Why are the Dallas Mavericks going 'Back to the Future'?Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 9.3.21 ...
*Monta? Lance? IT? I'm not sure I understand the logic. Is it impossible to fathom the idea that Monta Ellis or Lance Stephenson or Isaiah Thomas might still be able to hoop a little?
No. Not impossible.
Is there a "real story'' behind why the Dallas Mavericks are giving that trio - combined age of 97 - a series of tryouts?
It's an "agent thing,'' right, and owner Mark Cuban is playing nice? Or a shoe-contract thing, right, and ex-Nike exec Nico Harrison, now the Mavs GM, is playing nice, right? Or new Jason Kidd just wants to hang around some of his peers?
I get looking under every rock. But some rocks are odder than others.
*Apparently the Dallas Cowboys’ backup quarterback competition was tighter than your COVID-choked budget. Minuscule separation between Garrett Gilbert and Cooper Rush. Their stats and styles? Almost identical.
A source inside The Star tells me this week, “It was almost a coin flip.”
Why then, did head coach Mike McCarthy siphon so much precious evaluation time away from that important battle and give it to Ben DiNucci?
In the final preseason game, for example, Rush got the first quarter, Gilbert the second, and DiNucci the entire second half. Everyone – except McCarthy it seems – had already seen enough of DiNucci in his fateful start in Philadelphia last season to know he isn’t an NFL quarterback. Yet he finished with 66 pass attempts in the preseason, fifth-most in the league.
And if the Rush-Gilbert race was so close, why suddenly bring in Will Grier? I mean, the guy showed flashes at Florida and West Virginia but has been wholly underwhelming in the NFL. If you didn’t know better (wink), you’d think DiNucci got so many chances just because he’s from the same Pittsburgh neck of the woods as McCarthy, and Grier is here mainly because he played for quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier at Florida.
If we’re going to criticize Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach Urban Meyer for giving an irrational opportunity to Tim Tebow based on their chummy college days, shouldn’t we also raise an eyebrow at the Cowboys’ favoritism (nearly nepotism) at work?
*In case you missed it, the Dallas Mavericks have ended a 20-year run on 103.3 ESPN and will next season move their local radio broadcasts to 97.1 The Eagle. In an unrelated story, new coach Jason Kidd responded to those nasty stories about him in the new Giannis Antetokounmpo book. Says Kidd, “Did Giannis write it? I’m aware of the book, but if it’s not from Giannis I won’t pay attention to it.”
*There isn’t a worse road team on the planet than your Texas Rangers. They won the fewest away games in Major League Baseball in 2020, and are on pace to repeat the undesirable feat in 2021. The Rangers have been playing baseball for five months and have won a whopping 16 games away from Arlington.
They’re not a good team. Not a secret. But on the road they are historically horrible. Over the last two seasons: 22-73. Ouch.
*When the Cowboys line up against the defending Super Bowl champions in just six more sleeps, it’ll be the first time that offensive linemen Tyron Smith, Zack Martin and La’el Collins have played together in 20 games, since Nov. 28, 2019 against the Bills. In that span Dallas went 8-12.
But, wait, hold the phone. Collins’ status against Tampa Bay is now iffy because of that neck stinger.
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*Worried about the Cowboys’ winless preseason? Don’t be. Remember, they play in the NFC Least. Last year’s abysmal division is off and stumbling again in 2021, going a combined 1-11-1 this preseason.
*Mexico beaches are glorious. Somehow simultaneously peaceful and lively. But my vacation there last week required not one, but two COVID tests: One last Friday to re-enter the U.S. and another Wednesday after a member our of group became ill and tested positive two days after returning. Both of my tests were negative.
Whew. I’m staying put, and hopefully safe, for a while.
Football season, take me away.
*End of an era Thursday night in DFW TV as forever (41 years, actually) Channel 8 sports czar Dale Hansen signed off for the last time. With his sarcasm, savvy and, well, balls to speak his mind on uncomfortable topics, Hansen did the impossible in the age of multiple media options by making local TV sports matter. Through the years I drank with Dale (tequila shots, anyone?), won bets with Dale ($100 for Emmitt Smith’s 1993 contract holdout, thank you very much) and interviewed Dale countless times in print, on radio and via podcast.
“There’s a part of me that’s going to die,” he says of his retirement.
Been a rough couple years for DFW sports media icons. Retiring recently: Randy Galloway, Mike Rhyner and now Hansen. Can’t believe 77-year-old Norm Hitzges is still plugging along at The Ticket. With Hansen gone, Fox 4’s Mike Doocy is now the dean of DFW sports TV. While NBC5’s Newy Scruggs just celebrated an impressive 20 years on the air, Doocy’s been kicking it on Fox 4 since 1994.
*It’s always been difficult to keep up with the Joneses, especially Jerry. The Cowboys grand poohbah must have a 5-Hour Energy IV under his sleeve, because his energy and enthusiasm have been incessantly abundant for going on 30+ years in DFW. And he’s told me before that he sleeps as little as 3-4 hours per night.
That said, can a man that turns 79 next month remain robust on a diet of over-salted McGriddles for breakfast and five Whataburgers per week that he prefers hot, cold or just laying around unwrapped for 90 minutes? "Wealthy'' doesn’t equal "healthy.''
*So we’re just all gonna pretend that it’s not weird how “Jake from State Farm” started out white but is now black? Okay. (But it is weird!)
*My alma mater (Duncanville High School) was scheduled to play a football team called Bishop Sycamore Sept. 10. Until it was discovered – in a catfishing story that duped even ESPN – that Bishop Sycamore is a fraudulent team without a legitimate school but with a shyster of a head coach.
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*Asked by Cowboys’ radio icon Brad Sham last week if he hustled home for dinner after games or stayed in his office to eat and watch film, McCarthy gave an answer I think we can all relate to: “Home,” he said. “(Wife) Jessica and I are still unpacking boxes from the move.”
It is Sept. 3, 2021. McCarthy was hired Jan. 7, 2020. But totally get it.
*Preseason pass attempts: Giants’ Daniel Jones 22. Washington’s Ryan Fitzpatrick 21. Eagles’ Jalen Hurts 7. Prescott 0.
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*Take it from a guy who went on the radio and tried to muster passion for five hours a day, five days a week, for five years: It’s impossible. That’s why I don’t watch ESPN’s First Take featuring Stephen A. Smith spewing fake enthusiasm about this or that. I’m sure you, too, have your reasons for ignoring the staged show.
Now comes a format change, with Smith sidekick Max Kellerman out and rotating guest co-hosts in. The roster? Mondays with Michael Irvin and Fridays with Tebow. Okay, maybe. Otherwise, hard pass. And remind me again why the two debaters need a third person to introduce each topic? Superfluous.
*If you had to win an NFL game this weekend to save your life, who’s your quarterback: Grier or Cam Newton? No. Brainer.
I understand Newton has lost a step and some accuracy since he won MVP in 2015 and he comes with ego baggage and unvaccinated risk, but come on now. Those two players aren’t in the same stratosphere. If you need an emergency stop-gap to help you win a Super Bowl in February, it’s Newton. If you want a young player to maybe develop into a decent scout-teamer, it’s Grier.
But so far 30 other NFL teams have made the same decision as Dallas. Hmm.
*A third-rounder in 2019, Grier is the highest-drafted quarterback on the Cowboys’ roster. The last first-rounder to start a game for Dallas: Brandon Weeden in 2015.
*Our hurricane defense sucks. Like rivers beginning as a merely a trickle, hurricanes are born as harmless tropical depressions. They’re identified as such almost immediately and named when still 35mph disturbances west coast of Africa.
Why can’t we – at that point in their embryonic existence – drop a bomb in the middle of the ocean and the eye of the hurricane to disrupt the organizing air that otherwise will grow into monsters that damage property and kill humans?
I know, sounds sci-fi silly. But right now, as with Ida last week, we’re defenseless.
Ida was such a bee-yotch that it temporarily stopped the flow of the mighty Mississippi River and three days after ripping through New Orleans still had enough gumption to force New York city to issue its first-ever flash flood warning.
*The latest example of why immediately grading an NFL Draft or MLB trade is so nonsensical: A.J. Alexy. On July 31, 2017, the Rangers traded ace Yu Darvish to the Dodgers for three prospects named Willie Calhoun, Brendon Davis and 19-year-old pitcher Alexy. Four years later, Alexy finally made his Rangers’ debut. Monday night he pitched one-hit ball over five scoreless innings. Patience will always be a virtue.
*Next time we start to rag on America – I’m looking directly in the mirror – let’s remember that this week the new Taliban government in Afghanistan banned music, TV, kite-flying, soccer and photography, and China instituted a new law that prohibits children under 18 from playing video games on weekdays. God Bless Us, indeed.
*Asked to name his team’s starting linebackers, Jones rattled off – in this order – “Neal, Parsons, Vander Esch, Smith.” Either the Cowboys have switched to a 3-4 or Smith really has slid to the back burner.
*When Tom Brady was an NFL rookie, Micah Parsons was two years old.
*You don’t tug on Superman’s cape. You don’t spiiiiit into the wind. You don’t pull the mast of the ol’ Lone Ranger and you don’t mess around with … why in the world would Cowboys’ rookie defensive tackle Osa Odighizuwa give Brady bulletin-board motivation?
Brady scores on a rushing touchdown. Book it.
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*Speaking of Smith, he’s No. 9 this season instead of his usual No. 54. Get used to it, because of the NFL relaxing its rules about which players can wear what numbers, there will be lots of movement before now and Week 1. For example, cornerback Trevon Diggs is switching from No. 27 to his college number, No. 7. Rookie linebacker Jabril Cox will wear the number that once belonged to Craig Morton (14). Nahshon Wright switches to Rod Hill (25, yikes) and Azur Kamara is the new Randy White (54).
Can y’all afford to buy all these new jerseys to correlate with all the changes? Me neither.
*I love me some Bryson DeChambeau. In a sport that’s predominantly cookie-cutter, he makes it interesting with the way he dresses and works out and injects science into golf. But … dude has to develop thicker skin. Look, if you demand the spotlight by being “unique”, you must be prepared for the consequences of intense scrutiny. Not everyone is comfortable with change, especially fans of a tradition-rich spot like golf. DeChambeau ruffles feathers. When fans ruffle back – by yelling “Brooksy” his way – he needs to grin and bear it.
*Looked up at a new building in my neighborhood this week and was reminded that we don’t have 13th floors. (Aside: When they’re complete, why don’t we call them “builts”?) But, sure enough, what seat did I sit in on flights to and from Mexico? 13A.
Our superstition, it seems, is fickle.
*Rangers – thank you, Adolis Garcia – were the last MLB team to hit a grand slam this season. Only took them until Aug. 29, otherwise known as Game No. 130.
*Texas won’t spend a single day over .500 this season. It lost on Opening Day, then touched .500 at 3-3 and 18-18 but never got over the hump. Last time the Rangers woke up over .500? Aug. 16, 2020.
*Our state just passed a new law that allows residents who legally own a gun to carry it openly – without permit or training. This, in a Texas that has already seen shootings rise 14% in 2021. I’ll never understand the fundamentally flawed strategy of “more guns = less shootings.”
*Even for a tennis geek like me, this year’s U.S. Open is blasé. No Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Serena Williams. It’s the Novak Djokovic Invitational, with men’s players merely vying to see who will be the victim when the world No. 1 wins the first calendar Grand Slam since Rod Laver in 1969. (No American man has won a major since Andy Roddick in 2003.)
What is fascinating about the tournament is the disappearance, forever, of linespersons.
I’ve been calling for this for years, claiming that our kids’ kids will be astonished that we willingly allowed flawed humans to officiate our sports. The system is now in place at the tournament that uses technology to judge every ball. Instantly. Accurately. No challenges. No complaining. No doubts.
Other sports will find a way to duplicate, and we’ll all have purer champions because of it.
*Not sure what exactly I was expecting, but Hard Knocks so far has been a flop. My two favorite scenes: 1. Drone tour of The Star; 2. Ezekiel Elliott wearing a Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic jersey to a meeting.
*Don’t look now, but even with an effective vaccine readily available we’re in worse shape with COVID than we were a year ago. On Sept. 1, 2020 the U.S. seven-day average for new cases was 42,236. On Sept. 1, 2021 it was 157,531. Throw in the fact that more than 500,000 children under 12 tested positive in the last three weeks and it’s official: we’re equal parts stupid and stubborn.
*Combined with the Supreme Court ruling that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, Texas is now a state that paves the way for a virus to have better reproductive rights than a woman.
*RANGERS RISK: We all think the Texas Rangers are going to be putrid this season. Our lil’ roundtable revealed predicted win totals of anywhere between 61 and 78, but no one thinks .500 is plausible. Let’s put our money where our mouth is. I’m going to bet a virtual $100 against the Rangers every game this season and, after six months and 162 games, see where I wind up. I’ll keep a running tab right there each Friday and come September I’ll (wink) disperse my profits to my most loyal readers. RECORD: 47-86 TOTAL: +$1,398.
*Though not a member of the Tony Robbins cult, I do like this from him: “It’s not what you acquire, but rather who you become.” I know people – and so do you – who draw a direct line between acquisitions and identity. Don’t care for them much.
*Not to pat ourselves on the back too hard, but … Sports Illustrated Media Group is now the fastest-growing sports media property in the U.S., with its number of unique visitors growing 293% year-over-year. Thanks for reading!
*This Weekend? Friday let’s buy ol’ pal Hansen a couple of cold ones at his retirement party in Dallas. Saturday let’s do some rucking around White Round Lake before hanging out with Big Brothers Big Sisters lil’ bro Ja. Sunday let’s relax a tad by visiting the folks in Johnson County. On Labor Day, let’s … work. As always, don’t be a stranger.