Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cowboys Entitlement: Aikman Passes To Crayton

By Mike Fisher --

Every time the "sense of entitlement'' issue is broached in regard to a Cowboys person who hasn't won a Super Bowl -- and that issue comes up a lot in part because every year the number of Cowboys people who have won a Super Bowl undergoes severe shrinkage -- I am reminded of Troy Aikman's reaction to a 1993 training camp incident in Austin. It seems a bunch of rookies missed curfew and ...

Well, read on. …

So it's 1993. And a bunch of the kids decided to stay out all night; there was a strip club within walking distance of camp headquarters at St. Edward's University. Mavs staffer Bruce Mays was in charge of rounding up all the hungover youngsters, and they participated in that morning's practice.

Predictably, they contributed to an awful, awful workout.

At lunch, I asked Aikman what he thought of the unproductive morning, and of the booze-induced incident.

"The problem,'' Aikman told me, "is we got a lot of guys who have been with the Cowboys for a week who think they've won four Super Bowls.''

I told that story on 103.3 ESPN Radio on the eve of this year's Cowboys camp. What motivated me to do so was the TV in the studio. As I was guest-hosting Michael Irvin's show, I watched as Patrick Crayton spent the day touring the ESPN studios in Bristol. ... all day. ... with the cameras rolling.

He was on "First Take'' with the reprehensible Skip Bayless in the morning. Then he fun-anchored a segment on ESPNews. Then he scooted across the hall to do a live segment on SportsCenter. This went on four hours. I was going to turn the midday channel over to the "Martha Stewart Show'' except I figured that she being a New Englander, he would probably pop up on her set to cook homemade hazelnut waffle soup or something.

I protested about Crayton's everywhereness on the radio. Yes, he has the right to do this. ... but it's on the eve of camp. Shouldn't Patrick be packing or studying or lifting weights or something? My co-host that day, the esteemed Nate Newton, played devil's advocate.

"Maybe,'' Nate said, "he's just working on his post-football career.''

"But maybe,'' I countered, "before he works on the career he's going to have after football, he should work on the career he is trying to have in football.''

And now we have Patrick Crayton - who is obviously an eloquent guy and based on what I know personally about his contributions to DFW's Big Brothers/Big Sisters program is a good guy - finding a camera and a microphone again. Patrick is upset because he's been benched ... upset because he wasn't informed officially by the coaches ... and upset becauseMiles Austin is being elevated not in place of Roy Williams but in place of Crayton.

As my boys at ESPN wrote it, Crayton just wishes somebody would have told him about the change ... Crayton feels he was "in the dark about the change'' … and Crayton "just feels that, as a six-year veteran, he deserves an explanation.''

Nope. No he doesn't. Your explanation, Patrick, came when you showed up to practice this week and took fewer reps. That's your explanation.

(A basketball aside: I love how the Mavs’ Rick Carlisle handles similar situations: He is constantly telling the guys on his roster not named “Dirk’’ to “be ready.’’ “Be ready’’ pretty much means, “I’ll tell you when you are playing, so please continue to prepare as if that moment is right around the bend. And if you don’t like sitting, well. … be ready.’’)

The Cowboys organization under Jerry Jones has a history of bending over backwards to compensate, embrace and "explain'' things to its Aikmans and Haleys and Irvins and Bateses and Woodsons and Novaceks and Newtons and Johnstons and Allens.

Getting a Valley Ranch locker for six years doesn't allow you to be treated like you are one of the Aikmans and Haleys and Irvins and Bateses and Woodsons and Novaceks and Newtons and Johnstons and Allens. All six years -- and mediocre play -- gets you, is benched.