In the training room, defensive end Chad Hennings, a former Air Force pilot and current third-down pass-rushing specialist, stands in front of Gregory Dott, an osteopath. Hennings's right shoulder and neck are sore, and Dott is one of the many resources available to the Cowboys for making damaged bodies better.
Other rehab aids include an oxygen chamber, electrostimulation, massage, heat, ice, ultrasound, whirlpool, injections, weight resistance, water therapy, taping, bracing, strengthening, stretching, immobilization, rest and—when all else fails—submitting to that sharpest of sharp knives, the scalpel.
"Dr. Dott comes when I call him," says trainer Kevin O'Neill. "Usually for end-of-the-week tune-ups."
As Dott gives Hennings his tune-up, kneading and manipulating the deltoid and trapezius muscles, Chad's wife, Tammy, chases after their aptly named 16-month-old son, Chase. When he is done with his treatment, Chad, who flew an A-10 tankbuster, known in the Air Force as a Warthog, during the final days of the gulf war, is rewarded with child duty. Tammy goes in to see Dott, to have her own aching back worked on, and the 6'6", 290-pound dad scurries after Chase. Then, Dad senses that something is amiss. It's in the air.
He corrals his son and takes him to the family truck. Diaper change.
Midway through the process Chad wrinkles his nose, steps back and says, "Whoa, Chase...."
As Chad resumes the change, Chase starts crying, and Dad feeds him crackers to soothe him until the job is done. "I try to be Mr. Mom," says Chad with a sigh. "It brings you back to reality."
Fullback Daryl (Moose) Johnston, the human battering ram, needs some adjustment himself. A workhorse who has amassed a mere 558 rushing yards in his six-year pro career, Johnston, at 238 pounds, is the log that splinters the door so Emmitt Smith can raid the pantry beyond.
At the office of chiropractor Karl Foster, Johnston gets prodded and bent and stretched for 15 minutes, and afterward he rises from the table and begins to put on his shirt to leave.
"Wait, I'm not done yet," says Foster. "Lie down here on your side." Johnston does as he is told. "This is going to feel like a bee sting for 30 seconds or a minute." Standing behind Johnston, Foster reaches around the fullback, gripping him in something resembling a pro wrestler's sleeper hold, squeezing some indeterminate part of Moose's upper anatomy. It might be his shoulder blade. Johnston gasps. It takes quite a lot to make the Prince of Punishment gasp. "That's one damn big bee," Johnston finally says, certain that it is now time to leave.
Last night reserve tight end Scott Galbraith, who is in his second year with the Cowboys after spending three seasons with the Cleveland Browns, went out dancing with teammates Shante Carver, Lincoln Coleman, Willie Jackson and others. The players boogied through House Party Night at the Iguana Mirage nightclub, losing themselves in the sounds, the rap, the vibes, the girls, the fans and the blatant, unabashed sycophants. But tonight is another matter.
Galbraith, a graduate of Southern Cal whose father is a minister in Sacramento, is on his way to church. He goes two or three times a week, to Pentecostal services in South Dallas, a predominantly black part of town, at which worshipers dance, sing, weep and thrash in the aisles in praise of the Lord and their good fortune to be His blessed sheep. Galbraith goes, as he says, "to be recharged."
He drives now through the rainy, foggy night in his black Lexus, dressed in a dark suit and bow tie, as conservative as a banker. His mind is not on money, however, or on football. He is thinking of love, Cowboy style.
"Leon Lett," he says. "That's some player. But the Miami game last year? That was the first time I saw the love on this team." He is speaking of the home game against the Dolphins in which Lett's inexplicable pursuit of a blocked Miami field goal, which he tried to recover and then kicked away, led directly to a Miami victory.
"Defensive players are taught to go get balls on the ground. It was just a mistake," explains Galbraith. "In the locker room we got Leon's clothes for him before the press came in. Michael [Irvin] or Nate [Newton], I can't remember which, one of them threw Leon his keys and said, 'Take my car.' They knew the media would follow Leon's car. Some guys, myself included, could have stood there and answered whatever questions came up, but everybody is different, you know? Leon, he's not like that."
Galbraith spent a good part of today trying to make the most recent addition to the Cowboys, Blair Thomas, feel comfortable in his new surroundings. Says Galbraith, "I helped him get a car, get some clothes. I took him to Gregory's Shoes, and I told the owner, Larry Matney, 'Larry, you've got to take care of Blair.' " Thomas was stunned by the gesture. "Hey, man," says Galbraith, as if it's all so obvious. "We're teammates."
Last night at the Iguana Mirage, Galbraith and the others partied with their exiled former teammate Joe Fishback, who had fallen victim to Thomas's arrival, demonstrating that once you're a Cowboy, you're always a Cowboy. "Fishback is cool," says Galbraith. "He's getting paid. He'll get a ring if we go all the way. He's good."
Galbraith thinks for a moment as the lights of the freeway rush past. He starts to explain the reasons for the warm feelings that surround the Cowboys. "So much of it has to to with Switzer," he says. "I thought he was just a party beast, because that's all I'd read. But I'm amazed at him. What am I amazed at? His compassion."
Galbraith nods his head as he grips the wheel. "What makes him so effective is that he treats you like a man. He doesn't curse you or call you a dumb-ass chicken-shit bastard when you jump offside, which I was called by other coaches. He understands it was a mistake. Barry is so effective because he typifies what Jesus said: 'Let the greatest among you be servants.' "
Even the churchgoer has to laugh here. "O.K., I doubt Jesus was talking about Barry when he said that. Barry would crack up if you told him that. But people didn't understand Jesus, and they don't understand Switzer."
Galbraith enters the Greater Harvest Church of God in Christ, on Overton Road—Bishop Frank W. Smith Jr. presiding—and takes a seat in the middle of the flock. He immediately begins singing with the congregation. Last night his party gang had started off at the Cowboys Sports Cafe, checking out karaoke night there. Galbraith and Coleman had pored over the songbook before deciding that Galbraith, who sang in his church choir as a boy, would go on stage and do Gladys Knight and the Pips' Midnight Train to Georgia. Galbraith looked at the 200 spectators, got cold feet and then was told quietly by the 250-pound Coleman, "If you don't sing, I'll strangle you."
Galbraith reluctantly climbed onstage, sputtered, sang a bit, skipped a couple of verses and bolted from the bar. This, though, is different.
Galbraith nods his head, rocks back and forth and claps his hands with the other worshipers. The organ is wailing and the drums are pounding and tears are running down some folk's faces, and one woman is singing so passionately that Galbraith seems transported.
"I'm on my way!" sings the organ player. "And the devil can't stop me!"
Galbraith, singing along, eyes closed, raises his arms, index finger on each hand held high. Two Super Bowls in a row.
Could there be one more?