Did Cowboys go too far with Bryant?
Every week, the experts of FOX NFL Sunday will candidly reveal their observations and make their opinions known as they prepare for the top-rated pregame telecast — seen each Sunday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT. We'll share with you some of the highlights from Curt, Terry, Howie, Jimmy and Michael grabbed from their weekly conference call with insider John Czarnecki.
THIS WEEK'S PANEL
Czar: I’m sure you guys all went through some hazing when entering the NFL, but what did you think of Dez Bryant having to pay almost $55,000 for a dinner tab? What was the worst thing you had to go through?
Terry Bradshaw: Well, the veterans knew I couldn’t drink very well so they took me out into the woods and made me drink. They also hid my car from me. I ended up puking and couldn’t find my car. Then I had to sing at lunch, but that worked out OK because it was one of my hit songs from my Christmas album.
Howie Long: We had a rookie party that I can’t talk about and that no one under 18 should ever see.
Michael Strahan: I’ve seen all kinds of things. They told all of us rookies that we had to wear a jacket on our first road trip and I had to go to a certain store and get a free jacket. Well, I did and then found out nothing was really free. Then the night before the game they showed everybody my trip to the store because they had taped the whole thing. Today, vets like to tape rookies to goal posts and also tape them up and toss them in the ice-cold tubs after practice. I used to have buy donuts and bagels for everybody in the building, including coaches, secretaries, everybody.
HL: One night on the road they put a dead fish in my bed and I didn’t notice it until I got under the covers. The stink was awful.
MS: I know some guys have put the cars of rookies, covered in toilet paper, on the practice fields while they are in meetings during camp.
Jimmy Johnson: I think what Bryant had to do for the Cowboys was a little excessive. I wouldn’t have taken all those players. I would have said no way. Some of those players took $900 bottles of wine home. That’s ridiculous. I wouldn’t have paid for that.
MS: When the guys started doing that, I would have slipped out of the restaurant.
JJ: I would never have given up my credit card. And I also never would have carried anybody’s shoulder pads. These players have too much time on their hands to be thinking all this stuff up to do.
Curt Menefee: These players are really hurting themselves with a lot of fans, especially in the economy we have right now. There are lot of people not working and millions of them are not even making $54,000 a year at a job.
Czar: Should Donovan McNabb expect a bad reception from the Eagles’ fans on Sunday? He was traded away and for a lot of seasons Donovan took them to the playoffs without a lot of quality receivers.
MS: But it’s Philadelphia. They boo Santa Claus. They cheered when Michael Irvin hurt his neck and was forced to leave the game, ending his career. It is the only city where all the fans, from the grandparents down to the kids, are yelling and throwing things at the bus coming into the stadium. They are very proud of being nasty.
TB: It’s a reputation that they have and I think some of them boo and don’t even really mean it. I played there twice and I just didn’t take them seriously. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me.
MS: I hear you. I do laugh about some of it. But it was one of those places where when the bus pulled in you really paid attention because you wanted to really see the people and what were they going to do. It was always something interesting. The Jets’ fans were pretty clever. They all started chanting “Orthodontist” to me. I turned around and told a couple of them, "I bet you can’t spell it."
Czar: Maybe the crowd doesn’t care that much because now they have Michael Vick and he’s off to a great start?
MS: It is amazing how Michael Vick went from being crucified there to all of a sudden his jersey is selling great. Everybody is saying keep Kevin Kolb on the bench. They are so happy to have Michael Vick now.
TB: Let’s see how the year plays out before we start talking about giving him a big, long-term contract.
MS: The way the Eagles operate you have to believe either Michael or Kolb will end up being traded. They won’t keep both of them.
CM: Everybody is praising Vick, but we should also realize that he beat up Detroit and Jacksonville, two bad defensive teams.
HL: No, he’s played as well as he can play.
TB: I would think that he will light up Washington this week.
CM: Speaking of a new contract, he can only take home $300,000 a year because all the rest is going to his creditors. I don’t know how much in debt he really is.
HL: If I am him, I would think that Vick wants to stay there because they have so much young talent there. It’s great to be surrounded by all those players. McNabb never had young receivers like this.
Czar: Well, the Steelers are playing the Ravens. Are these two teams two of the best defensive teams in football?
HL: A couple of seasons ago they put a beating on one another. It will be a fun game to watch.
TB: Remember the Jets’ game against Baltimore? How conservative they were with Mark Sanchez. These are the kind of games you have to be really careful with the ball and try to maintain field position. When I played a great defense, I pulled it in and didn’t want to do anything stupid. But you know what I think would be funny? For the Steelers to beat Baltimore and go 4-0 and then Ben (Roethlisberger) comes back in two weeks and loses to Cleveland.
Czar: Are the Bears for real?
MS: I thought they blocked him OK. He was on the sidelines with his hand, looking like he was hurt. But he came right back in and blocked that field goal which was huge. I think Chicago is a good team, but I am not completely sold on them. I think about Jay Cutler’s past experiences — you know, once an interception thrower always an interception thrower, always a gambler. But you also have to consider that Green Bay committed a franchise record 18 penalties. You can’t win like that. That’s stupid. You take those penalties out of the equation, I don’t know if that game is even that close.
HL: Jimmy, what would you have done there at the end of the game?
JJ: Let them score. They had to do that. The percentages of the Packers having Aaron Rodgers taking his team the length of the field and scoring a touchdown are a hell of a lot better than trying to block an extra point. You just play the percentages there.
HL: People are asking, "But what kind of message does that send to your defense?" I say, "Who cares." ... Winning the game is the most important thing.
Czar: Speaking of the Packers, how good is Aaron Rodgers and how many teams would trade their quarterback straight up for him if they could?
HL: I think a lot of teams would. He’s really good.
MS: He is very good.
HL: I would bet more than two-thirds of the teams would swap their quarterbacks for Aaron Rodgers. Don’t you think the Giants would?
MS: The Giants wouldn’t trade. I would also say the Falcons definitely would not swap quarterbacks. The Raiders, Seahawks and Browns, yes.
JJ: I would keep Drew Brees. But if I didn’t have Brees and I was running a new franchise, I would take Aaron Rodgers.
CM: I have to believe that at least 20 of the 32 teams would swap out their current quarterback for him which tells me that Aaron Rodgers is special.
TB: Now hold on a minute, guys. You are all talking about Aaron Rodgers as if he is some god’s gift to quarterbacks, but you have to realize right now that he hasn’t won anything yet. You guys have all fallen in love with him. I agree that I love the ball he throws and his quick release, but here is a guy that has struggled in bringing his team from behind his entire career. Eli has won a championship, but I do like him better than Eli.
CM: If they don’t have those defensive penalties in the fourth quarter, Rodgers wins that Monday night game. You can’t blame him for not having a running game or for the defense not stopping anybody in some of his team’s critical losses.
MS: That’s the great thing about sports. That’s why it is a team sport. It’s a team sport and it’s just not going to be on one guy. But to be honest, for whom he took over from and the amount of games that he’s played, he hasn’t won a championship and all that, but he has played pretty well. This is a debate that we could have all day.