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4/09/2005

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Preparing for the Draft
by Brian Aust

Draft day is about preparation.

Teams self-evaluate. They pour over film, attend workouts and assemble the “Big Board.” Then, teams go cloak and dagger, doing everything in their power to make sure their position stays masked.

The media gear up. They pour over film, attend workouts and assemble their own “Big Boards.” They push out terabytes of text that slowly confuse the sports world into thinking that the actual draft is but a ceremony.

I used to go the store. I used to buy one bottle of bubbly and one flask of whisky. I prayed. I turned my cell phone off. I prayed again. And then, with the future of my beloved Cowboys in balance, I turned the TV on.

Last year, the pieces fell into perfect Tetris formation. The missing block was waiting, and I was breaking out the bubbly. Then, just as the cork was about to be sent to the ceiling, the Cowboys traded back.

I didn’t understand. Mel Kiper Jr. said the ‘Boys would be salivating if Jackson dropped all the way to 22. I started to dread the post-draft grades. I became ill at the thought of messages piling up in my voicemail. I put down the champagne, and I snapped up the flask.

Then, as I started to lift the bottle to my lips, my memory went into playback mode. I saw Eagles fans cheering “Ricky! Ricky!” And then, I heard them booing as Donovan McNabb held up his jersey. Now there’s some perspective.

I decided then that it comes down to trust. Having faith erases all doubt. If I could convince myself to trust the Cowboys organization, then I need not worry about the media nor the bastards that feel a need to clown me via voicemail.

If Jerry Jones were left to his own devices, I wouldn’t find serenity. From 1997 to 2002 – the period I less-than-affectionately refer to as “The Jerry Jones Thinks He Can Coach” years - there isn’t much proof that the Cowboys phoned in a pick. The Cowboys will start the upcoming season with a measly four starters from the JJTHCC years – Adams, Ellis, Nguyen and Williams.

Then, in 2003, the heavens opened up and gave unto us…Bill. Bill's first four choices – Newman, Johnson, Witten and James – will all begin 2005 atop the depth chart. Even last year’s controversial move has Bill looking masterful. When Julius Jones came back from injury to carve up defenses, I made a vow – I will forever trust in Bill. Bill knows the draft.

This year, no matter what the Cowboys do on draft day, you won’t hear a grumble or groan from my direction. You will, however, hear the sound of a cork busting free.

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