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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cowboys Head to Oxnard with New Ingredient – Hope

The Dallas Cowboys hit the trail this week to be in Oxnard, California for the start of training camp on Friday, July 29. Owner Jerry Jones and Head Coach Bill Parcells will host the opening press conference on July 28 at noon.

Fans always look forward to the usual festivities of Jones’ artful dance of self-promotion and dodging tough questions, and Parcells’ not so artful disdain of the event in general and the media in particular.

But this year, there is something more. There is Hope. No, not the normal “hope” that every team brings to training camp. You may hear the typical camp clichés of “We really feel we can compete for a title this year”, “the guys are really hungry”, or “We’re as good as any team out there”, but there is something else. Something…legitimate…about this year’s sense of big-H Hope.

Some may point towards the draft picks. Bobby Carpenter is the “sexiest” of all the picks, as any team’s 1st pick in the draft should be. He was the best player on the #4 college team in the Nation who everyone saw play in some big time games. He is expected to provide major help to Parcells beefed up linebacking core…particularly with the departure last year of scrappy Dat Nguyen. Anthony Fasano is a typical Parcells TE. Big body for run blocking and pass protection, but is talented enough to get out in the pattern when needed. However, Fasano is not expected to challenge young star Jason Whitten as a receiving threat. Jason Hatcher was the third pick, but is a longshot to become a player. He is very green as a defensive end, playing only 1.5 yrs at the position, switching over from tight end during his Sophomore year at Grambling before declaring for the draft after his Junior year. There are some other lumps of coal that the Cowboys are hoping to turn into diamonds, but who are we kidding? We know exactly why fans are anticipating this season more expectantly than previous years.

Terrell Eldorado Owens - “T.O.”

When long ago there was a debate (Moss v. T.O.), now there is none. T.O. is the receiver you want on your team. He’s THE receiver. Even amongst his detractors, his talent is not in question. You may call him the stereotypical arrogant pro athlete, a head-case, a cancer, a disgrace to the NFL with his post-touchdown antics and sideline drama…and you may be right.

But what you might also call him is a speed receiver, a possession receiver, or an inimitable homerun threat at any point on the field. Marketing savior or marketing pariah, the man WILL have an impact on this team.

And that’s what the fans sense.

And each faction has an answer for the others’ argument:

“You think T.O.’s talent will put this team over the top? What about the offensive line?”
“You think T.O. will disrupt this team’s chemistry? Parcells knows how to handle Stars.”

Whatever their particular hope is for the ‘Boys – failure due to or despite the TO move, to rekindle the 70’s and 90’s years, or just to be competitive again – this move gets them off center. T.O. is just as likely to take this not-quite-ready-for-primetime team to the Super Bowl as he is to send them to the NFC East cellar with a multi-game suspension and/or annual contract chaos.

Like a big Cowboy inkblot test, everyone sees in this move whatever it is that they want to see. But one thing is unanimous – we all want to watch.

4 Comments:

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