Scene from 2008 war room

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by igtmfo, Apr 16, 2009.

  1. igtmfo

    igtmfo Well-Known Member

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    By Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY

    IRVING, Texas — About two hours after the first day of the NFL draft completed Saturday night, a euphoric buzz still flowed from the war room in the scouting wing of the Dallas Cowboys' headquarters.

    Jerry Jones, the team's vigorous, hands-on owner, popped into the room that is the nerve center of draft efforts before heading home. He found many of the faces that had been there all day and deep into the night seated around an L-shaped bank of conference tables.

    Coach Wade Phillips still was there. So were Jones' sons, team vice presidents Stephen and Jerry Jr., and a handful of scouts. The owner sat down and popped a beer.

    He took ribbing from Stephen, as they recalled Jerry's urge to trade to the top of the second round to draft Texas A&M tight end Martellus Bennett or perhaps a wide receiver. The Cowboys traded with the Seattle Seahawks to move up three slots in the first round to draft South Florida cornerback Mike Jenkins with the 25th pick, following their selection of Arkansas running back Felix Jones with the 22nd choice.

    But a trade wasn't necessary to land Bennett, nabbed 61st overall. It was the best deal that didn't happen. The Cowboys take a committee approach with draft-day moves, with the elder Jones, who also serves as the GM, having the final say.

    "Sometimes, Jerry gets on a roll and you can't stop him," Phillips said of Jones' reputation as an eager draft-day dealer.

    On Saturday and Sunday, the Cowboys made six trades — more than any in a single draft under Jones.

    He headed into the weekend having made 45 trades in 19 drafts, and completed the first trade for a suspended player in NFL history by landing cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones last week from the Tennessee Titans for a fourth-round pick. He also shipped tight end Anthony Fasano and linebacker Akin Ayodele to the Miami Dolphins for a fourth-round pick.

    Yet as the owner angled to move up in the second round, Stephen delicately led the room's consensus to stand pat.

    "Don't you want to go and get yourself some dinner?" Stephen recalled telling his father.

    They laughed about it hours later, content that they helped a 13-3 team that was bounced from the playoffs by the New York Giants, move closer to getting over the hump — in what Jones called a "now" draft.

    The group also reflected on some of the unexpected twists during the day. When Jones called Jenkins to inform him of their pick, there was silence on the other end of the line. Jenkins' mother — perhaps excited by the news — had a seizure and was rushed to the hospital. Fortunately, Jones found out she was OK.

    One of the scouts, Drew Fabianich, mentioned the text message received from his wife: His 17-month-old son, Markus, was taken to a hospital in Austin after being bitten by a rattlesnake. He, too, is fine.

    Stephen also got unsettling news. His wife called to alert him of an incident that occurred at his son's soccer game. When the ball landed in a yard adjacent to the field, a man took aim to it with a gun. Stephen said that the children were OK.

    Then there was the call that came into the war room before the draft. A caller identified himself as an Oakland Raiders' representative, and said he wanted to go over the details of the trade for the fourth overall pick. Tom Ciskowski, the Cowboys' assistant scouting director, didn't recognize the voice, and hung up. It was a crank call from Larry Lacewell, the Cowboys' former scouting director.

    Jones never pursued a trade to move up to Oakland's spot to draft Arkansas running back Darren McFadden. He suspected it would take a three-team trade to pull it off. The decision to settle on the other running back from his alma mater, Felix Jones, had its perplexing considerations.

    After a healthy war-room debate that Jones said began at least two slots before Dallas was on the clock, the Cowboys took Felix Jones over Illinois running back Rashard Mendenhall, chosen a spot later by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Mendenhall was projected as a top-15 pick in mock drafts.

    "How did he get to 22, if everybody had him ranked in the top 12?" Jones said. "Several teams passed on him."

    The pick hinged on choosing a player the Cowboys envision as a better fit when packaged with new starting tailback Marion Barber.

    "Barber let us have the luxury of taking Felix," Jones said. "We've got a Mendenhall-type runner in Barber. Him complementing Barber gives us a dimension that Mendenhall-Barber does not."

    Sitting in Ciskowski's office after the draft, Jones acknowledged the Arkansas connection. Asked if there's any fear that a decade from now Mendenhall will be viewed as a Hall of Famer, Jones shrugged.

    "No," he said. "You can't do this and not pass on some outstanding players. I passed on Randy Moss for Greg Ellis. What I would be sad about is if Pittsburgh has won a Super Bowl or two (and) we haven't."
  2. Rampage

    Rampage Benched

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    Jerry must be a sad man then.

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