Leading off, Jerry Jones decides to keep Terrell Owens around …in other news, he will not cut Jason Witten, Tony Romo, and plans to continue to eat and sleep. In other words…NON STORY…
Jones said he will pick up the $3 million roster bonus of wide receiver Terrell Owens, which is due June 3. Jones is open to a possible contract extension for Owens, who is entering the final year of a three-year deal.
Jones also is getting closer to finalizing his front-office staff.
He is close to settling on a replacement for vice president of college and pro scouting Jeff Ireland, who left to become the Miami Dolphins' general manager.
Jones said Tom Ciskowski, the Cowboys' assistant director of college scouting, is the frontrunner to replace Ireland.
"He's the obvious," Jones said.
The Cowboys also must find a replacement for Brian Gaine, the assistant director of pro scouting, who now works for Miami as the assistant director of player personnel.
COWBOYS LOOK AHEAD
Staff writer Calvin Watkins looks at some of the key decisions the Cowboys must make this off-season:
Will the Cowboys give him his roster bonus? Yes.
Why? The Cowboys' leading receiver remains the team's biggest offensive threat. He finished fifth in the NFL in receiving yards (1,355) and third in touchdown receptions (15). Jerry Jones said he's open to a possible contract extension for Owens, but how much and for how long is the question for a receiver who turns 35 on Dec. 7.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Has the team started talks with any? No.
Why? The Cowboys are in no rush to sign any of their unrestricted players. However, free safety Ken Hamlin, who earned a Pro Bowl berth, appears to be No. 1 on the team's list. He solidified the free safety position, and Jerry Jones likes him. The team also has to make decisions on backup cornerbacks Nate Jones and Jacques Reeves. Left tackle Flozell Adams would like to stay in Dallas, but how much it will cost is unknown.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
Who gets the tender? Defensive end Chris Canty and long snapper L.P. Ladouceur. But don't be surprised if they receive long-term deals later.
Who doesn't get the tender? Marion Barber isn't going anywhere, and the Cowboys have a good relationship with his agent, Drew Rosenhaus. The sides expect to get a three- to five-year deal done. If any club offers Barber a contract, the Cowboys are expected to match it. The club wanted to start Barber in the last few weeks of the season, but elected not to. Now, he's the starter, and he will get starter's money.
Will Garrett become the Cowboys' next coach? Jerry Jones said Garrett doesn't have
anything in his contract that stipulates he will become the next coach of the Cowboys.
Yet, the perception is that Garrett will replace Wade Phillips.
"I personally, for the team, it's very important to us that we keep [Garrett] with what he's bringing to the table," Jones said. "We keep his contribution to the team in place and that covers a lot of areas. He exceeded completely any expectations I may have had as a coordinator or play-caller."
Do the Cowboys want Terry Glenn? Yes and no. Glenn (right) needs microfracture surgery, and the recovery for that could be at least one year. Glenn had two surgeries to his right knee this season, and doctors told him he needs microfracture surgery. Yet, Glenn was determined to play this season and decided against the surgery. Jerry Jones said he will speak with Glenn about his future.
"That's something I will sit down again, over the days ahead and talk to him about," Jones said. "He put a lot of himself into coming back. It was a whole bunch of incentive there."
My buddy, Gil Lebreton does not share my view on Tom Hicks …in fact, it sounds like he is willing to believe the story from the Hicks viewpoint...
According to the Liverpool Daily Post, "Such was the animosity towards the Americans at Monday night's game against Villa, it is hard to see -- due to security reasons -- how they can ever appear again in the Anfield directors' box."
As someone close to the situation described it, the Liverpool tabloids have created a feeding frenzy designed for Hicks to take the blame for the club's current disappointing, fifth-place performance.
Liverpool has an old, inadequate stadium, which Hicks and Gillett have pledged to replace. And when original architectural estimates came in $200 million more than expected, and the new owners sought additional financing, the newspapers fed fans' hysteria with stories of broken promises and massive debt.
There hasn't been anything seen in Britain like it since... well, since Tampa Bay Buccaneers owner Malcolm Glazer bought the storied Manchester United club in 2005.
In England, if I'm reading this correctly, Americans -- especially rich Texans -- are expected to pay cash for sports franchises and to purchase new stadiums with their American Express cards. To do anything less, British soccer fans feel, is to compromise the player purchasing power of the local football club.
In the United States, of course, what Hicks is doing is not at all unusual.
Jerry Jones borrowed liberally to purchase the Cowboys. San Francisco Giants owners built a waterfront stadium with private funds, then still had $126 million to spend on Barry Zito.
Owners going into debt and still signing free agents, we realize here in the States, are not mutually exclusive options.
The latest Liverpool headlines had a group of Dubai investors waiting in the wings for Hicks and Gillett to desperately sell.
Hicks has flatly denied it.
In fact, when asked Tuesday how much of the recent tabloid speculation was true,
Hicks replied, "None of it."
Hicks admits that he didn't help things, though, when a disagreement last November with Liverpool manager (coach) Rafael "Rafa" Benitez turned into a public spat.
Benitez thought Hicks should be spending more money to buy players. Hicks more or less told Rafa to do a better job of coaching the ones he's got.
Fans sided with Benitez. They were inflamed further when Hicks admitted talking to Germany's Jurgen Klinsmann about the possibility of coaching Liverpool, should Benitez resign -- as he's threatened to do often, it seems, over the past 2 1/2 years.
Hicks called the talks with Klinsmann "an insurance policy." The Liverpool fans have made Rafa a martyr over the incident.
Hicks wouldn't discuss the latest rumors Tuesday, fearing that his words would only be turned around by the British press.
"It will all work itself out on Thursday," he told the Star-Telegram. "There are no problems."
My issues with Gil’s piece:
• A source says this “tabloid feeding frenzy is designed to make Hicks take the blame for the 5th place performance”? Really? That doesn’t seem to answer the charges very well. Liverpool has spent a ton of time in 4th and 5th place the last several years, and the managers and players have been blamed. To arrive at the conclusion that poor Hicks is a convenient goat is laughable to anyone who follows this daily silliness. Hicks has done things Malcolm Glazer never dreamed of doing, namely, fighting with his coach through the media for starters.
• Rafa has threatened to resign several times over the last few years? Really? How did I miss this, given that I haven’t missed a Liverpool game in almost a decade? Rafa has pledged that he is staying put countless times. Resigning? Not so much.
• It appears Gil is defending the premise of interviewing a replacement for the coach/manager while his current one is trying to save the season. Does Gil not have an issue with this blatant undermining of your coach? At least Jerry Jones knew that doing this was wrong, so he snuck to a runway in New York to talk to Parcells.
I could go on. I guess I expect Hicks to defend himself, but this is more rhetoric and double speak from his camp that does not consider the facts very closely, in my estimation. But, he at least has the benefit of nobody in Texas following the story closely….except me and a few other lunatics…
The following is the start of a new “Bob’s Blog” project. I am going to start to collect and document all of the great Tom Hicks quotes over the years. Please send your favorites in, but always include a link for documentation sources…
#1 Dallas Business Journal, May 2007 …
"All of these teams have become businesses in the past 20 years," Hicks said. " ... This business has to do with fan affinity and brand devotion. It doesn't necessarily have to do with winning."
#2 CBS News, January 1998 …
"I love sports," said Hicks, a billionaire who owns the NHL's Dallas Stars. "We want to add an American League pennant ... and to bring the World Series to Arlington. ... I've demonstrated with the Stars we will have the most competitive team we can have."
If the deal is approved by other baseball owners, a process expected to take 6-to-12 months, the price would be the second-highest for a baseball team.
"There's no reason the Rangers can't get to the top," Hicks said. ``This is one of the best franchises in the country. It's in a world class facility. You don't even have to win a championship every year to draw the fans. You just have to show you're really trying."
Send yours in…
In better Texas Rangers news, The prospects are rising …
John Sickels recently put together a Top 100 Prospects list for a fantasy baseball site, and on that list he included eight Rangers. The Rays also had eight. No other team had more than six.
After the Top 100 he listed another 34 prospects "worth your consideration." Three Rangers, one Ray.
And the 11 Rangers on the two lists didn't even include Chris Davis, whom I've ranked number one in the system.
Or Engel Beltre, Mike Hindman's number one.
Or Michael Main or Blake Beavan.
The eight Rangers on Sickels's list:
26. Elvis Andrus, SS (" . . . Excellent defensive skills and developing offense make him a premium investment if you are patient.")
28. Eric Hurley, RHP (" . . . Above average stuff across the board. Will have to watch home run tendencies in Texas.")
43. Taylor Teagarden, C ("The more we study him, the more we like him. He's an underrated hitter and a terrific defensive catcher.")
66. Matt Harrison, LHP (" . . . Could contribute sooner than expected in Texas rotation.")
70. German Duran, 2B (" . . . Sleeper prospect who has surprising pop, a touch of speed and a reliable glove at second base.")
80. Max Ramirez, C ("He has one of the best bats in the minors, but questionable defense hurts his rating. He will hit at any level.")
93. Kasey Kiker, LHP (" . . . Explosive stuff, comparable to Scott Kazmir or Billy Wagner if his command sharpens up. High upside but will need time.")
97. Omar Poveda, RHP (" . . . Has always had command and his stuff took a step forward in '07.")
The honorable mentions were righthander Neftali Feliz, outfielder John Mayberry Jr., and third baseman Johnny Whittleman.
Oakland landed six players on the Sickels Top 100 -- five of whom the A's acquired in this winter's housecleaning trades. Anaheim and Seattle had just three each.
And now, comedy is here for you:
Matt Niskanen – Pimp My Ride
Mark Turgeon is cracking already? …
Frustrated by public reaction to back-to-back blowout losses, the first-year Texas A&M basketball coach proclaimed himself to be "in a no-flipping-win situation," putting a G-rated spin on what apparently has become an R-rated headache.
Like countless coaches, players, politicians, CEOs and working stiffs before him, Turgeon has figured out that credit isn't as easy to attain as he once believed. When he left Wichita State to take the A&M job last spring, he said he understood the pressures of following Billy Gillispie, the man who had turned the Aggies' laughingstock of a program into a national power.
But Monday, it was as if the enormity of Gillispie's shadow had just revealed itself.
"I got no chance this year," Turgeon said. "If we win, it's because of Gillispie. If we lose, it's because of Mark Turgeon. So I can't win."
This dude is tall …
He's 22 years old, but Kenny George doesn't own a driver's license – and it's not because he can't merge onto a freeway or parallel park.
At 7-foot-7 and 360 pounds, George is too big to fit behind the wheel of a car.
When the UNC-Asheville basketball team goes on road trips, the local bus company removes two seats in the back so George can extend his legs. He has to sleep diagonally to fit into hotel beds, and in class George often sits on the floor because he can't squeeze into a chair.
Suffice to say, the next time someone leans their seat back on an airplane, I probably won't complain.
George, a Chicago native, may be the tallest player in the history of college basketball. And while it may seem cool to dunk without leaving your feet, the truth is that his situation isn't always that fun.
Especially when it comes to travel.
Imagine talking with a friend in an airport and being interrupted every few sentences by a fan wanting a picture. Or being stared and pointed at as you chew your food at a restaurant.
It really is tough not to feel for George. He's college basketball's bearded lady, and everyone, it seems, wants a peek.
"There are times," George has told reporters, "that I wish I weren't so tall."
2008 NFL Draft Order …
To Hockey, where the Stars are looking for an upgrade to their forward corps. I will write more about this in the upcoming days, but here is target #1 (based on cost/contract/availability):
Martin St Louis …
Martin St. Louis, RW, Lightning: The Lightning are in dire straits. It is becoming all too clear that one of the big three is going to have to go. You could argue that Vincent Lecavalier is the best offensive player in the NHL. You could argue that Brad Richards is the best all-around player in the NHL. That leaves Marty as the most palatable loss for general manager Jay Feaster. Although he gets to play with all-world talent as the situation stands, a change of scenery would be a good thing for St. Louis. Lecavalier and St. Louis both are goal scorers by trade, and St. Louis would be better served by a setup man.
Crosby is out for 2 months ..
Sidney Crosby's high ankle sprain will force him to miss Sunday's NHL All-Star game and six to eight weeks of the season, a major setback that means the Pittsburgh Penguins must play most of their remaining schedule without the league's marquee player.
Crosby, the leading All-Star vote-getter, injured his right ankle Friday during the Penguins' 3-0 loss to Tampa Bay. If he takes eight weeks to heal -- and the recovery time for such an injury can vary greatly -- he would return in mid-March, with only about three weeks of the schedule remaining.
"I was hoping three to four weeks would be the most," Crosby said, talking Tuesday for the first time since he was hurt.
Rick Nash Goal of the Year Candidate
Living on a Prayer