Becoming a member of an NFL team is largely dictated by the draft for the most talented college players. This does not always lead to a happy outcome. I am not going to go back and try to find the video, but you may recall a prospect last year who was picked by one of the, shall we say, less glamorous franchises, and looked like the kid who wanted the latest game system for Christmas and opened a package of tube socks. There are definitely NFL clubs that are preferred destinations. Some are because they have had recent success, and this tends to change from year to year. Others just have a certain aura about them, that makes them attractive year in and year out, no matter what the recent records have been.
Perhaps no franchise in the league has more of that than the Dallas Cowboys. They are located in a major metropolitan area with tons of ways to divert yourself (not always the best thing for young men suddenly dealing with more money than they have ever seen in their lives, but it is what it is). They have the most incredible stadium in existence on the planet. They have a rich and storied history. They draw media attention like Justin Bieber dating a Kardashian. And, oh, yeah, they have an owner with some of the deepest pockets in American professional sports and a willingness to spend restrained only by the salary cap.
While we wait for the days to pass with agonizing slowness until the draft finally gets here, teams are hosting players they supposedly (assuming smoke screens are not involved) are interested in. The Cowboys are no exception, and as fans we eagerly watch the comings and goings, as best we can determine.
And it is hard to imagine a more impressive experience for a kid still in college than to get the full treatment from Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys. It was fun to see the various tweets from Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid, and Gerald Hodges posed on the couch with Jerry Jones in front of the five Lombardi trophies won by the Cowboys. This is obviously part of the standard treatment Jones gives his prospective future employees, but it still has to be at least a little bit of a thrill. The whole experience must be something, given the fact that apparently many of the players have to be escorted through the Valley Ranch complex just to find where they are supposed to be. And that doesn't even take into account the look at the stadium. Clearly, some of the invitees are not ashamed to admit they want to wind up in Dallas, like local prospect TCU wide receiver Josh Boyce.
"It would be great," Boyce said. "It's America's Team. Everybody likes the Cowboys. It would be great if I could stay in Texas and play."
Of course, this makes little difference for the draftees who have to go where the draft sends them. There really seems to be little point in the extra mile the Cowboys, and particularly Jerry Jones, go.
Unless, of course, you are a player who wasn't drafted. Who is looking to catch on as an undrafted free agent (or UDFA, as we like to call them).
Dallas has a pretty good history of signing contributors to its roster from among the players that don't get picked during the draft. Players who saw some fairly significant time last season filling in due to injured players like Alex Albright, Cole Beasley and Lance Dunbar. And some starters like Barry Church, Phil Costa and Miles Austin. Oh, and one guy named Tony Romo.
I don't know if this is some master plan by the Cowboys. But I think the team is proud of the way it is viewed by players as a good place to go. And I suspect Jerry Jones is making a real effort to make sure it stays that way. You never know when you may be trying to land one of those UDFAs, who are going to sign for the same rookie minimum (the bonus money is almost negligible) wherever they go, and someone else has an eye on them. Rolling out the red carpet out for the people visiting Dallas may be a tiny little thing to try to sway them
Or it may get you an NFL caliber starting quarterback. It certainly couldn't hurt.