October 3, 2009
ENGLEWOOD • Sounds odd, but the Dallas Cowboys have been to Denver only once in the past 19 years. That was a 42-23 Broncos victory at Mile High Stadium in 1998.
The circus returns today in the NFL’s superstar franchise. The Cowboys didn’t make the playoffs last year, but are scheduled for five nationally-televised games, the maximum the league allows.
Two of the NFL’s top 15 top-selling jerseys currently are Cowboys — quarterback Tony Romo and tight end Jason Witten. At one point last year, Dallas had five of the top 21 best-selling jerseys, according to Sports Business Daily.
The Cowboys had five Pro Bowl players last season and the headline on their Web site was, “Sunday’s Pro Bowl to Feature Only Five Cowboys.” The previous year they had 13 in the game.
And then there’s Dallas’ new stadium, which is the talk of the NFL. A record 105,121 fans showed up to watch the Cowboys’ regular-season opener.
“It’s the best stadium in the world,” Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said matter-of-factly.
Glitz, glamour, drama and intrigue — the Cowboys have it all.
None of the Broncos are on the list of best-selling jerseys. Champ Bailey has local Comcast cable commercials and Eddie Royal has shown up lately in a Taco Bell ad, but for the most part the Broncos are a team without headliners.
Romo’s relationship with singer Jessica Simpson made him a crossover celebrity. Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton could probably walk down any street in America without turning many heads. The only Denver player who finds himself in more than half of CBSSports.com’s fantasy football starting lineups this week is Brandon Marshall, who checked in at 68 percent.
That is fine with the Broncos. Coach Josh McDaniels doesn’t care about individual glory.
“He emphasizes team first, nobody is bigger than the team,” tight end Daniel Graham said. “I like it a lot. It makes the team tighter. The chemistry is good on this team. I feel the team is tighter this year than it has been the last couple years I’ve been here.”
McDaniels’ philosophy fits that approach. On defense, different players get turns rushing the quarterback.
Offensively, the ball gets spread around. Ask Royal, who has only 42 yards receiving, or Correll Buckhalter, the starting tailback who has only 31 carries in three games despite a 7.4-yard per carry average.
McDaniels came from New England, which has done a solid job keeping the team concept despite individual accolades during the Super Bowl years.
“You don’t win Super Bowls with individuals,” McDaniels said. “If there’s teams that individuals are more important than the team, they’re not playing at the end of the year.”