FROM HOME, Texas – Still.
Now entering the fourth month working From Home, part of March, and now all of April, May and June. Must admit, miss being at The Star.
In fact, the other day after my physical therapy session across the street at the Carrell Clinic, just got the itch to drive through the underground parking garages at The Star, to see what's going on. Well, nothing.
And now probably less since the passing of the June 26 date for players to presumably be on their own until the start of camp. Same for the new coaching staff, if those guys so choose. Meaning not even virtual sessions.
Now for a couple of dates.
One arrives in 14 more days.
The other arrives, presumably, in 27 more days.
The former, a July 15 deadline for the Cowboys and quarterback Dak Prescott to finalize a long-term deal, or hold their peace until the conclusion of the presumptive 2020 season and he plays under the one-year, $31.4 million franchise tag. Unsure if Dak is ready to cash in his virtual Cowboys Lottery Ticket to put that signing bonus in the bank the next day.
The latter, the scheduled July 28 start to training camp for the Cowboys now that the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game has been postponed until next year. Unlike July 15, this date not exactly set in stone with positive coronavirus tests soaring in these parts, right along with the temperatures and humidity and … restlessness. Also heard there's been talk of rookies and select players possibly able to report a week or two earlier.
With all of this, stay tuned.
And why somehow these eclectic shots continue to fall from the sky, more so than water has of late.
- Duane's World: Fifty years ago, back on Jan. 27, 1970, at the Belmont Plaza Hotel in New York City, with the first pick in the NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected some quarterback from Louisiana Tech named Terry Bradshaw, Shreveport, La. Well, to the surprise of many, with the 23rd pick in 1970, your Dallas Cowboys dipped into the talent pool from mighty West Texas State University for Duane Thomas, born and bred in Dallas, Lincoln High School. The surprise was this: The Cowboys had just selected a running back with their 1969 first-round pick, Yale's Calvin Hill, the NFL's Rookie of the Year. So yet another running back with a first-round pick? Said head coach Tom Landry of the move: "We have unlimited feeling for Thomas. He's the type of running back that doesn't come along every year." And Cowboys scout Red Hickey said, "If we rated on pure ability – running, catching, blocking – we'd probably rate Thomas ahead of Hill. … He can run over you or around you." Darn if the Cowboys didn't hit on back-to-back NFL Rookie of the Year backs.
- Only Hope: NFL.com recently listed a top position battle for the New York Giants being their starting left/right offensive tackles. Listed were their first-round draft choice Andrew Thomas, their 16-game starter in each of the past two seasons Nate Solder, their third-round pick Matt Peart and … and … Cam Fleming. That's right, the same Fleming having spent the past two seasons as the Cowboys' backup swing tackle. They chose not to pick up his option after less than stellar performances filling in for Tyron Smith. Fleming ended up signing with the Giants (one year, $3.47 million with $2 million guaranteed). The Cowboys can only hope he wins one of those two starting jobs.
- Signage: This might have slipped by last week from the NFL owners virtual meeting, but they agreed for in-game safety measures to tarp off the seats closest to the field, from maybe six to eight rows to distance fans from the players on the sidelines. And in doing so, also approved a policy to allow teams to sell television camera-visible signage to local sponsors on those tarps. Saw similar stadium configuration of a televised soccer match with signage.
- PSA: If you haven't watch this already, ESPN's documentary Eddie is must-see TV on the life and coaching career of basketball coach Eddie Sutton, who passed away in May. Promise, will be two hours well spent on the career of the former Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma State coaching icon. And if you don't know Sutton's story, ESPN describes the documentary this way: "Eddie compels sports and general audiences, alike, to ponder the conflicting attributes of a man with flaws shared by many and achievements matched by few." Sutton twice graced me with interviews during my newspaper days, once at Arkansas and again at Kentucky. Check it out.
- Flagged Issues: The state of Mississippi, after all these years, is finally removing the state flag that included the familiar cross of the Confederate battle flag. Brings back memories of my three-year run covering Ole Miss and writing columns for the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion-Ledger/Daily News (1981-84). Ole Miss, after its football glory years under head coach Johnny Vaught, began struggling in the mid to late 1970s and early 1980s, unable to successfully recruit some of the top black athletes following integration. Former Texas Tech head football coach Steve Sloan had taken over the program in 1978 but was fired after the 1982 season, going 20-34-1. Remember writing that until Ole Miss got rid of its Confederate flag at games, mascot Col. Rebel and singing Dixie, the football team would continue struggling because of the negative recruiting the school's traditional, worn-out symbols were causing from rival schools. Took holy grief from the die-hard fans, you know, the Yankee go home stuff. Finally, at long last, the entire state nearly 40 years later has woke up.
- On Cam: Just in case you didn't hear what former Carolina head coach Ron Rivera had to say of his former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton signing with New England, the now Redskins head coach said, "I think he's ready to bust out. I would never bet against the young man, that's for sure." Bet he's glad the NFC East is not playing the AFC East this year as it did last year.
- Last Shots: Oh, and another thing about that 1970 NFL Draft for the Cowboys. In the third round, the Cowboys selected Clemson quarterback/wide receiver Charlie Waters, then converted him into a cornerback/safety who started on those five Cowboys Super Bowl teams … On top of that, signed Cliff Harris as an undrafted free agent from Ouachita Baptist, now headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though because of the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the cancellation of this year's ceremony, now having to wait until next year for his official induction … How about this for a defensive backfield that 1970 season: cornerbacks Mel Renfro and Herb Adderley (the former Packers great), strong safety Cornell Green and free safeties Harris and Waters. With Harris' selection, that's three of those five guys in the Hall of Fame, Harris along with Renfro and Adderley.
And lastly, the NFL has decided to cancel the 2020 Supplemental Draft in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since 1977, the Cowboys have selected five players in the Supplement Draft, most notably Miami quarterback Steve Walsh in 1989, using their 1990 first-round pick, which would have been the first pick in the draft that year. Also selected were running back Mike Lowman (12th in 1989), tight end John Davis (5th in 1994), defensive lineman Darren Benson (3rd in 1995) and defensive lineman Josh Brent (7th in 2010).