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Cowboys rookie Michael Gallup had a star on his helmet, but there’s an explanation why

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We went digging for answers on the Michael Gallup ”star” case.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Garrett has a lot of traditions as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.

Some of them are cliché, some are a little over the top, but they’re all done with a good purpose in mind. He’s trying to build a winning culture, and that’s admirable.

One of Garrett’s philosophies is one that he didn’t even start, it’s that rookies have to “earn the star.” This means exactly what you think it does. Rookie players are given star-less helmets (a silver version of the Browns, if you will) and have to “earn” the right to wear the symbol that serves as their facility’s namesake. SportsDay outlined this a few weeks ago.

Rookies won’t earn the star on their helmet until they make the roster. It doesn’t matter if a rookie is a highly touted first-round draft pick, or an undrafted free agent. When preseason games roll around, the equipment staff will stick a blue star on a rookies’ helmet, but by the time that rookie is back on the practice field at training camp, the star is gone.

The tradition of “earning the star” started long before Garrett took over as head coach. When Bill Parcells arrived at Valley Ranch in 2003, first round pick Terrence Newman and other rookies like Jason Witten and Tony Romo were star-less. Of course, each of those players went on to outstanding careers.

If you’ve ever been out to training camp before then you’ve seen this practice put into place. Rookies have blank helmets with their name dressed across it fresh off of the label-maker. This is something that begins in OTAs, through minicamps, you get the idea. Here’s second-round offensive lineman Connor Williams and fifth-round quarterback Mike White at Tuesday’s minicamp practice if you don’t.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

It’s established that there are no exceptions to this rule, right? No rookie, regardless of draft stock or any other factor, is allowed to wear the star this early in the process, right?

Well look at third-round receiver Michael Gallup at Tuesday’s practice. There’s definitely a star on the side of his helmet and in this photo from DallasCowboys.com you can see how there’s no “Gallup” in the front.

NFL: Dallas Cowboys-Minicamp Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We reached out to Gallup for clarity on this issue because it’s hard not to notice the star. In fact, Gallup already updated his Instagram profile photo to reflect the change.

Thankfully for all of us, Gallup had an answer. It turns out it’s just a matter of equipment and photo opportunities getting crossed over.

Michael Gallup: They just never took them off after we all had to take pictures, I still have to earn them!

Good for Gallup for keeping up with the process of it all. It’s interesting that sometimes things like this happen when schedules overlap.