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The New Favorite

especially toward the end of his career when he played for the Redskins and then the Ravens. But like most of today's top cornerbacks, Sanders was their idol growing up - and Newman was no exception.  

"Yeah, I tried to study his game," Newman said. "He's one of the best of all-time. I still have game tapes of him at my house. You can learn a lot from him."  

And so that's why Newman is especially grateful for every text message he receives from Sanders, who sends the Cowboys cornerback a new message once a week.  

"Deion sent me a text the night before the (Carolina game) that it only takes one mistake, one mental error to turn the game around," Newman recalled. "And there was a point in the game when I was telling everyone about that. I think it was the next play that we got one of the fumbles. So, it was true. But he sends me a different text every Saturday."  

But while Newman might be friends with Sanders, arguably one of the best cornerbacks ever, he doesn't just hobnob at the top. 

Newman said he makes a point to befriend every single player in the Cowboys' locker room, something he wishes more of his teammates would adopt.  

"We're all here for a certain period of time on this earth," Newman said. "I just figure, as long as I'm here, I'm going to be cool. I talk to everyone on this team. Some people walk by each other and don't even acknowledge that they're there. I think it's kind of segregated, really. With me, I hang out with Romo, Witten, AG (Aaron Glenn) - I hang out with everyone. 

"When I see (Marc) Colombo, I make an effort to say something like 'what's up Big Dog.' That's just the way I am."  

Now "Big Dog" is just a generic name Newman tosses out for many linemen, but you'll be hard pressed to find a player on this team that T-New doesn't have a nickname for.  

Rookie tackle Pat McQuistan can't walk by Newman without him shouting "O'Doyle Rules" in reference to the big redhead family from the Adam Sandler movie "Billy Madison." He calls Jason Ferguson "Chatterbox." Practice squad cornerback Quincy Butler is "Can't Get Right."  

And it doesn't just stop with the nicknames. Newman is one of the team's biggest pranksters.  

"I don't know where that started," he said. "I guess people used to play jokes on me and I just figured I would play jokes on them." 

Newman said his favorite joke is to gather a handful of smelling salts and put him under the nose of his teammates who fall asleep in the meeting rooms. (And remember, Newman is a defensive player, meaning he sits in the defensive meetings. Yes, it's just not wide receivers who supposedly doze off in meetings.)  

But not everyone gets the wrath of Newman's pranks. His two locker-room neighbors - Nate Jones and Keith Davis - have been on the wrong side of too many of Newman's jokes, resulting in truces to prevent future acts.  

However, Jones knows it's all in good fun and said he commends Newman for his ability to turn it on and off so quickly.  

"He has fun and jokes around a lot," Jones said. "He's goofy at times, but yet he's serious, too. It's good to be able to balance that. To still go out and play the way he does, but then able to relax and have some fun."  

And he might have a little more fun than head coach Bill Parcells would like. He's called a Newman "distractible," but the cornerback says he has a solid grasp on keeping his personality in check.  

"You know when to do it and when not to," he said. "When I'm on the field, it's 'go time.' When I'm off the field or in between plays, I like to have fun with my teammates. Not everyone might be having the best moment, but as long as you can make it seem good for them. Sometimes in a game, things just aren't going our way. But you have to stay positive all the time."  

That positive attitude makes it easy for his teammates to like him. Easy for his coaches to coach him. Easy for the fans to cheer him, and probably easy for even his opponents to respect him.  

And yes, for the media, easy for us to call him a favorite.                                

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