problem manning the middle the way the Eagles want and need him to this year.

And Reuben Frank takes a look at the phenomenon that is the Eagles' management of the salary cap. They likely will spend more on player salaries this year than any team in the league and yet they retain more cap room than all but four other teams. This enables them to remain flexible in the coming years if they need to extend the contracts of players like Jeremy Maclin and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or sign a player to fill a hole created by injury.
Continuing our team-by-team series on the history of the specific draft picks each NFC East team has this year, we take a look today at the Dallas Cowboys, who have eight picks in this year's draft.

Turning up some interesting trivia in these. For instance, the Cowboys have the 186th pick, which produced Deacon Jones, and the 152nd pick, with which the Houston Texans last year took a quarterback who a few months later started their first two playoff games in franchise history.

PICK 14 (14th pick, first round)

Last five players taken

2011 -- Robert Quinn, DE, Rams

2010 -- Earl Thomas, S, Seahawks

2009 -- Malcolm Jenkins, DB, Saints

2008 -- Chris Williams, T, Bears

2007 -- Darrelle Revis, CB, Jets

Cowboys' history of No. 14 picks

The Cowboys have never had the No. 14 pick.

Hall of Famers picked No. 14

Jim Kelly (1983), Gino Marchetti (1952), Len Ford (1948, AAFC)

Other notables

Jeremy Shockey (2002), Eddie George (1996), Dick Stanfel (1951)

PICK 45 (13th pick, round 2)

Last five players taken

2011 -- Rahim Moore, DB, Broncos

2010 -- Zane Beadles, G, Broncos

2009 -- Clint Sintim, LB, Giants

2008 -- Jordon Dizon, LB, Lions

2007 -- Dwayne Jarrett, WR, Panthers

Cowboys' history of No. 45 picks

1968 -- Dave McDaniels

Hall of Famers picked No. 45

Dave Casper (1974)

PICK 81 (19th pick, third round)

Last five players taken

2011 --DeMarcus Van Dyke, DB, Raiders

2010 -- Earl Mitchell, DT, Texans

2009 -- Roy Miller, DT, Buccaneers

2008 -- Early Doucet, WR, Cardinals

2007 -- Jay Alford, DT, Giants

Cowboys' history of No. 81 picks

1984 -- Fred Cornwell

1982 -- Jim Eliopulos

1981 -- Glenn Titensor

1977 -- Val Belcher

Hall of Famers picked No. 81

None, though Art Shell was the 80th pick in 1968 and Joe Montana was the 82nd in 1979.

PICK 113 (18th pick, round four)

Last five players picked

2011 -- Chimdi Chekwa, DB, Raiders

2010 -- Aaron Hernandez, TE, Patriots

2009 -- Vaughn Martin, DT, Chargers

2008 -- Dwight Lowery, CB, Jets

2007 -- Brian Smith, DE, Jaguars

Cowboys' history of No. 113 picks

1989 -- Keith Jennings

1984 -- Steve Pelluer

1975 -- Kyle Davis

Hall of Famers picked No. 113

None. But Steve Largent was picked 117th in 1976 and George Blanda was picked 119th in 1949.

PICK 135 (40th pick, fourth round)

Last five players picked

2011 --Ricky Stanzi, QB, Chiefs

2010 -- Dominique Franks, DB, Falcons

2009 -- Troy Kropog, T, Titans

2008 -- Josh Sitton, G, Packers

2007 -- Joe Cohen, DT, 49ers

Cowboys' history of No. 135 picks

1983 -- Chuck McSwain

Hall of Famers picked No. 135

None. Closest were Jackie Smith and Roger Staubach, who were picked No. 129 in 1963 and 1964, respectively.

PICK 152 (17th pick, round 5)

Last five players picked

2011 -- T.J. Yates, QB, Texans

2010 -- Otis Hudson, G, Bengals

2009 -- James Casey, TE, Texans

2008 -- Letroy Guion, DT, Vikings

2007 -- Antonio Johnson, DT, Titans

Cowboys' history of No. 152 picks

1984 -- Eugene Lockhart

1969 -- Rick Shaw

Hall of Famers taken No. 152

None. Closest I found was Arnie Weinmeister, No. 166 in 1945.

PICK 186 (16th pick, round 6)

Last five players taken

2011 -- D.J. Smith, LB, Packers

2010 -- Clifton Geathers, DE, Browns

2009 -- Robert Henson, LB, Redskins

2008 -- Colt Brennan, QB, Redskins

2007 -- Thomas Clayton, RB, 49ers

Cowboys' history of No. 186 pick

2003 -- Zuriel Smith

1976 -- Greg Schaum

Hall of Famers picked No. 186

Deacon Jones (1961)

PICK 222 (15th pick, round 7)

Last five players taken

2011 -- Anthony Gaitor, DB, Buccaneers

2010 -- Marc Mariani, WR, Titans

2009 -- Pat McAfee, P, Colts

2008 -- Chester Adams, G, Bears

2007 -- Derek Schouman, FB, Bills

Cowboys' history of No. 222 picks

1984 -- Mike Revell

1978 -- Homer Butler

Hall of Famers picked No. 222

None. Closest was Andy Robustelli, picked 228th in 1951

Final Word: Super Bowl XLVI

February, 4, 2012
2/04/12
2:00
PM ET
Super Bowl XLVI Final Word: Patriots | Giants

Five nuggets of knowledge about Super Bowl XLVI:

Home sweet road: The New York Giants have won six straight playoff games on the road or at neutral sites dating to 2007, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Eli Manning has been the quarterback for all six of them, and his six career postseason wins away from home tie him for the record with four other quarterbacks, including the New England Patriots' Tom Brady. (The others are Terry Bradshaw, Roger Staubach and Joe Montana, so not a bad list.) Manning's ability to remain cool under all kinds of pressure has been well-documented, and his record in hostile or neutral environments in postseason games offers yet another example.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
William Perlman/The Star-Ledger via US PresswireEli Manning has a 7-3 record in the postseason.
You again? Manning and Brady are the third pair of quarterbacks to face off in multiple Super Bowls. The Cowboys' Troy Aikman and the Bills' Jim Kelly met in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Aikman won both. The Steelers' Bradshaw faced the Cowboys' Staubach in Super Bowls X and XIII. Bradshaw won both. Brady is hoping to buck history and pull off a split with Manning, who beat him in Super Bowl XLII.

Hot at the right time: The Giants are the third team in history to reach the Super Bowl after failing to win at least 10 games in the regular season (not counting strike-shortened seasons). The previous two were the 2008 Arizona Cardinals and the 1979 Rams. Each of those teams lost its Super Bowl, so a Giants win would make them the first Super Bowl champion to enter the playoffs with fewer than 10 wins. The Giants are already the first team to reach the Super Bowl after being outscored by their opponents in the regular season. They scored 394 points and allowed 400 on their way to a 9-7 regular-season record. Those 2008 Cardinals (plus-1) and 1979 Rams (plus-14) were the teams with the worst point differential in Super Bowl history until this year.

Peyton's place: Eli Manning is playing the Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, where his brother Peyton Manning has established himself as an all-time great quarterback with the Colts. Peyton had a head start on Eli and has fashioned a brilliant Hall of Fame career, but little brother's playoff numbers stack up with big brother's. Peyton Manning is 9-10 all time in postseason games with a 63.1 completion percentage and a 29-19 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Eli Manning is 7-3 in the postseason with a completion percentage of 59.8 and a TD-INT ratio of 16-8. If Eli throws three touchdowns on Sunday, it would give him 11 touchdown passes this postseason, which would tie the record for a single postseason set by Montana in 1989 and equaled by Kurt Warner in 2008.

Tough guys: According to ESPN Stats & Information's "Next Level" stats, the pass-catchers in this game are very difficult to tackle after they catch the ball. The stat they use is "yards after contact," which differs from "yards after catch." Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, who's been struggling with an ankle injury since the AFC Championship Game, led the league with 290 yards after first post-catch contact. Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz was second with 245. Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was third with 242 yards, and Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez was fourth with 231.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

NFC EAST SCOREBOARD