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The Heart of the Matter
by Howard Cox

Teams have spent many hours pouring over film, in depth studying of interviews and talks within their camps. They come knowing just who they will add to their roster with each pick. Some enter also planning to make trades to improve their positions or acquire more picks. They know everything about the players who desire to make the professional level. How fast they cover 40 yards, how many times they can bench press 250 lbs., how far they can jump, how high they can jump, how much weight they can squat and a number of other criteria thought to inform teams on how the players will perform at the top of their chosen profession. Among the most important attributes studied about each player is their height and weight. A player’s stock can drop just simply because he is an inch too short or a few pounds over/under weight compared to what is considered the “ideal” size for the position they play.

One player, who eagerly awaited his name to be called, was among those considered too small to make much of a difference at the pro level of football. At 5’9” and about 200 lbs. he is thought to be undersized to become an everyday Running Back. The first round began, team after team named who they wanted and the young player was not among them. Dallas’ turn came around, at #17, and Emmitt Smith finally got his aspiration. The commissioner clearly stated, “With the 17th pick, in the 1990 NFL draft, the Dallas Cowboys take Emmitt Smith, Running Back from the University of Florida.” Elation passed through his very soul as he comprehended he was going to get the chance to prove himself in the National Football League. Everyone knows how that pick ended. Pretty good for an undersized player thought to not be much of a threat. What everyone didn’t know was the size of the heart inside that pushed him to succeed.

Fast forward to last season and remember the fans, including myself, wondering just what Parcells and company were on when they traded away from any choice of Running Back they wished. The word came down confirming our worst fear, Dallas had traded away their first round pick. When next they came around a groan went up from the masses upon hearing the name Julius Jones. Who was this guy from Notre Dame? He was no Stephen Jackson. How could he possibly be the answer to take up the yoke of the Cowboys’ running game? By the end of the season that question was forgotten and I, along with all Dallas fans, were walking around with a swagger discussing the return of the proud heritage recently vacated by Emmitt Smith. Missing one year of college football had not daunted his desire to achieve the ambition of being an NFL Running Back.

Other players in the league overcome much the same “doubt” due to size. Just ask opposing offensive players who have collided with Dat Nguyen or Zach Thomas. It isn’t just the physical size of the body that declares the ability but more so the size of the heart deep within. Much is stated about the capability of this year’s draft picks but let’s rest easy knowing Parcells once again has shown his talent to judge that fire burning within. Countless questions will be asked though I have but one. To each new Dallas Cowboy: How big is your heart?


  • At 11:44 PM, Blogger ParcellsGuys.Com said…

    I agree.

    Coach Parcells agrees.

    Every man who ever put on a helmet agrees.

    The statement, "he has the heart of a champion", every football player should aspire to be the "he" in that statement.

    Nice piece.


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