Cowboys McCarthy Explains Why ‘I Don’t Believe In Gambling’

Mike Fisher

FRISCO - The notion that Mike McCarthy dislikes being characterized as a “gambler” seems, given his Dallas Cowboys’ early 2020 penchant for fourth-and-go-for-its, counterintuitive.

Until the coach takes you back to his 1970s boyhood and what “gambling” means to him.

“I don’t believe in ‘gambling,” McCarthy said on Thursday from here inside The Star as his Cowboys continue preparation for Sunday’s visit to the 2-0 Seattle Seahawks. 

READ MORE: Cowboys At Seahawks: Jamal Adams & The 'Big-Plays Both Ways

Wait ... what? In the 20-17 Week 1 loss at the Los Rams, McCarthy and staff passed on a chance to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter to instead go for it on fourth-and-3. And last Sunday, Dallas’ thrilling 40-39 home victory over Atlanta was punctuated by fourth-down calls, punters throwing passes, 2-point-conversion tries and the now famous onside “Watermelon Kick.”

READ MORE: Cowboys 40, Falcons 39: McCarthy's Magicians

READ MORE: Inside The Cowboys 'Watermelon' Kick

When McCarthy, 56, was growing in in 1970s in the 56, grew up in the Greenfield neighborhood of Pittsburgh, his father Joe served as a firefighter and police officer in town. On the side, Joe and Ellen owned a bar and grill called “Chasers In The Run.''

Young Mike, of course, helped out working in the joint.

“We had two poker machines in the bar,'' McCarthy remembers. "I saw a lot of people, waste (and) throw away a lot of money on those machines.”

So McCarthy, who has referenced the use of his "gut'' and the use of advanced analytics to help him and his staff decide  when to take certain calculated risks in play-calling, has seemingly developed a different and better way to describe his approach to such matters.

"The Gambler''? No.

McCarthy made it abundantly clear: You do things with a preparation base behind it. ... It's about keeping the ball in the players' hands, and about them having the tools and the confidence ... Everything you do is done with good intent, with preparation.

"I'm not a 'gambler.' But I definitely would like to think of it as ‘aggressive.''

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