I was at a Dallas bar the night before the NFL draft and who should show up out of the blue, but Jerry Jones himself. Well, we got to drinking the good stuff. Oban single malt scotch, Don Julio margaritas, Ketel One martinis and black and tan's. As the night wore on, Jerry let his guard down. "5B, I just don't know why I keep doin' it to muhself. I know I'm not a good personnel guy, but I just want this team to win so dang bad that I am my own worst enemy!" Then, he started crying. Tears were flowing like a heartbroken teenage girl. Suddenly, he picked his head up off of the mahogany table with a pool of drool around him and looked me right in the eye and said, "Sunnuvagun! I have a GREAT idear!!!" I said, "Jerry, whiskey tango foxtrot are you talkin' about?" He interrupted, "We got all this dang technology stuff and we just aint usin' it right. You remember that Shakespeare movie with that there Steve Martin feller who tried to get that hot blonde mermaid to hook up with him?!?" Obviously, Jerry had confused the movies, Roxanne and Splash, but being a product of pop culture, I quickly decoded his ramblings. "You can be my sahlent pardnur on draft day!!!" he said. "It's foolproof!!!" Jerry laughed like a fat man who'd just finished his third trip to the buffet. He had concocted this plan where I would be in a separate room at the Ranch during the draft with a microphone and he would secretly wear an earphone where I could direct his draft-day efforts via remote control. A modern-day ‘Cyrano De Drafterac' if you will. Despite my misgivings about Jerry being able to make this crazy sceme work, I reluctantly agreed, if only because of my love for the Cowboys and a personal willingness to sacrifice everything for the good of the team.
So, draft day arrived and there I was, sitting in a room with monitors aplenty, audio gear to transmit my every word directly to Jerry so he could act the part of GM (as if) and make the right selections and moves. I had food and drink to keep me going through the marathon sessions. It seemed like a perfect plan. What could go wrong?
The top of the draft proved somewhat surprising; Bowers, Fairley, Peterson, Amukamara, AJ Green, Von Miller, Quinn and Dareus all going in the first 8 picks with no QB going early and thus no help getting one of the big names Dallas was supposedly focused on to fall. That was the bad news. The good news was that an old friend, the Minnesota Vikings, called about moving up to #9 and was willing to give up their 4th and 5th for the 3 spots we would cede to them. Obviously, they wanted Blaine Gabbert before the Redskins could take him at #10 and it seemed like we were able to kill two birds with one stone (one of the birds being the acquisition of more picks and the other being the ability to screw the Redskins). So, I told Jerry to make the deal with the Vikes and move down to #12. On TV, Jerry was being lauded by Mayock and McShay for Jimmy Johnson-like draft day prowess. Mel Kiper, who had been unmercifully lambasting Jerry for days leading up to the draft, while predicting another Dallas draft debacle, seemed a bit unsettled. When Chris Berman asked him what he thought, Kiper began to turn red. He stammered and finally got out an "Even a blind squirrel..." before he was cut off by McShay. Gabbert, Tyron Smith and Akeem Ayers went at 9, 10 and 11. Then #12 came up and I told Jerry to take OT Anthony Castonzo from Boston College with the pick. Jerry shouted, "We're taking George Costanza!!!" After I helped Jerry clear up the confusion and we got the card in, the ESPN pundits weighed in. Not surprisingly, Kiper said, "Well...he got lucky with DeMarcus Ware, so maybe he is just due to get SOMETHING right every once in a blue moon, but I think we'll see the old Jerry as the draft wears on!!!". Kiper's complexion was still quite ruddy and his hair seemed to be getting a bit mussed. Castonzo should be able to jump right into the lineup at LT if needed, and while he's not the most powerful of run blockers, he's technically sound in all areas and has got the frame to add up to 20 pounds of muscle and still keep his foot speed and quickness if Dallas wants to see him play on the right side, so he gives Dallas options. He has the best pedigree of any of the OT's in this draft class and has gone against the NCAA's best, week in and week out. He's my guy.
The 2nd round arrives and I patiently wait it out. Trade offers start to come along, but I'm not budging. I have my eye on two players in particular. Luckily for us, both of my targets are available when our pick comes up. I'm tempted to go with Jimmy Smith, the CB from Colorado (not the poor substitute for Martin Sheen on The West Wing), but I can't pass up Free Safety Rahim Moore from UCLA. I say to Jerry, "Rahim Moore of UCLA" and Jerry immediately blurts out, "Let's take Ray Moore!!!" to which Tom Ciskowski looks at Jerry completely dumbfounded as he and several scouts frantically start poring through their encyclopedia of player profiles to find this Ray Moore person. There is utter pandemonium in the war room with papers flying all over and laptops being tossed against walls until I finally help Jerry correct himself and we make the pick. On NFL Network, Deion Sanders pipes in, "Jerry just found another ‘primetime prospect' in Moore". Back at ESPN, Chris Berman asks Kiper to opine, but as the camera pans to Mel, he has his head in his hands and he is caught unaware. He jerks his head up and it is clear something is not right with Kiper. His hair is standing almost on end and he is sweating like Albert Brooks in the movie, Broadcast News. Kiper mutters something under his breath about how Jimmy must have helped Jerry put together a draft board. The camera quickly jerks back to Boomer, and the rest of the crew, in what becomes a very awkward moment for all involved.
As the bottom of the 2nd is rounding out, I see an opportunity. I call Chicago and offer them the 4th and 5th that we got from Minnehaha for #62 and they bite. Quickly I explain the trade to Jerry, he calls Chicago to finalize it and I tell Jerry to use the acquired pick to take Baylor's DT Phil Taylor. So, this time, I speak very slowly to Jerry, so as not to leave any room for ambiguity. As the card goes up to the podium, the commissioner says, "The Cowboys select Phil Baylor". What?!?!? Jerry strikes again. I am flabbergasted. Ciskowski, upon hearing the name, faints and people are called into the war room with smelling salts and fluids to help revive him. Obviously, Jerry is either too hung over or hasn't spent one minute of time learning about the draft eligible players. The likely answer is both. More confusion ensues and another card is eventually sent up to the podium with the correct name. Disaster averted. Taylor allows Rob Ryan to slide Ratliff to DE in the right packages and groom what could be the NFL's next Vince Wilfork. As they are discussing the pick, Kiper's chair is noticeably vacant but in the background, down by the podium, a figure that looks like Mel is wrestling with multiple security personnel and trying to get a hold of the card that was sent up by the Cowboys.
In the third, we shun trade offers and I tell Jerry to sit tight because interior linemen are falling as teams make runs on WR's and LB's. Then, as though it were ordained for our Cowboys to rebuild the trenches this year, OL Marcus Cannon is sitting right there for us. I jump at the chance. Cannon played OT in college but his body type, and the associated knocks on him for being slow to handle edge rushers, means he's destined to move inside as he will be a force in the phone booth. Back at NFL Network, Warren Sapp says, "Oh my God, can you see that kid out pulling on a lead block for Felix Jones? Oh my God, oh my God, OH...MY...GOD!!!" On ESPN, Mel Kiper is drinking ice water and being fanned by staffers with copies of ESPN the Magazine. He can't speak. Jerry, who now has an air of confidence about him, has his feet up on the war room table and is telling jokes to Garrett, "What did the egg say to the boiling water?" When Garrett shrugs, Jerry replies, "It's gonna take me a minute to get hard, I just came outta this chick!" slaps Garrett on the back and begins laughing uncontrollably. Garrett, in an Ivy League elitist sort of way, is not amused.
In the 4th round, things keep coming up rosy for Dallas as Rashad Carmichael, CB from Virginia Tech is still on the board as if he was just meant to wear the star. I speak the name into the microphone, and Jerry says, "Harold Carmichael?" Stephen Jones, who has no idea how Jerry is pulling all this off, hears Jerry talking to himself and, fearing the worst, gets on the phone to an assisted living facility in North Dallas. After I explain to Jerry that Harold retired from football some time ago and that this person is an accomplished cornerback, Jerry is somehow able to make the pick. On ESPN, there is a medical emergency as Mel Kiper, upon hearing the card read from the podium, has to be rushed to the ER for treatment. Apparently, he is having problems breathing. Still, as he is being taken out on a gurney, Kiper's voice can be heard in the background screaming "NO...WAIT!!! THOSE CAN'T BE HIS PICKS!!! SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!!!"
In the 5th, I like what I see left on the D-line and I tell Jerry to take DL Lawrence Guy of Arizona State to help cover the Free Agency losses on the defensive front and give Rob Ryan another new toy. Guy is no sleeper, but he may be a hybrid three- and five technique. Perfect for Ryan's mad scientist schemes. With Kiper out, Ed Werder has joined the fray and is reporting from outside Valley Ranch. "Boomer, there are rumors that Jimmy Johnson is in the Dallas War Room and is running the show now". To which Berman replies, "Uh Ed? Jimmy is on Fox right now commenting from his slip in the Florida Keys. He says Jerry has done a great job". Ed, looking flustered, says, "Indeed! We're following that closely...and that's the latest from Valley Ranch. Back to you, Boomer." Jerry is seen leaning over toward Rob Ryan and overheard to say, "Yep, I hate to say it, but I called him Winnie too! HAHAHAHAHAHA"
In the 6th, I see another fellow Bruin Alum and I don't hesitate. I relay the name to Jerry and, after repeating myself, I now have to begin spelling the names out for Jerry so he gets them right. The pick goes up and we take Kai Forbath, the UCLA kicker who's likely to be the next Rafael Septien (without all the child porn and stuff). As Berman calls on Werder, we see Ed, with what looks like a 20 ounce Pabst Blue Ribbon in hand, physically wrestling with his producer to keep a hold of the microphone as he yells, "Chris, we just heard that Mark Zuckerberg has written new draft software code for Jerry and that he's making his picks off of that...so we'll be following that story closely!". As they return to New York, Berman is just staring at the camera, mouth agape and speechless.
In round 7, I see a small school sleeper that I like in Virginia Union's David Mims who has slid. He's a mammoth (6'8" and 335 lbs.) OT who will need time and good coaching, but I am confident he could grow (sounds silly saying that about a 6'8", 335 lb guy doesn't it?) into something special. With our final pick in the draft, I take a flyer on a guy I have likened to Bill Bates in many ways because of how many plays he makes versus his limited athleticism. That player is safety Brian Lainhart of Kent State. Lainhart had 17 picks in his college career and always seemed to be around the football. Yeah, I'll take his football IQ, effort and energy as Jason Garrett tries to change the culture of this team. 7th round picks seldom make the NFL roster, but maybe this one does.
As the draft comes to a close, the national and local media are heaping praise on Jerry and likening his performance to the best in the history of the NFL draft. Jerry shakes hands with everyone in the war room and Tom Ciskowski is obviously not himself. The characteristically inanimate personnel man rushes up to Jerry, wraps both arms around him and kisses him smack on the lips! He then dances like the Black Swan all the way back to his office. Strange days indeed...
As Jerry exits the War Room, he is mobbed by reporters who want to know how he was able to pull off such a draft coup as has not been seen in Dallas in decades. He doesn't comment as he makes his way for the limousine through the sea of reporters, save for one thing. He stops as the car door opens, pauses, then suddenly stares directly into the camera eye. After a long pause, he fires off one of those trademark ‘Jerry' smiles and says, "Here's to 6Blings"