FRISCO, Texas – Thanks for the memories.
That’s what we mostly have this time of year, with Super Bowl LIII ready to tee it up Sunday in Atlanta, so figured a good time to shoot back in time.
Like to previous Super Bowls.
Like to previous glory days.
Like to former players.
Like, let’s get going back in time.
· Running E: So today, Jan. 30, marks the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ 30-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills, uh, right there in Atlanta, winning back-to-back Super Bowls. It marked the second time in six seasons someone went back-to-back, San Francisco doing so after the 1988 and 1989 seasons. Here is what I remember most from that game. With the Cowboys trailing 13-6 at halftime, the offense putzing along, even with future Hall of Famer Troy Aikman at quarterback, Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner decided it was time to run right at the Bills. Pretty imaginative, huh? Yep, the Cowboys had just tied the game 13-13 on safety James Washington’s 46-yard touchdown return of the fumble caused by Leon Lett. The Dallas defense then stopped the Bills on a three-and-out, giving the Cowboys the ball back at their 36. And here is what the creative Turner came up with: Emmitt for 9 yards; Emmitt for 3 yards; Emmitt for 9 yards; Emmitt for 7 yards; Emmitt for 14 yards; Emmitt for 4 yards. And maybe just to let Emmitt Smith catch his breath, Aikman throws to Daryl Johnston for 3 yards. Now it’s third-and-3 at the Buffalo 15. And here is when Norv really let his hair down, calling basically Emmitt right, behind a pulling Nate Newton, and the NFL’s leading rusher ran like a man possessed, 15 yards for a touchdown. And if you’ve ever seen the play, Emmitt makes Jeff Wright miss in the hole and parried away Oliver Barnett. Remember asking Emmitt something like how did he make Wright miss, and he says, “Oh, I already knew I was going past him. I was on to the next guy.” And the Cowboys never looked back after that.
· Surviving XXX: Now that one, Jan. 28, 1996, was 23 years ago Monday, in Tempe, Ariz., at Sun Devil Stadium. Most memorable that evening, aside from Neil O’Donnell throwing two interceptions into the awaiting arms of Larry Brown, whose returns set up two Emmitt Smith touchdowns? That the Cowboys barely survived what had been a tumultuous season to defeat Pittsburgh, 27-17. The Cowboys had gone 4-3 down the stretch, including a 38-20 beat down by San Francisco, along with consecutive losses to Washington and Philadelphia, the “Dumb And Dumber” headlined game when head coach Barry Switzer decided to go for a fourth-and-1 at the Cowboys 29-yard line in a 17-17 game with two minutes to go at The Vet. Emmitt was denied, and the Eagles’ Gary Anderson easily kicks a 46-yard field goal 26 seconds later for the victory. Not to mention a few swirling internal issues at the end of that year. And there in the locker room afterward were the Cowboys coaches, strewn on the floor, half-undressed, more relieved that they’d won than excited. Looked like a bunch of boat people on the beach after just having landed ashore. Years afterward, Cowboys safety Darren Woodson said he never really celebrated the victory. Was glad the season was over and wanted to just get away.
· Gil’s Time: Now, it will be criminal if Gil Brandt, the 29-year vice president of player personnel for the Dallas Cowboys, does not receive the necessary 80-percent approval vote from the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee on Saturday in Atlanta. Gil has been nominated as a contributor. Not sure how much more a man can contribute than building a franchise from scratch that would go on to post 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966-85), and during that time advance into the playoffs 18 times, not to mention into five Super Bowls, winning two. He should start posing for his bust.
· Not So Old School: The Cowboys are bringing back former quarterback Jon Kitna as the likely quarterbacks coach. He last played fulltime for the Cowboys in 2011 as Tony Romo’s backup, although he did come back in 2013 as the one-game, 41-year-old backup to backup Kyle Orton, who was forced to start the final game of the season with Romo needing back surgery. Nice move by the Cowboys. Kitna played 15 seasons in the NFL. He knows the position, and basically did his coaching internship for seven years as a high school head coach, including three seasons in Waxahachie, Texas. The 46-year-old is a good technician of the position.
· Deebo Does Tigers: OK, didn’t need to see South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel at the Senior Bowl. Saw more than enough of the Gamecocks Swiss Army Knife playing Missouri the past three years. I mean, you can throw it to him, hand it to him, have ’em kick it to him. Just want the ball in his hands. Check this out, and this is just against Missouri: In 2016, Deebo had a 6-yard touchdown run and caught nine passes for 125 yards as a freshman. In 2017, Deebo had a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 25-yard run for a touchdown and caught five passes for 45 yards. And this past season, he caught four passes for 88 yards and a touchdown. Give me some Deebo, even if it’s in the second round.
· Super Cold: Boy, did the NFL ever get lucky last year with the Super Bowl in Minneapolis. Because a year later, on Wednesday, it’s a minus-13 with a wind chill at minus-31 at 4 p.m. Time before that with the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, January of 1992, I remember the ice sculpture outside the NFL official hotel never melted a drop. And should be no excuse the Super Bowl has not returned to AT&T Stadium because of the snow/ice storm that hit the area mid-week. Because there were ice storms the first two times the Super Bowl was in Atlanta, the second time forcing the teams to forego their walk-through practices at the stadium because of bad road conditions.
· Last Call: How times change. Remember the 1993 season when Emmitt Smith missed the first two games of the season needing a contract? Well, he eventually signed a four-year deal worth $13.6 million. Uh, Rams running back Todd Gurley in 2018 signed a four-year, $57.5 million contract, including a $21 million signing bonus, with $45 million guaranteed, averaging $14.375 million annually … Bet the Cowboys finalize this coaching staff next week, after the Super Bowl … Back in 1995 when the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX, each player received $42,000. Now, 23 years later, the winners’ share is $118,000 while the losers receive $59,000. But remember, players do not receive any salary during the playoffs. The Cowboys players received $58,000 for playing their two playoff games. By comparison, defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, playing on the $17.1 million franchise tag salary, would make just more than $1 million a game during the regular season.
Yep, times do change.