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Joe Jackson Jersey

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On the spectrum of baseball rarities, a signature from Shoeless Joe Jackson — the turn-of-the-century star who never learned to read or write — is high on the list.

Jackson never spent a day in school, instead joining his father doing odd jobs at the Brandon Mill in his hometown of Greenville, S.C., as a child and taking the baseball path to stardom from the time he was barely a teenager.

Jackson, who hit .408 for Cleveland in 1911 and was banned by baseball for his role — a highly disputed role — in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, did sign a few important documents along the way, though. One of those rare signatures is up for auction right now, with the bidding at Leland’s ending on Friday. It’s a signed mortgage voucher from 1916. At the time of this story’s publishing, the high bid is $20,886.

MORE: Dear MLB teams: Please keep paying the players

Here’s a portion of the official item description.

“This rarity is a Joe Jackson signed voucher of a mortgage payment made by the White Sox. It is dated February 28th, 1916 in Savannah, Ga and paid to the order of the Savannah Realty Investment Corporation and value received and charge the same to the account of Harry Grabiner, Secy. Chicago White Sox. This is a scarce piece of baseball history. It is in very good to excellent condition with two minor vertical folds and a tiny chip on the right edge. It has been authenticated and encapsulated by PSA/DNA.”

I visited Greenville a few months ago to see how Shoeless Joe’s hometown views its most famous son — spoiler: The town still loves Joe! — and when I was there, I talked to Michael Wallach, the managing director of the Shoeless Joe Museum, about Jackson signatures, among many, many other topics. The museum owns Jackson’s will and has a blown-up picture of the will on display (the original is safely tucked away in a different location).

“We know of only six legitimate, proven signatures. I personally believe there are a lot more,” Wallach told me. “The reason I think there are many more is because I can imagine times when somebody might have said, ‘Joe, give me the best you can.’ ”

Mostly, though, he took another approach.

“Because he couldn’t sign his name, he would sign his name like many people who couldn’t write back in those days, with an X,” Wallach said. “And then the person next to them would say, ‘I witness that X as being Joe’s legitimate signature.’ ”

I reached out to Wallach to ask about the Leland’s item.

The document, he said, is believed to be the real thing. The challenge with authenticating Jackson signatures, Wallach explained to me on my visit, is that because Jackson couldn’t write, he was basically trying to draw his name without any sort of writing muscle memory, which meant each time he wrote his name a different variation was produced.

Jackson signed his will in 1950, and he died the next year.

“For the will, he wanted to sign his real name,” Wallach said. “He was practicing with his wife, Katie. They got to the lawyer’s office like 20 minutes ahead of their scheduled time, and the lawyer gave them a large envelope, an 8 1/2 by 11 big envelope, for him to sign his name, and for 20 minutes they practiced his name. And then they threw the envelope out. Can you imagine what that envelope would be worth? I don’t think there’s anything in sports that would come close to the value of that envelope.”

You won’t find the “Shoeless” part on any of his signatures, though. Jackson hated that nickname, which originated from one game in Anderson, S.C., in 1908, when Jackson ditched a new pair of shoes that were hurting his feet.

The document up for auction, though, probably isn’t the only time Jackson signed some sort of mortgage document. Joe and Katie Jackson were active participants in the Greenville real-estate market.

“Katie, I think, was the original flip-this-house person,” Wallach said. “They bought probably 20 different homes in the Greenville area that they lived in over the years. Sometimes they lived there for less than a year. I don’t know if she was really flipping them, or because he was on the road all the time, or whatever. But he’d buy homes for his parents, for her families, and sell them. I think she’s the original flip-it person.”

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When the Dallas Cowboys came on the clock toward the end of the second round in the 2019 NFL Draft, many people expected them to consider safety to be a top priority at that point. For a team that had been chasing Earl Thomas for the previous year and had several safeties in for visits, Taylor Rapp and Juan Thornhill were there for the Cowboys to draft. Instead, they opted to select Defensive Tackle Trysten Hill.

At the time, both Defensive Coordinator Rod Marinelli and Defensive Backs Coach Kris Richard talked about the importance of building a defense from front to back. Thus the selection of Trysten Hill.

His lack of playing time and production has put the Cowboys front office under the spotlight, especially when Kansas City’s Juan Thornhill and Los Angeles’ Taylor Rapp have made significant plays for their respective teams. Just this past Sunday, both of the 2019 rookie safeties recorded interception returns for a touchdown in their teams’ wins last week.

Hill has only been active for five of the Cowboys 12 games this season. With Antwaun Woods out with an injury the last couple of weeks, Trysten Hill’s found an opportunity to play and he’s taking advantage of that opportunity at a time when the Cowboys need interior defensive line play.

In the Thanksgiving Day game against the Buffalo Bills, Hill had quite possibly his best game of the season with two total tackles, a tackle for loss, and two stops per Pro Football Focus.

From the beginning, Hill was dubbed a work in progress. He needed to work on playing with better leverage and a better base. Hill needed to play with better play strength, especially against double teams. According to Head Coach Jason Garrett, Hill has been improving and with another opportunity for playing time this week against the Chicago Bears, there’s a chance he could see further improvement to his game.

For young players, playing time is key to development. It’s one of the reasons Taco Charlton never really worked out in Dallas. There wasn’t much playing time available behind DeMarcus Lawrence and Charlton was never able to earn snaps along the rest of the defensive line. With Woods out, there are more snaps available along the defensive line and it looks as if Hill is taking advantage of the playing time.

Hill’s still looking for his first career sack, but if he continues to earn snaps, opportunities to rush the passer will come. A player with his ability to penetrate and get off the ball can’t be kept out of the backfield for long. Though it would have been nice to get something out of him each week this season, it’s nice that the Cowboys aren’t having to wait until 2020 for their second-round pick to start providing quality snaps for them.

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Everything went perfect for the Dallas Cowboys in their 44-21 stomping of the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. Everything, except for the unrelenting injury bug, which claimed yet another victim.

According to Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Cowboys rookie linebacker Luke Gifford suffered a fractured arm against the Rams and is done for the season.

Gifford went down in the first quarter of the game and never returned. In the second quarter, Dallas lost LB Joe Thomas to a thigh injury, reducing their depth to little-used Justin March-Lillard and second-year man Chris Covington, who was signed off the practice squad Saturday.

Gifford and Thomas had been helping pull the load following injuries to starting ‘backers Leighton Vander Esch, who’s out indefinitely with a neck stinger, and his backup Sean Lee, who played Sunday despite not practicing all week with pectoral and thigh ailments.

Thomas recorded two tackles while Gifford was held off the stat sheet. Lee was Dallas’ defensive MVP with three solo tackles, a tackle-for-loss, one sack, one interception, and a pass breakup.

Immediately after Thomas exited, the Rams exploited the Cowboys’ JV ‘backers on a touchdown toss to running back Todd Gurley, who accounted for two of L.A.’s three scores.

Signed by the club as an undrafted free agent, Gifford previously battled a high-ankle sprain that kept him out of action. He figures to be moved to injured reserve, freeing a spot on the 53-man roster, likely for his depth replacement.

Thomas is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity of his thigh injury, per Gelhken.

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It’s Jaylon Smith, Lee, and … everyone else, including little-used Justin March, who tied for the team lead with six tackles (five solo stops) against the Rams. He also broke up two passes.

Behind March is second-year pro Chris Covington, whom the Cowboys promoted from the practice squad on Saturday. Covington — not to be confused with teammate Christian Covington — made three solo tackles versus Los Angeles.

Behind Covington? Nobody. Unless you count Kerry Hyder, who’s more of a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end than stand-up edge rusher. Because they no longer have a natural LB on the practice squad, it’s possible, if not likely, Dallas signs an outside free agent for insurance purposes.

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ARLINGTON, Texas – Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back Cowboys.

Oh, how they have been missing, reminding of that old song by the band America, and in deference to “A Horse With No Name,” as if they’ve been wandering through this NFL desert on a team with no _game._

Sitting at 6-7 after 13 games? That was not the team we saw in training camp.

A team crumbling away on a three-game losing streak? Not the team we saw winning the opening three games of the season.

A team having lost four of the past five games and seven of 10, and yet to beat anyone in the NFL with a winning record? Not even the team standing 5-3 halfway through the season.

Then out of nowhere this:

Cowboys 37, Rams 7, with 6:40 left in the fourth quarter.

Remember, it’s the Rams, dude, the team that eliminated the Cowboys from the 2018 playoffs, 30-22. The team that ran for 273 yards that day at the LA Coliseum. The defending NFC champion team – “This is the team that played in the Super Bowl last year, the Rams I’m talking about,” Cowboys owner Jerry jones emphasized – coming into AT&T Stadium before 90,436 on Sunday at 8-5, scrambling back into the NFC wild-card race on the strength of a two-game winning streak and having won three of its past four.

And the Cowboys did this to them, 44-21, giving up two touchdowns in the final b.s. moments, likely leaving the Rams with their heads swimming on the way back to Los Angeles, probably wondering, _which way did they go_ after getting run right over.

Where in the hell you guys been?

“We never left,” Maliek Collins said, dead serious. “Even though everybody else counted us out, we still here.”

Darn right they still here. Back to 7-7. Still tied for first place with the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC East, with what I’ve been predicting and Dak Prescott claims is a “playoff game” coming in next Sunday’s showdown at Philadelphia with the division title on the line.

Cowboys win, become the first team to win back-to-back NFC East titles since the Eagles in 2003-04. Lose, and the Cowboys will be at the mercy of the New York Football Giants. Even if they beat the Redskins in the season finale, they would need the Giants to beat the Eagles in the final game to tie them at 8-8 and win the tiebreaker on the basis of a better division record (5-1 to 4-2).

Not the precarious position you want to be in, because as we know, the NFL helps those who help themselves, and neither the Giants nor the Redskins these past two games have given the Cowboys any help whatsoever.

Like Prescott said, “It’s a playoff game. Simple as that. It’s a rival. It’s a team in the division. It’s a ‘must win’ game. We have to approach it as a playoff game and we will. Back to work tomorrow.”

So these Cowboys, are they Jekyll or are they Hyde?

Schizo or in reboot mode?

See, all this blabbering about the team has no fight, no leadership. That head coach Jason Garrett has simply fallen on his head, that the team has tuned him out. That this team isn’t motivated, thinks it is entitled. That the young offensive coordinator is no Sean McVay. All that intangible garbage.

Remember, Friday, Jason Witten told you, “Look, you can’t confuse losing with fight. You can’t confuse losing with leadership. You can’t confuse it when you win or when you lose you’re in disarray.

“You’ve got to _play_ better.”

And how these Cowboys played better. Played even better than they did in their previous best game of the season when they battered the Eagles the first time around, 37-10. Probably played their best game against the best opponent since beating the Saints 13-10 last year. Offense, defense, special teams – only the third time all season, thanks to replacement kicker Kai Forbath, they were 100 percent on multiple field-goal attempts (3-for-3), including making two from 42 yards, one more 40-49-yard field goal than Brett Maher had made in 13 games.

Biggest difference on this Sunday?

Defense, defense, defense. Finally.

Don’t need to remind you that the last time the Cowboys played the Rams, they were the ones run right over, Los Angeles piling up 273 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the playoff win. Two-seventy-three now, an opponent playoff record.

This time?

Uh, 22 yards, and seven of those came when trailing 37-7 on Todd Gurley’s touchdown run, giving him a grand total of 20 yards on 11 carries. Twenty, now. Like the Rams ran for 251 fewer yards Sunday than they did in the playoff game. Gurley ran for 95 fewer than he totaled in that playoff game.

What the what?

“We learned schematically from things we did,” said linebackers coach Ben Bloom of the playoff game. “We learned, better play, players executed.”

“We understood their high tempo,” DeMarcus Lawrence said. “We had to get set.”

Set they got. Why, the Rams had all of three yards rushing in the first half. Gurley was two for two. Seriously, while the Cowboys were finishing the game with two 100-yard rushers for just the second time this year, Ezekiel Elliott schooling the Rams vaunted defense for 117 yards and two touchdowns before handing off to rookie Tony Pollard, totaling a career-high 131 thanks to a 44-yard touchdown run.

Like, 263 yards rushing.

Like, how good was that offensive line? Rams’ all-world defensive tackle Aaron Donald had only two assisted tackles at halftime, adding just one solo in the second half. On top of that, LA had zero sacks.

And how ’bout the two “old men,” the tight end Witten turning a one-handed catch into a spinning 19-yard touchdown on third-and-10, finishing with four catches for 36 yards, and linebacker Sean Lee, who didn’t practice all week with thigh and pec injuries – all he got were the walk-through practice reps – picking off Jared Goff, then returning the ball 25 yards to the Rams’ 9, acting as if he was back in his Upper St. Clair High running back days. That was Lee’s first pick since 2017, setting up what basically was the Cowboys’ knockout touchdown, Zeke from 3 yards out giving the Cowboys a 28-7 halftime lead.

Some latter day Ponce de Leons stumbling into the Fountain of youth?

And this offense? The NFL’s No. 1 offense (yards) totaling 475. Scoring five touchdowns, matching the season-high previously established in the season opener against the Giants. Scoring a season-high 44 points, the seventh time this season the Cowboys have scored at least 31 points – all seven victories.

Then there is this, and these coaches, these guys would never use this for the lackluster performances in the previous two losses, 26-15 to Buffalo and 31-24 to Chicago:

That aforementioned reboot.

This was just a tuckered out bunch following that grueling 13-9 loss to New England in the cold, wind and constant rain in Foxborough, Mass., followed by a 1:30 a.m. arrival Monday back in Dallas, no one getting to bed probably before 3 a.m., followed by playing three days later on Thanksgiving, followed by playing the following Thursday, totaling three of four road games in a 19-day span, starting with that 35-27 win at Detroit on Nov. 17.

This looked like a drained team – physically and mentally. Coaches under fire. Star players’ hearts questioned. Whatever could go wrong did, including starting off the game with a nearly botched coin toss rectified by audio review, of all things, back in New York.

But now we find out if these Cowboys are one-week wonders or if they indeed are the team we thought they were – can be – knowing the importance of next Sunday’s game at Philadelphia.

Can they duplicate this full-team, three-prong complementary performance.

“I don’t know if it’s a sense of replicating,” Prescott said. “It’s a sense of getting better from what we did today. We can’t say that we need to go out there and have the same performance. We have to go out there and improve on this one offensively and defensively.

“We have to be even better. Those field goals have to turn into touchdowns. It’s just about putting the pedal to the metal and trying to play our best ball when it means the most.”

Then just maybe everyone will once again know their game.

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It’s extremely difficult to shake a reputation. When I think of this statement, a hilariously sad image of former NBA player Brandon Knight comes to mind (or at least I thought he was out of the league; it turns out that he’s managed to hang on to a roster spot with the Cleveland Cavaliers). In the early part of his career, the former 8th pick in the 2011 NBA draft proved to be a clearly talented point guard, showcasing tantalizing potential as a three-level scorer and playmaker. His best statistical season came during his third year in the league when he averaged 17.9 points and 4.9 assists per game.

Yet there’s a reason why more casual NBA fans may not even know who he is and why people like me may have forgotten that he’s even in the league. To put it bluntly, he’s the NBA-equivalent of a cartoon character, whose comically absurd misfortunes can only seem to exist because of a cruel and unmerciful basketball god. Whether it was being dunked so hard into the earth by DeAndre Jordan that he may have killed the ghosts of the dinosaurs or missing a point-blank wide-open layup that would have given his team the win, he appears to be the unluckiest player in NBA history.

Unfortunately for him, that reputation has come to define his NBA career far more than his impressive talent ever has. And he has played on six teams in seven years as a result.

Whether it’s deserved or not, a poor reputation can significantly harm your career, whether that is in the NBA or the world as a whole. And for a time shortly after the Memphis Grizzlies traded for him, it appeared that Grayson Allen’s poor reputation may end his NBA career before it even really began.

Of course, Allen’s history as a, ahem, tenacious competitor is well-documented from his time at Duke to his scuffle with Grant Williams in summer league over five months ago, and there’s no real need to keep rehashing it.

Yet there was a point shortly after that particular scuffle in which many, including myself, wondered if Allen would ever be cut out to be an NBA player, mainly because of his red-hot temper and lack of self-control. That’s not even to mention the fact that his performance as a rookie was relatively lackluster, as he shot a poor 37% from the field and a meager 32% from three.

However, the Memphis Grizzlies front office never openly wavered in their support of Grayson Allen, and it has finally begun to pay dividends this year.

To be sure, Allen clearly struggled to start this year as he struggled to acclimate to a new roster and new system. His shots were not falling from any area on the court, and his minutes were inconsistent night-to-night. He only averaged 4.3 points per game while shooting 27% from the field and 22% from three while only playing 13.3 minutes in the month of November. Missing ten games because of a right ankle sprain certainly did not help matters for him.

But with increased opportunity, Allen has started to look more and more like the player that many thought he could be coming out of Duke. Over his last five games, he has seen his minutes increase to just under 24 per game. During that span, he has averaged 11.8 PPG while shooting a superb 59% from the field and 52% from three on 3.4 attempts per game from beyond the arc. His confidence in all facets of the game is on an entirely different level right now.

His impact also goes beyond just the box score. Even when his shots aren’t falling, he finds different ways to impact the game. He’s an effective driver of the basketball and can get to the rim with relative ease, creating opportunities for shooters when the defense begins to collapse. As a result, he’s second on the team in secondary assists, even though his normal assists numbers are relatively mediocre. He’s also a capable and willing defender who ranks in the 83rd percentile for pick-and-roll defense.

Perhaps most importantly of all, he has not had any incidents where anyone could question his self-control or his sportsmanship. By all accounts, he has been a model of professionalism and a great teammate for a young roster that needs as many role models and high-character players as it can get.

Now, like I said last week, a short stretch of solid performances from a young prospect doesn’t necessarily mean that much in the grand scheme of things. From Andrew Harrison to Wayne Selden, the Grizzlies have had many young players in recent years that played well for short stretches of time only to make like what I thought was Brandon Knight and flame out of the league in a year or two.

However, Grayson Allen has still shown so far this year that your reputation does not have to define you, no matter how toxic or negative it might be. He has blocked out all of the external noise and has been an asset for the Memphis Grizzlies not only as a growing and improving player that could be a part of their long-term core, but also simply as a person.

The Memphis Grizzlies believe in Grayson Allen. And I think the time has come where we do so as well.

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He should be a rocket scientist but instead he is in his sixth NFL season, earning two Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots before he joined the Dallas Cowboys last season.

He was only too sure that he would never play college football.

That is why when TCU coach Gary Patterson offered Cypress Creek offensive lineman Cameron Fleming a scholarship to play for the Horned Frogs, Fleming grabbed it. His father wanted him to wait, so the son complied. From the drive back from Fort Worth to Houston, Cameron Fleming waited.

The four-hour drive was long enough.

“I accepted the offer on the day they made the offer,” Fleming said. “I mean, I didn’t think I was going to play college football. After I told TCU, almost immediately I had, like, 30 more offers.”

One of those offers came from Stanford.

“My mom made me go there. Once my parents saw Stanford offered me they said, ‘You’ll go there,’” Fleming said. “I had to call Coach Patterson and tell him. I think he knew it was Stanford. I loved it there. Super interesting people. Fun campus. I liked TCU but Stanford was the right place for me.”

Today Fleming is arguably one of the smartest players in the NFL.

Fleming graduated from Stanford with a degree in aeronautics and astronautics. At the time, in 2013, he was one of 18 students majoring in that sequence at Stanford.

Despite his intellect, education and background, Fleming has no clue what makes the New England Patriots so much better than every other NFL team.

The Cowboys play the Patriots in New England on Sunday, and are a 6.5 point underdog.

If anyone on the Dallas Cowboys could know what makes the Patriots laughably elite, Fleming is your guy. He was selected by the Patriots in the 2014 NFL Draft and stuck with the team for the next four years.

“I don’t know what their secret is. They’re keeping it,” he said. “People think they have some magic formula or something like that. I think everybody thinks something like that. They are just a team but it’s more about execution more than anything else.

“Even being there, you just execute really well, and (quarterback Tom Brady) helps a lot more. I don’t know how to verbalize it all.”

If this guy can’t verbalize it, no one can.

Fleming was one of the versatile “swing” players coach Bill Belichick is renowned for finding. Fleming was a tackle-eligible player. He started at left tackle. He started at right tackle.

He played in three Super Bowls.

He came to the Cowboys last season and has served in a similar role. He has filled in for Tyron Smith on the left side and La’el Collins on the right.

Fleming is the backup for a reason. He also has this six-figure job for a reason.

He just doesn’t know beyond the rest of us. It’s Brady. It’s Belichik.

“A lot of teams have a good quarterback,” Fleming said. “They are not the only team with a good coach. They have something more teams are trying to find. I think we have it here but we have to execute throughout the entire season.”

So there is your answer.

Fleming has Super Bowl rings because of the Patriots, and he spent years on their team, and he is the smartest man in the NFL.

But in the end he’s better equipped to answer questions about aeronautics and astronautics than how the New England Patriots always win.

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FRISCO — Popcorn shrimp, shrimp fried rice and a salad were part of the usual order at John’s Seafood restaurant in Baton Rouge. Lahairoi Dillon occasionally placed it when visiting home as a student at nearby Southern University and A&M College.

Some of the plate, she’d eat right away. The rest, she’d plan to finish later. But upon returning to the refrigerator, that white to-go box would feel noticeably lighter than before.

Popcorn shrimp: gone.

Fried rice: gone.

“I’d leave the salad,” La’el Collins said with a laugh. “I let her have that.”

As two of five siblings raised by a resilient mother who worked multiple jobs, Lahairoi and La’el in some sense shared a typical sibling relationship. There was the occasional dust-up over food or footraces to see who sprinted faster. Far deeper than that, there was a bond. This surfaced around Thanksgiving last year when tragedy struck.

Today, La’el has much for which to be thankful.

The Cowboys’ right tackle is healthy, albeit donning a bulky brace over a left knee sprain. He is playing the best football of his NFL career following a five-year, $50 million contract extension he signed in August. Most important, he has his family.

About 30 members, including Lahairoi and her husband, are in the Dallas area this week. The majority will attend Thursday’s game against the Buffalo Bills before convening at his home for a holiday feast.

“I’m extremely grateful for everything I have,” La’el said. “Family, my two beautiful kids. … I’m thankful just to be in the place that I am right now. I’ve been through a lot in my life, the challenges that came with growing as a man. I’m thankful I finally get to see all of my family here together.”

La’el wore No. 70 at Redemptorist Upper School and also LSU before switching to No. 71 upon joining the Cowboys. Neither number represents who he is as a football player or how he’s quietly come into his own this season.

His offensive line coach has a number for that.

Fourteen.

After each win, the Cowboys’ staff selects one player to receive boxing gloves and a championship belt in honor of exemplary individual contribution to the game’s result. This is more hallowed ground than a game ball. On Oct. 20, La’el earned the hardware for his performance in a 37-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Marc Colombo, an NFL offensive lineman from 2002 to 2011, joined the Cowboys’ coaching staff in 2015.

His arrival coincided with that of La’el, who signed as an undrafted free agent. La’el was considered a first-round prospect until, shortly before the draft, Baton Rouge police announced intent to interview him as part of a murder investigation. He never was a suspect. Investigators ultimately cleared him of wrongdoing.

Under Colombo, La’el has settled in here in Dallas.

After two seasons at left guard, he switched to right tackle in 2017. He gradually gained a greater understanding of the position’s nuances. Between that comfort and improved hand usage, he’s made a significant jump this year.

So far, his performance against the Eagles was the pinnacle.

“He had 14 knockdowns in the game,” Colombo said. “It’s the most I’ve ever seen of any lineman since I’ve been coaching or even playing. I mean, you look at that. Sixty-nine total plays. Fourteen of those times, he was knocking a guy to the ground. … We made a big deal about it because it’s not easy to knock down anyone in the NFL, especially a physical team like the Philadelphia Eagles.”

This is who La’el is during a football play.

Aggressive. Nasty.

“He is one of the most physical players I’ve ever played with,” running back Ezekiel Elliott said. “It’s a big factor in his game.”

Said right guard Zack Martin: “He’s an enforcer on our line. He brings a lot of that kind of demeanor and attitude to our line. … I’m not a big smack talker, but La’el in his case, he’s almost better when he is playing that game with someone.”

This isn’t who La’el is outside the game.

He flips a switch, sometimes just seconds before a snap.

Last Sunday, against the New England Patriots, rain and wind made a nightmare of kicking, passing and catching. The wind chill sunk into the 20s. And yet, before becoming the Cowboys’ thumper, he found himself laughing at the line of scrimmage because center Travis Frederick was diagnosing the defense’s pass rushers so accurately and eloquently while directing the protection assignments.

How frustrating that must be for the opponent, La’el thought.

Ha.

His on-field nastiness was not inherent; he learned early to channel it into his game. Youth football coaches preached to him that collisions were coming either way. It was either hit or be hit. That made sense to La’el, who preferred the first option.

Hardship coached him, too.

In middle school, he rode the bus and played sports with his best friend until one day learning they could no longer. The friend was killed as a bystander to gun violence. La’el attended his funeral. He had to learn to ride, play and live without him.

There were days at home when the lights or water was off. His mother worked so both utilities returned in short order. Still, La’el was aware of their circumstances. La’el didn’t just clean out food from the refrigerator, growing into the eventual 6-4, 320-pound lineman he became.

He paid attention.

Be it Domino’s Pizza, working security, delivering phone books or a different vocation, Loyetta Collins went from one job to the next. She didn’t complain between shifts. She did what needed to be done.

“My mom was a hustler,” said La’el, who calls her his “superhero.”

And in case her work ethic wasn’t inspiring enough, there was Loyetta’s personality. Faith seems to flow through the very fabric of her being, her sentences often slipping into sermons. She recites proverbs and biblical passages with passion.

All the while, she’s sought what was best for her children.

La’el became involved in Boy Scouts of America during elementary school before he ever began organized football or basketball. He was active in church, singing as part of the choir. That felt a little awkward, he admitted, since it seemed the whole congregation was staring at him as the tallest one. He was active, too, in the Boys & Girls Club and Big Buddy, a youth mentoring organization in Baton Rouge.

Such experience has made La’el mindful of giving back.

He annually hosts a free football clinic in his hometown. On Monday evening, he will host a celebrity bowling night at Bowlmor Dallas in Addison. It will accept unwrapped toys and benefit the Oliver W. Holmes Humanities/Communications Academy.

“As the years went on, the neighborhood got bad,” Loyetta said in a phone interview. “But I’m going to be honest with you: We lived there, but we were always gone. We were involved in church. We were involved in sports. We were involved in scouting. We were involved in so many things. We slept there, but we weren’t there for the most part.

“I didn’t allow my children to [be] with everybody because I understand how things can work. Association can bring on assimilation. … I tried to keep them under my wing.”

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Le propriétaire des Cowboys de Dallas Jerry Jones a fait beaucoup de vagues avec ses commentaires à la suite de la défaite de 13-9 des siens contre les Patriots de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, dimanche, et il semble que le message soit approuvé par l’ailier rapproché Jason Witten.

Le vétéran a mentionné que les propos tenus par Jones étaient justifiés après une prestation au cours de laquelle l’attaque a été tenue en échec tout au long de la rencontre.

« La passion, les émotions, l’énergie qui l’habite, c’est ce qui importe en premier pour M. Jones de mon point de vue, a-t-il mentionné à ESPN. Il veut gagner et c’est ce qu’il attend. Il a l’impression d’avoir mis sur pied une bonne équipe, ce qu’il a fait, et nous n’avons pas répondu à ses attentes. C’est tout à fait honnête. »

À la lumière de son discours, il semble que le propriétaire ait visé le personnel d’entraîneurs pour la fiche de 6-5 de son équipe depuis le début de la campagne.

« Nous avons beaucoup de chemin à faire, a indiqué Jones. Avec l’allure de cette équipe, je ne devrais pas être frustré. »

Les Cowboys ont encore un match de priorité sur les Eagles de Philadelphie au sommet de la division Est de la Nationale. Ils affronteront les Bills de Buffalo cette semaine.

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Before we can move on to the Buffalo Bills and the looming Thanksgiving Day match-up, let’s make sure we take one more look at the Coaches Film from Sunday’s 13-9 loss to the New England Patriots. There are some good Dallas Cowboys and some bad Dallas Cowboys that must be addresses.

First, it’s clear the weather played a significant part of what transpired on Sunday. Dak Prescott was uncharacteristically inaccurate with otherwise routine passes and players who normally have reliable mitts struggled to catch and/or hang onto the ball.

Jason Witten had a couple ugly drops furthering the discussion that he needs to concede a larger number of snaps to Blake Jarwin. But Jarwin had his own struggles holding onto the ball, fumbling a catch and run, but managing to fortuitously fall on it. After watching the total body of work, I choose to ignore the issues with the slippery ball and just focus on blocking and route-running, to which Jarwin, once again, get’s the nod. That kid needs TE1 snaps.

Since everyone is well aware special teams was a disaster by now, I’ll just mention the two drops on returns. Dalton Schultz and Tony Pollard each dropped kick returns that they recovered but clearly lost yards. Everyone should be practicing for bad weather conditions because the team was ill-prepared.

People point to the number of pressures and sacks as an indicator of defensive line success but there’s so many other gradeable qualities that go into building a strong unit. The Dallas Cowboys have one of the best pass-rushing D-lines in the NFL when you look at pressure rate, yet they’re far from an elite unit with all things considered. .

That’s because aside from DeMarcus Lawrence, they aren’t particularly good at stopping the run. In fact, two of them, Maliek Collins and Robert Quinn, are downright terrible. Now, if you have to pick a attribute, pass-rush ability is going to beat out run-stopping ability every single time, but lining up two, and sometime three D-linemen who are well below average in stopping the run is a major vulnerability. That’s why even tough Collins is a top-5 interior pass-rusher (shocking to many), he’s likely to be replaced this offseason with a more well-balanced DT (this assumes Dallas tried to retain Robert Quinn and accepts he’s a liability against the run and fortifies around him).

Speaking of liability – Chidobe Awuzie. I’ve been piling on for a while now and been lobbying since the day he was drafted he’s a better safety prospect than cornerback, but I will continue. He needs a change because he’s not even living up to his previously low standard. His coverage is loose, his ball skills don’t fit the outside CB role, and his tackling in the open field is regressing.

It was great having Jeff Heath back. The guy played a decent game and is physical presence was needed against the Pats.

People still talk about time of possession meaning something, but Dallas was losing 10-0 and had almost twice the TOP as the Pats. I shouldn’t have to say this in 2019 but having more points is what often leads to having the greater TOP. Winning the TOP is not what leads to getting points.

The weather was awful and the Dallas Cowboys struggled converting 3rd downs, but so did the Patriots and Dak actually converted a 3rd down before Tom Brady did and that didn’t happen until well into the 2nd quarter.

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WR Randall Cobb supports Cafe Momentum in Cowboys win over Rams

As the Dallas Cowboys prepared to take on the Los Angeles Rams in a truly important game for the team’s playoff hopes, wide receiver Randall Cobb donned a pair of bright yellow cleats in support of Dallas non-profit restaurant Cafe Momentum. The cleats are part of the NFL’s My Cause My Cleats charitable drive, which allows players to support their favorite charities, and Cobb chose Cafe Momentum. “I chose this cause because I have seen the difference it makes to give our youth the opportunity to hope and dream of a better future for themselves,” Cobb wrote in an Instagram post unveiling the cleats earlier this month. Clearly, they brought the Cowboys, who bested the Rams 44-21, some good luck.

Barbecue joint HQ Prime departs North Dallas

Formerly known as Red Hot and Blue, the Memphis-style barbecue restaurant that eventually transformed into HQ Prime has officially closed its doors. Per CultureMap, the restaurant shuttered at the end of November due to a lack of profitability after more than a decade in its space at Walnut Hill and US-75.
Plano scores a new Canadian restaurant

Poutine and a giant platter of French toast awaits at brand new Plano Canadian restaurant Maple Bacon. Per the Dallas Morning News, the restaurant opened its doors at 6009 West Parker Road in a space formerly occupied by Baker Bros. American Deli in Plano earlier this month. It’s a brand new destination for all-day breakfast, lunch, and dinner with more nearly 100 different dishes ranging from Belgian waffles to fish and chips, on the menu.