Every NFL team is beset with historic obstacles, but few franchises have more in 2020 than the Dallas Cowboys.
They have not practiced together since December (or at all in front of their new coaching staff), plus their general manager remains Pro Football Hall of Famer Jerry Jones.
As we have all learned, a Zoom meeting isn’t the same as face-to-face, and having fun at Jerry’s expense is possible even during the time of COVID.
We have also learned something that applies to you and NFL players alike: Working out at home isn’t the same as a gym. That may not be a huge issue for you, but it is for a pro football player.
“Some guys have just been running on a treadmill during all of this,” former Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware said in a recent interview from his new fitness center gym in Trophy Club. “I’m talking these are some big-time names. And big-time guys. They’ve all lost weight.
“In training camp, the first thing you are worrying about now is the workout program to get the guys in shape. You are not going to be able to put pads on them. I would not put pads on them until the first game.
“The reason why I say that is they practice so hard with shells on, you don’t have to worry if they are going to hit or not. I don’t think they are going to get hurt, but they have to have the right training regiment.”
Only the Cleveland Browns and the Washington football team may have it worse. Because they are the Browns, and the other has been run (into the ground) by Dan Snyder.
The Cowboys have started the process to begin this coronavirus season at The Star in Frisco. Veterans are still going through the NFL protocols of COVID-19 testing before they are allowed in the building.
The following could change any second, but as of right now the earliest the Cowboys could be on a field together is Monday. Their first regular-season game would be 41 days later.
Everything involved in this will require the type of patience Jerry repeatedly demonstrated with previous head coach Jason Garrett, and the flexibility of a yoga instructor.
It feels like no less than 10 years ago, but Jerry hired Mike McCarthy to be the Cowboys’ head coach on Jan. 7. Between then and now, the Cowboys have signed and drafted players, and McCarthy and his entire new staff have yet to see any of the team on a field themselves. McCarthy likely spent more time at his home in Green Bay than he has been able to in Texas.
The Cowboys’ season will either prove to be a mess or final proof that no sport wastes more time on things that have minimal effect on the finished product.
The other teams in similar situations are the Panthers, the Washington football team, the New York Giants and the Browns. They also hired head coaches in the offseason.
Like the rest of the NFL, the Cowboys will not play a preseason game. Barring an unforeseen change in NFL policy, the Cowboys will not conduct a scrimmage against another NFL team in August, either.
Who knows how this is all going to work, but the Cowboys are still scheduled to play at the Los Angeles Rams in their new stadium on NBC’s Sunday Night Football on Sept. 13. The Cowboys have what amounts to a little more than five weeks to cram in an entire offseason.
While most of the coaches are familiar with each other, virtually none are familiar with the players. Most of this “get to know you” has been done virtually.
“I am confident about this team but I don’t know how this season is going to go, with COVID,” Ware said. “What scares me, there have been a lot of changes. Coaching changes. Dak (Prescott’s) contract. You brought in two big defensive linemen, and where the team camaraderie is the offseason. OTAs, training camp, the weight room. All of that stuff is gone.”
Ware is a future Hall of Famer, but he is like the rest of us. No one knows how this is going to work, or if it can.
This 2020 NFL season will be historically hard for every team, none more so than for the Cowboys.