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News: Cowlishaw: Training in California, Cowboys try to restore their luster

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by LaTunaNostra, Jul 24, 2004.

  1. LaTunaNostra

    LaTunaNostra He Made the Difference

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    Tim Cowlishaw: Training in California, Cowboys try to restore their luster
    08:49 PM CDT on Saturday, July 24, 2004

    We don't know where the Cowboys will be at the end of this season. We know only that by the end of this week, they will be back on familiar ground.

    For more than two decades, the Cowboys and the California summer were a match made in Pacific-breeze heaven. Jimmy Johnson wanted to bring the heat, so he transplanted training camp to Texas in 1990, and who can say he was wrong after three Lombardi Trophies came to Valley Ranch.

    But now a coach Johnson's equal is at least willing to gamble that training in the cool California climate – well, it won't be much cooler than the air-conditioned Alamodome, for sure – can prepare the Cowboys for a playoff run they haven't made in eight years.

    Oxnard, just north of the Cowboys' old home in Thousand Oaks, isn't exactly Hollywood, but it's as close as any NFL team will get this summer. I'm just not sure the Cowboys can say they belong on that platform the way they did two decades ago.

    When an NFL team's biggest star is its head coach, you're never sure what that means. But we know that even with several big-name off-season signings – the latest being running back Eddie George – the Cowboys, as George said himself Friday, are flying under the NFL's radar screen.

    In 1986, when I made my first trip to Thousand Oaks, there was no questioning the Cowboys' status as America's Team. They had enjoyed 20 consecutive winning seasons, but that statistic, though the one most often cited about that era, is not the franchise's most impressive.

    The fact the Cowboys had gone to the playoffs in 18 of those 20 years – and that was before the days of the bloated 12-team postseason – remains the most remarkable and unchallenged aspect of that team.

    The previous season in 1985, Tony Dorsett had just become a 10,000-yard rusher, Roger Staubach had become a Hall of Famer, and the Cowboys had won their 13th division title in 20 years. In 1986, a locker room populated with Dorsett, Randy White, Danny White, Tony Hill, Everson Walls, Doug Cosbie and one that was soon to include Herschel Walker established the Cowboys as the NFL's marquee team.

    Almost as if the club felt a compulsion to add big names this off-season, Cowboys fans will get their first looks at Vinny Testaverde, Keyshawn Johnson and George in Oxnard. Of course, seeing them five years ago – or in Vinny's case, maybe 10 – would have been even better, but overripe talent is better than none at all for this offense.

    Still, you wonder about a team in which the two highest-salaried players are offensive linemen (Flozell Adams and Larry Allen) and the best player is a safety (Roy Williams).

    Quincy Carter handing the ball to George near the end of his career or Julius Jones at the outset of his or flipping passes to Jason Witten just may not lead SportsCenter on a regular basis.

    It's bizarre, really. The Cowboys won 10 games under Bill Parcells last year, went to the playoffs, have made what appears to be some improvements, anyway, and are not the darlings of the media or the American public.

    The Raiders, coming off a coach-killing 4-12 season, sell more merchandise. The Redskins, coming off a coach-killing 5-11 season, are the trendier NFC East pick based on the additions of Joe Gibbs, Mark Brunell and Clinton Portis.

    The Cowboys still seem to be an afterthought as a potential playoff team because no one understands how they won 10 games a year ago. Carter is dismissed, at least nationally and quite often locally, as a potential winner and the running back-by-committee approach frightens everyone but Parcells.

    Even owner Jerry Jones, while heaping praise on George in Friday's news conference, referred to him as "a complementary piece."

    No one knows whether these pieces fit. No one knows what Antonio Bryant's role is with this team after tossing his jersey at Parcells.

    No one knows whether a softer schedule can produce more favorable results for a team that tailed off badly at the end of 2003.

    Here is what we know. Since the Cowboys got their last playoff win – over Minnesota in the 1996 postseason – 23 NFL franchises have won playoff games. Eight teams have won five or more playoff games since then.

    The glamour has been gone from the Cowboys for almost a decade.

    Back in the shadow of Hollywood (OK, it's a long shadow), where they once routinely prepared for greatness, the Cowboys seek to find that old winning feeling once more.

    E-mail tcowlishaw@dallasnews.com


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  2. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    Forget glamour I want hardware.

    Super Bowl 30 was a damn long time ago.

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