Sometimes you hear something and you just have to share it with all your friends.
Well, I hope you consider me a friend of sorts, because I have to share the recent interview Lawrence Vickers did on ESPN Dallas' Ben & Skin show. If you have a half hour you can spare to take a listen, this will get your Dallas Cowboys fan juices flowing full blast. If not - well, that is why I am here for you. Here is a recap of some of the highlights - and, just in my opinion, this guy is a highlight of a human being. Plus, I skip over the bowling and NBA finals stuff so you don't have to wade through it (when I want to listen to football, I want to listen to f-o-o-t-b-a-l-l.)
Just to kick it off, look at this quote from the interview posted on the ESPN Cowboys Blog:
On why he's excited to be a Cowboy
"I'm excited to be here for numerous reasons ... I got a chance to play something I love playing. That's No. 1. Off the top I love playing football. This is my dream. This is what I said I wanted to do when I was a little bitty boy, and now I'm getting a chance to do it now. Then second of all because it means something to me, I got something behind this. Meaning, you know, my pops. Every day I wake up I look at that and I look at where I'm at and I just think about the things that he told me and the things he wanted to see ... and that's just motivation. I'm motivated."
He goes on to talk about how he came to be with the Cowboys, the team he has wanted to play for his entire life. He said that he came very near to being with the team in 2011, but the deal just did not come together (Dallas did not have a lot of cap space to play with thanks to the contracts they had to cut at the beginning of the year). He then talked about how the Houston Texans informed him that he was going to be released. Though the move was unexpected, he understood it was just business - the Texans ran into some cap issues this year - and just walked out of the team offices and left once they told him. He did not have time to worry much, because he said that within half an hour, his agent called and said "You're going to Dallas." And he has no doubt it was the best thing for him.
More about Lawrence after the jump.
He described his strengths as being that he understands the game - his assignment and everyone else's as well, so he plays the game ahead in his head and "attacks violently." It is OK for him to go in full speed "and get knocked out . . . at the end of the day, somebody gonna give up. I ain't gonna give up. They gonna have to carry me off the field."
You gettin' a little pumped yet? He is not just a hard hitter, he also says he has a finesse game, and knows how to mix it up. He looks at the running backs and how he fits, calling DeMarco Murray "Mr. 99", which is the skill rating he thinks DeMarco would have on a video game. He is impressed by the maturity and approach he has as a young guy who wants to be great. Felix Jones he sees as Mr. Explosive, with great reactions to switch gaps and break loose. And Phillip Tanner has great feet, able to adjust in the hole. Lawrence plans to react differently for each of the three. With Murray, he has to get on his man quick because DeMarco will be on him fast. With Felix, he can set the guy up for Felix to cut off what Lawrence is doing. And Tanner is in between. If you love the nuts and bolts aspects of football, this is some very interesting analysis of the role of the fullback, and can be found around the 7:30 to 8:00 point of the interview. This man is a technician who adjusts his game to maximize the performance of the back he is leading.
He is also excited about playing with Tony Romo, because he figures some of the dump offs in the passing game are coming his way. His general opinion of Tony is pretty much like some around here - he is underrated, partly because of the scrutiny Dallas gets. And Lawrence seems him as a leader, and is impressed by how hard he works and how well he knows the offense. "I feel like I'm in good hands," is how he put it.
He also talks about leadership, and how it grows from the example you set. When listening to him, I came to believe that he is going to be one of the most valuable signings because of his own philosophy: First, you walk the walk, then you can get people to listen to you. You have to be yourself, and bring that to work. And Jason Garrett is encouraging Lawrence to help motivate the other players and challenge them to compete (this stuff coming out of JG5000 is not just talk, folks).
He had a few other player evaluations. One surprise: Jason Hatcher is the big smack talker on the defense. Not a surprise: Sean Lee is the hardest guy to block. Brandon Carr is everything the team is paying him to be, a lockdown/shutdown corner who is going at it hard against Dez Bryant, and both of them are getting better. The player that motivates him is Jason Witten, who after ten years still competes all the time, even in drills. Lawrence called him "the truth".
And he addressed how he is already working with Dez Bryant from the aspect of helping Dez become better. He is talking to Dez about how important he is going to be for the team, and how much he can become if he applies himself. He talks about what you have to give to the game to be great, how the veterans need to pass the values of the game along to the young guys. It is stuff that just screams RKG from start to finish. This is a man that will make me prouder to root for the Star, because he is wearing it. He is grounded, very confident without being cocky, and just seems to be a solid guy. Above all, he believes he has to do the right thing, and the things he says to others apply first to him.
After listening to this, it is hard not to get the impression that he was signed for more than just his ability to clear a linebacker out of the running lane. This is a motivator, a leader, and a hard core competitor. I can't wait to see him on the field.