Sunday, April 19, 1998
Passing on Moss shows image is everything
By Randy Galloway / The Dallas Morning News
DALLAS -- By using a little imagination and by listening closely
ons Saturday, you could hear the heavy slamming of a Valley Ranch
A troubled talent like Randy Moss was lurking in the neighborhood,
meaning he was available for drafting. But with the Dallas Cowboys,
Moss wasn't welcome, a rejection that started his free fall until
deep in the first round.
But this symbolic door slam wasn't necessarily about a Randy
Moss being greeted by a Valley Ranch deadbolt. Instead of "No
Moss," what the Cowboys actually were saying was "No
Mas." As in no more of the Evil Empire days and old ways.
As in a potential problem not being worth the risk.
Jerry Jones has been trying to convince a skeptical audience
that character and image do count, and that character and image
reconstruction now is taking place at Valley Ranch.
Maybe Jones was trying to prove that point when Moss was never
seriously considered as the Cowboys picked eighth in the first
round. Or maybe the Moss rejection was actually an over-reaction
by a franchise that has suffered immense image damage.
But even if Moss eventually becomes an all-pro receiver and
an all-pro person in Minnesota, there can be no criticism of
the Cowboys for trying to do right with the right kind of players.
Draft-wise, the selection of North Carolina defensive end
Greg Ellis will be viewed as a "reach." The second-guess
will be that a trade down from eighth could have found Ellis
still available at the 12th spot or maybe the 15th.
But the Valley Ranch reasoning on why the Cowboys went with
Ellis is actually based on sound logic, or as Jones put it, "safe"
"To say a team ÔREACHED' is a media term,"
defensive line coach Jim Bates said. "But the value placed
on this particular position (defensive end) in this draft, and
in every draft, speaks to something else.
"There is a reason three of them (Andre Wadsworth, Grant
Wistrom and Ellis) went in the first eight. And when we had a
chance at one of those three, and with the talent level at a
deep drop-off after those three, how could we take a chance with
a trade down?
"Greg Ellis is not a reach. Greg Ellis is the player
With no chance at Florida State's Wadsworth, the Cowboys had
zeroed in on Wistrom of Nebraska. But in the past week, it was
obvious Wistrom had climbed the draft board. He wasn't going
to be available for the Cowboys. That left plenty of time for
the scouting department, head coach Chan Gailey and Bates to
thoroughly research the 6-6, 280-pound Ellis.
The Cowboys went into Saturday's draft knowing for a week
Ellis was going to be their man. Therefore, any excuse among
the football people is eliminated if he doesn't become a defensive
cornerstone. Ellis simply has to be the right pick.
But why go first round with a defensive player?
One of the great myths of last season's 6-10 debacle is that
the Cowboys played well on defense. They didn't. They couldn't
stop the run, they couldn't rush the passer and the No. 2 defensive
ranking in the league was strictly a product of other teams grinding
out yardage instead of collecting it in big chunks. Only 67 yards
a game separated the No. 2 Cowboys from the No. 29 ranked defense.
The Dallas offense was so bad it made the defense appear better
than it was. Mainly, Dave Campo and his defensive staff did a
miracle job of scheming.
Overall, this was a draft where defensive end was the No.
1 need on a team with a multitude of needs. The Cowboys project
Ellis to be a combination pass-rusher and run-stopper. That projection
must become reality.
Receiver, however, certainly ranked high on the list of wants.
Talent-wise, Moss was the answer, and he was a fit at No. 8.
But if the Cowboys had selected Moss, then football immediately
takes a back seat to a rehash of all past image problems for
the team, combined with Moss being under an intense spotlight
in this town. Frankly, Moss to Dallas was not a good fit for
either party, but particularly not for Jones, who is attempting
to correct his past mistakes that led to the Cowboys' image downfall.
There was a prime reason why Gailey, Jones and Bates repeatedly
mixed in references to Ellis' character while also discussing
his football ability.
Jones told of seeking an Ellis reference from new Texas Coach
Mack Brown, who just departed North Carolina.
"Mack told me," Jones said, "that if he suddenly
died, he would want Greg Ellis to adopt his children. That's
the kind of man Greg is."
The Cowboys closed one door on Saturday, but opened another.
"Give it time," added Bates, "and you will see
this was the right pick."
The clock started ticking Saturday.
(Randy Galloway is a sports columnist for the Dallas Morning
News. Write to him at: Dallas Morning News, Communications Center,
Dallas, Texas 75265.)
(c) 1998, The Dallas Morning News.
Visit The Dallas Morning News on the World Wide Web at http://www.dallasnews.com/
Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.
All content copyright 1998,
AP, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News
and Reporter OnLine
Cowboys Chatrooms.....Dallas Cowboys.....Back to Texnews