Bryan McCann is an undrafted free agent rookie cornerback who got himself cut by the Dallas Cowboys, cut by the Baltimore Ravens, and then then signed to the Cowboys’ practice squad. He is also set to win NFC Special Teams Player of the Week after having won NFC Defensive Player of the Week just a week ago.
While Wade Phillips was coach, McCann found himself buried in the depth chart and inactive on game day. His penchant for big plays at crucial moments was unknown and untapped. But then, nobody was making plays for Wade this season.
Instead, the players were making mistakes, the coaching was making a mess, and the head coach was making excuses. Like some sick spoof of a certain burger joint, Wade Phillips’ Dallas Cowboys were serving up heaping helpings of Unhappy Meals.
They were the McCan’ts. And the fans weren’t loving it.
It took a half season of putrid play and a midway record of 1-7 to awaken the proud but stubborn owner/general manager Jerry Jones to the fact that he was in danger of selling a product nobody was buying anymore. With 80,000 seats to fill and a billion dollar note to pay, Jones did what he said he would absolutely, positively not do. He canned Wade Phillips mid-season.
It was a painful thing for Mr. Jones. Never had he looked more beleaguered, more defeated than he did the day he announced he had fired Phillips. .
But this is the season of thanksgiving, the time to remember the blessings in our lives. It is also a good time to understand that sometimes blessings come disguised as crotch-kicks.
In Mr. Jones’ case, for instance, there are several examples of this truth…
First, Wade Phillips’ miserable 2010 failure and his admitted inability to get the team to play to their capability seemed like the worst possible scenario for Jones, when in fact it forced him to rid himself of a man who would never be leader enough to take this team to the Promised Land. It is also provided him a no-obligation, no-risk opportunity to see if Jason Garrett could be everything Jones had hoped he could be when he made him the (wink, wink) head coach-in-waiting.
If Garrett fails miserably, Jones can begin the courting process of Cowher, Gruden, Dungy, or whichever of the glamorous coaches he believes in. If, however, Garrett succeeds, then Jones is validated and, potentially, has his man for years to come.
Second, Franchise quarterback Tony Romo cracks his collar bone right in the middle of the most disappointing campaign in franchise history. What seems like a season-ender as far as any hope of fielding a competitive team and keeping fans interested goes, proves instead to be an opportunity to show that Jon Kitna is more than a caretaker as a backup quarterback.
The guy can play.
What’s more, Kitna is a leader on a team that desperately needs leadership.
Third, 2010 draft pick Akwasi Owusu-Ansah is lost for the season with a high ankle sprain. There goes the depth in an already razor-thin defensive backfield and there goes the kick return game.
But then, here comes McCann. The undrafted guy does more in three weeks than the drafted guy had done in half a season, and maybe more than the drafted guy will do in a career.
So, when Jones’ Cowboys line up against the Super Bowl defending champions, the New Orleans Saints, on Thanksgiving Day, Jerry will have plenty for which to be thankful, regardless of the outcome of that game.
He can be thankful that the Hamburglar is no longer coaching his team. He can be thankful that McCan’ts is out of business, boarded up, and won’t be serving 80,000 fans another lukewarm turkey. He can give thanks that a redhead whose name is not Ronald and is nobody’s clown has his 3-7 team believing…
“Yes, we McCann!”
Jerry Jones can be thankful for Garrett, Kitna, McCann…all those blessings in disguise.
And so can we.
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody.