Not even a week ago, Cowboys Nation was in full-on playoff anticipation mode. Yet the season-ending loss to the Giants already feels like quite a distant memory from quite some time ago, as our collective attention has moved on to the draft with a vengeance.
And one of the interesting early dynamics among Cowboys fans is the use of the "Right Kind Of Guy" label to advocate or categorically rule out certain players. Right now, potential first rounders Janoris Jenkins and Vontaze Burfict seem to get the "Wrong Kind Of Guy" label attached the most often. This worries me. Not because I'm a particular proponent of either player, but because I always get highly nervous and downright angry when, in a world that is dominated by shades of gray, the discussion is reduced to black and white.
And because everybody seems to have their own personal definition of what exactly constitutes a Right Kind Of Guy, or RKG, here's where we go back and look at what Coach Garrett had to say about the Right- and Wrong Kind Of Guys.In an interview on draft weekend with ESPN's Trey Wingo, Garrett first used the term when he explained that the Cowboys' draft philosophy was all about drafting the Right Kind Of Guy:
"The most important thing is we talk about what it means to be a Dallas Cowboy, the kind of guys we want on our football team. If you look at the guys we've selected, each of these six guys represents that. They're good football players. The top three guys are from big schools. They're prominent players at that school, they have production at a high level. And then as we've gotten a little further down in the draft we've been able to take some guys who we think can fit a particular role for us. At least to create some competition on our football team. Again, they have the right measurables, they're the Right Kind Of Guys, we think they're good football players."
A little later, in his post-draft presser, Garrett expanded on the idea and explained what constitutes the "right kind of guy:
"Obviously they have to have the physical requirements to play this game. The measurables, the talent, the aptitude to play. Part of that is being "The Right Kind Of Guy."
He also explained what he considers to be a wrong kind of guy, or WKG:
"The guys who don't love to play football. Guys who don't love to work. The guys who don't love to be around their teammates. The guys who aren't trying to be the best they can be. All those things."
Garrett also gave a few pointers on some of the specific traits he's looking for in a RKG:
"You want guys who love to play football and show you that they love it each and every day. Passion, enthusiasm, emotion, all of those things come into it....It's one thing to talk that, but you need to see that."
Passion. Emotion. Enthusiasm. That's a mantra that Garrett has repeated again and again over the course of the season. We've heard Garrett talk about 'playing hard', about 'playing through the whistle' repeatedly.
But what we haven't heard from Garrett is that a RKG is a guy who has a spotless attendance record at Sunday School. Or a guy who regularly volunteers at the homeless shelter, gives generously to charity and drives an environmentally friendly car. Don't get me wrong, all of this is laudable - I just don't think it's a prerequisite for being a RKG.
After draft weekend, Garrett seems to have spent some time further articulating his thinking on RKGs. In an interview in July, Garrett again picked up the RKG theme, and explained it much more succinctly:
When we won those Super Bowls in Dallas in the 90s we had some very talented players. But I'll go to my grave saying, what makes Troy Aikman great is who he is, as much as the talent that he has. I can say that for Emmitt Smith, Daryl Johnston and go down the list. Darren Woodson, all the great players that we had on those teams, they were the right kind of guys.
They loved to play. They were talented, but they loved to play and they were great teammates. So as talented a guy as you can get, there's also the right kind of guy who can fit into your team and make the chemistry of your team right. That's what we're trying to do.
In the end, it appears the RKG is about chemistry. It's about making sure that players from different educational, cultural and social backgrounds can come together as one team. It's about putting one RKG next to another RKG until you've put together the right group of guys with the right chemistry to help you achieve your goals.
It's not about right or wrong. It's not about Saints and Sinners. Just because a guy can't pay his bills doesn't mean he can't be a Cowboy. Just because a guy had some other issues doesn't mean he's lacking the passion, emotion and enthusiasm that is going to make him a key part of this team.
Let's face it. Not every player is born a Jason Witten or DeMarcus Ware. But just because they don't arrive as picture-perfect RKGs at Valley Ranch doesn't mean they can't evolve to be RKGs. That's why many front offices talk so much about structure for their young players, about following a process. Most of the young men arriving at Valley Ranch every year still need to develop physically. But many of them also still need to develop in other ways. Some may need more guidance and direction than others in this process, both on and off the field, some may need less. The important thing is that the Cowboys have a structure in place that helps the players to grow into the Right Kind Of Guys while they're here.
What can be a little frustrating for us fans is that there is no easy way to assess who will be an RKG for the Cowboys down the line. Heck, it's far from easy for the Cowboys themselves, who have much more information on individual players than we'll ever have. And importantly, because it is about how an individual fits into the team, what may be a RKG for the Cowboys may not be the RKG for another team, and vice versa.
So with all that, what's your definition of a RKG? Or are you going to with the now-infamous quote by former Supreme Court Justice Stewart on pornography in 1964, "I'll know it when I see it?"