So we're off with the 16th season of Monday morning quarterback. Pro football is the sport that never sleeps, and I was fortunate on my vacation to have union czar DeMaurice Smith, Colts rookie tight end Coby Fleener, Washington GM Bruce Allen and inspirational Tampa Bay defensive tackle Eric LeGrand writing, allowing me to sleep peacefully every Sunday night -- boy, I already miss that -- knowing the column was in good hands.
For the second time in 17 months, the Players Association has filed a collusion claim against the NFL, alleging that owners sought to suppress wages in 2010 when there was no salary cap.
NEW YORK -- The Morris Claiborne story fell into the laps of America on day one of the NFL Draft Thursday night, the same way Claiborne found himself a Dallas Cowboy.
PALM BEACH, Fla. -- Last year's NFL annual meeting in New Orleans played out amid the backdrop of the messy owners-players labor fight, and the protracted standoff that preceded the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement.
The Dallas Cowboys and head coach Jason Garrett have some glaring needs in the defensive secondary at both the CB and safety positions. With upgrades and depth needed at the LB position and in the backfield, let's take a look at the prospects that would fit the Cowboys roster.
Let me begin by saying that if Mr. Martin so much as breathes a word about George Blanda, Earl Campbell or Warren Moon, I win this debate.
Summing up the drama with 17 games left in the NFL season:
I'm trying to get excited about the division title race in the NFC East, where three teams still have a chance to win it with three weeks to go, but it isn't easy. The NFL's All-Underachievement Division is a train wreck this season. I'm talking "avert your eyes" stuff.
New York Giants (6-6) at Dallas Cowboys (7-5)
While the remarkable rise of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos has dominated the headlines and captivated fans in the season's second half, there have been plenty other surprising examples of what we'll call the Danny Woodhead Effect, a lightly regarded player who emerges to overachieve beyond all reasonable expectations.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Tony Romo stood on the field and licked the fingers of his throwing hand, a quarterback searching for a few more throws to make. But it was already over, the Gillette Stadium clock showing all zeroes, the latest unsatisfying Cowboys game logged in the books: New England 20, Dallas 16.
BALTIMORE -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take in a Week 4 that made the state of Texas feel like the center of the NFL universe, with Houston winning a biggie to get to 3-1 and Dallas gagging away its shot to build a three-game winning streak with a historic (and horrific) second-half collapse....
At the quarter pole of the 2011 season, the NFL has seen an interesting twist surface on the familiar length-of-game issue. If you've been paying attention through the first four weeks of the schedule, by now you know that games are never over, even when they seem over. You could say that the art of the comeback is making a comeback in the NFL, except for the fact we've never seen historic comebacks like this before. To wit:
Big weekend for stars. Charles Woodson schooled Cam Newton, though I have a feeling Newton's going to be doing a lot of the schooling in the coming years. Ben Roethlisberger experienced a moment of season-ending panic when his knee got caved in. Tony Romo, goat last week, played John Wayne in San Francisco. Tom Brady did it again. Matt Ryan put up. Michael Vick shut up.
We're invariably drawn to the storylines that involve the concept of second chances and second career acts in professional sports, and the NFL in Week 1 provided numerous examples of players who were starting over, either with a new team in a new city, or under the auspices of a new coaching staff that offered them a clean, blank slate.
SI.com is previewing all eight divisions throughout the week in anticipation of the 2011 season kicking off. (Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we creep within 15 days of the NFL's regular-season opener in Green Bay....
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on NFL training camps across the country. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
The quarterback ties the knot with Chace Crawford's sister in the city's Arlington Hall
In the great, neon-lit rackety universe of bowling enthusiasts, there are some men who stand out from the rest. John Amend, a 62-year-old resident of Dallas, is among them. Amend caught the bowling bug 10 years ago, when he went with one of his sons to Showplace Lanes in suburban Garland, Texas, and rolled for the first time in 35 years. "That just ignited me," he recalls. Soon he was spending four or five nights a week at Showplace Lanes. He bought a pair of black Dexter bowling shoes. He purchased his own lane-gripping, reactive resin ball. Then he hired a bowling coach, overcoming a natural "chicken-wing" delivery to boost his average score to about 200 pins a game.
A group of fans were unhappy with Super Bowl ticket situation. CNN's Mark McKay reports.
Texans battle the winter snow but also manage to have fun in Dallas.
Even as the Dallas area bursts its buttons, hosting the Super Bowl for the first time in Jerry Jones' new American coliseum, the city itself has developed an even greater itch it wants to scratch.
The modern game of football is filled with plays and formations with names like the Counter Trey, the Wildcat, the Zone Blitz and the Cover Two. They have become part of the sport's vernacular, and yet for many fans they remain just names, often confusing ones. To rectify that, Tim Layden has drilled deep into the core of the game to reveal not only how these chalkboard X's and O's really work on the field, but also where they came from and who dreamed them up.
1. The Patriots will beat the Saints in Super Bowl XLV. Tom Brady and the New England offense have too many options to stop in their home stadium in the AFC playoffs. New Orleans has been a forgotten team for most of the year, but its hard-nosed road win over the Falcons in Week 16 showed why it is good enough to return to the big game. Drew Brees can handle the pressure of playing on the road in the postseason. The Patriots-Saints showdown will go down to the final possession with New England winning on a field goal.
I looked at the NFL stats this morning and found myself scrolling down the list of quarterback ratings in search of Peyton Manning. He's usually Mr. Passer Rating, high in the 90s or somewhere north of that. But as I scanned the list, something weird happened. I rolled past JaMarcus Russell, Kyle Orton, J.T. O'Sullivan and the immortal Matt Cassel. Then I found my target.
Quick-hitting insight on today's 1 p.m. games ...
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- No team can completely change in a matter of six days, even if they do fire their head coach. But the Giants did not see the same Cowboys that lost to the Packers 45-7 last week. They didn't see the same Cowboys that they beat 41-35 in Week 7. They didn't see the same Dallas team that scuttled to a 1-7 start and defied all the experts who predicted they'd compete in a home Super Bowl next February.
NFL Midseason Report stories in the SI Vault
Quick-hitting insights from the slate of 1 p.m. games ...
Here are five things we learned from the Giants' 41-35 win over the Cowboys on Monday night.
In conversations with several players this week, I got the strong impression that we're not going to see a radically different football game Sunday afternoon. Not at all. What may change is a decrease in headhunting, which is a good thing. The T.J. Ward hit on Jordan Shipley in the Cincinnati-Cleveland game three weeks ago -- despite Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan calling it textbook -- was an egregious shot at Shipley's head. The Brandon Meriweather hit on Todd Heap last Sunday, helmet to helmet, was a disgrace. I'd be surprised if we saw a hit like those on Sunday.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Early Sunday evening, with his dispirited team coming out on the wrong end of the game everyone was calling the Desperation Bowl, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stood in the middle of a quiet and crowded Dallas locker room and gamely tried to answer the obvious question: What emotion is one rung below desperation? What reaction fits after watching a season on the brink quite possibly morph into a season over the brink?
Sean Payton, his Super Bowl champs on the verge of a crisis of confidence this week, channeled his inner Parcells. I covered the Bill Parcells Giants for four years in the '80s, and I remember thinking how odd it was to be around the team after a big win and see Parcells growling and unhappy about all the little things they were doing wrong; or sometimes when the team was in a tailspin, he'd be Dale Carnegie, convincing them they were on the cusp of something great if they'd only clean up this or that.
Typically when my editors and I hash out which game I should cover on any given NFL weekend, a matchup of sub-.500 teams doesn't make the radar screen or get even token consideration. But Sunday's Dallas at Minnesota showdown is no typical meeting of 1-3 teams. And off the top of my head, here are 10 reasons why:
Six quick topics, and a good dose of your e-mail:
Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a field-goal filled Week 5 of NFL action ...
Things we learned from the Cowboys' perhaps season-saving win over the Texans at Reliant Stadium on Sunday.
KANSAS CITY -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a Week 3 that was quite friendly to the road teams on this NFL Sunday ...
Each week, I'll provide quick-hitting insights from the slate of 1 p.m. games.
The New York Giants must try to keep their collective heads -- to say nothing of their helmets. Somebody may well get fired in Dallas. The dizzying quarterbacking carousel continues. The latest breaking news with Brett Favre: He's old. And Andy Reid is flip-flopping like an Atlantic City flounder. Those are but a few of the Top 10 storylines entering Week 3 of the NFL season. But we must begin with the frolicking road show known as the New York Jets.
Can the Dallas Cowboys continue to be America's team if they're not even state champs in Texas? Can the Hard Knocks New York Jets rebound against the New England Patriots?
Ten Things I Think I Think about last night's memorable games:
NEW YORK -- As far as opening weekends go, the NFL's 91st was boffo. Not that all the games were terrific, but we got our first games-that-count glimpse of players and teams we've been speculating about for months. We found out Wes Welker is bulletproof, Randy Moss has a mad-on, the Steeler D is back, the seat's getting warm for Eric Mangini, the Texans can beat the Colts, Chris Johnson and Arian Foster were born to run, and the Redskins need to thank Dallas for some dumb coaching decisions, including the simple act of allowing Alex Barron to play Sunday night. And, in the grand tradition of the Tuck Rule, there's the matter of a catch America thought was a catch that apparently wasn't.
SI.com is previewing all eight NFL divisions, beginning today with the AFC East and NFC East. The AFC South and NFC South follow Wednesday, AFC North and NFC North on Thursday and the AFC West and NFC West on Friday.
Running Back stories in the SI Vault
I have a healthy respect/appreciation for Fanball magazine, especially its Cheat Sheets edition, which solely focuses on mock drafts -- standard-scoring, PPR, TD-only, TD-heavy, QB-heavy, distance scoring, IDP and defense and keeper leagues, etc. But that doesn't mean I'm in lock-step agreement with their rankings, or specific picks from a standard 12-team mock draft.
Week 1 on the training camp trail ... From a very deep team in San Antonio (Dallas) to the Big Top in Kentucky (Cincinnati) to the NFL's men of mystery (Carolina) to the youngest veteran team in the league (Atlanta) to the team (Miami) determined not to let the AFC East become a two-horse race -- and, by the way, I like its chances. Along the way, three stories intercede: Albert Haynesworth, the business of football threatening to tear the San Diego Chargers asunder and the retirement of Sean Morey.
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what Peter King had to say about the Cowboys camp in San Antonio. For an archive of all camp postcards, click here.
British tennis ace Andy Murray talks to CNN about the increased pressure and attention he get at Wimbledon.
Scott Sicko, the University of New Hampshire tight end who gained Internet fame and infamy for turning down five free-agent NFL contract offers Saturday to pursue post-graduate education, has had a change of heart. He signed a contract Tuesday with the Dallas Cowboys.
If the 2010 NFL offseason were given a moniker it would be called the "Year of the Trade." Never before have so many trades taken place in general, and involving big-name players in particular. From Donovan McNabb to Santonio Holmes to Brandon Marshall, the ability to trade players without any cap consequences in the uncapped year has kept the NFL hot stove cooking over the past three months. Already this week, former first round picks Byron Leftwich, Adam Carriker and Ernie Sims have been dealt.
The beauty of the NFL schedule can be in the eye of the beholder, but I know which 17 games in the NFL's 17-week regular season that I consider must-see TV:
Needs. Every NFL team seemingly has them, although some are certainly more pronounced than others. All fans want to know is how their team is going to go about filling their needs in next week's draft. But in recently compiling the biggest needs for each NFL team heading into next week's draft, I discovered there are some serious limitations in this logic.
There are times when the pace of activity in the NFL's long offseason actually seems busier than in the six months in which the games are being played. That's why I always laugh when people ask me what I cover once the Super Bowl is over. My answer? More football. Just no games.
SAN DIEGO -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we, for the second time in a row, had the good fortune of being at the only dramatic game of the NFL's playoff weekend, that 17-14 Jets upset of the stumbling, bumbling Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium....
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jerry Jones' voice was as raw as the disappointment in the Cowboys' locker room after a 34-3 loss to the Vikings on Sunday in the Metrodome. A postseason of promise had been buried beneath three turnovers, two missed field goals and a suffocating Minnesota pass rush. It was enough to make onlookers wonder if Jones might re-evaluate the status of head coach Wade Phillips and the qualifications of quaterback Tony Romo, who appeared skittish in the pocket long before the Vikings pass rush took control.
Grading out the performances from the Vikings' 34-3 rout of the Cowboys in the NFC Divisional Playoffs ...
Even though dome teams historically don't fare all that well in the postseason, they still possess a significant advantage. The reason playoff home games are coveted is not because of travel or the familiarity of the field, as some would have you believe. It is all about the noise. And the noise level is more pronounced in domes, and in particular the Superdome and Metrodome, than any of the other venues in the NFL.
SAN DIEGO -- Best weekend of the year in the NFL, always. And especially this year, because of the weirdness of the end of the season, when the two top NFC seeds had some very shaky moments and the Colts took their annual late-season siesta.
Breaking down the NFC divisional battle, Cowboys at Vikings, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
Time for the best weekend of the NFL season, when the elite eight pair off in four must-see divisional-round playoff games. Here are eight of the best storylines still looming:
Grading the performances from the Cowboys' 34-14 win over the Eagles on Saturday in Arlington, the second of four wild-card weekend games.
Here's what we learned from the Cowboys' 34-14 victory over the Eagles on Saturday in Arlington.
Even more stuff you need to know before the NFL playoffs kick off this weekend with four first-round games...
Breaking down the NFC wild-card matchup, Eagles at Cowboys, Saturday, 8 p.m. ET, NBC
With only Washington and Buffalo making moves on the coaching front, Black Monday in the NFL passed far quieter than anticipated, and certainly was less eventful than last year's day-after-the-season-ends blood-letting.
Musings, observations and the occasional insight from a Week 17 that had a little bit of everything, except for any real high drama when it comes to how the Ravens, Jets and Cowboys won their showdown games Sunday and finalized the 12-team playoff field.....
My weekly look at key matchups and storylines to watch in one game at each time slot. (All times Eastern).
My weekly look at key matchups and storylines to watch in one game at each time slot. (All times Eastern).
Oh, it's going to be a wild Monday in the NFL, all right. The Saints have fallen to earth and Brett Favre almost got yanked from Sunday night's toothless loss at Carolina. In one weekend, the best NFC Championship game scenario may have morphed from Minnesota-New Orleans to Philadelphia-Dallas.
SI.com's Peter King dissects the Cowboys' 24-17 road upset of the Saints at the Superdome.
Breaking down Saturday's Dallas Cowboys at New Orleans Saints game (8:20 p.m., NFL Network)...
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- On paper at least, the NFC East race will enter the final three weeks as an entertaining three-team jumble (or three-ring circus) that figures to not sort itself out entirely until the highly anticipated Philadelphia at Dallas showdown in Week 17.
My weekly look at key matchups and storylines to watch in one game at each time slot. (All times Eastern).
Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we take stock of where things stand in the NFL as the final four weeks of the regular season come into focus (that's 64 games and counting down if you're keeping track)....
PHILADELPHIA -- When we last saw the Dallas Cowboys leaving this very same Lincoln Financial Field late last December, they were a battered and humbled group, having put the final, galling touch on one of the worst chemistry experiments in the history of the NFL. It was one last hard knock for the once-celebrated boys of "Hard Knocks,'' and the failure was epic-sized.
Breaking down Sunday's Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles game (8:20 p.m., NBC)...
Football Insiders: Check out Stewart Mandel's College Football Overtime column.
GREEN Bay, Wis. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as a rather unconventional but fascinating homecoming weekend here in Titletown wrapped up with the Vikings' 38-26 win over the Packers ...
These were supposed to better days for the Cowboys, Browns and Raiders, with Tony Romo rising from undrafted free agent to Brett Favre clone sans Terrell Owens, Brady Quinn becoming the Robo-QB in Cleveland he was at Notre Dame and JaMarcus Russell showing improvement in Year 3.
At this very moment I am on my way to being happier, wealthier and more successful than I was at this time last week, and I have Jerry Jones to thank for it.
I awoke Monday morning in Dallas, where the sky was obviously falling after the 1-1 Cowboys humiliated themselves with the whole world watching by losing at the last second to the Giants in their new billion-dollar ballpark. Oh, and while we're at it, what's the story with Tony Romo (again)?
ARLINGTON, Texas -- There's so much ground to cover on this strange, almost surreal night here, deep in the heart of Jerry's World. So let's get right to it ...
Breaking down Sunday's New York Giants at Dallas Cowboys game (8:20 p.m., NBC).
If ever there was a monument to Texas' clichéd fondness for BIG, it's that planet-sized videoboard hovering 90 feet above the field in the Dallas Cowboys' $1.15 billion new digs. At 60 yards long and 72 feet high, the big ol' box has become an instant attraction for patrons' peepers as well as punters who've discovered they can hit it, thus enshrining the gaudy contraption in the pantheon of such play-disrupting fixtures as the speakers on the ceilings of the Minneapolis Metrodome and Houston Astrodome.
Don't get spoiled by the last two Mondays. I can't keep up the pace of 7,200- and 9,000-word columns in the preseason. But there's enough -- from Dallas, Denver and Minnesota, and a stunningly bad list of prospective free agents when teams will have real money to spend in 2010 -- to keep us all thinking this morning.
You guys are all fired up over the Dallas Cowboys videoboard, and we'll get to that. But first, Tim of Modesto, Calif., has a question about rookies:
SI.com has dispatched writers to report on the 32 NFL training camps across the country. Here's what John P. Lopez had to say about the Cowboys' camp in San Antonio. For an archive of all the camp postcards, click here.
Tony Romo recently was back in the news when Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett suggested the star quarterback was "bottom-heavy" and needed to report to training camp in better shape (which, predictably, Romo says the media blew out of proportion). Will that be the difference-maker for Romo and the Cowboys, who haven't won a playoff game this decade? If not, what is it going to take for Romo to lead the Cowboys to the next level? SI.com NFL writers Don Banks, Jim Trotter, John Mullin, Ross Tucker and Andrew Perloff discuss.
â¢ Jessica Simpson and boyfriend Tony Romo, leaving Al Biernat's steakhouse in Dallas carrying a bottle of Macallan 21-year-old single-malt Scotch whiskey. Clearly, there was plenty of football talk over their meal: The pair dined with new Dallas Cowboys backup quarterback Jon Kitna and his wife Jennifer, as well as quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett.
An air-supported roof over the Dallas Cowboys' practice field collapsed during a heavy thunderstorm Saturday afternoon, leaving 12 people injured, authorities said.
The roof of a Dallas Cowboys practice facility collapsed during a storm.
A Dallas Cowboys scouting assistant suffered a broken back and has been permanently paralyzed after the collapse of the team's practice canopy during a heavy thunderstorm, the Cowboys announced Sunday.
A Dallas Cowboys official is paralyzed after Saturday's roof collapse at the team indoor practice facility.
So far, public reaction to the tragic collapse of the Dallas Cowboys' indoor practice facility has understandably reflected sadness, shock and genuine empathy for the 12 injured persons, particularly scout Rich Behm, who was left permanently paralyzed from the waist down.
A federal agency is examining what caused the Dallas Cowboys' practice facility to collapse on Saturday, paralyzing a scout and injuring 11 others.
DANA POINT, Calif. -- Musings, observations and the occasional insight as we wrap up the NFL's annual meeting with a little table-hopping among the league's head coaching set, and more from the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort...