FRISCO, Texas – Someone asked me last week if I was ready for training camp, and my response was, I will be in like 21 days.
Well, suddenly this week with the temperatures here in North Texas hitting right at 100 and with the heat index rising far above, when one of the security guards kidded me upon arrival on Tuesday that, "In 16 days you've got to get back to some serious work," my response this time was, "I'm ready right now for those climate-friendly days in Southern California." Today the high is 72 in Oxnard, Calif., and the low is projected to be 59.
That's what I'm talking about, and sure beats today's 97 here that I'm told at this moment feels like 109.
Go West, young man.
- Zeke 'Em: Was reminded of this the other day looking at Ezekiel Elliott's career stats when someone wrote the Cowboys should not invest in the two-time Pro Bowl running back long term, just like the Cowboys did not in DeMarco Murray back in 2015 when he became a free agent after his Pro Bowl 2014 season that saw him become only the second Cowboys running back to win an NFL rushing title. Huge difference here. Murray already was 27. Philly offered a five-year, $42 million deal, meaning he'd be 31 if he played out the contract. (Uh, he lasted one season.) Zeke won't turn 24 until three days before the Cowboys leave for training camp on July 25. Also, Zeke has won the NFL rushing title in two of the past three years, and to find the last runner to do that takes you back to San Diego's LaDainian Tomlison, who won back to back titles in 2006-07. Now, if Zeke is able to win the 2019 rushing title, he would become the first running back to lead the league three times in a four-year span since Detroit's Barry Sanders back in 1994, 1996 and 1997. That's 22 years ago, friends. Zeke is rare, and young. In fact, we have to go back to the NFL's all-time rushing leader Emmitt Smith to find the last running back to win four titles in five years: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995. Before Emmitt, it was O.J. Simpson grabbing four titles in five years (1972-73, 1975, 1976). And obviously, Emmitt is the last running back to win three consecutive rushing titles, and that takes us back 26 years. The all-time longest string of dominance goes to Jim Brown, who won the rushing title in five consecutive seasons (1957-61) and seven in eight, only interrupted by Green Bay's Jim Taylor in 1962. Hey, stock up. Feed Zeke.
- Another Historical Run: As you know, a Cowboys running back never had won an NFL rushing title until Emmitt won the first of four in 1991. That seems rather surprising since the Cowboys have three running backs in their Ring of Honor – Don Perkins, Tony Dorsett and Emmitt – have two running backs in the Hall of Fame – Dorsett and Emmitt – and had an assortment of other high-profile runners before Emmitt's arrival in 1990, like Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas and Herschel Walker. But the Cowboys' seven rushing titles (Emmitt 4, Zeke 2, Murray 1) do rank second most in the NFL to the Cleveland Browns, who lead with 11 rushing titles, mostly thanks to Brown's eight.
- Preseason TV: Although none of the Cowboys' four preseason games will be national network broadcasts – all four on the Dallas Cowboys Broadcasting Network – the NFL Network has announced picking up three of the four preseason broadcasts live: Aug. 10 @ San Francisco, Aug. 17 @ the L.A. Rams from Hawaii and Aug. 24 vs Houston from AT&T Stadium. Just a month away from that first preseason game. How time flies.
- · Another Sign: Here is another sign the start of the NFL season is right around the corner with the NFL Officiating Clinic scheduled for Thursday-Sunday in Plano, Texas. This is where last year the NFL officially claimed after a rule revision that, yes, Dez Bryant's catch that we all knew was a catch in that 2014 season playoff game at Green Bay indeed was "a catch." And one nugget to come out of this year's session will be Nate Jones, a Cowboys seventh-round draft choice in 2004 who played cornerback with them for four years, has officially been hired as an NFL field judge for the 2019 season.
- NFF Team: Three Cowboys Pro Football Hall of Fame members have been selected to the National Football Foundation's 150th Anniversary Team of Excellence: Troy Aikman, Jerry Jones and Roger Staubach. The Team, captained by Saints Hall of Fame quarterback Archie Manning, is comprised of NFF board members who played football and have gone on to great success in life.
- Last Reminder: Oh, and one last sign the Cowboys' July 25 arrival in Oxnard for training camp is just 15 days away certainly is Friday's release of the 2019 Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine Training Camp Preview. The annual preview magazine will include a summary of what to expect from the Cowboys this season, scouting reports on all 90 players going to camp, a pullout poster schedule and much more to prepare for the 2019 season. Editions can be purchased by going to DallasCowboys.com/star. They will also soon be available at Barnes & Noble and other regional outlets.