FRISCO, Texas – My gosh, just one day into the official start of the offseason for the Cowboys, just less than six weeks before the start of training camp, with every head coach, GM, prez and assistant coaches in the league beginning to hold their breath, hoping their players can successfully navigate through this unstructured time, and what happens
David, David, David.
Can't seem to get that out of my mind, as if some parent shaking my head – and probably my fist, too – at my own kid, screaming, How in the world could you do that?
David Irving we speak of, the Cowboys especially talented defensive tackle getting himself suspended by the NFL last Friday for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Come on, man. Seriously.
This suspension, different from last year's four-game sentence for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, is administered differently. For PEDs, players get no second chance. You're one and suspended.
For this substance abuse, a player must commit multiple offenses to the policy before receiving a four-game suspension. At least three. Sometimes four. And once you are in the program, the league can test you as many as 10 times a month. Plus, you must attend all your prescribed counseling sessions and promptly submit to random testings, no matter where you might be. A miss, and you might as well have tested positive.
Not making any excuses here for the 24-year-old who has had his hands full this offseason navigating through a relationship gone bad and a battle he says he's won for sole custody of his 5-year-old daughter. But hear missed tests or counseling sessions have been his latest downfalls. Still, when you get yourself in such a predicament, you have to become even more vigilantly responsible.
This will be costly to the restricted free agent, not only forfeiting 4/17ths of his one-year, $2.91 million salary ($684,706) – losing more money this year than he's earned in any of his three previous years in the league – but certainly devaluing himself next season when he becomes an unrestricted free agent, no matter what he does the remaining 12 games of 2018.
Trust is a valuable commodity.
Now for some scatter shooting.
- Beas Attack: Was asked last week to predict who will lead the Cowboys in receptions in 2018. My answer: "Cole Beasley." Why not? He's led the club once previously, catching 75 passes in 2016's 13-3 season with a rookie quarterback, Dak Prescott, at the helm. Plus, with the threat of Ezekiel Elliott on the field for 16 games, health willing, teams will no longer be able to bracket him out of the slot with a slot cornerback and linebacker. They're going to have to worry about the Cowboys handing the ball to Zeke, and at times throwing it to him as well. And the Cowboys don't seem to be pigeonholing "Beas" into solely being a slot receiver. He's been working outside, where he figures to get more one-on-one coverage.
- Extension Fallout: So the Cowboys signed All-Pro guard Zack Martin to a 6-year, $84 million extension last week. But when you throw everything together – namely, his $9.3 million previous 2018 base salary – that ups the deal to seven years, $93 million. But, but, because of structure, the Cowboys were able to save $3.41 million this year against the cap, lowering Martin's base to $2 million, and his cap hit to just $6 million. Not to feel sorry for him, though, because add that to the $20 million signing bonus and the 27-year-old will pocket $22 million this year.
- A Grande Opening: Fully open for business is Baylor Scott & White Sports Therapy & Research at The Star, just across from the Omni Hotel and Ford Center. Pretty impressive facility, given its 300,000 square feet of futuristic training and rehabilitative space, furthering the visibility of the Dallas Cowboys, the City of Frisco and the Frisco ISD. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was one of the many speakers at Wednesday's opening event, pointing out how creditable brands can influence people. Told the story of when son Stephen needed ankle surgery, he went out of his way to find the specialist who surgically repaired Joe Namath's ankle. Said Jerry, "If it was good enough for Joe, it was good enough for Stephen." Put this on your to-see list for sure.
- General Crash: Probably need to promote Cowboys Ring of Honor safety Cliff Harris from "Captain Crash," known for his hard hits. Because now he's known for raising more than $3 million dollars with his annual charitable golf tournament benefiting Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. And this year's 10th annual event on Monday helped raise another $350,000. It's a Who's Who of former Cowboys players helping out, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Roger Staubach, Mel Renfro, Rayfield Wright and special guest Pittsburgh's "Mean" Joe Greene, along with former Cowboys Everson Walls, Mike Renfro, D.D. Lewis, Kurt Peterson, Chad Hennings and Preston Pearson, among others.
- Story Time: After Staubach ran into former Cowboys receiver Mike Renfro (1984-88), he tells me the story about when he first met Mike's dad, the late Ray Renfro, a former 12-year Cleveland flanker and Cowboys assistant coach (1968-72). Was 1968 when Roger was on leave during his five-year Navy commitment, spending his off time at a Cowboys minicamp. Roger recalls Ray, a player he idolized while growing up in Cincinnati, Ohio, working with him during the spring and spending time throwing with him after practice. Said when they finished up one day, Ray told him, "You can play in this league." Boy, was he right, Roger saying, "That meant a lot to me, gave me a lot of confidence." Sure enough, Roger showed up in 1969 and immediately became Craig Morton's backup after Don Meredith retired and the Cowboys traded Jerry Rhome.
- Quick Shots: Speaking of Greene, he's having his second annual Nibble & Mingle fundraising dinner, benefitting the University of North Texas scholarship in the name of his late wife, Agnes Lucille Craft Greene … Not sure the Cowboys are any more sold on Rico Gathers being capable of playing tight end in the NFL after not playing football since junior high. When asked about how Gathers is coming along, head coach Jason Garrett said nice things about the second-year player who spent all of last season on injured reserve, but then added, "His position is not an easy one," meaning to learn … Saw several members of the Cowboys at this past Saturday's IBF welterweight title fight at Ford Center between the champ, Errol Spence Jr. of suburban DeSoto, and challenger Carlos Ocampo of Mexico, including Jerry Jones, Dak Prescott, DeMarcus Lawrence and former linebacker Anthony Hitchens, signed to a free agent contract this spring by Kansas City. One of the few times you'll ever see a body blow to the side end a fight, with like two seconds left in the first round when Ocampo went down for a 10-count, Spence winning to the delight of 12,600, even if this was just a 3-minute bout. Now that, friends, was a Shot!