* ARLINGTON, Texas –*The moment dripped with irony early Wednesday afternoon, out here at the old football field at Workman Junior High School:
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones seated on the makeshift stage for the NFL Draft Legacy Project ceremony, right next to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, smiling and chit-chatting with each other up there.
Yes, the two gentlemen who butted heads for most of last season, first due to Goodell suspending Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott a robust six games for the all-encompassing conduct detrimental to the league, much to Jones' chagrin, and then when Jones tried to put up a stop sign during the NFL owners' negotiations over Goodell's contract extension.
And let's remember it didn't end there, either, Goodell, at the behest of the NFL owners, then fining Jones $2 million for his conduct during the negotiations.
And leave it to the Voice of the Cowboys, Brad Sham, emceeing the event attended by several hundred Workman students, city dignitaries and the Arlington Independent School District superintendent and school board members, to crack everyone up who might have thought there still was tension between Jones and Goodell leading up to Thursday's start to the NFL Draft at AT&T Stadium.
When introducing Goodell, Sham goes, "So we have with us, and are delighted to introduce, the newest honorary Texan, a man all last year saying, 'Find a way, please, to get me in front of thousands of Cowboys fans,' and we've done it: Here's the commissioner of the NFL, Roger Goodell."
The humor did not fall on unknowing ears.
Cue laughter – even from Goodell – along with a hardy round of applause, probably for both Goodell and for sure Sham.
"That's good – good afternoon," Goodell began. "I was just going to say, I'd love to have that title you have (Brad), Voice of the Cowboys. What a great title that would be, wouldn't it?"
Sham: "You want to trade?"
Goodell: "Actually, you got it right now. … I'm excited to be here, thank you so much for having us this week …"
And away we go, thanking my training camp roomie for my first, and probably best, Shot.
- Bail Out: Cowboys owner Jerry Jones might be three-quarters of a century old, but he sure hasn't lost his quick wit, or timing for that matter. By now you must know Jones dropped an F-bomb during Tuesday's annual pre-draft press conference out at The Star in Frisco, breaking up all involved, media, son Stephen Jones sitting to his right and head coach Jason Garrett to his left. For the uniformed, Garrett was sort of uncomfortable answering questions about his thoughts on All or Nothing, The Dallas Cowboys, the eight-part series on Amazon Prime TV documenting the entire Cowboys 2017 season, with more behind the scenes availability than you can imagine. Especially Garrett's uncensored language – pretty blue at times – in meetings and on the sidelines. And that's when Jerry piped up with his Shot, deadpanning curiosity, as if he didn't know where the questions were going, by saying, "What (uh, in the world) are you all getting to?" Cue uproarious laughter.
- Big 'Un: Man, Vita Vea is big. I mean real big. He was out at AT&T Stadium along with the other 22 draft prospects brought in for appearances at the NFL Draft, and on Wednesday out here participating in a Play Football Clinic with 125 middle school students. First time I've seen most of these guys up close. I mean, even Vita's head is big. But when asked about the Cowboys potentially taking him in the first round, all he could talk about was Rod Marinelli, the Cowboys defensive coordinator. "Rod is my guy, he's a great guy. He loves football, he loves his players, and I just love meeting people like that," Vea said. "Felt like I've known him forever." What does he remember most? Well, Rod evidently gave him a pamphlet to read about the former Los Angeles Rams renowned defensive front, the Fearsome Foursome. "You know, with Deacon Jones." Yep, we know.
- Come A Long Way: Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who many are tying to the Cowboys at 19, didn't seem too much in awe with this entire situation, even though all he played in high school was eight-man football back at tiny Salmon River High School in Riggins, Idaho, population 406. Played football, basketball and ran track at a school where he says they needed the entire male enrollment just to field even an eight-man football team. "I don't know if there is a way to put it," Vander Esch says. Well, on this guy, stay tuned.
- Not Again: Certainly Wednesday's rain put a crimp in all of those scrambling to complete construction on the outdoors NFL Experience that opens at noon, Thursday, in advance of the 7 p.m. start to the NFL Draft. There were a whole lot of LED and video boards still being constructed about 24 hours before fans were expected to start streaming in. And just remember, whatever happens, this is an NFL operation, not the Cowboys.
- Clock Strikes 9: Just in case you're starting to get antsy tomorrow night, know that if the Cowboys indeed pick at number 19 Thursday in the first round, the projected average timing of that pick is 9:01 p.m. (CT). If the draft moves fast, the average moves up to 8:52. If a tad slow, then back to 9:08. Set your alarm clocks.
- Tea Leaves: If we can accurately interpret the signs and what the Cowboys are saying – not a lot – then I'm sticking with my guns on the position of choice in the first round: wide receiver, linebacker and defensive line. And don't rule out defensive tackle just because the Cowboys haven't gone there previously in the first round since 1991 when they selected Russell Maryland with the first pick in the draft. In fact, only two other times have they selected a defensive tackle in the first round, not counting Kelvin Pirtchett, who they took with the 20th pick in 1991, but for the Detroit Lions to complete a trade for three draft choices. Those other two? Uh, Bob Lilly, with their first-ever draft pick, that in 1961, and then Randy White, with the second overall pick of the 1975 draft. Seems like a charmed position, since Lilly and White went on to Pro Football Hall of Fame careers and Maryland a Pro Bowler.
- Mr. Cowboy: In case you are wondering, yes, the NFL does have Lilly participating in this draft. How fitting, too, for the franchise's first-ever draft choice to be present at the first-ever NFL draft in North Texas. Lilly is scheduled to announce the Cowboys' second-round pick on Friday. I mean come on, who else but Mr. Cowboy. He should receive a much warmer reception than Drew Pearson did in Philly last year.
Everyone enjoy Draft Day.