Sunday, June 28, 2009

Former Cowboys offer thoughts on team

By Jon Dustin Brooks, News Messenger
Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hallsville native Robert Newhouse knows a little about what it takes to win.

The fullback played in three Super Bowls, winning one, during his 12-year NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Newhouse was back in his East Texas stomping grounds Friday for a fund raiser and he offered a few opinions on the current version of the Cowboys.

"The Cowboy brand is still standing good; they just have to start winning again," he said.

It's not that Dallas has had problems winning lately. The 'Boys have reeled off four straight seasons above .500, finishing an NFC-best 13-3 in 2007.

It's the winning in the playoffs that hasn't been happening, an occurrence that was unheard of for the Cowboys of Newhouse's era during their 1970s heydays.

Dallas' more recent version has not won a postseason game since 1996 and even failed to qualify for the playoffs last year after returning nearly all of its team from it's NFC regular-season champions the year before.

That drought is something another former Cowboy is a little more familiar with. Toby Gowin, who punted for Dallas from 1997-1999 and again in 2003, was also in attendance at First Methodist Marshall's fund raiser Friday.

"I'd just like to see them win a playoff game," said Gowin, who grew up as a Cowboys fan in Jacksonville and who now resides in Tyler. "These days in the NFL, you never know who's going to come out and have a breakout year. Every year is different. One year the expectations are Super Bowl and then nothing happens. Maybe if the expectations are a little bit less, then they can not have so many distractions and they can take care of business and do well."

Newhouse still believes the Cowboys have the pieces in place.

"I think the team is going in the right direction," said the former Houston Cougar, who still has many relatives that live in Marshall. "Will they win this year? I know they have a lot of great players. Will they mix? That's what they go to training camp for and what they work hard for to get those things done. I look for a pretty decent season this year."

Among the most glaring changes the Cowboys will have this fall will be a new stadium and the absence of a certain star wide receiver, who has now moved his act to Buffalo.

"It is a fabulous place," Newhouse said of the new Cowboys Stadium. "I think everybody in the whole wide world needs to go there at least once. (Cowboys owner) Jerry (Jones) did it right. He spared no cost."

And as for the other glaring change?

"For me personally, T.O. (Terrell Owens) was a great football player," said Newhouse, who still lives in the Dallas area. "There were some other things that just didn't quite fit the mold of a Cowboy that caused issues and problems with other teammates. But I think his play on the football field will be missed because he was productive and he did a lot of great things."

In addition to the new venue and the subtraction of Owens, Dallas also made a few other offseason moves such as trading cornerback Anthony Henry for backup quarterback Jon Kitna and releasing longtime defensive stalwart Greg Ellis.

Newhouse said he thinks the coaches were doing what they think is in the best interest of the team.

"I think they did what they thought they had to do," he said. "I think they were really committed to the players that they have on the team now, the Romos and the Barbers. And they brought in a few players, not top-brand guys, but I think they can play football. Hopefully they'll be around long enough to get this thing turned around and start winning again."

Who knows?

Maybe they can even get back to what it was like in Newhouse's era, when winning meant something else entirely.