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Cowboys Backups: Dak Prescott and Superstars Getting Help from Super Subs

Cowboys' backup brilliance, Rangers' ray of hope and the Ice Bowl resurfaces in the strangest of places, all in our weekly DFW sports notebook ...

 WHITT’S END: 11.5.21

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End …

*Clint Longley ambush bombing the Redskins in 1974? Jason Garrett shocking the Packers with 36 second-half points in 1994? Bernie Kosar closing out the 1993 NFC Championship Game against the 49ers? Or perhaps you think Cooper Rush’s 325-yard, two-touchdown debut last Sunday against the Vikings belongs at the top of the list of all-time performance by a Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback?

Wrong, and wrong some more. 

The best? Steve Beuerlein filled in for injured Troy Aikman in 1991 and went 4-0 as the starter, not only getting the Cowboys into the postseason but also leading them to their first playoff win in nine years.

This much is inarguable: Just like the '91 Cowboys needed depth, the 2021 Cowboys are benefitting from the same. No Dak Prescott, no problem. La'el Collins out, Terence Steele in. Michael Gallup down, Ced Wilson up. No Neville, Osa's on. Oh, and this defense is better than its been in years even without its best player, DeMarcus Lawrence.

We knew these Cowboys had superstars. Now we know they have super-subs.

*The Dallas Mavericks’ Jalen Brunson produced one of the best closes in franchise history Wednesday night in San Antonio. With the Spurs inexplicably allowing him to consistently go left, Brunson scored 13 consecutive points in the final five minutes as Dallas rallied for a one-point win. The performance occurred on the same date – Nov. 3 – of the Mavs’ undisputed best finishing kick: Dirk Nowitzki’s 29 points in the fourth quarter of a win over the Jazz in 2009.

*Texas Rangers bad news: After losing 100 games this season, Las Vegas oddsmakers aren’t much more optimistic about the team’s 2022. The Rangers are 150-1 longshots to win next season’s World Series, third-worst ahead of only the Orioles and Diamondbacks. Texas Rangers good news: Prospect Owen White has been the best pitcher in the Arizona Fall League, allowing just three runs in four starts. A second-round draft pick out of high school in 2018, White is the Rangers’ No. 29 prospect with a bullet after recovering from Tommy John surgery and a broken hand.

*The beat-down goes on as far as The Ticket's radio success in DFW. The Fan continues to have more listeners (about 500 more per quarter hour), but the Ticket dominates the ratings because its smaller audience is more loyal and listens longer. While The Fan was winning battles here and there a year ago, it's clearly losing the war now. October's ratings - Mornings: Ticket 9.2, Fan 2.5/ Middays: Ticket 7.7, Fan 3.0/ Afternoons: Ticket 6.4, Fan 2.6. 

*Love, love, love me some NBA. Have spent the last two weeks channel surfing my NBA League Pass deep into the night. Takeaways: Ja Morant is the most entertaining player in the league … Scottie Barnes is making the Raptors look like geniuses for drafting him 4th overall … the Heat are good/deep enough to win the championship … and everywhere you look there is a former Texas Longhorn who was apparently well-recruited but poorly coached in Austin. By my count there are 14 Texas-exes in the NBA, including three – Kai Jones (Hornets), Greg Brown III (Blazers) and Jericho Sims (Knicks) – that played on last season’s team that somehow lost to Abilene Christian in the NCAA Tournament. Mostly, it’s big men, from LaMarcus Aldridge (Nets) to Tristan Thompson (Kings) to Kevin Durant (Nets) to Myles Turner (Pacers) to Jarrett Allen (Cavaliers) to Jaxson Hayes (Pelicans) to Mo Bamba (Magic). Despite this NBA talent – all flirting with 7-feet – the Longhorns haven’t won two games in the tournament and made the Sweet 16 since 2008. Where Rick Barnes and Shaka Smart failed, Chris Beard is charged with succeeding. The right ingredients have always been in Austin, but the meals have usually tasted horrible.

*While I hate hibernation, I have friends actually giddy that the time changes Sunday morning at 2 a.m. “We get an extra hour of sleep!” they exclaim. Spring forward; Fall back. I get it. Who couldn’t use the extra rest? But, at what cost? Next week the sun will officially set at 5:27, which means it will start getting dark around 4:45 p.m. Our days will continue shrinking until the Winter Solstice on Dec. 21, when on the shortest day of the year the sun will be up only 9:57:39. By June 21, 2022 we’ll have 12:09:32 of daylight to play with. Good night, everyone.

*Taylor Heinicke? Daniel Jones? Jalen Hurts? With Rush and Dak Prescott, the Cowboys have the two best quarterbacks in the NFC East.

*Went to an eclectic steakhouse in Dallas' design district this week. Town Hearth emotes a cool vibe of funky music and fabulous food. But - you knew there was a but - what the what with the men's bathroom? As I visited the urinal I noticed the speakers were blaring play-by-play of a sporting event. Fair enough. A game. Yes, a game. A football game. But, with old-timey announcers talking super fast. And, sure enough, they're babbling about the Cowboys. Tom Landry. Dan Reeves. Jethro Pugh. A championship on the line. And apparently it's really cold. Wait, they're also describing Vince Lombardi and Bart Starr ... I'll be damned. Now why would a Dallas restaurant re-air the full radio broadcast of the 1967 Ice Bowl?!

*The most notorious Cowboys hater suddenly loves them? Hell hath frozen over.

*Hot.

*Not.

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*White rich men running sports franchises. What could go wrong? Donald Sterling and the Clippers. Dan Snyder and the Washington Football Team. Jerry Richardson and the Panthers. Mark Cuban and the Mavericks. Jon Gruden’s email chain. And now, Robert Sarver and the Suns. Anyone else sense a theme?

*The Cowboys on Sunday will yank us old-timers right back to 1975 when they wear a red stripe on their helmets. Then: A patriotic uniform alteration with a nod to America’s Bicentennial. Now: A patriotic uniform alteration with a nod to Medal of Honor recipients. Led by a “Dirty Dozen” rookies, the ’75 Cowboys made it to Super Bowl X. So … the standard was been set.

*Turns out Kristaps Porzingis is called the “Unicorn” not because of his other-worldly skill set, but because he doesn’t actually exist. Porzingis has missed five consecutive Mavs games with a lower back injury. Which should surprise exactly no one. Only once during his six-year career has he played more than 70 games. It may not be fair to question Porzingis’ heart, soul and desire. But it’s absolute accurate to say his health is a liability. For now, he’s merely a 7-foot-3 source of frustration.

*Cannot believe TCU is seriously considering Deion Sanders as its next head coach. Maybe he has an endearing nickname and a YouTube reel that resonates with young players, which will help in recruiting. But have the folks in Fort Worth conveniently forgotten he is one of the biggest frauds in DFW sports history? Just a few of his greatest hits? Scamming people out of money for a newsletter that didn’t existGetting fired – twice – from a Prime Prep Academy that he foundedLeaving NFL teams with his reputation in tatters

Gary Patterson wasn’t perfect for 22 years running the Horned Frogs. But if they hire Sanders, TCU’s mascot should just go ahead and switch to the Horned Devils.

*Baked-in excuse for our failures in 2020-21: COVID. In 2022: Um, supply chain issues.

*Re: steakhouse etiquette. A woman at our table claimed it is proper when dining at an upscale restaurant to not clean your plate. "You're supposed to leave at least one little bite of your steak," she maintained. This can't be true. If it is true, who invented such insanity?! Makes zero sense.

*Cowboys, quietly, are showing some backbone and leveraging some accountability. High draft pick Jaylon Smith cut (and, this week, subsequently released by the Packers). And now 2020 5th-round pick Bradlee Anae shown the door after jumping offside on a punt and awarding Minnesota a key first down last week. 

Anae is now back on the practice squad, and no, we're not saying he got released just due to the flag. But ...

While none of this is exactly Jimmy Johnson’s Curvin Richards example, but for a team guilty of over-coddling, it’s a start.

*To be fair, we need to treat Aaron Rodgers’ COVID kerfuffle with the same intensity and disdain as we have for Kyrie Irving’s. For what it’s worth, the Mavs’ Trey Burke is still missing games – and losing $34,000 a pop – while apparently still conducting his “own research” about getting vaccinated.

*Strange names we never question: Jane Doe. Kindergarten.

*It might just be the Cowboys year, evidenced by facing the Panthers without Christian McCaffrey, the Giants without Saquon Barkley and the Broncos without Von Miller and top receiving target Noah Fant.

*We live amongst the most gullible groups in the history of this planet. No? Which gaggle of DFW residents falls harder for wacko conspiracies and implausible actors: The QAnon believers that set up shop at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza this week confident that John F. Kennedy Jr. would magically resurrect and become Vice President in order to help reinstated President Donald Trump snuff out a Satanic cabal of Hollywood elite and liberals that eat children? Or the folks that buy tickets to next week’s WrestleMania event at AT&T Stadium

Guarantee there is some crossover of attendees who swear both are real.

*This Weekend? Saturday let’s play golf for likely the last time in 2021 and then go to a charity even at the Dallas Zoo. Sunday it’s Cowboys-Broncos. Don’t forget to (grudgingly) set your clocks back an hour. As always, don’t be a stranger.