FRISCO - It is the sort of coaching motivational trick that, if a team follows it up by losing, nobody ever hears about.
But when a head coach like Mike McCarthy goes to the front of a Saturday night team meeting and goes full-Gallagher - by comedically swinging a sledgehammer to crush some watermelons - and then his team wins?
It becomes the stuff of legend.
"I think like anything in this game, it's important to have fun,'' said the Dallas Cowboys coach in review of his weekend pep talk leading up to a 31-28 win at Minnesota. “You’re always trying to create emphasis in your messaging. That’s really where it came from.''
Originally, where the idea of smashing watermelons for entertainment came from was a popular 1980's prop-comic who who did his thing before most of these Cowboys players were born.
But funny (such as it is) is funny.
"We were just using the approach to honor the great comedian Gallagher and it’s an idea that came up and we went for it,'' McCarthy said. "The players were into it.”
As the story goes, McCarthy instructed the support staff to pack the sledgehammer and the watermelons on the team charter. (The coach joked that the luggage would've been less doable while flying commercial, and that the fruit needed to travel because in the Minnesota winter, watermelons are hard to come by.) Then, at the team hotel on Saturday, McCarthy began the messy proceedings ... and then allowed some players to take part in the smashing as well - with each watermelon representing a smash-able in-game goal for the Vikings game.
"We had a number of points of emphasis that we were trying to hit so a number of guys got to participate,'' McCarthy said. "It was well-received.”
The Cowboys snapped a four-game losing streak in the win, which pulls Dallas into a logjam in the NFC East, where all four of the teams have but three wins. Dallas (3-7) registered an earlier win this season thanks to an onside kick against Atlanta that special-teams coordinator Bones Fassel labeled "The Watermelon Kick,'' so maybe as Dallas prepares to host Washington on Thanksgiving Thursday, the Cowboys should stick with the watermelon theme?
“That’s a great question,” McCarthy said when asked about smashing some more fruit on Thanksgiving Eve. “We obviously have been fighting and scratching. The players have been great. So hey, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
Nah. Just smash it.