Daryl "Moose" Johnston joined me for an interview yesterday, and it was a thrill to speak to the former Cowboys fullback. One of the most popular Cowboys players, Johnston has gone on to a great career in broadcasting. So he has his finger on the pulse of the NFL and keeps a trained eye on the Cowboys, too.
Johnston is doing some promotion for the TGI Fridays restaurant chain leading up to Father's Day for the Rib Flight trio for $10. This is a selection of three of five special ribs, two of which are only available through June 21st. While promoting this, he is also talking football, and for BTB, he's talking Cowboys football. It was with great pleasure that I spoke with my favorite Cowboy of all time (just check out my avatar if you don't believe me).
Any transcription errors are strictly on me.
It's a pleasure to speak to you today. My name's Tom Ryle, and I'm with Blogging The Boys, a Cowboys blog, and I guess I wanted to find out first off, what exactly is a "Rib Ambassador" for TGI Fridays?
A person who has spent countless hours in his life cooking and eating ribs and has earned the distinguished moniker of Rib Ambassador. There are only 17 of us in the country.
OK. So I guess you're looking forward to some good business on Father's Day with that. It sounds delicious.
Hopefully during the course of the week, right? We don't want it just Father's Day. It goes through June 21st, but we've got it going on right now. So we've got some great sporting events going on, so we're trying to encourage everybody to go out. Obviously the focal point is to maybe spend some quality time with Mom and Dad and the kids at TGI Fridays, so we hope you'll keep that in mind.
Great idea. So on with some football questions. I saw where you are making some comments that apparently you don't think that Dez Bryant is taking the right approach with the Dallas Cowboys right now.
I don't. I don't, he is under contract (the franchise tag). I think it is an opportunity for Dez Bryant to get better. I think it is an opportunity for the offense to get better. And I think the fact that you're not happy with your contract, that happens quite a bit in the NFL. There are a lot of people who are disgruntled about their contract, and yet they're out there trying to get better, trying to be around their teammates. So I just wish that Dez would see the big picture here, and understand that DeMarco Murray is not here anymore because we couldn't afford to match the Philadelphia contract because we know how important (Dez) is to this organization moving forward. We want to make sure we can get you that long-term deal that works for you, but also gives us the flexibility to take a shot at this window that's open for the next three years to win championships. So, it's not just all about Dez Bryant and a long term contract right now. It's getting a contract he's happy with that also allows the Dallas Cowboys to be successful.
Outside of the Dez Bryant situation, what is your take on where Dallas is? I realize it's early, but I just want to know if you've got any feel for how the team's doing?
Yeah, I just got cornered into a prediction, so I have Dallas beating Indianapolis in the Super Bowl. Whether that makes me a homer or not, I think they've done some good things in the offseason. It's a team that was one of the better ones last year. They really haven't done anything to take a step back. There's a potential to have three first round quality draft picks from this year's draft. When Greg Hardy's suspension is resolved and he is allowed to return to the field, once he knocks the rust off, I think they're going to have a good pass rush from the outside. There are a couple of guys that I think are going to have kinda breakout seasons this year. Guys that maybe we didn't hear a lot about last year who are young. DeMarcus Lawrence and Devin Street have reportedly had some awesome experience in the weight room and from the conditioning aspect and could potentially be some guys that put up some good numbers and be solid contributors to the team. So I just think Dallas has done a lot of good things. There's really nothing that detracts from them being in a position like they were in last year where it was just that one play at the end of the game at the Green Bay Packers that kept them from going to the (NFC) championship. So I would expect them, if they can stay healthy and they don't have any major injuries, to be right back in a very similar situation at the end of this season.
Thank for those thoughts on the team. Speaking of the Greg Hardy situation, do you have any idea what's taking so long, or is it just the league being the league?
I don't. I don't have any idea. There's precedents that have been set regarding the issue of domestic violence in the league. I think the reason, and this is just an outsider, I think the reaction to Greg Hardy that this is more than just one thing, and Roger Goodell's response to it was in a more serious fashion, some of the reactions and some of the reports that we heard made us consider making this more than a six game suspension, going for ten games, so I think that there's a lot of ground to cover. Four games is a lot. There's a lot of people talking about the appeal with Tom Brady and Roger Goodell, and based on that four game schedule being lost as well. That's one quarter of your season. That can really put a team behind the eight ball. So when you're talking about going from six games to ten games, there's a lot to be discussed in that matter to get your points across. And I think the union has now stepped in on Greg Hardy's behalf as well, so I think they just want to make sure they get it right. Hopefully that is the reason this has taken a little bit longer.
Well, the league has certainly taken a lot of heat over the way they've handled the previous suspensions, so I guess the caution is understandable.
Yes. Exactly. It's been a difficult offseason for the NFL. It's taken a lot of hits this year. They just want to make sure they've got things in place so if it holds at ten games they have good reasons why, if they reduce it back to six it's not because they don't feel this is still an important issue for our society. And we've heard how people feel about it. This is what we think. There's a lot of things they have to consider, and they want to make sure they get it right.
Looking outside of Dallas, at the rest of the NFC East, what do you see stacking up out there. Is Philadelphia still the main competition?
Well, I think everyone's gotten better in the NFC East. You see a better Giants team. Number one, Eli will be in his second year in that offense. I think Washington did some nice things in the offseason. I think that they're going to be better in the second year under Jay Gruden. The growing pains will be gone there so they should be better. That was one of Dallas' losses last year. Philadelphia is the wild card. That's a lot of talent that they've parted ways with over the last two years. Especially in this offseason there's a tremendous amount of change we're talking about. Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, and Nick Foles. Even though they brought Sam Bradford in, you've just changed quite a bit at some key spots. So Philadelphia is the wild card. They've been 10-6 the last two years. Chip Kelly's really confident in his approach. So I think the NFC East as a whole, I think everybody's going to be better. That makes things more difficult for Dallas.
What about, just looking at the season in general, what are some games, as a broadcaster, that you think are really going to be highlights this year?
I'm not completely familiar with all the games. Obviously the Seattle game in Dallas will be a highly anticipated game. Talk about the NFC, I think Green Bay, Dallas and Seattle are the three teams at the top of that conference, so anytime you get a matchup between two of those teams it's going to be a great game and highly anticipated. Other than that, obviously your divisional games always are important. You've got New England early on, without possibly Tom Brady, if you can take care of business there. Every game is challenging. We used to be able to look at the results of the previous season and anticipate what the next year was going to bring. But with free agency and the amount of change in the teams from the bottom to the top, we never really know, based on what happened the previous season, who the top teams are going to be the next year. So that's one of the fun things for us. We had a couple of games last year that we didn't think were going to be great games, that turned out to be very, very entertaining games for us. But a couple weeks out from the start of the season, the matchup didn't look like it was going to be one of the better games of the year, and then it turned out to be that way.
I guess the margin between winning and losing in the NFL is a lot tighter than the casual fan realizes.
It really is. If we are really going to believe in the cliché that any team can be beaten on any given Sunday, it's never been more true than it is in the era of free agency, and you've got some teams like the New England team that went through the regular season undefeated. You've seen a lot of 13 win teams during the era of free agency. Every once in a while you've got that unusual team, there's usually one team that grabs everyone's attention by mid-season. But that's the fun part. And the other part is that you had that run in the NFC South where for five or six years I think the team that finished in last place won the division the following year.
It's always fun. I think my time's about up to talk with you. I really appreciate the time. And I'm glad that I decided to use a picture of you as my Twitter icon.
Been carrying that for some time. I've been a fan ever since you first played. So thanks for your time today, Moose.
You got it. I appreciate that. Take care.
I had to go all fanboy there at the end. But it was a great interview with Moose, who is a perceptive analyst. And as you may notice, he clearly still thinks of himself as a Dallas Cowboy. Also, I suppose it doesn't hurt when you played with the current head coach.
Dang. I knew I missed a question there. Oh, well, hope you enjoyed it.