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Cowboys secret weapon

It wasn't Romo, it wasn't the play of the offensive line, it wasn't the stifling defense that won the game in Carolina. It was none other than Jim Burt that won that game for us.

There, in Dallas gear with hair to match the silver star was Jim Burt, the pugnacious ex-nose tackle of the Giants, whipping the Cowboys into a frenzy as they rallied to beat the Panthers to stay within a game of the Giants in the NFC East. Ever loyal to the coach who nurtured (and tortured) him from rookie free agent to Pro Bowler, Burt saw it his duty to pump up the moribund Parcells after watching him passively lose to the Giants last Monday night.

Burt called the next morning.

"I thought he was sick," Burt explained. "I said to him, 'Bill, what's wrong with you? You're white as a ghost, you're not moving. What are you doing? What's going on?' The team looked like (garbage) and instead of screaming at 'em, kicking them in the (rear), he's in la-la land.

"I knew I needed to come down," Burt said "Because he looked lifeless."

A Giant to a Cowboy in a flash.
Someone from the NFL threw a Cowboys jacket at him and Burt spent the rest of the night summoning up that old, familiar energy, screaming at players, bumping chests with Roy Williams after big plays and urging coaches to get into it after what seemed like a "suicide watch" with the Cowboys down 14-0. He even told Parcells to throw some "candy" at the beleaguered offensive line for opening holes against the Panthers up front.

The superstitious Parcells now wants Burt on the sidelines for the Washington game.

I never realized the potential seriousness of the injury that Marco Rivera suffered last year in Washington.

He [Rivera] mentioned the rivalry with the Redskins and the records of the teams not mattering when they play each other. Then he matter-of-factly added he would be "going back to the place I almost died."


Talking about the play that almost killed him, Rivera held his thumb and index finger about an inch apart. That's how close he came to death, he said.

In what was the worst loss to the Redskins in franchise history, a 35-7 rout last December, Rivera lay motionless on the FedExField turf for about 10 minutes. With 1:39 remaining in the game, Rivera's body was numb. Attempting to make a block on a 3-yard Marion Barber run to the Washington 40, Rivera's head jammed into the turf.

He attempted to get up but fell limp.

"I was fortunate I didn't break my neck," Rivera said. "But if you look at the way I feel, I was that close from disaster. ... It was just weird. My arm, things went dead for a couple of seconds. I was hurting. I was out of it. Even though I tried to go the next couple of games, I was hurting."


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