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KYDC ’92: What Tecmo Super Bowl Got So Wrong

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

Alexander Wright was S L O W in Tecmo Super Bowl but a bit faster in real life. “RS” stands for “running speed,” while “MS” stands for “maximum speed.”

The Dallas defense of the early 1990s was built on speed, but the offense really wasn’t. As great as they were, neither Michael Irvin nor Emmitt Smith were about to win the NFL’s fastest man competition.

But did you know that the Cowboys had the NFL’s fastest man? Yep, on June 7, 1992, the Dallas papers reported that Dallas receiver Alexander Wright had defeated Phoenix wide receiver Randal Hill in a 60-yard dash to win the title as the fastest man in the league. Wright’s time was 6.14. He had previously defeated Dwight Stone of the Steelers and James Williams of the Bills.

The top seed in the competition was former Olympian Willie Gault of the Raiders, but he had been upset by Stone in the semifinals.

Wright was a second-round pick in 1990 out of Auburn. During his first two seasons, he caught 21 passes but had not yet caught a touchdown. His longest reception up to that point was a 53-yard catch against Cincinnati in 1991.

He also made the cut as the third receiver for the Cowboys in Tecmo Super Bowl, which used the team’s 1990 roster. The digital version of Wright was not good. In fact, only one player on the entire roster was slower than Wright, and that was guard Kevin Gogan. The digital player who were faster than Wright? Among others, center Mark Stepnoski, guard Crawford Ker, guard John Gesek, and defensive end Daniel Stubbs.

A player equally as fast as Wright? Try Nate Newton.

***
(This should go without saying, but I am kidding about Tecmo Super Bowl’s ratings, which are not supposed to simulate anything. But while we’re on the subject, Stone had a running speed rating of 31, which was slower than running back Merril Hoge, who was never known for speed in real life. Meanwhile, Gault had a running speed rating of 44 and a maximum speed rating of 63. Those are respectable but could not compare with Bo Jackson’s god-like abilities, and both were on the same team!)

***

Winning the competition proved to be the highlight of Wright’s 1992 season in Dallas. In three games in 1992, he failed to make a catch, and the Cowboys traded him to the Raiders for a conditional pick in the 1993 draft.

Wright wound up as a starter with the Raiders but never caught more than 27 passes in a single season. He might have been best known for one of Chris Berman’s longest nicknames—Alexander “If Loving You Is Wrong, I Don’t Want to Be” Wright.

Dallas used the pick from the Raiders to take guard Ron Stone, who would probably be just as fast in Tecmo Super Bowl terms.

KYDC ’92: Rookie Chad Hennings Has His First Practice

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

The 1988 draft—the last one conducted while Tom Landry was head coach and Tex Schramm was general manager and president—proved to be significant thanks to the selection of Michael Irvin in the first round and linebacker Ken Norton in the second.

Most of the other picks did not amount to much, but the eleventh round selection of Chad Hennings proved to be helpful.

Hennings played for Air Force and won the Outland Trophy as the best interior lineman in colleget football. But he was committed to four years of service. Dallas drafted him in the eleventh round of the 1988 draft knowing he would not be available for several years.

By 1992, Hennings was a 26-year-old rookie. He was actually allowed to play several years ahead of schedule because the armed services had made cutbacks.

He had his first practice on June 2, 1992, and he had been switched from defensive tackle to defensive end. His comment:

I had a little nervousness about today, but it’s great to be here. This is something I’ve waited four years to do. I can kind of understand all the attention today, and I know there are people making comparisons to Roger Staubach. But it’s a different person, a different time period.

I’ve got to prove myself is what it boils down to. I’ve got a long way to go.

Hennings only played in eight games in 1992 and continued to play sparingly during the early 1990s. He became a regular starter in 1996 and continued to play through the 2000 season, but he had injury problems that forced him to retire.

***

Former New York Giants head coach Bill Parcells had open heart surgery on June 2. It was his third heart surgery in a six-month period.

Of course, Parcells would recover and became the Cowboys’ head coach eleven years later.

KYDC ’92: Jerry and Stephen Jones Take on More Personnel Responsibilities

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

Jerry Jones, right, added to his personnel responsibilities in 1992 after firing Bob Ackles and making other moves in the scouting department.

Ever wonder why Stephen Jones is so involved with player contracts?

Well, I didn’t, but I know now.

After the Cowboys fired Bob Ackles, the person who assumed the main responsibility for handling player contracts was Jerry Jones’s son. At the time, Stephen was 27 years old.

Of course, Jerry had the final say in all contract matters, so perhaps it just made sense that his son would handle the contracts. Apparently, Ackles had basically been a “mouthpiece” for Jerry.

According to Stephen:

The only major change is who will be doing the speaking for (Jerry)

At the time of this news, Dallas still had twelve veterans who were unsigned. These players included Michael Irvin, Bill Bates, Ray Horton, Jim Jeffcoat, Ken Norton, Jay Novacek, Mark Stepnoski, Tony Tolbert and James Washington. In other words, some big names.

Fortunately, the league was a year away from full-blow free agency, so the Cowboys were not in immediate danger of losing any of these stars.

So the shakeup in scouting and personnel was a big deal 25 years ago today, but it’s hard to tell whether it really mattered. Jimmy Johnson and his assistants were heavily involved in the scouting process, and Jerry had the final word on contracts anyway.

How Jerry and Stephen handled the salary cap a few years later became a big concern, and the team’s scouting after Johnson’s departure was usually poor.

Know Your 1992 Dallas Cowboys: So Long, Bob Ackles

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

 

Bob Ackles held the Canadian Football League’s Grey Cup in 1985. He did not stay in Dallas long enough to hold the Lombardi Trophy.

News about the Cowboys twenty-five years ago focused heavily on scouting.

First, the Cowboys went after Larry Lacewell to become the head of player personnel.

Six hours after Lacewell officially joined the Cowboys, Jerry Jones fired director of player personnel Bob Ackles.

Ackles joined the Cowboys in 1986, so he was there during the worst of times. He was director player personnel when the franchise’s hopes rested on players such as Hershel Walker, Steve Pelleur, Danny Noonan, and so forth.

But he was also there when the Cowboys drafted the core of what became the dynasty of the 1990s. Ackles was partially responsible for contract negotiations, scouting, and talent acquisition.

Of course, almost nobody remembers him for playing a role in building the core of the team that would win the Super Bowl in eight months.

Ackles later became a member of the Canadian Hall of Fame in honor of his contributions to the BC Lions of the Canadian Football League. After his firing by Jones, Ackles returned to the Lions and remained here until his death in 2008.

 

Know Your 1992 Dallas Cowboys: Team Recruits Scout Larry Lacewell

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

Twenty-five years ago, the Cowboys were talking to Larry Lacewell, defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee, to become director of scouting.

On May 19, 1992…

The Dallas Cowboys were building a dynasty during the early 1990s, so scouting was critical. Jimmy Johnson received much credit for spotting talent, but others were obviously very involved.

Anyone remember who was the director of scouting in the early 1990s?

Several would probably say Larry Lacewell, who served from 1992 to 2004. In fact, on May 19, 1992, reports surfaced that the team was recruiting Lacewell, who had been the head coach at Arkansas State and who was serving as defensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee. He had worked with Johnson at Oklahoma State.

Before Lacewell was Dick Mansperger, who had been with the Cowboys from 1972 to 1976, then with the Seahawks from 1976 to 1983, then again with the Cowboys. The reason Mansperger left was “uncertainty of the future of the NFL draft and the pros’ relations with the colleges.”

Lacewell remained with the Cowboys through thick and thin during the rest of the 1990s and early 2000s. He retired after the 2003 season, when Dallas made the playoffs after recording a 10-6 record.

Beuerlein and others file an antitrust lawsuit

The Cowboys may not have made the playoffs in 1991 if it weren’t for quarterback Steve Beuerlein.

He made news in other ways during the offseason in 1992. He sued the league for antitrust violations. Others involved in the suit were Marcus Allen and Freeman McNeil.

Beuerlein’s beef was with the Los Angeles Raiders, not the Cowboys. Raiders owner Al Davis had prevented Beuerlein from leaving the team before finally trading the quarterback to Dallas for a fourth-round pick in August 1991.

Beuerlein’s comment:

I never said anything at the time because it just would have made my situation worse. But I didn’t want to just sit back and let that team and its owner (Al Davis) walk away free after treating a player like that. It wasn’t fair and this is my attempt to take a stand against it.

Full free agency began in 1993, and Beuerlein left the Cowboys to join the Cardinals in April 1993.

In other news…

Michael Jordan won his third NBA Most Valuable Player award after leading the Chicago Bulls to a 67-15 record.

Know Your 1992 Dallas Cowboys: Former Backup Babe Laufenberg Joins World League

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

By 1992, most fans had forgotten all about Babe Laufenberg.

Not much news about the Cowboys on May 12, 1992, so today’s post is about a former backup.

The Cowboys might have made the playoffs in 1990 if Troy Aikman had remained healthy during the last two games against the Eagles and Falcons. The team might have had a chance if Dallas had kept a quality backup.

Instead, Dallas traded Steve Walsh, leaving Babe Laufenberg as the backup. He completed on 23 of 60 passes with six interceptions and one touchdown during losses to both Philadelphia and Atlanta.

Twenty-five years ago today, the Los Angeles Times ran a story about Laufenberg, who was the backup quarterback on the Ohio Glory of the World League. Thus, he was the backup for the worst football team in the worst professional football league.

The story:

It’s Year 9 in the professional football career of Babe Laufenberg and he is in a familiar position: sitting.

He has been remarkably consistent over the years, sitting for the Washington Redskins, San Diego Chargers, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys, watching as some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks marched those teams up and down football fields, such passers as Joe Theismann, Doug Williams, Mark Rypien and Troy Aikman.

In eight NFL seasons, Laufenberg played in 16 games.

But now he sits for the woeful Ohio Glory of the World League, an expansion team in a league that commands about as much attention as rudeness in New York.

He sits in such places as Barcelona and Montreal and San Antonio. Most recently, he sat in Columbus, Ohio, watching Pat O’Hara, who was a backup quarterback at USC, lead the Glory to their first victory of the season after six dismal losses, a 20-17 thriller over the Frankfurt Galaxy.

Laufenberg, 32, is the backup quarterback for the worst football team in the worst pro football league on the planet.

And this World League, is it, oh, different from the NFL?

“Well,” Laufenberg said, “let me say this: The football is still oblong.”

Things weren’t supposed to happen this way for the talented, 6-foot-3, 218-pound Laufenberg when he left Crespi High in Encino in 1978.

He accepted a scholarship to Stanford but immediately encountered a problem: a better quarterback on his team. It was the start of a trend.

At Stanford, the other guy was John Elway.

So, after sitting in Palo Alto for a year, Laufenberg transferred to Pierce College and played at the Woodland Hills school for a season. Then he transferred to Indiana, and in two seasons as the starter he set school records for yards passing in a season and completions in a career, 361; season, 217, and game, 34.

It was a brief, stand-up stint in Laufenberg’s career. He was about to sit again.

He was drafted by the Redskins on the sixth round in 1983. In two years, he had no game action. Not a single snap. His second season, he was on injured reserve for the entire season.

The Redskins released Laufenberg in 1985. That, too, was the start of a trend.

The Chargers signed him in 1985 and cut him the same year.

The Redskins signed him again, after Theismann’s leg was broken before a stunned national audience in a Monday night game late in 1985.

Laufenberg was vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, at the time, and watched in a bar as Theismann went down with the injury. He suspected he might get a call from the Redskins. His brother, John, took the call in Los Angeles and eventually got word to Laufenberg.

A quick flight to Los Angeles, where he was met by John, who handed him a clean bag of clothes; another flight to Philadelphia and a late-night drive to Washington brought Laufenberg back into the NFL.

All that effort resulted in another season on the bench. Not a single snap.

In the next five years, Laufenberg went to New Orleans, to Kansas City, back to the Redskins for one game, to San Diego and to Dallas. His best chance at getting to a standing position over time was offered by the Chargers, for whom he started the first six games of the 1988 season. Then, he suffered three broken ribs and never played for San Diego again.

He closed out his NFL career and, he figured, his football career, as the Cowboys’ backup. They released him before the 1991 season, and he found a job that was perfect for his NFL experience, sitting and talking, as the broadcaster for the Cowboys’ flagship radio station in Dallas, KVIL, and as a host of a syndicated TV show for the Cowboys.

“Football was over,” Laufenberg said. “I had my chances. Things didn’t work out real well for me in the NFL, but I never complained. Most guys never get a chance to be on an NFL team for a single game. I hung around for eight years. In San Diego, I had my real chance and I did well. And then I broke some ribs, and when I healed I didn’t have a job. The transition to radio and TV made it easy. I missed football. But not too much.”

More, however, than he knew.

When the new Ohio franchise made Laufenberg the No. 2 overall draft pick during the winter, he packed his bags, kissed his wife, Joan, goodby and headed for Glory. He will earn about $25,000 for the season.

That’s something else different from the NFL.

“At a quick glance, the paycheck looks the same,” Laufenberg said. “But when you look closer you see that there’s a decimal point where the comma used to be. It looks like a huge check, if you use your imagination. Banks, however, don’t have much of an imagination when you go to cash the check.”

At first, Laufenberg said, he was thrilled that his wife had given her blessings to his new endeavor.

“After a few weeks with this team, I realized that she must have been mad at me,” Laufenberg said. “She obviously had checked it out and knew something that I didn’t.”

Know Your 1992 Dallas Cowboys: How Did History Remember the ’92 Draft?

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

Dallas had two picks in the first round of the 1992 draft.

Not much news about the Cowboys on May 10, 1992.

Here’s a question posed by Fort Worth Star Telegram writer Mike Fisher:

Will history remember the Dallas Cowboys’ 1992 draft list as being anything more than really, really long?

If so – if the Cowboys’ 15-man menagerie of Carson-Newman newcomers and Livingstone College candidates and Pomona-Pitzer prospects – it could be instructive for other National Football League teams. Because the Cowboys will have demonstrated that when it comes to drafting, it matters not only what you know, but who you know.

Answer: Not bad.

The Carson-Newman draft pick was Clayton Holmes, who lasted four seasons through 1995. The Pomona-Pitzer pick was a defensive back named Nate Kirtman, who never played a down in the NFL. Livingstone College’s John Terry, a guard, also never played a down in the league.

Dallas had four picks in the first round, and those four picks produced cornerback Kevin Smith, linebacker Robert Jones, receiver Jimmy Smith, and safety Darren Woodson. That’s three starters, and Woodson became a legend.

Smith also became a legend, only it was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

***

One of Fisher’s predictions:

A prediction: Dallas’ use of the no-huddle offense will, by September, have blossomed into something more than an experiment. . . .

A don’t recall the Cowboys using the no-huddle offense much at all in 1992.

***

Other news from the NFC East: Randall Cunningham looked healthy after missing most of the 1991 season with an injury. He was the league MVP in 1990, but Philadelphia fell to 10-6 and missed the playoffs in 1991.

Know Your 1992 Dallas Cowboys: Diet Plans of the Dallas Coaching Staff

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

Head coach Jimmy Johnson weighed less than 200 pounds during May 1992 after losing 22.1 pounds in two months.

On or about May 9, 1992…

The Dallas coaching staff decided to focus on their waistlines during the 1992 offseason.

The tally of how much weight each coach lost—

Defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt: 22.4 pounds

Defensive line coach Butch Davis: 22.1 pounds

Head coach Jimmy Johnson: 22.1 pounds

Offensive line coach Tony Wise: 20.8 pounds

Offensive coordinator Norv Turner: 16 pounds.

***

Much of the focus about the Dallas Cowboys 25 years ago centered on the schedule that had just been released.

The team would open the 1992 season against the World Champion Redskins, and the rest of the schedule did not get much easier. The Cowboys would travel to New York for game #2, and Dallas opponents in 1992 had a winning percentage of .570 in 1991.

Here’s how Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News saw the remaining 14 games:

* Sept. 20 — Phoenix at Texas Stadium. Easiest game on the schedule. The Cardinals are at least a year away. They’re always at least a year away.

* Sept. 27 — Bye week. Almost as easy as the Cardinals. Unless the Cowboys suffer some early casualties, a bye several weeks later in the season would be more useful.

* Oct. 5 (Monday) — At Philadelphia. The Cowboys will have two weeks and a day to get ready for this big Monday night game. Against the Eagles, they often need it, although they scored their key victory of 1991 at the Vet last year.

Monday night crowds in Philadelphia tend to be, uh, well-oiled, so the Cowboys can’t afford a slow start in this one.

* Oct. 11 — Seattle at Texas Stadium. A game fans will chalk up as an easy victory but Johnson won’t be able to. Again, Dallas will be working on a short week after returning early Tuesday morning from Philadelphia. The Cowboys haven’t played the Seahawks since 1986, so they are a real unknown quantity for Johnson’s staff.

* Oct. 18 — Kansas City at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys are more familiar with the Chiefs, having played them in 1989 and in pre-season last year. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the Chiefs are a better team than the Seahawks. Dallas generally has had more problems against pass-oriented teams that spread the field. But assuming Dave Krieg has grown comfortable with the Chiefs’ system by mid-October, this should be a difficult home game.

* Oct. 25 — At Los Angeles Raiders. By this time, the Raiders should know whether Todd Marinovich is their quarterback of the present. The Coliseum is never an easy place to play.

* Nov. 1 — Philadelphia at Texas Stadium. The Eagles come to town following the easiest game on their schedule (Phoenix at home). Is Randall Cunningham still healthy? That will be the key question.

* Nov. 8 — At Detroit. The scene of the crime. Combined 72-16 score in two losses there last year. Maybe the Lions’ addition of a tight end will change the Cowboys’ luck. Anything’s better than covering four wide receivers and Barry Sanders.

* Nov. 15 — Los Angeles Rams at Texas Stadium. On paper, it has the appearance of a blowout. Are the Rams on their way back at this point after a 3-13 disaster? Not unless their defense performs miracles.

* Nov. 22 — At Phoenix. Dallas has lost games that it should have won at Sun Devil Stadium, but catching the Cards at home late in the season should be a break. By then, Phoenix will be long gone from the NFC East race.

* Nov. 26 — New York Giants at Texas Stadium. As good as the Giants can be, at least they’re one of the easier clubs to prepare for on short notice. The Cowboys know what they like to do.

* Dec. 6 — At Denver. How does Norv Turner’s offense function in snow flurries? Will Chad Hennings’ Air Force experience give him an edge with the altitude? Tough game by any definition. The Broncos have a great home record.

* Dec. 13 — At Washington. An open press box in December; this game may be tougher on the writers than the players. At least Washington will be coming off a likely physical battle with the Giants.

* Dec. 21 (Monday) — At Atlanta. Final Monday night appearance for the Cowboys. In the Georgia Dome, the Falcons’ speed at receiver — Michael Haynes, Andre Rison, Drew Hill and Mike Pritchard — should be an awesome weapon.

* Dec. 27 — Chicago at Texas Stadium. Is the Cowboys’ playoff fate sealed by now, or does this become the biggest game of the season? How Dallas handles its final short week of 1992 could determine whether the Cowboys keep playing right on into 1993.

***

Kicker Ken Willis nearly lost the 1991 playoff game at Chicago by missing two field goals. The Cowboys brought in two kickers to compete for the job—former Giant Brad Duluiso and free agent Lin Elliott.

Said Jimmy Johnson, “Daluiso I think is going to be a fine kicker. When you look at Brad, he just hasn’t kicked a lot in past years. So he just needs the coaching. I think we’ll be stronger in field goals than in the past, and it will be nice to know occasionally we can kick off into the end zone and get a touchback.

“I think Lin Elliott, too, looked good during mini-camp. I don’t see bringing another kicker in. Unless something unforeseen happens, it will be a battle between those two.”

***

Know Your 1992 Dallas Cowboys (May 6): Ken Norton Irks Jimmy Johnson

A quarter century ago today…Ken Norton made Jimmy Johnson angry.

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

On May 6, 1992…

The Dallas Cowboys were in the middle of their “quarterback school,” which was supposed to involve all players. However, 12 of the Cowboys remained unsigned and refused to participate in the quarterback school. One of those players was linebacker Ken Norton.

One year earlier, veterans Jack Del Rio, Alonzo Highsmith, Daniel Stubbs, and Dean Hamel held out of the school, but none of those players were still on the team as of May 6.

Head coach Jimmy Johnson said, “”He’s not even attending the meetings. I really don’t think it’s very sound judgment by his agent. His agent’s costing him money.”

Norton claimed that he had an infection in his hand. Johnson wasn’t buying it.

***

The Cowboys took 15 players in the 1992 draft, including two first-round picks—cornerback Kevin Smith of Texas A&M and linebacker Robert Jones of East Carolina. Jones was fighting for a starting spot, and Johnson even suggested that Jones, Dixon Edwards, Godfrey Myles, or Reggie Cooper could unseat Norton as the starting outside linebacker.

***

A player who was turning heads was a free agent center named Frank Cornish, whom the Cowboys had signed from San Diego.

Johnson commented, “He’s a 295-pounder who moves extremely well and can play either center or guard. And, of course, he has started in this league at center.”

Did you know?

In addition to Smith and Jones, two other first-round picks in 1992 eventually played for the Cowboys.

The second overall pick, Quentin Coryatt (Indianapolis), played in four games for Dallas in 1999. He recorded a total of one tackle.

Defensive end Alonzo Spellman, the 22nd overall pick by Chicago, played with the Cowboys in 1999 and 2000.

Other Memories…

You can watch highlights of the December 29, 1991 playoff game between the Cowboys and Bears on YouTube.

Del Rio was a starter on the 1991 playoff team and was one of four players in the 1991 game who would eventually become a head coach in the NFL.

The others? Jim Harbaugh, Mike Singletary, and Ron Rivera.

Several other players in that game have also been assistant coaches, and Ray Horton may eventually became a head coach.

Anyway, my most lasting memory of the Chicago game?

Would SOMEONE PLEASE COVER TOM WADDLE?!?!?!

What did I not remember about the Chicago game?

That kicker Ken Willis looked terrible, missing two field goals that could have cost Dallas the game. No wonder the Cowboys had a new kicker in 1992.

Know Your 1992 Dallas Cowboys: A New Series

Hard to believe, but this year marks the 25th anniversary of the Dallas Cowboys’ Super Bowl season in 1992. The 2016 season was exciting, and 2017 season looks promising, but this blog is really about the history of the Cowboys.

So this post starts a new series– remembering the 1992 Cowboys. (It certainly helps that highlights of every game from the 1992 season are available on YouTube.)

We’ll begin with the news from the week of May 4, 1992:

May 4, 1992

  • Owner and General Manager Jerry Jones was appointed to the NFL’s competition committee. According to Dallas Morning News columnist Randy Galloway, “In the NFL, that’s the same as saying, “You’re in . . . you’ve arrived.’ And most of all, “you’re respected by your peers.'”
  • (Also on May 4, 1992 – North Korea agreed to provide a list of its nuclear sites. Some things don’t change…)

May 5, 1992

  • The Cowboys announced that Air Force fighter pilot Chad Hennings would join the team later in the month. Dallas had selected Hennings with a 11th-round pick in 1988, but he had to serve four years in the Air Force. (Fort Worth Star Telegram)
  • It appeared the Cowboys would have a rough December schedule according to the new NFL schedule. Dallas would have to travel to Denver, Washington, and Atlanta in the final month of the year. (FWST)
  • The Cowboys would open the season with the Washington Redskins, marking the fifth time since 1980 that the teams would play during week 1. The Cowboys were scheduled to play three Monday Night Football games, the most since 1987. (DMN)