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Cheap George Iloka Jersey

On first blush, it seems that things are going slow for Cowboys safety George Iloka, a veteran free-agent signee charged with the task of unseating Jeff Heath at strong safety.
Heath was second in the league with 22 broken tackles in 2018, according to Pro Football Outsiders. And he had 19 missed tackles, including 13 in the run game – a league-high for safeties, according to Pro Football Focus.

His tackling efficiency was second-worst in the league among those who played at least 535 defensive snaps, 63rd out of 64 eligible players, per PFF.

And this doesn’t even include the missed assignment by Heath in the NFC Divisional playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams.

So the Cowboys did a lot of homework in the off-season looking to upgrade the position.

They brought in Clayton Geathers and Eric Berry for visits in free agency before signing Iloka to a modest one-year deal for $930,000.

The Cowboys considered taking a safety in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft but opted for defensive tackle Trysten Hill. They eventually took Texas A&M’s Donovan Wilson in the sixth round.

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Cheap Shakir Soto Jersey

Former Pitt defensive lineman Shakir Soto signed with the Dallas Cowboys on Monday, according to Ian Rapoport of The 6’3”, 300-pound tackle most recently played for the San Diego Fleet of the Alliance of American Football but was displaced by the league’s abrupt closure.

During his time in the AAF, Soto stood out as a potential star in the making, as he accounted for 13 tackles, including four sacks and five tackles for losses, as well as six quarterback hits. As a result of his standout play, he was named to the Pro Football Focus AAF Team of the Week the same day the league folded.

Players were granted authorization to sign with NFL teams by the AAF last Thursday, and since then, more than two dozen have signed contracts and joined NFL teams.

Soto previously signed with the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders prior to his stint in the AAF. The Broncos signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2017, but he was cut during the preseason. The Raiders signed him to their practice squad later that year, but the team waived him in 2018.

With the Cowboys, Soto will look to build on his success with the Fleet and earn himself a roster spot by impressing the staff during organized team activities. The Cowboys’ OTAs get underway on May 21.

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Dallas Cowboys running back Mike Weber Jr. runs drills during the Cowboys rookie minicamp practices at The Star in Frisco, Texas on Friday, May 10, 2019.(Shaban Athuman/Staff Photographer)

By Jon Machota , Staff Writer Contact Jon Machotaon Twitter:@jonmachota

FRISCO — Cowboys rookie running back Mike Weber left Saturday’s morning rookie minicamp practice with a knee injury. The seventh-round pick out of Ohio State attended the afternoon practice but did not participate.

Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Weber is expected to have an MRI.

The two days of rookie minicamp are considered to be more of an orientation. Players do not wear helmets or pads and the work on the field is non-contact.

The Cowboys selected Weber last month to compete for a backup role and help manage Ezekiel Elliott’s touches. Dallas also used a fourth-round pick on versatile back Tony Pollard. They view Weber as a more traditional back.

“I loved him on tape. I loved him when I went to Ohio State and watched him,” Cowboys running back coach Gary Brown said of Weber. “He can do all three downs. That’s the type of back we want to draft. We want three-down guys that can protect the ball and protect the quarterback and play well in the running game.”

The 5-10, 211-pound Weber was one of the Cowboys’ 30 pre-draft national visitors. During his three seasons at Ohio State, he rushed for 2,676 yards and 24 touchdowns. He battled through hamstring and foot injuries in college.

“When I first got to Ohio State, Zeke did a good job of helping me with the playbook and showing me the ropes,” Weber said Friday. “When I was hurt, he helped me out a lot. I think it’s the same thing over again. He can help me again.”

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FRISCO, Texas – Just like that, we’re wrapping up.

The Cowboys concluded minicamp on Thursday, going through one final practice before they take some time off. Here are my notes from Ford Center here at The Star, where we got our last look at this Cowboys team before we head off to training camp.

I’ve been super critical of the backup quarterback play during these practices, but I have to give credit when things turn around. Cooper Rush couldn’t have thrown a better pass than the one he let fly to Jon’Vea Johnson along the right sideline for 52 yards. C.J. Goodwin tried to put his right hand up to defend, but there was no chance. The ball was beyond his reach and right into the waiting hands of Johnson, who never broke stride on the reception.
Really nice job by Jeff Heath of staying off Jason Witten in the corner of the end zone on a pass from Dak Prescott. Heath could have very easily become tangled up with Witten, resulting in both crashing to the ground. Prescott put the ball in a perfect spot to allow Witten to extend. Heath went up to defend, but he knew the space for Witten was limited and he was likely not going to come down in bounds — and he was right.
There appeared to be some miscommunication between George Iloka and Darian Thompson to allow Blake Jarwin to be as wide open as he was for the touchdown from Cooper Rush. Jarwin was flexed and enjoyed a free release up the field. With Iloka working wide and Thompson breaking late from the middle of the field, all Rush had to do was make sure he didn’t overthrow Jarwin in order to finish the play.
I am going to be honest about Donovan Olumba: I was worried about his lack of ability to finish plays. There were some snaps where receivers were getting the best of him. But the last two practices, he has done a much better job of putting himself in position and also finishing. The ball he defended to Jalen Guyton was outstanding. His patience in playing the route and the burst he used to finish was textbook. Mike White was fortunate that Guyton went into defensive mode to knock the ball away from Olumba or it would have been an interception.
I continue to believe that this staff won’t carry four tight ends — but right as I say that, Rico Gathers makes an amazing spinning, adjusting catch. Gathers has come light years in his game and every once in a while he’ll make a play to remind you why they’ve worked with him these past few seasons. It wasn’t like Gathers was covering ground quickly, but he was just far enough up the field that when Cooper Rush’s pass went over the top of Joe Thomas, he was in the right spot to grab it.
I had to laugh at Gary Brown today, as the Cowboys’ running backs coach put his arms up in a touchdown signal before Cooper Rush even handed the ball inside to Darius Jackson on the goal line. Brown must have seen the defensive alignment and known Jackson was going to get a trap block from Dalton Schultz and a seal from Adam Redmond. It appeared that Brown was going be correct — until Daniel Wise beat the block of Cody Wichmann and stopped Jackson just inches from the end zone. For a snap with no pads it was an impressive stop by Wise.
Another young guy that I haven’t written much about is rookie linebacker Andrew Dowell, but he showed up on Thursday. Dowell made a nice play in the team period, knocking the ball away from Devin Smith. Dowell, who played like a strong safety at Michigan State, dropped perfectly in zone coverage. Mike White attempted to float the ball just over the top of him, but Dowell was able to extend and get his hand on the ball just before landing on his back. If he doesn’t make that play, Smith was likely going to walk into the end zone.
After practice I happened to be talking with Brad Sham and he mentioned that he thought rookie defensive end Joe Jackson had a pretty good day rushing the passer. I really hadn’t given him much of a thought until I looked at my notes and the number of times I had his jersey written down. Jackson is different from the other ends on the squad. He doesn’t have the first step explosion of a right end, but coming off the left side is a better fit for him. Where he is going to make you take notice is how much power he shows. There were several snaps where that power gave Cam Fleming, Mitch Hyatt and Brandon Knight some trouble where they couldn’t handle him.

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FRISCO, Texas – This week should be a bit more fun than the others.

Whereas we were only allowed to watch one OTA practice per week, we’ll be able to watch every rep of these three minicamp practices. It’s going to be a nice preview of training camp, as we evaluate how these guys will handle the full week.

Here’s my notebook from Tuesday, as we got started with this final week of practices before we break for the summer.

I like the way Robert Quinn competes. There were a couple of snaps where Tyron Smith smacked him in the face coming off the ball, which jolted Quinn — but that didn’t stop him from finishing his rush. Quinn was able to knock Smith’s hands away, dip his shoulder and circle underneath Smith for the pressure. To his credit, it would have been easy for Quinn to just stop and give Smith the rep, but he just wouldn’t do it. You would have never guessed it was just a simple minicamp practice in June with the way those two were going at it.
Nice recognition by Dak Prescott seeing that he had a running play going away from Anthony Brown, who was a potential blitzer from the backside. Instead of allowing Brown to have a free run at Elliott and create a negative play, he moved Randall Cobb from the outside to the inside slot to get a hat on Brown. This allowed the play to have a chance. Cobb handled Brown well, but Joe Looney had trouble with Trysten Hill, who defeated Looney off his left shoulder.
Quality pass from Cooper Rush to Cedrick Wilson on the naked bootleg, working to his right. Blake Jarwin did a good job of setting the edge by driving Kerry Hyder to the inside. Wilson was able to sit down in the middle of Jourdan Lewis, Jameill Showers and Joe Thomas for the reception. I initially thought there was a miscommunication between Lewis and Chris Westry, because both defenders ended up taking Jon’Vea Johnson along the sideline.
I don’t know whether to give Chris Westry credit for a nice backside slot blitz, or to say there was a bust by Cooper Rush and Tony Pollard to identify the stunt. Rush never looked in Westry’s direction, as he was bypassed by Pollard as he released in the flat. I had seen in previous practices where Prescott flipped the ball to Ezekiel Elliott before the defense had a chance to react for a sizeable gain. Rush had a chance to do the same, but the overall execution of the play from the offensive side of the ball was poorly executed.
You want the name of a guy who appears ready to start the season right now? Maliek Collins would be my guy. For the last month, he’s been the one guy in the front seven that has shown up well in these practices — especially against the best competition. It’s not like he’s been having success against the backups. Collins has been giving Zack Martin, Connor Williams and Joe Looney fits. Collins appears healthy and his feet are not giving him problems. His movement and quickness have been outstanding along with his explosive power. Collins is winning those one-on-one battles on a consistent basis.
Give rookie Mike Jackson some credit on his interception of Mike White during team period. Jackson, sitting in zone coverage, read White all the way as he tried to fit the ball on the out to Cedrick Wilson. As Jackson was sinking into position, he kept his eyes on White the entire time. Knowing that he had some help from Donovan Wilson over the top, he left his man and timed his break perfectly, arriving on the ball just as Wilson was making his break. White knew his pass was in trouble as soon as it left his hand.
· Another nice catch from Reggie Davis on the “dig” route in front of Donovan Olumba. Davis drove Olumba hard to the outside and then broke quickly to the inside. The move left Olumba off balance and stumbling as the ball left Cooper Rush’s hand. To Olumba’s credit, he was able to close the ground — but the ball to Davis was helmet-high and he was able to extend his hands for the reception. To be honest, Reggie Davis has only come to life these last two practices. Before then he really hadn’t done too much to get noticed.
· It appears to be a deep group at linebacker with guys like Joe Thomas, Justin March-Lillard and Chris Covington competing for playing time. Of those guys, Thomas has been the one guy that has stepped up his game when given the opportunity. Thomas had an interception on Cooper Rush while in man coverage on Blake Jarwin. Thomas couldn’t have played the route any better by never breaking stride when he saw Jarwin working to the outside. Instead of playing through Jarwin, Thomas undercut the route, extending his hands, securing the ball all while getting both feet down inbounds.

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A house that produces one college football player is not exactly common, so a family that has four college football players, all of whom play the same position, must live on Unicorn Drive.

Dallas Cowboys rookie free agent defensive lineman Daniel Wise, who went to Hebron High School, is one of the three sons who earned a college scholarship to be a Division I defensive lineman. His father, Deatrich Wise Sr., was a defensive lineman at Jackson State who was a draftee of the Seattle Seahawks and played in the NFL, CFL and Arena League.

“I never talked about my career to them. There was nothing really around the house from when I played,” Wise Sr. said in a phone interview. “We were in an airport one time and someone said something to me about me playing. One of my kids said, ‘You did that? You played?’ I never wanted them to live through me. I wanted them to do it on their own. To do it themselves.”

His oldest son, Deatrich Wise Jr., played at Arkansas, was drafted by the New England Patriots, and has been a regular for that team in each of the last two years.
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Daniel Wise earned a scholarship to Kansas, and a was a first-team all Big 12 player in each of the last two years. He signed with the Cowboys as a free agent after the 2019 draft.

The youngest son, Solomon Wise, is a redshirt senior defensive end at Texas-San Antonio.

That’s three college educations for free. Happy Father’s Day to Deatrich Wise Sr.


Even when Deatrich Wise Sr. is not coaching, he’s coaching. After a 15 minute visit, you’re only 98 percent sure you can win … whatever it is that you do.
“Playing football is not about the NFL. It’s about a good college education; get a degree and leaving school with some accomplishments,” he said. “So when you can’t find your way, you can say, ‘This is nothing. I did this.’ You want to keep accomplishing so you know you can.”

His father went into coaching after he was done playing pro ball with the Tampa Bay Storm of the Arena League in the mid ‘90s.

“I never knew that he really played until I was in high school,” Daniel Wise said after Cowboys’ mini-camp practice on Thursday.
When his father’s playing career was over, he went into the “family business” of coaching and teaching.

By that point, he had married his wife, Sheila, who was in the military and could re-locate anywhere. Wise coached pro ball to college to high school to middle school from Jackson State, Tampa, Delaware, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Norfolk, Virginia, and eventually settled in DFW.

He coached at Coppell West, and helped at the Michael Johnson Performance Center, before taking a break. He currently teaches at Seagoville Elementary.

“I wanted to see Deatrich’s senior year (at Arkansas), and Daniel’s last year at Kansas, and not neglect our youngest son at UTSA,” Wise Sr. said. “I got an opportunity to step away from (coaching) a little bit so I did. I’m sure I’ll go back but we wanted to see as many of their games as we could.”

Like any growing family, the Wise kids fought, and competed. They just happened to be a bit bigger.

“It wasn’t anything bad,” Daniel Wise said. “It was healthy competition.”

Competing against mom and dad, however, was not a good idea. Playing mom against dad, or dad against mom, was a wall of defeat.

“You couldn’t because we were on the same page about everything,” Wise Sr. said. “We always supported each other. We are the ying-and-yang. We’ve been together for 28 years. There could not have been a better balance.”

As a military mom, Sheila Wise didn’t suffer much.

None of their three sons was pushed or directed into sports, particularly football. Daniel Wise was a long distance runner and played soccer; he didn’t shift to football until middle school. He was not a linemen until his sophomore year of high school.

“Dad was always my ‘coach’ and he would constantly tell us things and work with us, but only if we wanted it,” Wise said.

By that point, all of the Wise kids were growing rapidly and required constant food. The parents became short order cooks.
“I was pushing groceries and someone said, ‘Coach, you getting ready for a party?’” Wise Sr. said. “That was just an ante up; that wasn’t the big one. You’d have to have two meals ready every night. When they all left, I swear I got a pay raise.”

Two of the three Wise boys are college graduates, and the third is en route. They are self sufficient, and full of accomplishments.
Whatever Deatrich Wise Sr. accomplished as a player or a coach, and whatever Sheila Wise accomplished in the military, will not top what they did together with their three sons.

A job well done, and a Happy Father’s Day.

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FRISCO, Texas – Michael Irvin caught 750 passes for 11,904 receiving yards and 65 ­touchdowns in 12 years of regular-season play with the Dallas Cowboys.

Irvin compiled another 87 catches for 1,315 yards and eight touchdowns in the playoffs, helping the Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles in the 1990s.

And the Hall of Famer continues to interact with the league’s best receivers in more than a decade as an analyst for NFL Network.

Still, Irvin said Wednesday, he’d never heard from a receiver what Amari Cooper told him.

“One of the things we talked about is he said, ‘I don’t need 15-16 targets,’” Irvin said. “I’ve never heard a receiver say that. ‘I don’t need 15-16 targets a game, just give me my 8 or 9 and I’ll catch 7 or 8 passes.’

“It tells you he’s efficient. He’s efficient, and that’s a great thing.”

Embedded video

Jori Epstein

“I’ve never heard a receiver say that before.”

Michael Irvin on this Amari Cooper sound bite:

4:15 AM – Jun 13, 2019
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Cooper’s focus on efficiency over volume aligns with an offensive philosophy that favors the run game. The Cowboys invest heavily in Pro Bowl-caliber offensive linemen, and defending rushing titleholder Ezekiel Elliott’s 381 touches represented more than 35 percent of the team’s total offensive plays in 2018.

Cowboys coaches express interest in continuing that run-first mindset under first-year coordinator Kellen Moore. But the team acquired Cooper in October and in the offseason signed Randall Cobb in free agency. Joining them is Michael Gallup, who capped his rookie season with 18 yards and a touchdown in the wild-card win against Seattle and posted six catches for 119 yards in the divisional-round loss to the Rams. Irvin sees potential.

“I think they have a shot at being one of the top receiving corps in the NFL,” Irvin told the trio, and then reporters, after attending Cowboys practice Wednesday. “Michael Gallup came up great last year. If he can take another step? Randall Cobb stepping in and doing what he’s doing, and Amari Cooper just keep on stepping like he was stepping last year, this could be probably the best group of three guys in the NFL.”

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Jori Epstein

Michael Irvin: Cowboys WRs Amari Cooper, Randall Cobb and Michael Gallup could be best group of 3 receivers in league

4:09 AM – Jun 13, 2019
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One major difference Irvin identified between his days with Troy Aikman and the current receivers’ outlook with quarterback Dak Prescott: their understanding of scheme. Irvin was impressed by Cobb and Cooper’s discussion of passing and route concepts.

“Since I was just a pure receiver … I’m talking how can you get me the ball,” Irvin said. “No concepts. ‘You see this route over here? Throw it.’”
Irvin: Why questions of Dak’s deal ‘shouldn’t even be a discussion’
The Cowboys and Prescott’s representatives have exchanged initial offers for a contract extension. Prescott, whom Dallas drafted in the fourth round of the 2016 draft, has one year remaining on his rookie deal and hasn’t made more than $630,000 in base salary in a season prior to this year. He has started every game behind center the last three years, winning two NFC East titles.

In 2019, Prescott’s base salary jumps to $2.025 million. The Cowboys could place the franchise tag on him for 2020 if no extension is reached by next Febrary. But as the two sides negotiate, Irvin balks at some of the chatter.

“There’s no doubt in my mind Dak is the right guy,” Irvin said. “Look at these teams: I mean, people stop it. Look at these damn teams. Dolphins, Jaguars: They’ve been looking for a quarterback for almost 15-20 years. This ain’t easy to find. It’s not easy to find and you don’t let one walk out the door if you got one.”
Jori Epstein

· 5h
Michael Irvin on Dak Prescott’s looming Cowboys extension:

“When you have the heart and soul and leader of your team at the quarterback position, I don’t know why we’re talking about his money. That’s worth $15-20M by itself a year. Now you got to pay him to play football also.”
Jori Epstein

“There’s no doubt in my mind Dak is the right guy,” Irvin added. “Let’s be real here. It shouldn’t even be a discussion.”

5:30 AM – Jun 13, 2019
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Market value, Irvin said, has been set for quarterbacks. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz, drafted No. 2 overall in 2016, signed a four-year extension last week worth $128 million. The Seahawks extended Russell Wilson, who claims six Pro Bowl berths and a Super Bowl title, this spring to a four-year, $140 million extension.

The money, like the salary cap, continues to grow. Irvin says that’s justified.

“When you have the heart and soul and leader of your team at the quarterback position, I don’t know why we’re talking about his money,” Irvin said. “That’s worth $15-20 million, by itself, a year. Now you got to pay him to play football also.

“I mean, let’s be real here. It shouldn’t even be a discussion when we talk about it, and the amount of wins this man has had, and the way he’s won football games. It shouldn’t even be a discussion. It really shouldn’t.”

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NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – More than one million Texans could be eligible to access medical marijuana through the Texas Compassionate Use program, after state senators unanimously approved a bill expanding the list of qualifying conditions on Wednesday.

The bill is more narrow than one passed by the House earlier this month, but would allow patients with medical seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, spasticity, terminal cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, autism and ALS to obtain medical cannabis with up to .5% THC from a state-licensed dispensary.

“We’re just like everybody there, desperate. We want to save our son’s life,” said Amy Novacek.

2 Euless Officers Injured After Struggle With
Driver Who Didn’t Want To Pull Over After Traffic Violation
She and her husband, former Dallas Cowboys tight end Jay Novacek, never expected they would be advocating for anything related to marijuana.

“Everybody I grew up with.. there was no drinking, no drugs. I was naïve to all that in small town Nebraska,” said Jay Novacek.
Jay and Amy Novacek (CBS 11)

The family gained a new perspective though, when they say their son was violently beaten while pledging to join a fraternity.

“And now he has permanent brain damage,” said Amy. “He’s unable to go to school, unable to work and he has multiple seizures.”

Last week, Blake suffered a seizure at the Texas Capitol, waiting to talk to lawmakers about gaining legal access to medical marijuana.

His family says cannabis worked for him when he tried it.

“It’s not like we jumped up one day and said, OH! Medical cannabis! That’s it. We’ve been through the system. We’ve been through the doctors. We’ve been through the medications,” said his mother.

The proposed expansion is facing criticism from groups it excluded.

Joshua Raines, an Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient, has plead with lawmakers for years to extend medical marijuana access to veterans suffering from PTSD.

“I’ve lost more friends to suicide than I have to combat,” he said.

Raines admits he treats his own PTSD with cannabis.

Without it, he says he might have died of suicide, too.

“I wouldn’t be married. I wouldn’t have kids. I was a monster without it,” he said. “ It’s the one thing that works.”

Now he says, he’ll have to wait another two years, until state lawmakers meet again, knowing what he considers taking his medicine, the state still considers a crime.

The Texas House still needs to approve the changes made by the Senate. The bill then heads to Governor Greg Abbott for his signature.

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Springtime’s crack of the bats, the pounding of leather and the chants from the dugouts of both boys and girls enhance the baseball/softball experience – especially in the Valley, where so many players have had amazing seasons.

Below are the finalists for Baseball and Softball Athletes of the Year. Winners will be announced today at the All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet, co-presented by DHR Health and Lone Star National Bank. Finalists are listed in alphabetical order.


Mia Anzaldua, Brownsville Veterans, Senior

Anzaldua went 19-3 with a 0.34 ERA and 290 strikeouts this season, leading Veterans to the District 32-5A title. She set the school’s single-season record for strikeouts and breaking former standout Cassie Valdez’s career strikeout mark at 688 as well. At the plate, she had a .412 average with 47 hits and 49 RBIs, 33 runs scored and 11 doubles.
Erika Cortez, Rio Hondo, Senior

Rio Hondo’s senior pitcher made an immediate impact for the Lady Bobcats. Upon her arrival in Rio Hondo, the team went 13-1 in district play along, earning its sixth straight district title. Cortez led the Lady Bobcats in the third round of the playoffs.

Krystal Gonzales, Harlingen South, Senior

Shortstop Krystal Gonzales provided the Lady Hawks with a steady hand at shortstop and batted in the middle of the Lady Hawks’ order. She had a .480 batting average, with 49 hits, 58 runs scored, eight home runs and 12 doubles in 38 games while leading the Hawks to the postseason.


Ramsey Amador, Edinburg Vela, Senior

Edinburg Vela senior shortstop Ramsey Amador led the SaberCats to the 31-6A district championship with a perfect 12-0 record and 27-6-2 overall. The UTRGV commit had a .467 batting average, 38 RBIs, 31 runs, four home runs and an on-base percentage of .557. Amador, who also serves as the team’s closer, had a 1.62 ERA, a 1-0 record and two saves in seven appearances for Edinburg Vela. He also struck out 26 batters in 17 1/3 innings.

Aaron Nixon, McAllen High, Junior

McAllen High junior pitcher Aaron Nixon was a stud on the mound and at the plate for the Bulldogs as he had a 7-2 record as a starter and a 1.08 ERA to go with his Valley best 137 strikeouts. Nixon only surrendered 11 earned runs on the year and led McAllen High to the second round of the playoffs. As a hitter, the University of Texas commit hit .492, scored 43 runs and had 18 RBIs. McAllen High finished second in 30-6A with a 10-4 district record and a mark of 25-10-1 overall.

Nico Rodriguez, Edinburg Vela, Senior

Edinburg Vela senior pitcher Nico Rodriguez was dominant nearly every time he took the mound as the Kansas State commit finished with a 12-1 record in 13 starts. Rodriguez had a Valley best .064 ERA, struck out 121 batters and only surrendered seven earned runs in 77 innings. At the plate, Rodriguez batted .250, had 24 RBIs and three home runs. He helped lead his team to the 31-6A title with a perfect 12-0 district record and 27-6-2 overall. He led the SaberCats to a third-round playoff appearance, winning all three of his postseason starts, including a second round Game 1 win over McAllen High.

The banquet, hosted by and AIM Media Texas in conjunction with the RGV Sports Hall of Fame, will see 33 awards presented to athletes, coaches and teams across all 12 UIL sports. The prestigious Tom Landry Award of Excellence will honor a student athlete for outstanding achievements.

Dallas Cowboys great Randy White, a Super Bowl MVP and NFL Hall of Famer, will be the guest speaker.

The banquet, which will run approximately 6 to 8 p.m., returns to Mario’s for a second consecutive year. The venue has a seating capacity of more than 500 people. Tickets are on sale for $40 per person. For sponsorship opportunities, call Marcia Kitten at (956) 683-4463 or email [email protected]

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The 1967 postseason – 22 days of glory spanning a chilly December and January – were perhaps Bart Starr’s career’s signature. He led a Green Bay Packers team that set an unmatched record with three consecutive NFL titles in the sport’s modern era.

It included what some still believe to be the greatest game in the history of football, the “Ice Bowl” – the 1967 NFL Championship Game.

It will forever be Bart Starr’s hallmark game, where his the best of his brilliant qualities reflected off the “frozen tundra” into football lore.

The ’67 regular season for Starr was one of his worst, as an incredible list of injuries led him to throw 17 interceptions, nine in his first two games. A defense that held opponents under 100 yards passing per game carried Green Bay in the season’s first half.

Complete coverage:
– Packers legend Bart Starr dead at 85 years old
– Gallery: Bart Starr
– Gene Mueller’s blog: Bart Starr – A legend passes, another link to glory gone
– Bart Starr’s legacy, part 1: A chase for perfection
– Bart Starr’s legacy, part 2: Winning, not stats, defined Starr
– Bart Starr’s legacy, part 3: Competitive fire and comebacks
– Bart Starr’s legacy, part 4: 1967- Ice in his veins, fire in his heart
– Bart Starr’s legacy, part 5: Post-Lombardi – his coaching failure and a moment of forgiveness
– Bart Starr’s legacy, part 6: Kindness, presence, attitude, an impact of love

After getting healthy, he led the 9-4-1 Packers to a division title and the first postseason game in seven years where Green Bay was an underdog – a game on December 23 at Milwaukee County Stadium against the 11-2-1 Los Angeles Rams.

“Having lost to them, facing them in the playoff game was a great challenge to us,” Starr said. “I thought we had the exact pulse and exact primer to get into that game because of having been beaten by them.”

“We were really ready to play.”

Were they ever.

It was a textbook performance by the Packers on how to defeat a team’s strength. Starr called play after play that sent running backs romping behind Jerry Kramer and Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg, right through the heart of the Rams defense – Hall of Famers Deacon Jones and Merlin Olsen.

While second and third-string backs Chuck Mercein and Travis Williams surprised the Fearsome Foursome and rumbled for scores, Starr used the run to set up his own passing brilliance. He completed 74 percent of his passes for 222 yards and a touchdown to Carroll Dale that gave the Packers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. They eventually won, 28-7.

Eight days later, the Packers hosted the Dallas Cowboys in a rematch of the classic ’66 title game 364 days beforehand. Temperatures were expected to stay in the teens or the 20’s for a chilly, but not dangerously cold day.

The meteorologists were wrong. Very wrong.

“The alarm goes off, and the first thing I hear in a very sleepy state is, ‘It’s 13 below zero.’ I said, “It can’t be!’ ” uttered Mercein, a free agent Lombardi signed mid-season whom Starr trusted in some of the most critical moments of that day.

The cold proved to be the pretext for the ultimate climax for Vince Lombardi’s Packers, in a game that exposed the team’s, and Starr’s, greatest qualities.

As bright sunshine lifted the temperatures to -12 degrees, No. 15 dissected the Cowboys’ “Doomsday Defense,” one of the best units of the era. Two of this three first drives resulted in touchdown passes to Boyd Dowler: eight yards in the first quarter, 43 yards in the second quarter.

In just over 77 minutes of football against the Doomsday Defense that calendar year, Starr had thrown for 407 yards and six touchdowns without a turnover – the kind of productivity Aaron Rodgers would dream of.

Then, Doomsday reared its ugly head. For the next 38 minutes, they owned Starr and company.

In the following 10 Packers drives, Green Bay ran 31 plays, lost nine total yards and gained just two first downs.

Eight times, the Cowboys sacked Starr. They forced him into a second quarter fumble which became a scoop-and-score for the Cowboys’ George Andrie (who played college football at Marquette).

Dallas led 17-14 with 4:50 left in the game when the Packers got the ball on their 32 yard line. As cleats click-clacked on the grass-turned-marble terrain, and temperatures dropped even further in the sunset shadows of Lambeau Field, nightfall seemed to commence on the last days of the Green Bay Packers’ dynasty.

“As the offense moves onto the field, the defense came off. I remember Ray Nitschke imploring the offense, and the words he said were ‘Don’t let me down! Don’t let me down!’ ” Mercein told 620WTMJ in 2005.

“We had enough time. This was what we were trained to do. This was the culmination of all the hard work that we put in, all the preparation and all of Lombardi’s greatness as a coach.”

And Starr’s greatness as a quarterback.

Yet he had the struggles of a hard 1967 season on his mind. He also thought about the possibility that this would be their last shot at a championship, and their only shot at an unmatched third straight title – in the harshest winter conditions an NFL game has ever been contested in.

“We fought so hard, had been so diligent all year. ’67 was a tough year for us. We had a lot of injuries. Our record was not as good as the year before…all that feeds into your mind as you go ‘OK, this is it. This is showtime right here. It’s now or never.’ ” Starr told Jerry Kramer on his CD “Inside the Locker Room.”

“These were the Green Bay Packers of Vince Lombardi…it wasn’t over until it was over. You always felt that Bart Starr could march that team down the field,” then-620WTMJ Packers voice Ted Moore said in a 2005 interview.

The fire for victory in Bart Starr’s heart at that moment belied the icy confidence he portrayed. With Starr calling the plays, Lombardi couldn’t be the general putting the Packers to the proverbial whip. He had to trust Starr had to be the leader.

After nearly a decade of mentoring his lieutenant, the Patton-like Lombardi gave Starr that trust.

Starr shared that trust and confidence with 10 green-clad men who would make NFL history – not only with the triumph in itself, but the iconic way they did it.

It started with Starr’s quiet glances of strength in the huddle before the first play.

“I distinctly remember the look in the eyes of the guys as we gathered for that last drive,” said Jerry Kramer, who became most famous for a block he threw on the last play.

“There wasn’t really a lot of conversation. There wasn’t a lot of shouting ‘We’ve got to go!’ (Starr) just looked into (our) eyes, and everybody knew precisely where we were, what we had to do, and when we had to do it.”

The “when” was now, and Starr’s mind, communication ability and accuracy led him to perfection when his team needed it the most. So did his recall of the Cowboys’ defensive tendencies.

“Building up to that, we had also been making mental notes on the sidelines of things they had been doing against us, and so we came back and called the plays which we felt were primed for that time based on how they had adjusted and doing some things. That’s exactly how it worked out,” said Starr.

Those things they were doing: linebackers dropping back in pass coverage, giving openings for short throws to running backs and receivers.

“Bart, he had that cool confidence of preparation. He was ready to play, kept his head at all times, and executed. He took what (the Cowboys) gave us. That was basically the reason for the little short dump passes, because he didn’t have time to throw it downfield and get the quick touchdown. We got it in chunks,” said Dale, one of his wide receivers.

The first of five Starr completions in five attempts during the drive involved such a strategy. He used two fake handoffs and the patience to wait to see his intended receiver, running back Donny Anderson, open before delivering a seven-yard gain.

After Mercein ran for a first down, Starr stayed with the philosophy of short throws away from the linebackers on a first down completion to Dowler.

“Bart would read the middle linebacker and throw away from him. He would throw to Carroll or me, based on where the middle linebacker went,” said Dowler in 2005.

It worked for 13 yards and a first down.

The Packers running game failed the next play, with Anderson being thrown to the rock-hard turf for a nine-yard loss.

Yet Starr and his teammates never lost hope or confidence.

“You look at second and 18. In those conditions, in that situation, pretty tough, but there was no panic. This is four-down territory. We’re not going to punt the ball. We’re going to get the first down,” said Kramer.

They did, as Starr’s play-action fakes and trust in the sure-footed Anderson created two completions which produced the first down. The plays placed the football at the Dallas 30 yard line with time ticking toward the final minute.

Then, two of Starr’s best qualities came to the forefront on the most important non-scoring plays of the drive: trust in his teammates and his innate sense for the perfect time to call a play.

“One of the things we had was always conversation. You’d hear different guys coming back in the huddle,” said Packers offensive tackle and co-captain Bob Skoronski in 2005.

“Bart was able to store this up and call it when he (needed) it. He’d go to the guy if it was the situation and say, ‘Have you still got (the play)? Is it still there?’ (We’d say,) ‘Yes it is.’ We were always playing the odds with what we gave to him during the game with good-percentage plays.”

“The people that Bart listened to were smart people,” added Dowler.

“Bart would listen to them. Bart wasn’t going to do something unless you gave him a good reason. You didn’t say, ‘Throw me the ball, or throw me a square out.’ You had to tell him why. Then he’d listen to you, and he would do it. He had a real good feel of what we were capable of doing, and he had a real good feeling for what we would do against the defense. He was always prepared.”

With that kind of culture of trust in the huddle established, Mercein, who had played with Starr for less than two months, had the guts to suggest a play to the legendary signalcaller.

“I came back to the huddle and did something I never did. I never had the audacity to suggest a play to Bart Starr, but this time I did. I said to him, ‘Listen. If you need me, I’m open in the left flat,’ ” said Mercein.

“That right linebacker, he’s taking a deep drop, a straight drop. I knew that any kind of a flare, circle pattern, I could get outside of this guy.”

Starr’s feel for his team’s capability, and what the Cowboys would keep doing on defense, made him realize that Mercein was right.

About 30 seconds after Mercein spoke up, Starr threw a rock-hard football his way, in the left flat. Mercein leaped to catch it, kept his footing on the ice and rumbled 19 yards to bring the Packers 11 yards away from football immortality.

Starr wouldn’t throw another pass all day, but two sets of decisions he made created an outcome that would define a football era.

With the clock now under a minute, he drew back in his memory from a series of film sessions that week.

The Packers discovered a tendency in Cowboys all-world defensive tackle Bob Lilly, one of the quickest defensive linemen in the game at the time, and possibly ever.

They found on game film that whenever he noticed a Packers guard pulling during a play, he would move in the same direction, reading the guard as a key for an outside run.

Starr, described in the original NFL Films recounting of the Ice Bowl as “a master of deception,” then called a play, 54 Give, which would turn Lilly’s quickness into an advantage for the Packers.

“What we developed before the game was a play where we pull the guard, but we’re not going to block (Bob) Lilly. We’re going to let him chase that guard. He chased him at an angle that was just very difficult for a guard to cut off. We just give the ball to the back,” said Starr.

Starr’s theory was that Lilly, reading the guard, would move away from an open hole at the scrimmage line, leaving it wide open for a running back to run through. However, he had to have a conversation with Skoronski about a key block – the kind of huddle conversation the Packers captain mentioned.

Starr described a critical, hard-to-make block he needed Skoronski to make on the Cowboys defensive end. That player could theoretically stop the running back in his tracks – if Lilly didn’t stay home to do the same.

“The defensive end is back, and head up, almost so he can cover for Lilly inside…very difficult (for Skoronski to block in the icy conditions). That’s why I asked Bob before we called the play, ‘Can you cut off Andrie?’ When Bob said, ‘Yes I can,’ no hesitation. We called the play.”

Starr’s hunch paid off. It was the perfect time to call the play, the only time the Packers could get away with it.

Without hesitation, Lilly ran to his left to follow his “key,” the pulling guard. Skoronski took care of Andrie.

Mercein skated through a huge hole to advance the ball to the three yard line.

Starr’s preparation, ability to read a defense, to trust his teammates and playcalling intuition had his team nine feet from paydirt.

One play later, Anderson made it three feet from paydirt – a first down on a frozen-solid one yard line with 30 seconds left.

The Packers had a much bigger problem traversing the last yard than they did the first 67 of the drive. On first down, Anderson failed to break the wall of Doomsday, and the Packers had to call their second time out.

“This has got to be sheer tension,” said Ted Moore on the 620WTMJ broadcast of the game.

For Mercein, the next handoff to Anderson could have produced a coronary.

“My heart almost stopped, because out of the corner of my eye I saw that Donny (Anderson) had slipped on takeoff. Bart had to hand him the ball at the height of a coffee table off the ground. We almost had a turnover.”

Credit Starr’s sure handoff in a difficult situation for saving the game, but with third down and their final time out called, the Packers had the most pressure-packed decisions of the Lombardi dynasty to make in the next two minutes.

Do you go for a field goal and the safety of an opportunity in overtime?

Do you go for a pass play into the end zone which, if incomplete, allows for a 4th down opportunity?

Or do you roll the dice and run the ball?

“As Bart came over to the sideline to talk to Vince Lombardi, we didn’t know whether they were going to have a field goal attempt or try to go in and win the football game,” said Moore, watching the climax to the Green Bay reign of professional football unfold through a few inches of unfrozen window space in the press box.

The next two minutes provided the greatest evidence of Starr’s courage, intelligence, creativity, trust and cool…along with a record-setting championship.

The first move was Lombardi’s. Run the ball. Darn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead. Trust in Starr and his offensive teammates.

The play call was Starr’s to make, and he chose 31 wedge, one based off trust in his team’s execution and an idea which spawned in a Thursday film session, based on a 6’6″ hunch by Kramer.

His day-long assignment was to block 6′ 6″ defensive tackle Jethro Pugh.

“I had suggested that Jethro Pugh was a lot higher (in his three-point stance) than Bob Lilly, and if we needed a wedge play (for the fullback to run behind a double-team block), we could wedge Pugh,” said Kramer.

“Coach Lombardi goes, ‘WHAT?!’ I jumped, of course. I said, ‘Um, um, um, um, I think we can wedge Pugh if we have to wedge somebody.’ (Lombardi yelled,) ‘Run that back!’ So he ran the projector back about three times. (He said,) ‘That’s right. Put in the wedge on Pugh.’ You don’t think on Thursday that they’re going to call your play with 16 seconds to go, behind, the whole thing!”

Starr believed in the play, in Kramer and in the rest of his teammates, but his cool head in the ultimate pressure situation processed more key information which convinced Lombardi to trust in his quarterback.

“I ran to the sidelines and I said, ‘Coach, there’s nothing wrong with the play. The (running) backs are having a difficult time starting. The ground is so hard down there. They can’t get to the line of scrimmage. They can’t get their footing for one more wedge play. I’m upright. I can shuffle my feet and lunge in,’ ” said Starr.

“Typical of (Lombardi) in this brutal time, he said, ‘Run it, and let’s get the hell out of here.’ ”

“When Bart turned and went out on the field, he was the holder for Don Chandler. Chandler stayed put on the sideline and we knew, we’ve got to do it now,” said Moore.

On the sidelines, cornerback Bob Jeter had no knowledge of the play Starr would run. He only knew that whatever the QB came up with would work.

“I didn’t have any doubt. I knew in some way, he was going to get us in there for that score,” said Jeter in 2005.

“When 15 was in there, you never know what he’s going to do.”

Reportedly, the other 10 members of the Packers offense didn’t know either.

Stories conflict as to whether Starr told his teammates whether he would keep the ball or not.

According to Kramer’s words to the Milwaukee Sentinel after the game, “(Starr) said ‘We are going to run a 31 wedge with the same blocking as always, except that I won’t hand off to either the halfback or the fullback.”

According to Mercein, “The next call’s going to be my call. It’s going to be the wedge, because we put it in for that particular team. I expected to hear ‘Brown right, 31 wedge,’ and sure enough, when Bart came back in the huddle, ‘Brown right, 31 wedge on two.’ I thought to myself, man alive, I’m going to get this touchdown.”

If Mercein’s story is true, only the man wearing No. 15 would know the complete plan for the next 15 seconds, with 16 seconds on the clock.

All of Starr’s knowledge, skill, confidence, trust and leadership then made its mark, in a few simple shuffles of his feet – thanks to a double-team block that began with Kramer’s furious forward charge.

“Bart called the play. I knew what I had to do,” said Kramer, who focused on a simple fundamental block at the most fundamentally important time.

“It’s a foregone conclusion what is going to happen. If I’m underneath Jethro and I’ve got my head up, my back straight, I am gonna move Jethro.”

“Here are the Packers, 3rd down, inches to go to paydirt. 17-14 the Cowboys out in front. Packers trying for the go-ahead score. Starr begins the count, takes the snap…” – Moore’s call on 620WTMJ

NFL Films video from above the south end zone stands shows Kramer moving exactly one frame before center Ken Bowman snapped the ball. He committed a false start by exactly .03 seconds, easily imperceptable to the human eye.

“Jethro did exactly what he had been doing the weeks previous. He came up, and at that point, the rest of it is history.”

After Bowman snapped the ball, he took advantage of Kramer’s incredible jump into Pugh’s chest, and sent Pugh’s upper body forward deep into the south end zone.

Starr simultaneously took the ball and simply stepped forward, cradling the ball with his arms and stomach to make sure a fumble couldn’t happen.

“I got some good footing,” said a temporarily flabbergasted Mercein. “I took off. I got a good takeoff, and lo and behind, Bart was not turning around to hand me the ball, and he had not told me that it was a keeper.”

Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley sprinted up the goal line and tried to puncture the ball from Starr’s right arm and stomach. Starr held strong in the sub-zero conditions, carried the football like the greatest treasure in his football life, and dove about three yards into the end zone to history.

“…he’s got the quarterback sneak and he’s in for the touchdown and the Packers are out in front, 20-17! There’s 13 seconds showing on the clock and the Green Bay Packers are going to be world champions, NFL champions for the third straight year!” – Moore’s call

In the initial seconds after Starr held Don Chandler’s extra point, NFL Films shows that perhaps he finally let go of the ultimate control and discipline that was so much the hallmark of his career. Apparently, he shed tears as he walked back to the sidelines to embrace his ultimate mentor and the 39 brothers he called his teammates.

His tears of struggle and joy were never counted by the statisticians.

The stat guys counted his 14 completions in 24 attempts, his 191 passing yards and the three touchdowns he produced with his arm and legs.

They couldn’t count his discipline, his preparation, his creative mind, his command in the huddle, his trust in his teammates, his fire for victory.

“This was the toughest and biggest game I’ve ever played in,” said Starr to the Milwaukee Sentinel.

It was not just Bart Starr’s last big game at Lambeau Field.

It was his finest.