FRISCO, Texas – This might be one of the happiest shots in quite some time.
Yep, Drew Pearson's signature call, and my guess is he's barked that signal quite a few times over the past 24 hours.
Because he's it, finally, at long, long last, the Cowboys original No. 88, a member of the NFL's 1970s All-Decade Team and Cowboys Ring of Honor member has one foot and all but the heel of his other into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
And again, saying it's about time is a gross understatement.
This long overdue recognition of one of not only the NFL's great receivers, but also maybe a top-five clutch receiver of all-time and partner in one of the NFL's greatest tales of lore – The Hail Mary – makes everyone smile.
Pearson found out Tuesday that the NFL's senior selection committee nominated him and only him for induction into the Class of 2021. Now, former Raiders head coach Tom Flores was nominated as a contributor, but with only one senior member nominated, and with the overall selection committee able to induct at least four but as many as eight of the final nominees, sure does seem this time, after the agony of being eliminated in the final round for the Class of 2020, Drew is a shoo-in.
He will need 38 of 48 affirmative votes, presumably on Feb. 6, the day before Super Bowl LV is played to make it official if indeed the season successfully reaches that point. You can't give me one good reason for Drew not to be a unanimous selection. And for sure not some cockamamie reason like that year Bob Hayes was voted out of the final round when one committee member said he couldn't vote for "Bullet Bob" because he kept sticking his hands down the front of his uniform pants during the Ice Bowl. Seriously. Should have gotten credit for being smart.
Come on, start sculpting the bust.
Savvy Contract: Sometimes when it's reported a guy has signed a three-year, $18.3 million contract, with $7 million guaranteed at signing, it's not always what it appears to be. Gerald McCoy, case in point. Who knew McCoy had a pre-existing medical condition with his right quadriceps tendon, causing the Cowboys to put a clause in the contract that if there becomes an issue with the quad tendon or the pre-existing condition causes a related problem, the only guarantee in the three-year deal would be his $3 million signing bonus. So like the Blackjack dealer showing a potential Blackjack card, the Cowboys got themselves some protection. Funny thing, was told the day of his surgery, before the Cowboys announced they were releasing the 32-year-old defensive tackle, that he already had problems last year with the quad tendon. So that the Cowboys protected themselves, they saved $4.75 million of guarantees on his contract when releasing McCoy. Now he counts just his $3 million signing bonus, meaning $1 million against the cap this year and $2 million next year, as if he was a June 1 release. Guessing the Cowboys are glad to have the cap space back, but would have preferred the veteran's services instead.
DT Situation: So with McCoy gone, the Cowboys certainly must hope his defensive tackle partner Dontari Poe has fully recovered from his quad surgery that cost him the final five games last season in Carolina. Poe has just been removed from the PUP list and should move into practice when it resumes on Thursday after only meetings and a walk-through practice for the team on Wednesday. Poe isn't any lighter, 342 pounds, certainly nose tackle size, and while in 11 games last year for the Panthers he did have four sacks, he only totaled 22 combined tackles. Wonder if Antwaun Woods can give him a run for that starting nose tackle job? Or at least move himself into the rotation.
Standing Up: No, nothing to do with the national anthem. We're talking defensive ends. Even in a four-man front, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan is toying with defensive ends DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith at times standing up instead of in a three-point stance. Supposedly can get a better view of things. We'll see. You still have to be able to play the run.
Young Tackles: So with the loss of McCoy at the 3-technique spot, last year's second-round draft choice Trysten Hill and this year's third-round pick Neville Gallimore sure have a great opportunity to show what they can do in training camp. Hill appears more engaged than he was last year, and losing McCoy as a player is one thing, but the Cowboys also losing him as a great mentor for Hill is quite another. Same for Gallimore. And if those guys don't step up, the Cowboys have a fallback candidate in veteran Tyrone Crawford, who has played every position on the defensive line, including the 3-technique. Plus, with the size of some of the defensive ends, Smith at 280 and Joe Jackson at 285, there would be a possibility of moving those guys inside as pass rushers on nickel downs.
Kicking It Around: Had been looking forward to some kicking competition during training camp, that is until the Cowboys released Kai Forbath as part of the move reducing the roster from 90 to 80. Thus handing the kicking job to veteran Greg Zuerlein, who has been with new Cowboys special teams coach John Fassel for the past eight seasons with the Rams. When asked if he had diagnosed why Zuerlein struggled last season with Los Angeles, converting just 72 percent of his field-goal attempts – the Cowboys cut Brett Maher for his 66-percent conversion rate – and therefore becoming a free agent the Cowboys signed in the offseason, Fassel said, "Yeah, I diagnosed a groin pull, and in all honesty, he was going into the last year of his contract, and he wanted to kick through it – you know, a pretty good groin pull – so for a good six- to eight-week stretch we didn't even kick him through the course of the game week. And he had been so great and so reliable for so many years, especially the previous couple of years that we just wanted to try to ride him through it. And not to make an excuse, and Greg would be the last one to do it, but that has a factor in your ability to swing through like you normally would. Fully healed, I expect Greg to be one of the top, if not the top kicker in the league for the next couple of years for us Cowboys." That would be a welcomed sight.
Leftover Shots: Here is another attribute of rookie CeeDee Lamb. He catches sky-high punts as if nothing but a can of corn. (Again, look it up if need be.) In fact, special teams coach Fassel has CeeDee and Cedrick Wilson doing these drills catching punts off the Jugs machine by starting with their backs turned to the ball and then after the ball is kicked and reaches mid-flight they must turn, find the ball immediately and field the punt. Piece of cake so far … Poor offensive tackle Terence Steele, but an undrafted rookie out of Texas Tech. With La'el Collins still nursing back issues and presumptive swing tackle Cam Erving still out with "medical issues," Steele is out there trying to take on Lawrence. Let's say he's learning a few hard lessons … So Mike McCarthy calls these Wednesdays "regeneration days." That means after three consecutive days of practice, the players simply go through meetings, conditioning and a walk-through practice. Pads come back on Thursday and Friday … Remember, they're only allowed 14 padded practices prior to the first week of the season.
And lastly, let's finish with the proverbial question when a Cowboys player appears to be going into the Hall of Fame: Who's Next? My candidates would be, and in no particular order, Chuck Howley, Cornell Green, Everson Walls and Harvey Martin. Can't go wrong with any of 'em, or all of 'em. But if nothing else, next year's induction should be a Cowboys affair, with this year's inductees Cliff Harris and Jimmy Johnson postponed until next year, and surely Drew. Right?