Which Veterans to Keep? or... How I Learned About the "Business" Side of the NFL

It's never easy to be a fan of a team.

The teams want fans to be emotionally attached to the team and its players, and we, as fans, gladly comply. We have pet cats, underdogs, overachievers, guys with potential, 3rd stringers and special teamers who we all love to root for (in addition to the Stars on the team who we idolize). This keeps us involved as fans and makes money for the franchise so it's not a bad thing. It's a win-win.

However, these exact same emotional attachments that are encouraged and marketed to us by the team frequently runs counter to the "business" of the team itself. That's the harsh reality of being a sports fan. We are encouraged to love a certain guy only to see him cut or traded the next season.

With the Cowboys, we are now hit square in the face with this very issue. In fact, the drafting of Tyron Smith, Bruce Carter, Murray, as well as the young pups currently on the roster provide a perfect example. Which veterans do we keep? And why? Columbo? Barber? Brooking? Roy Williams? Bigg Davis? TNew? All of these guys are now question marks, and I have cheered for every one of them over the course of their Cowboys career.

Bill Parcells used to call certain guys "progress stoppers." Those were guys who were still good, or even just ok, but were preventing a young guy (who isn't as good now but could be) from steppping in and manning the position. Learning "on the job" if you will. To my way of thinking, you allow and embrace progress stoppers if you are making a playoff run and have a good shot, or if the trade off to the younger guy is just too much of a dropoff to justify it. But with the Cowboys, does anyone really think this is a Super Bowl team THIS season? I don't. Playoffs? Maybe. I certainly expect them to improve, but don't see them having a realistic shot this year to make much noise.

Therefore, shouldn't we look at cutting some of the progress stoppers on our team? Like many of those mentioned above. Let's take Marc Columbo. I love the guy. He's everything you want in a player and teammate. Tough, hard working, smart, he gives you everything he's got. He's a guy that's easy to root for...but he's a progress stopper. Let's say he has one year left. Let's even say that one year is better than last season. Is it worth keeping him? Many folks would say Yes. After all, injuries happen, he can help teach the younger guys, etc.. But I say no. He's got to go, even knowing he has one good year left, because he stops progress and the business side of the NFL has him in its cruel sights.

If you keep a Columbo or a Brooking you have to cut a young guy with potential. The long term cost/benefit ratio won't be favorable. You just can't do it. Even if it means a learning curve for a young guy at first. The Cowboys have too many older veterans who are past their prime. Those guys have to go. In the long run of business, cheaper and younger needs to win out over those vets. That's the harsh reality of the business of football. As much as it pains me to see it happen as a fan.

The current roster of the Cowboys must get rid of progress stoppers if we are going to truly compete 2 or 3 years down the road. Otherwise, we'll stay on the same old carousel we've been on for the last decade. Personally, I'm sick of that ride.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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