You have $15, build the best Cowboys’ offensive skill position group you can

Create the best five-man team of all-time Cowboys skill position players with a $15 max. What’s your best combination?

Everyone dreams of being as rich as Jerry Jones, or at least having the ability to construct an NFL roster if not pay for one. Barring a lottery win, though, that probably isn’t in the cards for the majority of us. That doesn’t mean one can’t put their salary cap skills to good use, though! With the lull in the football schedule while the players and coaches take vacations before training camp, why not have some fun and learn some Dallas Cowboys history at the same time?

Using the internet-famous $15 rule, you have the opportunity to build the best group of players money can buy. Using our 2019 rankings of the 100 Best Players in Cowboys history — constructed around a propietary formula — as a baseline, we’ve assigned prices to 25 players across five positions. With $15 to spend, how would you construct this five-man attack?

You must pick one player from each position group and their total costs cannot add up to more than $15.

Tell us your combination in the comments!

‘The Kitchen’: Cowboys great Nate Newton inducted into Black College Football Hall of Fame

Always-colorful Nate Newton won 3 Super Bowls and earned 6 Pro Bowl nods as an anchoring member of “The Great Wall of Dallas” in the 1990s. | From @ToddBrock24f7

Over 13 seasons wearing the star, Nate Newton was an anchoring member of one the most dominant offensive lines in NFL history, “The Great Wall of Dallas.” And he ended up the most decorated one of the bunch. He played on three Super Bowl-winning teams during the franchise’s greatest run. He earned a trip to six Pro Bowls. He was named a first-team All-Pro twice.

Nate Newton did it all as a Cowboy. But he was granted football immortality for what he did as a Rattler.

The 60-year-old Newton, who last played pro ball in 1999, was inducted into the Black College Football Hall of Fame this past weekend in Atlanta. Several Cowboys teammates- including Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders, Daryl Johnston, Tony Tolbert, and Mark Stepnoski- were on hand to celebrate with him.

“I’m humbled. I’m humbled. This is something special,” Newton said, per Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “What makes me feel good is my teammates were there, my sons, my brother and sister. It was Father’s Day. There was a Juneteenth parade across the street. I had everybody that was somebody to me there. What more can I ask for? How much better could this weekend have been? All I needed was Jesus to come in and resurrect this thing and take us out of here.”

Even on squads that were loaded with larger-than-life personalities, Newton was always among the biggest, in every sense of the word.

Playing at anywhere from 325 to nearly 370 pounds, Newton was nicknamed “The Kitchen” because he was even larger than William “The Refrigerator” Perry of the Chicago Bears.

The team tried to slim him down. Then-Cowboys owner Tex Schramm famously offered Newton an $80,000 bonus if he simply arrived to camp weighing under 310.

“If someone offers you $80,000 to be unhappy, you shouldn’t take it,” Newton would say. “So [expletive] $80,000; I’d rather eat.”

Coming out of Florida A&M, Newton was selected by the Tampa Bay Bandits in the 1983 USFL Territorial Draft but chose to sign instead with Washington in the NFL as an undrafted free agent. He was waived during training camp.

He returned to the Bandits and played two seasons in the USFL. After that league folded, he signed with the Cowboys as a free agent in 1986. He played 37 games under head coach Tom Landry before Jerry Jones bought the franchise in 1989.

Under new coach Jimmy Johnson, Newton saw a position change- from left guard to right tackle- after the nearly-50-year-old coach beat Newton in a foot race. By 1992, though, he was back at left guard. The offensive line that also included Stepnoski, John Gesek, Erik Williams, and Mark Tuinei helped running back Emmitt Smith win a rushing title and led the Cowboys to a 13-3 regular season record.

Dallas went on to throttle Buffalo 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII to cap off the season.

“It is unbelievable,” Newton said that night in Pasadena. “I am so filled with joy, I can’t even express it. If I could explode, I would. But I can’t, because my insurance ain’t paid up.”

Good thing, too. Newton would play in his first Pro Bowl a week later.

It was the first of five consecutive Pro Bowl berths for Newton, who had become a genuine celebrity in his own right. This is, after all, the player who John Madden once accused of polishing off a Snickers bar on the field in the middle of a live play.

“I was like, ‘Did a damn candy bar just fly from Nate’s body or am I imagining things?'”defensive back Larry Brown recalled.

Stepnoski remembers training camp fast-food runs made on Newton’s behalf.

“The Kitchen” would sent out a rookie multiple times a week and “return with a sixty-piece box of Popeyes fried chicken, biscuits, French fries, and a case of Budweiser,” according to Jeff Pearlman’s book Boys Will Be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty.

“Whoever was hungry would take some pieces,” Stepnoski added. “Then Nate would eat the last fifteen or twenty pieces himself.”

Gesek would say later, “Quite frankly, the reason I think Nate went to six Pro Bowls was because his weight was such a joke it got him attention.”

15 Sep 1996: Offensive lineman Nate Newton of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at Texas Stadium in Irving,Texas. The Colts won the game, 25-24. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport

But Newton was so much more than a punch line. The only Cowboys offensive linemen with more Pro Bowls to their credit are Hall of Famer Larry Allen (10), Tyron Smith (8), and Zack Martin (7). Newton’s six ties him with John Niland and Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright.

“I don’t see myself as some great player,” Newton said last weekend. “I see myself as a good guy and someone you can depend on. Things just keep happening for the good.”

After 13 seasons with the Cowboys, Newton went on to a backup role in Carolina, but his playing career ended with a torn triceps tendon in just his seventh game with the Panthers.

Newton got into some trouble after leaving football, getting arrested twice with large quantities of marijuana in his possession and serving 30 months in federal prison for drug trafficking as a result.

Since then, though, he has become a motivational speaker for student-athletes around the country. He has continued to be a part of the Cowboys’ extended family, working for the team’s media department and website, as well as doing appearances at alumni events.

And now his football life has taken him to the Black College Football Hall of of Fame, alongside HBCU legends such as Walter Payton, Jerry Rice, and Doug Williams. Fellow Cowboys Bob Hayes, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Timmy Newsome, Jethro Pugh, Everson Walls, Rayfield Wright, and Erik Williams are there, too.

“I’m living life,” Newton summed up afterward. “I am a Dallas Cowboy. That is where it began and ended for me.”

[listicle id=698703]

[listicle id=698706]

[listicle id=698487]


Marion Barber’s Cowboys teammates hint at familiar football concerns

Dez Bryant and Keith Davis played with Marion Barber. Both saw signs that he was struggling, likely due to his violent job as an NFL RB. | From @ToddBrock24f7

Authorities are still trying to piece together what happened to ex-Cowboys running back Marion Barber. Just a few days shy of his 39th birthday, the former fourth-round draft pick was found unresponsive in his Frisco apartment on Wednesday.

A cause of death has not been announced as of midday Thursday, but it is apparent that Barber was going through an especially tough time in his final days. As per a Fort Worth Star-Telegram report, Barber had not had any contact with anyone since Saturday.

Local police were apparently notified of water leaking from an apartment leased to Barber and reported to the residence to perform a welfare check. They had to force entry into the apartment.

A punishing runner with the football, Barber was released by the Cowboys in 2011 after six seasons with the club. He played one more year with Chicago before retiring from football and, in most regards, public life.

When his name did surface in the media, it was generally as part of a story that caused concern.

According to Clarence Hill Jr., Barber had been hospitalized twice for mental health evaluations since leaving the game.

Barber was detained by police in the Dallas-Fort Worth suburb of Mansfield in 2014 and taken to a hospital for one of those evaluations. An arrest in 2019 followed, resulting from an incident where he allegedly damaged two vehicles while he was running in Frisco.

He pleaded no contest in that case, to two counts of criminal mischief, just a few weeks ago. He was sentenced to a year of probation, 60 hours of community service, and a $2,000 fine.

Barber claimed he had been profiled by local police.

Former Cowboys teammate Dez Bryant was particularly worried about Barber last July.

Responding to a video highlight package featuring Barber, Bryant tweeted, “As I watch this video and me knowing exactly how Marion barber life is going right now today is why I built @personalcorner,” referring to a website the wide receiver had helped to start. “I can’t even enjoy it because he’s down and out bad… we are just a stat and moments to most people…”

In another post Wednesday night, Bryant paid tribute to Barber, mentioning his name alongside Demaryius Thomas and Vincent Jackson, other NFL players who have passed away recently at a young age.

“They can’t tell us what’s happening. We all know!” Bryant said, later stating that he had “another meeting” with the NFL Players Association set for Thursday.

Safety Keith Davis was Barber’s teammate in Dallas for three seasons and had remained close with the Minnesota native. The pair spoke weekly; their last conversation was on Friday. Davis says he sent Barber a Bible verse on Wednesday, as was his tradition.

“It’s crazy,” Davis said. “It makes me feel like, ‘Did I do enough? Could I have done something else?’ I know whatever happened to him, it wasn’t him.”

Davis, like Bryant, alluded to the terrible mental toll the sport has exacted on so many football players, sometimes long after their careers. Hall of Fame offensive lineman and Cowboys legend Rayfield Wright just passed away in April at the age of 76. He had been diagnosed with dementia and was vocal about memory issues, cognitive problems, headaches, and seizures.

Barber had been out of football for only 10 years.

But Davis’s comments hint at a belief that the tragic consequences that hastened the end of Barber’s life were likely the result of countless violent hits his friend sustained on the field.

“We all play this game. I have these crazy thoughts,” Davis said. “But I have people around me. I can’t remember certain stuff. It gets scary sometimes. But that hurt. That hurt. He has a great heart. He loved his music. Whatever happened to him, it was not MB.”

[vertical-gallery id=698232]

[listicle id=698216]

[listicle id=698203]


Cowboys community, football world reacts to passing of Marion Barber

Those who coached, played with and against, covered, or just got to watch the former Cowboys RB took to social media following his passing. | From @ToddBrock24f7

News of Marion Barber’s passing at the age of 38 was a blow felt by the entire football community.

Many of those who coached him, played with him, played against him, covered him in the media, or simply watched him run the ball in his one-of-a-kind style took to social media Wednesday night and early Thursday to voice their grief and pay tribute to the unique talent of “Marion the Barbarian.”


Former Cowboys RB Marion Barber found dead in his apartment

Marion “The Barbarian” Barber was found dead Wednesday at his apartment. Barber was 38 and played in Dallas for six seasons. | From @CDBurnett7

Former Dallas Cowboys running back Marion Barber was found dead Wednesday at the age of 38. Frisco police found the former star in his apartment. The cause of death is unknown and the officers are unable to provide any other information at this time.

Coming out of the University of Minnesota, Barber was selected by Dallas in the fourth round of the 2005 NFL draft. After a rookie season with over 500 rushing yards, the man donned “The Barbarian” led the NFL in rushing touchdowns in 2006 with 14.

Over the next four years, Barber remained a key running back for the Cowboys and made one of the most memorable plays in team history, escaping a sure safety 10 yards behind the line of scrimmage to actually end up gaining yardage.

Barber had a one-year stint in Chicago for the 2011 season before retiring, and he finished his career with 6,110 scrimmage yards and 59 touchdowns. Barber was 38.

[listicle id=698192][listicle id=698203][lawrence-newsletter]

Larry Lacewell, scouting director during Cowboys dynasty, passes away

Lacewell was the Cowboys’ director of college and pro scouting, but was an icon in his own right in the college coaching ranks. He was 85. | From @ToddBrock24f7

A key figure in the Cowboys’ dynasty days of the mid-1990s has passed away. The death of Larry Lacewell, the team’s longtime director of college and pro scouting, was announced Wednesday.

It’s impossible to tell the full story of the Cowboys without including Lacewell, as he was inextricably tied to three of the biggest names in team history and present for multiple moments that defined the franchise.

When Lacewell joined the Cowboys in 1992 as the director of college scouting, he was already something of an icon in the collegiate coaching ranks. He started as a graduate assistant at Alabama under Paul “Bear” Bryant. Over the next thirty years, he rose through the ranks with stops at Wichita State, Iowa State, and Oklahoma, where he worked on the same coaching staff as Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer.

The Sooners won two national titles during Lacewell’s tenure as assistant head coach. Years later, Lacewell would convince Johnson to take the job as head football coach at the University of Miami.

After serving as the head coach at Arkansas State for 11 successful seasons, Lacewell went on to spend another two at Tennessee as defensive coordinator.

An Arkansas native, Lacewell was also friends with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones when he was hired in 1992. The team won Super Bowl XXVII that same season and then repeated as champs the following year.

A few weeks later, Lacewell was standing next to Jones when the tipsy owner gave the ill-fated toast that triggered the end of Johnson’s time as Cowboys coach.

He was also the one who gave his old friend Johnson a heads-up the next morning that the axe was about to fall.

Lacewell had pro scouting duties added to his job description in 1994 as he was reunited with Switzer, now the Cowboys’ new coach. It could have been a disaster; as told in Joe Nick Patoski’s book The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America, Lacewell had resigned from his post in Norman back in 1978 when he discovered that Switzer- a friend of over 20 years- was having an affair with his wife. (Johnson, coincidentally, had been the best man at Lacewell’s wedding.)

Lacewell and Switzer insisted it was ancient history, though, and that their football bond took precedence. It was Lacewell’s personal recommendation to Jones, in fact, that helped seal Switzer’s hiring in Dallas.

The Cowboys returned to the Super Bowl in January of 1995 and brought home the Lombardi Trophy, but the team had already begun a descent from its juggernaut status. Lacewell remained with the franchise until early 2005, when he stepped down during the Bill Parcells era and moved into a talent consultant role for the team.

But his place in football history is secure- both in Dallas as one of the architects of the Cowboys dynasty and in Jonesboro as the winningest coach in Arkansas State history. He will be remembered as a legend who crossed paths with some of the all-time greats of the sport at both levels. In Tuscaloosa, for example, the road leading to the stadium named for Bear Bryant… is Larry Lacewell Lane.

Larry Lacewell was 85.

[listicle id=697819]

[vertical-gallery id=697794]

[listicle id=697671]


Former Cowboys CB Orlando Scandrick to relaunch football program at LA high school

Scandrick played 9 seasons in Dallas; now he’ll return home to his native L.A. to relaunch a program that’s gone through troubled times. | From @ToddBrock24f7

A former Cowboys cornerback will be back on the gridiron this fall, though he’ll have a decidedly different view: from the sidelines.

Orlando Scandrick, who played in Dallas for nine seasons, has been named the new head football coach at Playa del Ray’s St. Bernard High School in Los Angeles. Scandrick is a native of Torrance, California, about 15 miles away.

Scandrick inherits a program that hasn’t played a game since an abbreviated schedule in spring of 2021 and has seen uncertain times ever since.

Former coach Manuel Douglas resigned with one game to go in that shortened 2021 season. Douglas, who had been the focus of an investigation at his previous school, gave notice to St. Bernard the morning of the season finale, citing “personal reasons.”

The school later reported that it was “cooperating fully in an investigation by federal law enforcement concerning a former employee and volunteer” of the football program.

A large number of players quit the team following Douglas’s departure. The school’s principal and president also resigned over the summer.

Ex-NFL running back Steve Broussard was hired in May as the team’s new head coach, but the school ended up cancelling the Vikings’ fall season because it couldn’t field enough players.

Now St. Bernard turns to Scandrick. The Boise State alum was a fifth-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 2008. Over 125 game appearances with Dallas, he was in on 406 tackles and recorded 11.5 sacks. He also notched eight interceptions (with one returned for a touchdown) and forced seven fumbles.

Following the 2017 season, Scandrick was released upon the arrival in Dallas of defensive backs coach Kris Richard. He went on play one season with the Chiefs and part of another with the Eagles. He was released by Philadelphia in October 2019.

Now he’ll spearhead the effort to restart the Vikings varsity program; he met with parents and players in late April with hopes to recruit more St. Bernard’s students for the fall season.

“It’s a very unique challenge and very intriguing opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” the 35-year-old Scandrick told the Los Angeles Times. “We can start to rebuild a program from the ground up.”

[listicle id=697524]

[listicle id=697428]

[listicle id=697425]


Taco Tuesday: Jerry Jones deflects blame for Cowboys’ maligned pick in 2017

Jones jokingly said his son Stephen was responsible for taking Taco Charlton in 2017; he facetiously took credit for drafting Micah Parsons. | From @ToddBrock24f7

Sometimes it’s so bad that all you can do is laugh about it.

That’s what happened on Tuesday at the Star in Frisco during the Cowboys’ annual pre-draft press conference. While it’s traditionally a chance for the media members who cover the team to explore offseason issues and press for insight as to the team’s upcoming draft strategy, team owner Jerry Jones also seized an opportunity to jokingly deflect criticism for one of the organization’s most widely-panned personnel decisions.

The question was about working the phones leading up to draft day, whether the front office had been engaging in calls to either trade up or down rather than sit tight with the 24th overall pick.

“We always chum,” Jones said. “You’re always talking about possibilities for things. There’s nothing dangerous about thinking crazy things.”

Jones went on to talk at length about thinking unconventionally when it comes to the draft, when it comes to working trade offers, when it comes to juggling the roster, when it comes to being flexible with players as the draft unfolds in real time.

Four minutes later, Jones was still monologuing.

He had segued into an explanation of how the Cowboys war room works, how even the team’s scouts will occasionally pound the table for this guy or that guy, and how the final decision on drafting a prospect is finally reached.

That’s when Jones chose to get back the attention of the room with a zinger directed at his son Stephen, the team’s director of player personnel.

“There’s a lot of talk in this business about who makes the call, who actually makes the call,” Jones deadpanned. “Taco was Stephen’s call. Parsons was my call.”

It slayed.

Taco, of course, is Taco Charlton, the University of Michigan edge rusher who was the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2017. The club, in desperate need of defensive help that year, famously bypassed linebacker T.J. Watt to instead select Charlton 28th overall.

Charlton lasted just two years in Dallas, recording 46 tackles, four sacks, two forced fumbles, and one recovery. Still seen as a massive bust for the Cowboys, he has since bounced around for one season each with Kansas City, Miami, and Pittsburgh. He’s now under contract with the Saints.

Word of Jones’s joke apparently reached Charlton, who seemed to respond via Twitter with a reminder that he and his estimated $10.3 million in career earnings are getting by just fine.

Charlton was not a pick many thought would go to the Cowboys at the time. Neither was Micah Parsons, but for different reasons.

The Penn Stater has already worked out much better in Dallas; he had a transcendent rookie season and earned Defensive Rookie of the Year honors.

It may have been a funny moment (to everyone but Stephen… and Charlton) meant to lighten the mood on Tuesday, but it will be no laughing matter if the Cowboys make another big-time blunder with this year’s first-round draft pick.

Less Taco, more Parsons.

[listicle id=695283]

[listicle id=696459]

[listicle id=695044]


Former Cowboys HC Wade Phillips tabbed to lead XFL team in 2023

He went 34-22 and won 2 NFC East titles with Dallas; Wade Phillips will be the head coach once again when the XFL takes the field in 2023. | From @ToddBrock24f7

A former Cowboys head coach is the man in charge once again, in a league designed to give second chances.

Wade Phillips, who coached in Dallas from 2007 until halfway through the 2010 season, has been named one of eight head coaches for the XFL’s return in 2023.

The 74-year-old will join Bob Stoops, Terrell Buckley, Hines Ward, Rod Woodson, Reggie Barlow, Anthony Becht, and Jim Haslett as the head coaches for the revamped spring league co-owned by Dwayne Johnson.

Phillips is the son of legendary NFL coach Bum Phillips and has been roaming league sidelines since first working under his dad with the Houston Oilers in 1976.

He’s been everything from a defensive line coach to a Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator, but he’s also been the head coach for more teams- six- than any man in NFL history. He served in an interim capacity for the Saints, Falcons, and Texans, and he had official head coaching stints in Denver, Buffalo, and Dallas.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired Phillips prior to the 2007 season to replace the retired Bill Parcells; he beat out Norv Turner, Ron Rivera, Jason Garrett, and several others for the job.

Despite leading the team to a 34-22 record and two NFC East titles, his Cowboys were unable to win a postseason game under his command. Phillips did not survive his fourth year in Dallas; he was fired after a 1-7 start in 2010.

Phillips served most recently as the Los Angeles Rams’ defensive coordinator, a role that earned him his first championship ring and Assistant Coach of the Year honors for that team’s 2015 season. He was not brought back following the 2019 season, though, and he had expressed frustration at not getting another shot at a head coaching job anywhere else in the league.

The new XFL will begin play in February of next year. While the eight head coaches have been announced, it is not yet known which team each man will lead.

[listicle id=695902]

[listicle id=695708]

[listicle id=695636]


Beloved Cowboys RB coach Gary Brown passes away, age 52

The popular assistant produced three rushing champs in seven seasons with the Cowboys; he succumbed to cancer on Sunday. | From @ToddBrock24f7

Gary Brown, who coached the Cowboys running backs for seven seasons, passed away Sunday at the age of 52.

As reported by Clarence Hill Jr. of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Brown had been battling cancer.

“Gary Brown had a big heart partnered with a big smile and a big personality,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said as part of a statement Sunday night. “His energy and spirit were infectious. He lit up every room he walked into and touched the lives of those who knew him, loved him.”

Brown played running back in the 1990s, spending time with the Oilers, Chargers, and Giants over eight seasons. After returning to both the high school and college ranks to begin a coaching carer, he worked his back to the pros on Eric Mangini’s staff in Cleveland in 2009.

The Cowboys hired Brown in 2013; he was in Dallas through the 2019 season. He most recently served as running backs coach for Wisconsin, hired in Madison in March 2021. He did not travel with the Badgers to their bowl game this past December due to cancer treatments.

Over Brown’s seven seasons as running backs coach in Dallas, Cowboys ball carriers won three NFL rushing crowns.

DeMarco Murray notched back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons in 2013 and 2014, led the league in rushing yards in 2014, and was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award in 2014. He earned three Pro Bowl nods for his play.

Ezekiel Elliott won the rushing title in two of his first three seasons and went to three Pro Bowls, all under Brown’s tutelage.

Brown had an especially tight bond with his backs, something TV viewers got to see during the 2018 Amazon series All or Nothing: A Season with the Dallas Cowboys.

Brown had been diagnosed twice with cancer, the first time while he was in Cleveland. He underwent chemotherapy and surgery and was given a clean bill of health.

He received his second diagnosis just after the Cowboys’ coaching change in early 2020. A malignant tumor was found near Brown’s pancreas.

After taking a year off, Brown joined the Wisconsin staff for the ’21 season, even as he went through immunotherapy.

“When you’re sitting by yourself and you’re alone and you’re thinking about what’s next,” he said per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “you really think about the things that could be taken away. Not only football but your family and your friends.

“It’s going to do one of two things to you. It’s going to eat you up and you’re going to fold up and go into a corner and die, or you’re going to fight. My parents raised me to fight.”

Brown is survived by a wife, two daughters, and a son.

[listicle id=695807]

[listicle id=695704]