After watching Michael Irvin's 4th and Long on Spike for three weeks, I've reached a few conclusions.
1. They should be applauded for taking it seriously. They've done just about everything they can to make it a serious football tryout. They have the stadium, the coaches with experience and they spend most of the time concentrating on nothing but football. The production team has managed to stay away from too much of the frivolous stuff and allowed Irvin, Bill Bates and Joe Avezzano to give it an air of legitimacy. The reality show/soap opera format has been largely avoided.
2. Michael Irvin's charisma and attitude really drives the show. Somehow, I get the feeling that Irvin cares about this more than the kids trying out do. Whenever Irvin pulls one of the kids aside and gives them a speech about heart, finishing, and winning the fourth quarter - I want to get up and run through the wall. Irvin is like the Godfather as he sits back in the War Room and decides the fate of the players with his capos Bates and Avezzano. He even manages to throw a bone to his old buddy Nate Newton. But when Irvin sits down with Jerry Jones, we see who the true Godfather is.
3. It's really hard to tell if these guys got any real talent. Irvin, Bates and Avezzano know, they get to watch all the drills and all the practices. We get 25 minutes or so of actual football plays/drills a week. That's a lot of stuff we miss out on. I imagine through the magic of editing they're building up drama about who stays and who goes, but somehow I don't think it's that dramatic. Especially in the beginning. The truth is only two or three of these guys could even be competitive at a training camp. These initial weeks are just delaying the inevitable competition between a few guys at the end.
4. I don't think this matters a lick; it's just a fantasy camp. The chance that Irvin actually "brings a ballplayer" to Jerry Jones, as commanded, is very slim. Sure, there's always the off-chance they catch lightning in a bottle and the kid will really be able to make a play for the roster (or even the practice squad), but in reality, it won't happen. So far, there hasn't been a defensive back on the field that looks ready to compete in San Antonio. On offense, Andrew Hawkins has some quicks and has shown he can run with the ball some after fielding a punt. Truly, that's the only way I can see a WR competing in San Antonio. Jesse Holley has also looked pretty good. But the top four receivers on the Cowboys are set. Roy Williams, Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd are not going to get beat out by anybody on the show. Isaiah Stanback's position is still a little shaky on this roster and his recent injury isn't helping his cause, but he's still more likely than not to make the roster. After that, draft pick Manuel Johnson is waiting to prove what he can do. Even further down, you got Mike Jefferson who was recently re-signed and UDFA's like Kevin Ogletree and Julian Hawkins. You better be something special returning kicks to beat out all those other guys as a receiver.
In the end, though, it is entertaining to watch. I find myself enjoying the show and thinking about training camp and the start of the 2009 season. It has enough Cowboys flavor to make it worth consuming each week. The production is well-done and the guys are giving it every effort. But I just don't see it meaning much come regular season.
Now, about Pacman Jones' performance on Pros vs. Joes...hmm, maybe not.