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Note to all Dallas Cowboy DBs: Be like Mel

Who wouldn’t want to be like Mel Renfro?

He’s a Hall of Famer. He’s in the Ring of Honor. He’s arguably the best defensive back to ever wear the star. He was an All-American running back in college. If there was ever a guy to emulate in this organization, as far as the secondary goes, Renfro is it.

Ray Buck gets this and details Renfro’s excellence in his newest installment of the Old Boys Club.

My problem with this article isn’t the focus on Renfro. He’s a legend and that’s what the series is about – highlighting the past. But what kind of chaps my hide is the references to Pacman Jones.

When Renfro retired, after Super Bowl XII, Adam "Pacman" Jones was still five years, eight months away from being born.

(Memo to Pacman: Longtime Cowboys fans have a standard for even the most highly decorated, punt-returning CBs to follow — and it’s way up there.)

"I’m kind of opinionated about these things," said Renfro, now 66, and a limited partner in Hall of Fame Mortgage on Preston Road in Dallas. "In my day, someone’s chances of making the pros were 1-in-10,000. Certainly, that makes it a privilege."

While the Cowboys await NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision on when, or even if, Jones’ suspension will be lifted, Renfro expressed a willingness to give Pacman Jones a second chance.

"The guys who hurt you most are the me-me-me guys," Renfro said. "But I think Pacman is a team player. He’s had some off-field issues, but I certainly know he’ll help this team. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Renfro’s opinions about Pacman are certainly newsworthy but it just seems like it takes the reader away from the focus of the article. I wanna hear war stories from Renfro about battling against competitors in the playoffs or playing in the Super Bowl. Buck eventually gets to it when Renfro discusses Super Bowl V.

Some losses are harder than others to accept. This was one of those.

Perhaps it was best summed up by Bob Lilly’s helmet toss as soon as the game ended.

"Lilly yanked off his helmet and sailed it left-handed 50 yards upfield," wrote the Star-Telegram the next day.

And what did Renfro do?

"I just sat on the bench and cried," he said.

A Sports Illustrated photographer captured a solitary Renfro, mired in his own misery on the Dallas bench, long after everyone else had left.

"I sat there with my helmet buried in my hands," Renfro recalled. "I didn’t move for four or five minutes."

Great. Really great stuff.

Then Buck has to go and ruin it by mentioning Pacman again.

Back to that memo to Pacman: Now you see, there was a similar guy who played here before you ever talked, walked or even crawled. And he was pretty good.

Renfro reiterated that playing pro football is not a birthright. It’s a privilege.

Even after he played his best four-game stretch of a Hall of Fame career, Renfro could stop and think how this made "others" feel good.

"To me, I represented the Dallas Cowboys," he said. "I could imagine that people could see what I did at the Pro Bowl and think, ‘Hey, maybe the Cowboys are coming back.’ And, of course, we did.

"We won the Super Bowl the next year."

Did we really need the part about Pacman? Just gimme the good stuff, Ray. Stop giving me the cup filled with foam when I ask for a beer.


ESPN’s Elizabeth Merrill has a great article about a rookie’s transition from draft day to rookie camp. She follows sixth-round draft pick Xavier Omon and pens an awesome story about his life, trials, tribulations, journeys and expectations. Omon comes from Northwest Missouri State – the same school that gaves us Jamaica Rector.

Like any 23-year-old kid, Omon is excited yet nervous.

KANSAS CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: The rookie has two bags, an MP3 player and a ticket he's eyeballing like a straight-flush poker hand. He fetches a ride with his girlfriend, because his old green clunker died months ago. She tells him she loves him, and that she'll see him in three days.

They know, as they say goodbye in a crowded hallway near the security gate, that his life is about to change.

It's just the way Xavier Omon always wanted it. As a sophomore at Beatrice High School in southeastern Nebraska, he told a handful of people -- only the ones he trusted -- that someday he'd be an NFL running back. But life, for the first 23 years at least, has been far less hopeful. He was 8 when his brother was killed by a drunken driver; he was 14 when another brother committed suicide.

Division I football snubbed him, recognition eluded him, but none of that matters now because Omon is holding a plane ticket to rookie camp. He's dressed in gray pants and an Ecko sweatshirt. He knows it's the fanciest outfit he'll need for his first week in the NFL.

Good read.


I realize that journalism is like any profession. You have good days and bad days. Everybody has days where everything is clicking and then other days where nothing is working.

Maybe that’s what happened to Newy Scruggs. Because his article in the Star-Telegram is a rambling mess.

I think his main point is that he disagrees with the decision to go on HBO’s Hard Knocks and that it will eventually undermine the team. He believes it will lead to an unfocused football team.

The last time we saw Jones' football team, it was being upset by the New York Giants in the playoffs at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys didn't look focused for the second season. So why begin the 2008 season with a distraction?

I happen to disagree. I probably wouldn’t have done it but training camp is a spectacle anyway. Fans are everywhere. The local media covers it non-stop. There will be the inevitable convoy of ESPN, NFL, Foxsports, CNN and other national media correspondents. It tends to be hot. There’s hazing from the veterans. It’s not like these guys are in a tunnel studying plays. There are a lot of things going on at once. 

I would also posit that football players can do more than one thing at once. Good ones that is. Shoot, Scruggs is sports director at KXAS in Dallas-Fort Worth, writes articles for the Star-Telegram and hosts a sports show on NBC 5 News. Is he unfocused? Most people can multi-task. I don’t see why Tony Romo and the rest of the crew can’t.

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