The Dallas Cowboys have a problem with leadership and that’s no secret among the fan base or inside the organization. From the front office to the bottom of the depth chart, there’s no one who stands out as a leader. Cowboys defensive end Jason Hatcher recently acknowledged that fact and now former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson is offering his take on the matter.
“The rah-rah speech is not going to win games for you,” Woodson said. “And I don’t care who’s giving it to you – you can bring Knute Rockne back. No one is going to motivate you between the lines. It’s about preparation the week of, and it’s about the top guys in that locker room and your role players understanding their role on that football team.”
Woodson said it was “shocking to hear that” Hatcher couldn’t think of one leader on the Cowboys’ team when asked. However, Woodson’s comments about Ray Lewis were the direct opposite of what Hatcher said. The Cowboys’ defensive end mentioned Lewis’ name when talking about the kind of leader Dallas needs. Woodson obviously disagrees.
Woodson was a defensive captain for most of his career and Dallas hasn’t had a true leader on either side of the ball since he retired in 2003. During the Cowboys’ Super Bowl runs of the mid-1990s, Woodson was subject to many leaders, none of which led with animated speeches.
“If a guy walked in late, you better believe Daryl Johnston was going to jump him for being late,” Woodson said. “If a guy fell asleep, you better believe Daryl Johnston was going to jump him. He was a role player who understood his role, but he was a leader and he was very well respected within that locker room.”
Johnston played 11 seasons in Dallas, accumulating 753 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns during that time. Needless to say, he didn’t put up a ton of stats, but he led by example, two of which Woodson pointed out.
Much was made of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo gathering his teammates for off-season workouts during the NFL Lockout and rightly so; Romo acted as a player-coach during those workouts that blossomed into full-blown practices. However, no one talks about him, DeMarcus Ware or Jason Witten jumping on teammates for being late or falling asleep.
Woodson hit the nail on the head with his comments; a player of Ray Lewis’ caliber is obviously a fantastic asset for any team and his speeches obviously work as the Ravens won a Super Bowl with him leading the way in 2001. Baltimore is a perennial Super Bowl contender behind Lewis, who leads by his work ethic and play on the field as much as he does with his mouth.
Woodson didn’t mean the Cowboys wouldn’t benefit from having a player like Lewis, but that Dallas needs a player that will lead by example and not just “rah-rah” speeches. Any player can give a big, animated speech before the game like Lewis does, but very few players can demand the respect from their teammates like he does from his actions.
“I wasn’t a rah-rah guy,” Woodson said. “I told guys the truth. I also told guys, ‘You don’t have to love me, but you’re going to respect me because of my actions.’ I think that’s what [the Cowboys] need.”