FRISCO, Texas – The real world meets sports.
Don't even think there is an artificial boundary. There is no end line refraining reality.
Warriors head coach Steve Kerr emphatically, emotionally proved that Tuesday night before Game 4 of the Western Conference finals at the AAC.
At Wednesday's OTA workout here at The Star, the Cowboys didn't even try to sidestep questions about their thoughts on the mass murders taking place Tuesday at the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
First, DeMarcus Lawrence, when told Kerr came down hard on the 50 U.S. senators not doing enough to help prevent these killings, the now 30-year-old defensive end entering his ninth NFL season and father of three said, "That's the reason we are letting them sit in those seats, to help us to make change, and if change is not being made at some point having those seats, we might as well run around lawless. That's what we're doing anyways, right?"
Then Dak, who nearly spoke more about Uvalde than football during this first OTA open to the media, a young man going on 29, admitting these mass shootings at schools makes him "scared to have kids." And when told there would be some people out there telling him he needs to stick to talking about sports, the quarterback said, "I don't think anyone is ignorant enough to tell me that."
And then there is third-year Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy, father of five, who admitted to not opening his media session with a statement about what took place at Robb Elementary because he knew he'd be too emotional to talk about it.
Well, McCarthy was right. Because when he was asked about the killings of those school children and two teachers early in this media session, he didn't get very far into an answer before growing emotional, starting off by saying, "Heavy heart …it's mind-boggling . . . it's hard being a parent and . . . ."
That's about as far as the 58-year-old football coach got before needing a few moments to collect himself. He would go on to say, "We got to be better," and then "to see this go on in today's world is troubling, there has to be a better way . . . makes me sick just like everybody else."
McCarthy needed another moment, before admitting, "I'm Irish, you cry like hell the older you get."
Same with Italians, coach.
- Strange Surrounding: Took me a minute or three to realize this. First, when CeeDee Lamb pointed out Dak moved his locker next to him. Well, where had it been previously, like you been here for two years? Turned to find Dalton Schultz, over on the other side, next to the walkway leading into the showers where he'd always been. Wasn't there. Nope, way down at the other end, near the equipment room. What the what? Then it hit me: This is the first time I've been in this locker room with all these veterans since Dec. 30, 2019, B.C. Before COVID. The safety restrictions sent us Zooming the entire 2020 season, and even last year, all player interviews were conducted outdoors for the most part in staged setups. The locker room was off-limits. So, there is a good reason I never knew were CeeDee's locker had been the previous two seasons. Had been two years since stepping foot into the Cowboys locker room before the rookie minicamp a week ago. Sure felt good to be back, to actually just walk up to any player you wanted to, if nothing else, for just small talk. Here's to hoping the privilege lasts.
- No Bueno: Not a great start to the OTAs at the receiver position, especially since the Cowboys traded away Amari Cooper and lost Cedrick Wilson in free agency. First off, we knew Michael Gallup wouldn't be out there. His recovery from surgery to repair that torn ACL will last throughout training camp. But was unsettling to see veteran James Washington, signed in free agency, with his left foot in a walking boot. Washington has a strained tendon in his foot, but the Cowboys don't expect him to be in the boot for long. Then on top of that, third-round draft choice Jalen Tolbert was off to the side working on the resistance cords with associate trainer Britt Brown, though McCarthy said the presumptive at least third receiver with Gallup expected to miss the first month of the season should return next week. That meant when the first team offense lined up, the three receivers were Lamb, Noah Brown and Simi Fehoko, the latter two accounting for 16 catches last year, all Brown's.
- Oh (No) Line: When the first team offensive line went out for the first team drill, it weas Terence Steele at right tackle, Zack Martin at right guard, Tyler Biadasz at center, Connor McGovern at left guard and Matt Waletzko at left tackle. Say what? No Tyron Smith? McCarthy said Tyron had been with the team all morning, but that his back tightened up some so they held him out of the helmet, jersey, shorts OTA limited practice. The Cowboys have hopes Waletzko, a fifth-round pick, will lock down the vacant swing tackle job. As for left guard, first-round pick Tyler Smith went out there with the second team for these non-padded practices, a normal routine in deference to a veteran's standing and wanting the rookie to earn his way.
- Bell Ringing: Didn't take long for free agent rookie Markquese Bell to put a smile on my face after naming him one of the young guys to "pull for." During a fourth-and-goal at the one situation, Bell jumped Cooper Rush's quick out pass to the left for rookie Dontario Drummond for an interception, showing off that 4.41 speed, and didn't stop running for 99 yards. Thought he was going to keep the football, carrying it all the way back. Now McCarthy said he had stepped out of bounds, but hey, don't sweat the small stuff. "He's been impressive," McCarthy said. "He jumped out at rookie camp."
- Grown Man: Something looked different about Lawrence. Maybe lost some weight. Face much thinner. Oh wait, he lost the dreads. Been forever since seen his hair that short. "I turned 30 this year and it's time for me to make a grown man change," he said. But here was a more welcomed change. Lawrence is out here participating in the offseason workouts, for as he says, "The last five years I was recovering." Meaning from injury or surgeries. That means the first defensive line, and with Osa Odighizuwa nursing a thigh bruise, consisted of Lawrence at left end, Neville Gallimore and Chauncey Golston at defensive tackles and Dorance Armstrong at right end. The Cowboys are going to work Golston inside more in passing situations.
- OTA Shorts: See where last year's veteran defensive tackle Brent Urban, who started four of the first six games before landing on injured reserve for the remainder of the season, has signed a free-agent deal with Baltimore . . . But 2020 fourth round draft choice Reggie Robinson, a corner initially moved to safety and back to corner but remained on IR the entire 2021season and becoming a free agent, was signed in the offseason by Cleveland but ended up getting released last week . . . Wideout T.J. Vasher went up high with his 6-6 frame to make a really nice catch in one of the drills . . . Gotta love you some Lamb, when told it looked like he's bigger, CeeDee said, "I grew like a half inch," smiling as he went on to say he also put one a few pounds of muscle, too . . . How time flies, Dak saying the other day when referring to what this season will be for him, "I said six about a month ago, and Zeke said, no, we're on seven," as the 2016 draft choices are entering their seventh seasons . . . already.
Never a bad idea turning to Dak for this week's final word, when answering questions about the tragedy in Uvalde and how a 90-man football team deals with such things in the locker room.
"The locker room is a special place, and I say that because I don't want to say those things don't actually are talked about, but those things are dealt with day in and day out," he said, "because this locker room is built with so many people from different backgrounds, different – everything, religions, race, you name it – because we all have a common goal, we've worked, we've already hashed out some of these things that when something of this magnitude happens, it'd be wrong if we didn't mention it, we have on offense and defense, but to say we have to dial in, to get to know one another better, the locker room has that, and that's why the locker room is special.
"And I think the world needs more locker rooms."
Amen to that.