Saturday, July 27,
Lessons in Dallas
By Frank Luksa
The Dallas Morning News
how former Cowboys turn up as someone out of character from their
playing days. Who'd have guessed that Brian Baldinger would reappear
in his present guise?
Baldinger can explain
how it happened and did this week from his home in Marlton, N.J.
Of those with the greatest influence on his career, he named
Randy White, Tom Landry and Craig James. Each in different ways
prepared him to become a Fox Network analyst on a majority of
12 Cowboys games in 2002 alongside Pat Summerall.
as a broadcaster unknowingly began during six years with the
Cowboys as an reserve offensive lineman.
at left guard, which was often, he lined up against Randy White.
The only rookie free agent to stick in 1982 met a future Hall
of Famer and from that matchup learned survival skills.
"The only reason
I made it in the league as long as I did was Randy," Baldinger
said, recalling White's relentless ways. "It was either
get swallowed up or get better. In 13 years in the league, I
never saw anyone practice like that."
enough after he left Dallas to start four seasons in Indianapolis
and spend three more years with Philadelphia. Memories of his
time with Cowboys remain vivid. Coach Tom Landry, for instance,
never got the easiest of his names right.
me, `Byron.' He'd say, `Byron, get in there,' " Baldinger
said. "Made you wonder if Coach knew what was going on.
How could you go home and admit, `The coach doesn't even know
defined Landry to Baldinger in an everlasting way. The '83 season
opener took the Cowboys to Washington where they'd lost the NFC
Championship to the Redskins the previous year. Halftime found
them down, 23-3.
"I think we
had negative offensive yards," Baldinger recounted of the
game the Cowboys would win, 31-30. "We all looked like we
were in the Twilight Zone. Coach Landry came in and said, we
haven't begun to execute our game plan, so we'll do this and
that. And we scored the first four times we touched the ball.
I remember the calmness of Landry, and how much we needed that."
to Baldinger in another context:
"The man was
too humble. He was a war hero, self-made and from a small town.
I always thought that's why he had an eye for free agents like
Drew Pearson, Bill Bates and me. He was always looking for someone
who resembled himself."
Landry gave Baldinger
a chance to play, and working against White made him a better
player. But Brian couldn't play anymore after his knees collapsed
in 1995. Nor did he have interest in using a psychology degree
from Duke as a professional shrink.
"I didn't want
to listen to that many problems," he said.
he enrolled in a broadcasting school former SMU-New England running
back and CBS announcer James had opened in Dallas. That graduating
class included many of the present generation of broadcasters
_ Merril Hoge, Mike Golic, Irving Fryar and Baldinger.
"It was almost
at the end of school before the light went on. Then I knew what
I wanted to do," Baldinger said.
A dispatch of 20
letters to Philadelphia-area colleges led to his first analystost-game
interviewer job for Bucknell. It was a voice-in-the-door opening,
a chance to learn and refine, since Baldinger knew the station's
signal barely ranged beyond the end zones.
He moved on and
up _ Ivy and Patriot League, NFL Europe in `97 and to the NFL
for Fox in `98. Local radio gigs, a New York studio show and
a Monday night gig on The Sporting News Radio filled his schedule.
What style has emerged from this experience?
Almost old school," said Baldinger, 43
and single. "The
game is entertaining by itself. You don't need pre-game fluff
or a comedian in the booth.
why things happen. Teach at a simple level at times. As an offensive
lineman, I see the game from the inside out. All we have to do
is put the camera on Larry Allen, and you'll see good stuff.
asked Emmitt Smith what percentage of plays he runs behind Allen.
Emmitt said, `Not enough.' "
Baldinger said his
presentations will include two other items. He has stories to
tell about players who are "the good eggs" of the game.
And to prove he already knows the local scenery, he'll not be
influenced by hype from owner Jerry Jones.
© 2002, The
Dallas Morning News.
content copyright 2002, AP, KRT,
and Reporter-News OnLine
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