A Cowboys State Of Mind

 
DallasCowboys.com Columnist 
Feb. 1, 2004, 6:39 p.m. (CST)   

hasn't already been said about what he meant to our team." 

Even though Smith argues his 2004 season would merit him playing in 2005, the timing for Smith would seem right, especially after finishing this past season on a better note, rushing for 937 yards and nine touchdowns for a 6-10 Arizona team. His two-year contract with the Cards will expire, and what are the chances of some team signing a soon-to-be 36-year-old running back for enough money to convince him to play a 16th season? 

Does the NFL's all-time leading rusher want to leave himself open to being ignored - to not leaving on his own terms? Smith's denials on Tuesday could stem from wanting to spill the beans himself. 

Plus, Smith, who has upped his all-time leading total to 18,355 yards, adding another 1,193 after departing the Cowboys with 17,162, is rumored to be involved in an ownership group attempting to buy the Vikings - which he can't do as a player. So if 2004 really has been Smith's final season, mark it down, he'll be entering the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 after his mandatory five-year wait. 

Irvin dearly hopes that's all he's waiting, five years, and if Johnson or Aikman had anything to do with it, he's in on Saturday. 

"One reason Michael deserves it," says Johnson, who not only coached Irvin for five of his 12 NFL seasons, but also at the University of Miami, "not only was he a great, great player, but he set the work ethic for (the Cowboys). He groomed a lot of younger guys on how to play in the NFL." 

As I've repeatedly said, Irvin was the heart and soul of those Cowboys teams dominating the 1990's, and Aikman would only confirm that. 

"Obviously, I'm biased," Aikman said of Irvin deserving Hall status, "and I would need an hour to talk about the respect I have for Michael Irvin. When you look at the players who had an impact on the history of the game, Michael had an impact on the game with what we did for the Cowboys. 

"He was responsible for what we did with the Cowboys." 

And now bad does Irvin want this? 

"I think he wants in more than life itself," Aikman said with a chuckle. "He's extremely passionate about getting into the Hall of Fame." 

Now there is another former Cowboys player retiring, but this probably will go down with much less fanfare. Jason Garrett, after a 12-year career, has taken the quarterbacks coach job on Nick Saban's new staff in Miami. Garrett, who did dabble in some TV work last year while between football gigs, did finish the season on the Dolphins' roster as the third quarterback. This is good news for the Dolphins quarterbacks. Jason was born to coach. 

Too bad for the Cowboys, though, since owner Jerry Jones let it be known he wanted Garrett to sign on as an assistant coach as far back as 2000 when he left the Cowboys to sign a free-agent deal with the New York Giants. 

Now then, can we get back to the Super Bowl?   

MICK SHOTS

 
  Johnson was retelling the story of his 1993 season NFC title-game prediction, someone pointing out he said "you could put it in two-inch headlines." Well, Johnson laughed, "Two inches? No, seven inches," which caused me to laugh and inform the Cowboys former head coach the inches (three) were growing over the years. And when asked why he did it, Johnson came clean: "I had a couple of Henni's," short for Heineken. 
  Chances are Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will lose both of his coordinators after this game, Charlie Weis already taking the Notre Dame job and Romeo Crennel apparently heading to Cleveland. How tough is that, Johnson was asked, knowing he lost defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt and offensive line coach Tony Wise after his first Super Bowl victory and then Turner after the second? "It was never really the same again," Johnson said. "It just wasn't as much fun or meaningful without my guys." 
  Aikman said he could

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