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'The Unifier': Cowboys Boss Will McClay Explains, 'Our Scouting Process Is Inclusive'

'The Unifier': Dallas Cowboys Boss Will McClay Explains, 'Our Scouting Process Is Inclusive' ... And We Explain What McClay Means to The Cowboys

FRISCO - It comes up most every NFL offseason: Why doesn't Will McClay leave the Dallas Cowboys to go be a GM for another team? Outsiders wonder why, now at age 53, why he doesn't pursue a place that would give him big-time money and big-time power?

The short answer? Will McClay already has all of that in Dallas.

And what does he offer to the Jones family in exchange? He's been employed by the Joneses for almost 20 years now, as a scout, then as a coordinator and then head coach of the Arena League Dallas Desperados. He was eventually promoted to the big club and a few years ago ascended to power as more than just the "Vice President of Player Personnel'' - because he's much more than that.

His talent, and his eye for talent, are obviously critical. But his loyalty to the Joneses is key, too; the 1994 breakup with Jimmy Johnson drives Jerry Jones decision to this day. Loyalty is everything.

Well, as it relates to McClay, almost everything. There is also this: He is, as I've called him, "The Unifier.'' McClay has a knack for bringing together the executive wing, the coaching staff and the scouting department, and for making everyone involved feel like they possess some of the power.

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“Our process is inclusive,” McClay said this week at the Senior Bowl. “We want to get everybody together and hear everyone’s opinion. At the end of the day, Jerry makes the decision, but coaches have input, scouts have input. That’s why we feel like our process is very good because anybody that’s been around them, that knows more about them and knows what they’re putting them into, if you pull all that stuff together, we’ve got a chance to build a good team.”

The Cowboys, post-Jason Garrett, have spent the last two weeks, starting with the hiring of new coach Mike McCarthy, boasting about their roster talent. (Indeed, that's why there is such a thing as "post-Jason Garrett.'') McClay has a reason to say that, and to believe that. He will build the Big Board for the NFL Draft and he will oversee the rest of the personnel department, too. 

“We talk about the talent that we have, if we don’t get to where we’re going, that talent’s not good enough,” McClay said. “We have to keep trying to get that better. The execution and the use of the talent, all those things, we have to get better at. But I think we’re going to try to build a strong team with depth and looking for those positions that make an impact on the roster, and we need our impact players to make impact plays.”

They will do that with some new wishes from the coaching staff, meshed with the always-present willingness of McClay to incorporate the concepts and the people behind the concepts. And what does it all add up to?

I would suggest that while Jerry is the Cowboys “owner and president,’’ that Stephen is right alongside his father as "co-GM'' and that Will is real a "co-GM,'' too, a de facto “Vice President of Football Everything.’’ (Maybe if he'd put that on business cards the outsiders would get the message about the money and the power.)

McClay is more than an executive, more than a scout, more than a coach, more than an ex-player. He’s “The Unifier.” That should really be Will McClay’s title with the Dallas Cowboys. And while there are any number of reasons the McCarthy Era can work, none are greater than "The Unifier.''