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For the Ellis defense - Kevin Blackistone

Kevin Blackistone has changed careers from sportswriter to defense attorney, and he's putting Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL on trial for their treatment of Greg Ellis. Read his impassioned opening statement in the DMN. He bashes the Cowboys on several fronts, some of which are totally valid, but he loses me when he starts talking about guaranteed contracts. The fact that there aren't any in the NFL bothers Blackistone. But I contend that this is one of the reasons why the NFL is a superior league to MLB and the NBA. Watching teams in the other leagues give players a big, fat guaranteed contract only to have that player coast until it's contract time again has killed teams. The counter-argument is that teams shouldn't pay so much for player who doesn't have the character to give it his all every season, every play. But you really don't know how people will react to these sums of money beforehand, human nature is what it is. Some people have the inner-drive to push themselves no matter how much money is guaranteed, but some don't. They may be satisfied with just making the money, or they may not like the coach, or they think the team is put together wrong and end up just cashing their paycheck and phoning in their performances. Meanwhile, the team is stuck with the player or eating the contract and releasing them.

Now I'm not cold-hearted, I understand that football is a violent game that causes careers to be relatively short in the grand scheme of things. But the players in the league are compensated at a much higher level than most of the normal population. It's the trade-off NFL athletes make to play the game. By not having guaranteed contracts players are forced to perform all-out each year unless they don't want to be with the team - or in the league - the following year. If the NFL contracts were guaranteed, then Greg Ellis would still be unhappy about his current situation of not being the starter in a defensive scheme he dislikes, but he would hold all the cards. He could tank the season with no real economic consequences, he could just show up and go through the motions. I'm not saying Ellis would do that - I consider him an athlete with character - but you can imagine some other athletes who would. The Cowboys would then have no recourse but to accept the situation and keep the player on the team, or release him and eat the contract for the next few years, thus killing themselves in the salary cap equation.

Speaking of Ellis, he would like a trade.

"I think if they could get what they are looking for, it is a possibility," the Cowboys defensive end said. "I've heard rumors."

At this stage, that is all they are: Rumors. Ellis said he has heard no such talk from Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones or coach Bill Parcells.

But Ellis's agent, James D. Williams, said his conversations with the Cowboys lead him to believe his client will be with the team when training camp begins July 27. And he doesn't see a change in the contract coming, either.

"It doesn't look like (a trade) is going to be feasible," said Williams, who said Ellis has not attended the Cowboys' voluntary workouts Monday or Tuesday. "It's a dead end. We're just looking forward to training camp."

I think those rumors Ellis heard were just voices in his head. The Cowboys have shown no inclination toward trading Ellis. When even his own agent isn't backing him on the trade rumors, it's got to be a non-rumor.

One other quick note, the Cowboys released long snapper Danny Young.

The Cowboys waived long snapper Danny Young, leaving their roster at 88. They can take 85 players to training camp next month in Oxnard, Calif., and will have to make three cuts once the draft picks sign.

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