And along the way, the benefits have helped deepen the bond between the team and the military. This year the Falcons became the first club to conduct their own USO tour, with linemen Alex Mack and Ben Garland (an Air Force Academy graduate and active captain in the Colorado Air National Guard) and kicker Matt Bryant going with Quinn to Iraq and Kuwait, which was an offshoot of the experience Quinn, Vic Beasley, Paul Worrilow, Grady Jarrett and Bryant had in the Pacific two years ago.
Over there, Quinn got to meet and talk shop with General Paul Funk, but the thing that hit him most was how Mack, Garland and Bryant knew, on their own, the opportunity in front of them, and used it to talk to the soldiers about leadership. And Quinn saw that reciprocated in soldiers asking him how he handled rookies, since the military guys had rookies of their own.
It’s pretty cool to hear about it, too, particularly during this time of year, and this time in our country’s history, when so many seem to think there’s some sort of divide between those who serve and the athletes who entertain us back home.
And the offense goes without saying, I think we have the best line in football. We have one of the best running backs in football, and I think Dak’s going to pick back up and roll again and have a great year. He can be one of the best in the business. We just feel really good about the foundation.
And that’s in large part because the Cowboys have drafted really well since 51-year-old senior director of player personnel Will McClay ascended to the top of the team’s scouting side. Eight of the 10 aforementioned moneymakers, and Prescott too, are homegrown. Seven (plus Prescott) were drafted; Collins was a college free agent.
Meanwhile, the closest thing Dallas has had to a first-round bust this decade was 2012 cornerback Morris Claiborne (he’ll make $7 million this year from the Jets), with five first-rounders over that span having made Pro Bowls. We’ll see what becomes of last year’s No. 1, Taco Charlton, and this year’s pick, Vander Esch, but that’s a pretty good track record.