Strange. Silly. Pointless. Horribly misinformed.
Those are all adjectives that can often be used to describe some of the stories about the NFL during the slow time we are now plodding through. And the Dallas Cowboys, being the media magnet they are, always attract more than their fair share of bizarre coverage.
The biggest one, of course, is the annual gnashing of teeth and rending of garments surrounding the horrible salary cap hell that the team finds itself in. Fortunately, KD Drummond has delivered an absolutely devastating two part account of how the team is not only able to manage the situation, but is carrying out a planned and consistent strategy in doing so. It literally took a handful of pre-planned moves to get the Cowboys under the cap for the March 11 deadline. And they still have some major moves left that they can make. But the story will not go away. On the same day that came out, we are told that the recent restructures will not be enough to let the team make a major splash in free agency. This is despite repeated statements by the top officials with the team (most notably cap guru Stephen Jones) that Dallas is not going to go after top-end free agents, but will focus on filling gaps with lower cost options and building through the draft for the long run.
This is the third year that the same basic stories have been written, at least. And it is almost certain that, given the way the Cowboys roll money forward using all the tricks and tactics available to them (as OCC outlined in his simply brilliant guide to cap management), the same basic stories will surface next year. The Cowboys have developed an approach to the cap that leverages the number in a very similar way to how a business leverages money with loans. If you are successful with the "borrowed" money, then it is a perfectly good strategy. The only thing that hurts is when you pay a player who doesn't work out, like the individual formerly known as Jay Ratliff, or one who suffers a legitimate injury, like Anthony Spencer. That ties up money you could have better spent elsewhere. The Cowboys seem to be trying to make smarter moves and more manageable loans. But all that many can see is the huge cap numbers before the leveraging is used. It is really just misplaced frustration over the product on the field. The cap numbers are not the cause of the lack of success. They are just a misunderstood side effect. And the misunderstanding will likely continue.
Other things going on are a good bit more humorous. One thing that hit some headlines lately is the visit by Cowboys owner/General Manager/oracle Jerry Jones and his wife Gene to Hollywood to take in the Oscar ceremonies. This seems to cause some consternation among some. But the man has more money than most of us can even imagine, and the NFL will only let him spend so much of it on his players, so every now and then, he decides to go blow some of it hanging out with people who we will never, ever get to share small talk with. He's Jerry Jones, multi-billionaire and a celebrity in his own right. Besides, he can get you into his suite for games.
What was hilarious was the reaction of some on Twitter who seemed outraged that Jerry was off rubbing elbows with the terminally attractive instead of slaving away over lists of free agents and draft possibilities. Let me see if I get this straight. These people seemed to feel it was a bad idea for Jerry Jones to NOT be micromanaging the situation at Valley Ranch?
Hey, if it were up to me, I'd get him tickets to something every night until after the draft.
It was just funny to me.
Also funny, but in a much sadder way, was the story that graced the front of the sports section of one of the major papers in the Metroplex: Cowboys should trade Romo, draft Manziel.
The article does have some seriously sarcastic overtones.
Mentally, Jerry was wandering all over the place last week with his comments.
So I joined him this morning in mentally wandering.
None the less, this inevitably stirred things up, because it was presented in a manner that was at least half serious. And this led to the idea getting picked up without the semi-joking aspects.
While it can be argued that getting discussed on First Take may make it more of a joke rather than less, this is just so questionable as something presented with any seriousness at all. Leave aside any arguments about how capable Tony Romo is or how unproven Johnny Manziel may be. This is basically an impossible thing to do, largely because of that thing we started out talking about, the salary cap.
That is the part that illustrates the full absurdity of all this. A story about trading Romo for the first pick in the draft (which begs the question of why Dallas would trade him for so much less than, say, the three first-round and one second-round picks the Washington Redskins gave up for the rights to Robert Griffin III) is nothing more than the journalistic equivalent of fireworks being shot off. Pyrotechnics like that make noise and spectacle, but have no real meaning or purpose other than to get people to look.
Sadly, that is what is used to take up space during these days in the football doldrums. I can't even be too judgmental, since I just wrote about them to much the same effect. We are likely to wade through more of the same until some real news develops. Especially since we are talking about the Cowboys, America's NFL Obsession.