The Dallas Cowboys kick off their first Organized Team Activity today with nearly the entire team planning on being in attendance. This is when the offseason preparations really start for the players as they get back into the habit of playing football again after a few months off. As the players start to get acquainted with some coaches and some new faces on the team, there are some people out there that think certain distractions will take the focus off the game of football.
The biggest circus this offseason has surrounded the trade for Adam Jones. Some feel that the uncertainty regarding his reinstatement and his impending screw ups would mess with team chemistry. By all accounts though, he has always been an amiable guy in the locker room and a hard worker on the field and is focused on making a good impression with his new teammates. If Jones is able to actually stay out of trouble and make plays on the field, I can't foresee any problems arising in the locker room.
Another distraction that might bleed over into training camp is the absence of Ken Hamlin. Now that the Cowboys have signed Marion Barber, the only holdout is Hamlin who like most players was unhappy with the franchise tag placed upon him. Unfortunately, the Cowboys just don't have many options at safety and having Hamlin for this season is a priority. The question is whether the issues surrounding Hamlin's absence will cause a distraction for the rest of the team and the answer is a resounding no. NFL players all understand that this is a business and players must look out for themselves. It's only May and things like this happening this time of year are common. The players would prepare like they always would and not worry about everyone else. It's also a foregone conclusion that if Jerry is intent on keeping Hamlin, the deal will get done. Based upon the events of today it just proves that if Jerry wants someone signed, it will happen.
The only thing that could potentially hurt this team is the overall hoopla surrounding the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo is all over the gossip pages. T.O. and Jason Witten are on TV. And HBO will be joining the team in Oxnard to film an in-depth reality show about the Cowboys' training camp. Are these things the Dallas Cowboys need as they prepare for a hopeful Super Bowl run? Shouldn't they have a pristine environment in which to work on preparing for the season and won't all this extraneous activity take away from the players ability to focus? Please. This is the Dallas Cowboys we're talking about. Since when has their not been a ton of outside distractions around the team? Being a part of the Dallas Cowboys means having to learn to deal with it all and just playing the game like you know how.
Unfortunately, most distractions are purely media driven. If you take away all the reporters and their microphones trying to prod the players into saying something incriminating about a teammate, 99% of the distractions would just go away. No more pointless questions about Romo's personal life or if a certain blonde has the ability to derail an entire season. All Jerry has to do is just ban the media from the locker room. But we all know that will never happen. It's a part of professional sports and always will be. What you have to hang your hat on is that players have gotten used to the circus that is the Dallas Cowboys and are able to just dismiss it all and play football. The Cowboys organization has survived this long as America's most scrutinized team, who says they can't make it another year?