Sham: Holmgren, Shanahan Possible Successors If Cowboys Fire Phillips
By JOE BUIE
Dallas Cowboys play-by-play announcer Brad Sham, speaking at the Texas Rose Festival Men's Luncheon on Friday, pulled no punches on the subject of wide receiver Terrell Owens and the player expected to fill T.O.'s shoes -- Roy Williams.
Sham also spoke candidly about who might replace head coach Wade Phillips -- if a change is made; and what it will take to get the Cowboys' offense back on track.
Responding to a question at the Tyler Rose Garden Center about whether former Cowboys star receiver Owens is a "cancer" to a football team, Sham said the current Buffalo Bills player was not a good teammate in Dallas.
"I don't think his self-esteem is great," Sham said. "I think he's got a big problem with authority. I think that his constant need to be the center of attention comes from not believing that he's really worth it. I don't think he's a bad person ΓΆΒ?Β» I think he's a very talented athlete. I think they're a better football team without him."
Some fans would argue that last point through four games and a 2-2 record, given the Cowboys' struggles in the passing game with the likes of Williams, Patrick Crayton and Sam Hurd.
Sham called Williams, a former star wideout with the Detroit Lions, a "good" player who isn't a great practice player.
Sham said Williams bears some responsibility on the play in which he was injured late against the Denver Broncos last Sunday. However, he added that illegal contact should have been called on the defense after Williams was "knocked off his route 15 yards from the line of scrimmage."
But according to Cowboys color analyst Babe Laufenberg, whom Sham calls a smart offensive mind, Williams made the wrong adjustment on his pattern and was in the wrong place when the ball was thrown.
On the subject of Phillips' job security, Sham believes Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan top the list of possible successors.
"I believe that (Jones or Jones' people) talked to Shanahan a little bit after he got fired in Denver," Sham said. "I'm pretty sure Shanahan would love to have the job. I know for a fact that Jerry and Holmgren have a very good relationship. They were on the competition committee together and have a mutual respect."
With so many big-name NFL head coaches sitting out this year after either stepping down or getting fired, Sham said he wasn't surprised that Phillips was not let go after last season's disappointing finish.
A growing problem Sham sees with the Cowboys actually has nothing to do with the players, coaches or owner. He is concerned about the attitudes of some fans and also people in his own profession -- the media.
"I understand how important football is," Sham said. "I love it as much as anybody else. What bothers me is what I hear when I turn on the radio, to some degree when I turn on television (and) absolutely when you go online. I think it's harder to be in the public eye than it's ever been, whether it's politics, entertainment or sports."
With the recent popularity of blogs, Twitter and You Tube, fans need to be flagged for being out of bounds, according to Sham.
"I'm a fan. In our business it helps to be a fan," said Sham, in his 30th season calling Cowboys games on the radio. "I want the Cowboys to win, it makes my job easier. Most of them are friends of mine. I get enjoyment out of being a fan."
Sham said he's not ultimately in this business for winning -- something the 60-year-old Chicago native learned from being a fan of the Chicago Cubs, who have not appeared in a World Series since 1945.
"I wonder sometimes what some of us are in it for when I listen to the things that are said about players and coaches when it becomes personal," Sham said. "I think we need some perspective."
For quarterback Tony Romo and the wide receivers to start clicking again, Sham said all three running backs need to be involved along with second-year tight end Martellus Bennett, who performed well in training camp.
Sham said the Cowboys may be too dependent on Felix Jones, the second-year running back from Arkansas.
"He's a guy who changes a game. He changes the way the defense plays, he changes the things you have to account for," Sham said. "If Felix is out, and you have (a banged-up) (Marion) Barber ΓΆΒ?Β» those receivers are not the kind of guys who are going to carry that offense with Tashard Choice and Jason Witten."
Finally, Sham called new Cowboys Stadium the best in the world -- a title it should keep for a while.
"It will be quite a while before anybody catches up ΓΆΒ?Β» but bring money," he said.