Cowboys CB DaRon Bland’s INT numbers already put him in rare historical air

From @ToddBrock24f7: After just 28 regular-season games, Bland is alongside Hall of Famers and Ring of Honor members when it comes to his interception totals.

What DaRon Bland did in the final quarter versus Washington was unprecedented, and his 63-yard pick-six was a most satisfying dessert to top off a 45-10 holiday feast in sweet style. But now that the Cowboys cornerback has made NFL history by becoming the first player ever to notch five interception-return touchdowns in a single season, what’s next?

The easy answer is that he still has six more games to play, and anything else he does post-Thanksgiving is gravy. He’s the current league leader in interceptions (with one more than Ravens safety Geno Stone), and he’s in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year consideration.

Even if he never ever picks off another pass, that all makes for an incredible story for a fifth-round draft pick out of tiny Fresno State who- as recently as the COVID season of 2020- was at even tinier Sacramento State.

But Bland will undoubtedly add more interceptions to his resume, and he’ll likely take some of them to the end zone.

“I’m sure it’s not going to stop,” Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb said this week. “They keep trying him, he’ll get another one.”

And with every one Bland grabs, he inches further and further up some awfully star-studded leaderboards.

In terms of career house calls, Bland already has just 31 names ahead of him. Hall of Famer Rod Woodson is the all-time pick-six king, with 12. But it took him 238 outings with four different teams to do it; Bland is over 40% of the way there, after just 28 regular-season games.

With his very next interception-return score, Bland will move into a tie with the likes of Asante Samuel, Derrick Brooks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Darrell Green, who terrorized quarterbacks for a jaw-dropping 20 seasons. Bland is in his second season; no one above him on the all-time pick-six list played for fewer than nine seasons. Current free agent Marcus Peters, with six total, is in his ninth season now, the only active player ahead of Bland. Deion Jones, in his eighth year, also has five; he’s the only active player tied with Bland.

Bland is already the Cowboys’ all-time franchise leader in pick-sixes, a fact that’s a little hard to believe. But it’s true: he passed Dennis Thurman and Dexter Coakley (four apiece) with his Thanksgiving score. Even legends Mel Renfro and Lee Roy Jordan had just three each over their Ring of Honor careers. Same with Terence Newman. Chuck Howley, Charlie Waters, Darren Woodson, and current teammate Trevon Diggs? Two. And before you ask, Deion Sanders totaled nine as a pro, but just two while wearing the star.


As far as regular old interceptions go, Bland’s 12 career picks already have him in 26th place in the annals of Cowboys history. With two more- well within reach, given his astonishing current pace of one every 2.33 games- he’ll be in the top 20.

True, he’s got a long way to go to catch Renfro’s club mark of 52 (amassed over 14 seasons), but anyone who thinks that’s beyond the 24-year-old Bland’s grasp clearly hasn’t watched him jump a route.

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Cowboys legend Darren Woodson named Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist for 8th time

From @ToddBrock24f7: “At some point, it’s going to happen,” the Cowboys’ all-time leading tackler said last year after not getting in as a first-time finalist.

It’s that time of year again.

In what has frustratingly become an annual tradition, Cowboys safety Darren Woodson begins his wait- for the eighth time now- to see if he will finally be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.

The Hall has announced its list of modern-era semifinalists for the Class of 2024; Woodson is among 25 former players to reach this stage out of an original group of 173 nominees. Woodson was previously a semifinalist in 2015, 2017, and every year from 2019 through 2023. He made it to the finalist stage last year for the first time.

Woodson’s achievements during his 12-year Cowboys career speak for themselves. The franchise’s all-time leading tackler. Three-time Super Bowl champ. Five-time Pro Bowler. Four-time first-team All-Pro. Ring of Honor member… since 2015.

It’s more than enough to have also gotten him a gold jacket long ago.

“Anytime you’re in a situation where you’re up for an award and you don’t win it… I’d be a fool and lying to you if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” Woodson, now 54, said after being passed over for inclusion in the Class of 2023.

“I’m disappointed, but I’m not broken by it… I feel like, at some point, it’s going to happen.”

Tiki Barber, Julius Peppers, Antonio Gates, Devin Hester, and Steve Smith Sr. are among Woodson’s fellow semifinalists this year. So is running back Eddie George, the longtime Houston Oiler/Tennessee Titan who spent his final NFL season as a Cowboy.


The list of 25 semifinalists will be narrowed down to 15 modern-era finalists before the final voting process. That list will then be thinned to 10 and then just five names during a meeting of the Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee after the first of the year. The Class of 2024 will be announced during Super Bowl Week in Las Vegas in early February.

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America’s (Most Hated) Team: ’63 Cowboys vilified by mourning nation after JFK assassination

From @ToddBrock24f7: The tragic events in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963 turned the city’s fledgling football team into the unfortunate target of a nation’s ire.

The Dallas Cowboys are an inextricable part of late November in America. The football game hosted by the team nearly every Thanksgiving Day since 1966 has become, for countless families, a centerpiece of the holiday that’s as integral to the beloved celebration as turkey and pecan pie.

But 60 years ago this week, the franchise now commonly referred to as “America’s Team” suddenly- and shockingly- found itself the unfortunate target of an entire nation’s disturbingly palpable ire.

As hard as it may be to believe by today’s standards, there was a period of time, in 1963, when the Dallas Cowboys were publicly shunned, spat on, harassed, and even threatened with bodily injury and death- not for anything that had taken place on the field, but for an unspeakable tragedy that just happened to have occurred in the city they represented.

This is the story of how the assassination of President John F. Kennedy devastated a country… and how much of the country blamed the Dallas Cowboys for it.


Cowboys-Rams Throwback Thursday: Best short gain in team history?

Which was the craziest short-yardage gain in Cowboys’ history? Tony Romo’s escape vs the Rams or Marion Barber’s against the Pats? Relive both here. | From @KDDrummondNFL

The Dallas Cowboys are gearing up to face off against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 8 of the 2023 season. The teams have met 28 times previously, with Dallas owning a 15-13 advantage in the head-to-head series. The teams have split the last four contests and Dallas has won six of the last 10. Most of the Cowboys’ victories during this recent stretch have been blowouts while most of the Rams’ wins were close contests.

One of Dallas’ blowouts occurred in 2007, when the Cowboys broke a 7-7 tie late in the first half and scored the final 28 points en route to a 35-7 victory. The Week 4 win sent Dallas to a 4-0 record at the time as it was one of the best Cowboys’ teams of this millennia. There was one lasting memory from the contest though, and it wasn’t even a scoring play.

DeMarcus Ware to be inducted into Cowboys’ Ring of Honor on Sunday

From @ToddBrock24f7: The Cowboys’ all-time sacks leader will become the 23rd person to have his name placed on the AT&T Stadium walls during a Week 8 ceremony.

The most prestigious club in the Cowboys franchise is getting its 23rd member.

DeMarcus Ware will be inducted into the team’s Ring of Honor at AT&T Stadium during a halftime ceremony this Sunday when the Cowboys host the Los Angeles Rams. The Cowboys made the announcement on Wednesday.

The organization had previously said that the Cowboys’ all-time sacks leader would have his name immortalized on the stadium walls at some point this season, saying it would happen before Ware is presented with his Hall of Fame ring on Nov. 30.

Ware was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August.

Team owner Jerry Jones will induct Ware, with several other Ring of Honor members scheduled to be present for the ceremony.


Legendary Cowboys personnel executive Gil Brandt was the last person to be honored with a Ring of Honor inclusion; he entered in 2018.

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Best pics from last 20 years of Cowboys-Jets games

A look through the picture book of the last several times Sunday’s two combatants have met on the field brings back some found memories. | From @KDDrummondNFL

The Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets don’t play each other very often. As teams in opposing conferences who haven’t reached the Super Bowl in a long time, the franchises are relegated to meeting only when the rotation calls for it. Each NFC division meets each AFC division once every four years. With the addition of the 17th game, there is an additional slot that could add to the matchups, but that’s only happened within the last few seasons and the Cowboys’ recent out-of-order AFC East foe was the New England Patriots.

So these two teams, set to square off Sunday afternoon, most recently met in 2019, with the prior contests being 2015, 2011, 2007 and 2003. That of course means that the games are snapshots of stars which have played for each organization as well as moments in time. The Jones brothers, Thomas and Julius squaring off, the 10-year remembrance of the 911 attacks and a cross-section of interesting personalities such as Terrell Owens, Tony Romo, Plaxico Burress, Mark Sanchez, Dez Bryant and all of the coaches who have come and gone in between. Here’s a stroll down memory lane.

Legendary architect of early Cowboys, Gil Brandt has passed away

Former Dallas Cowboys vice president of player personnel and Pro Football Hall of Famer Gil Brandt dies at 91. | From @ArmyChiefW3

The NFL world and the Dallas Cowboys’ organization is mourning the loss of former vice president of player personnel Gil Brandt, who passed away Thursday morning at the age of 91. He worked for the Cowboys for 29 years and was part of their first two championships, Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2019.

Brandt helped transform the club from expansion franchise into “America’s Team” by thinking outside the box when it came to scouting football players. After stints with the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, Brandt was hired as the Chief Talent Scout for the Cowboys’ inaugural season of 1960. He would go on to revolutionize the way NFL scouting departments operated by introducing the use of computers in his player evaluations. Even after his retirement, Brandt continued to contribute to the league in numerous ways, including  work through the NFL’s media wing.

Among the many changes Brandt brought to the way the league operated, he and former team president Tex Schramm recommended the NFL hold an annual centralized scouting meeting which eventually became known as the NFL scouting combine.

The “Godfather of Scouting,” is responsible for drafting nine of the Cowboys 32 Hall of Fame players, and pulled several athletes from other sports over to football. Brandt also assisted team owner and general manager Jerry Jones in drafting quarterback Troy Aikman.

Jones shared his thoughts on Brandt’s legacy via the team website.

“We are so deeply saddened by the passing of Gil Brandt – a true icon and pioneer of our sport. Gil was at the very core of the early success of the Dallas Cowboys and continued to serve as a great ambassador for the organization for decades beyond that. His contributions cemented his spot in the Ring of Honor.

“He was my friend and a mentor not only to me, but to countless executives, coaches, players and broadcasters across the National Football League, which rightfully earned him a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame where his legacy will be celebrated forever.

“He was an innovator and set the standard for excellence in player acquisition. From the creation of the NFL Combine to revolutionizing the NFL Draft, Gil finished his over six-decade NFL career with an eye towards the future of the league and teaching fans about the sport he loved as a radio broadcaster.

“Gil was as good a storyteller as it gets, with a memory as sharp as a tack. His dedication to, and passion for, this game left a lasting impact on generations of Hall of Fame players and coaches. There are very few people that have been able to have the kind of generational impact that he did. Gil was as dedicated to growing this league and sport as anyone ever was, and we are all grateful and better for it.


Here’s why the initial 53-man roster is just that: initial

What sort of tactics can the Cowboys employ in order to retain a few players they deem worthy of development? | From @ArmyChiefW3

Trying to predict the Cowboys’ initial 53-man roster is an arbitrary exercise. The team has acquired several young prospects who likely have earned roster spots, yet finding room for them may not be possible. While spots appear locks for several players, the team has to get creative with the use of their practice squad to retain talent for future development. 

An oft-regurgitated phrase around Dallas, player evaluation is a 365-day process. The team will be strategic about who makes the initial roster, who will be sent to returnable injured reserve, who they think they can sneak onto the practice squad, and who they must protect from the vultures known as the 31 other teams looking to upgrade their rosters. It all leads to the fact that initial rosters are just that, initial.

Broncos or Cowboys? Which is Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware’s ultimate team?

As DeMarcus Ware gets enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame we debate if he’ll be remembered most for the Cowboys or Broncos. | From @ReidDHanson

DeMarcus Ware will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame at noon eastern on Saturday. Him getting a gold jacket seemed like a forgone conclusion even 10 years ago. All Ware accomplished in his 12-year career was earn four All-Pro awards, nine Pro Bowl bids, one Super Bowl trophy, and a spot on the All-2000s Team.

It’s a brilliant career that landed Ware No. 9 on the NFL’s all-time sack leader list (138.5 career sacks) which spanned nine seasons with the Cowboys before concluding in Denver for three additional seasons.

While Dallas gets credit for drafting and developing Ware, it’s the Broncos who got the honor of giving the 2023 Hall of Famer his only Super Bowl trophy. His time in Denver was a rousing success and the love between Ware and the Broncos clearly flows both ways.

His love for both cities likely prompted Ware to go into the Hall of Fame as a shared commodity. Both NFL franchises get to claim him because he proudly claims both of them.

But when the dust settles and fans look back a decade from now – two decades from now – will Ware be remembered more as a Bronco or as a Cowboy?

Ex-Cowboys CB Adam ‘Pacman’ Jones raising children of fallen teammate

From @ToddBrock24f7: Once best known for his off-the-field troubles, Jones is now teaching the children of a late college teammate not to follow his lead.

Adam “Pacman” Jones was for many years the league’s go-to example of what not to do.

But the short-lived Cowboy, once the “NFL poster boy for bad behavior,” hasn’t turned just his own life around. Along the way, he’s also made the difference for a fallen teammate’s family, as detailed in a thoughtful piece for The Athletic by Zak Keefer.

Jones, now 39, has been raising the two sons of Chris Henry as his own for a couple years. Jones and Henry had been close friends while playing together at West Virginia; Henry died in 2009, during his fifth season in the league.

Chris Jr. is a straight-A student and though he won’t even graduate high school until 2026, he’s already received offers to play college ball at some of the nation’s top programs- Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia, and USC, as well as West Virginia. He is thought to be a lock as a top-10 draft pick whenever he declares.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a kid track the deep ball like him,” Jones told Keefer. “He’s more skilled than me and his dad were at his age.”

Chris’s younger brother DeMarcus is a budding basketball talent who will start high school in the fall.

And the boys’ legal guardian is the man who was once called “nothing but a disaster off the field” by the man who drafted him into the NFL and had at one point been suspended for 22 out of a possible 28 games.

Jones is well aware of the irony.

“I’ll be damned if these kids make the same mistakes I did,” he says.

The sixth overall pick in the 2005 draft, Jones held out for most of his rookie training camp in a contract dispute, with the Titans worried right from the jump about non-football incidents while he was in college. He had a breakout second season, but behind the scenes, Tennessee was already ready to sever all ties, thanks to a continued downward spiral of legal troubles.

Jones had been arrested multiple times since turning pro; his sheet included everything from felony vandalism and obstruction of justice to probation violations and assault. The league finally suspended Jones for the 2007 season; it was the first time in nearly a half-century that a player was suspended for an offense other than substance abuse.

In spring 2008, news broke that Jerry Jones and the Cowboys were trading for the cornerback and return specialist even before he had even been reinstated. The deal went through, and Dallas got Jones for just a fourth-round draft pick.

Having previously brought aboard Terrell Owens and Tank Johnson, the Cowboys were no stranger to reclamation projects. The Jones trade terms even included contingencies that would change the Titans’ compensation if he were to be suspended or arrested again while a Cowboy.

The club threw considerable resources at trying to help him make the most of his second chance in Dallas. Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders pledged their personal guidance; even Hall of Famer Jim Brown wanted to offer his support to the troubled Jones. The bad boy’s path to football redemption with America’s Team was a major plotline on that summer’s edition of HBO’s Hard Knocks series.


Over the first six games of the 2008 season, Jones delivered promising results: 25 tackles, six passes defended, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries.

But then an altercation at a Dallas hotel resulted in another suspension, this time for six games. Jones would appear in just three more contests as a Cowboy.

Jones suffered a neck injury in his first game back from injury. There were stories of Jones getting into physical altercations with the security personnel the Cowboys had assigned to him. But even more troubling was the discovery by the Dallas front office that Jones had been involved in a 2007 Las Vegas shooting that left a man paralyzed. The Cowboys officially cut Jones early in the 2009 offseason.

Jones made a return to the NFL in 2010 with the Bengals. This time, it clicked. He was named a first-team All-Pro in 2014, made the Pro Bowl in 2015, and lasted eight total seasons in Cincinnati.

He retired from the league in 2019 after a final season with the Broncos.

Jones had kept in touch with Henry’s wife and children over the years. Shortly after hanging up his own cleats, Jones and his wife invited the family to move into their Cincinnati home with them. There was no fanfare. His former coaches and teammates only found out from other people. Jones didn’t even want The Athletic story written.

He admits now he was diagnosed as bipolar in 2015 but refused medication until he retired from football because he didn’t want it affecting his play. One can only imagine how the undiagnosed condition had contributed to his infamous transgressions over his early career.

Today, Jones remains involved with league happenings as one of the hosts of the I Am Athlete podcast and as an analyst for The Pat McAfee Show; it was Jones who broke the story last week of Deion Sanders needing emergency surgery due to blood clots in this groin. He is part of a group of ex-players- including Terrell Owens- starting the Beach Football League.

But he also has other business interests, including the gym he started in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Former teammates often bring their sons for week-long bootcamps. And he runs a demanding year-round workout regimen for Chris Jr. and DeMarcus, intent on helping them make the most of their first opportunity so that they’ll never need a second or third.

It’s a lesson Pacman Jones can uniquely teach.

“Visit the past,” he tells the kids- his own as well as Henry’s- “but don’t stay in the past.”

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