Inside Valley Ranch

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Taylor: Bonds like Cowboys’ Springs-Walls are stuff of sports legend
By JEAN-JACQUES TAYLOR
The Dallas Morning News
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In the 1950s, the relationship between Cincinnati Royals star Maurice Stokes and his teammate, Jack Twyman, showed us the intimate bond that can be forged between athletes. After Stokes suffered a seizure, fell into a coma and became permanently paralyzed, Twyman took care of him for the rest of his life.

Most of us have seen the movie Brian’s Song that shows the bond Chicago Bears’ teammates Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo developed and how Piccolo’s fight with cancer brought them closer.

It played out again a few years ago in a slightly different way when Everson Walls donated a kidney to former teammate Ron Springs, who was suffering from diabetes.

The new kidney seemed to be working great, and Springs’ prognosis was good. Then he had surgery to remove a cyst — it was supposed to be a minor procedure — slipped into a coma and never came out of it.

Springs died last week after suffering a heart attack.

His death is sad, especially for his closest friends such as Walls and Tony Dorsett, and his family that continued to hold out hope that one day he would awaken from the coma.

But it shouldn’t diminish the relationship he had with Walls. It shouldn’t diminish the attention their friendship — brotherhood is probably a better word — and the attention they brought to fighting a debilitating disease.

We hear and read so much about the negative aspects of sports. Sometimes, we need to be reminded about the beauty of sports that has nothing to do with winning and losing.

The one thing athletes always talk about missing when they leave the game is the camaraderie of the locker room, where some of the bonds that are forged last a lifetime.

Walls and Springs shared that bond. Even in death it’s not broken. A part of Walls will always be with Springs.

COWBOYS Q&A

Q: What happens if this team gets off to a 1-4 start next season under Tony Romo, and he’s not playing well? Will Jason Garrett be inclined to maybe think about replacing Romo before the season is totally lost yet again?

Glenn Guillory, Baytown, Texas

TAYLOR: I love your passion, but that’s such a hypothetical question there’s no way to really answer it. Did they get blown out in all four games? Did they lose them all, 45-42, so it’s really the defense that’s a problem — not the offense? Did David Buehler miss fourth-quarter field goals in all of them? Jon Kitna is not a better quarterback than Tony Romo. Normally, a coach asks himself what player gives him the best chance to win. I would suspect Garrett would always answer that question with Romo.

* * *

Q: Do you believe Tony Romo has the “something” to get this team over the playoff problems, all things being equal? Or will we remember him as a version of “Danny White”, whom I believe was the most underrated Cowboy of all time?

Rod Muray, Nova Scotia

TAYLOR: I think Romo is capable of being a Super Bowl-winning quarterback when he plays his best football. Whether he can play his best football for 16 games and the playoffs remains to be seen. Romo, right now, falls short of White’s status. White went to three NFC Championship Games, while Romo has one playoff win to his name.

* * *

Q: Who do you think the Cowboys will get to help address their defensive back needs, and how bad is it?

Gizmo Lynch

TAYLOR: Some of y’all seem to think you can fill every single hole during one off-season — and that’s simply not true. The Cowboys didn’t take free safety Rahim Moore in the second round because there was something about him they weren’t sold on during his visit to Valley Ranch, and they didn’t think any of the other safeties were appreciably better than the players on their roster. They took cornerback Josh Thomas in the fifth round and he should help in the dime defense. We’ve seen cornerback Terence Newman and Mike Jenkins play well. Part of Rob Ryan’s job is to get them to play well again.

* * *

Q: What about the chances of picking up David Akers for the Philadelphia Eagles?

Bob Singleton

TAYLOR: Jerry Jones was scarred for life when he signed Mike Vanderjagt to a huge deal after a successful career with the Colts and Vanderjagt flopped. He ain’t doing it again. Besides, there’s a reason the Eagles drafted a kicker and are expected to release Akers. He missed a couple of huge kicks in the playoffs last season. The Cowboys already have Kris Brown on the roster. David Buehler will have to earn the job.

* * *

Q: Tashard Choice has been the Cowboys’ most consistent running back over the last three years, and I hope he continues to be a Cowboy. What are your thoughts on him?

Leroy Williams

TAYLOR: There’s a difference between being the man and being the backup or the third-string running back. Starters in this league absorb a physical beating each week and must still perform at a high level. Teams prepare for their favorite plays and study how they cut to slow them down. No one has ever spent a week studying Choice the way they have Adrian Peterson. This doesn’t mean Choice couldn’t be successful. It just means the backup running back, quarterback or receiver is always a fan favorite.

* * *

Q: Jason Garrett seems to be holding players accountable for their performance. That is what any leader does in football and in life. Many Cowboys players have been stealing paychecks for years and it needs to stop.

Christopher A. Bryant

TAYLOR: I don’t think it’s a matter of stealing paychecks, because that suggests guys haven’t been trying. They quit mentally in the middle of last season for a couple of weeks, but they regrouped. I’d say for the most part this team played hard even though it hasn’t always played well. That said, I love accountability. If a guy isn’t playing well, there’s zero harm in sitting him down, but you need competition on the roster to do that. You can’t sit a guy when he’s backed up by a scrub.

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