July 16, 1997 in Sports

Two Cowboys Stars Leave Game

From Wire Reports

Charles Haley was the best pass rusher in Dallas Cowboys history. Tight end Jay Novacek was the best third-down receiver. Both retired Tuesday because of similar back injuries with eight Super Bowl rings between them.

“This is a sad day for our organization,” said owner Jerry Jones. “Like I said, we couldn’t spell Super Bowl until Charles joined us. He was our missing link. Jay had that magic ability to get open, and it was so routine, we almost took it for granted.”

Haley, 33, had 97.5 career sacks in his 11-year career and retired as the only NFL player to own five Super Bowl rings.

“I played with all my heart through my pain because I loved the game,” said Haley, who had three operations in the last four years. “I wanted to retire as a Cowboy because of the respect I have for Jerry Jones.”

Novacek, who came to Dallas in 1990 as a Plan B free agent, showed up in a T-shirt, ball cap, shorts and tennis shoes.

“Unfortunately, I have to talk to the media another day,” Novacek said. “It’s been a heck of a ride. I see Troy (Aikman) in the audience and I want to thank him for what he meant to me. He gave me a great compliment one day when he hit me with a pass while he was going down. I asked him how he did it and he answered, ‘I knew you would be there.”’

Novacek, who missed last season with a degenerative back condition, caught a club record 339 passes in his career.

Concussions high on list of concerns

As National Football League training camps officially open today, concussions will again be at the forefront of medical problems that bedevil players and confound team physicians. But under an enhanced program that will begin this season, 10 NFL teams hope to gain more insight into head injuries by using neuro-psychological examinations on players who are at risk.

Under the neuro-psychological testing, players will be given a baseline psychological evaluation, which includes a neurological examination and tests that measure concentration, motor skills, focus and short-term and long-term memory.

By doing these baseline evaluations before players get concussions, team doctors can better assess whether players are ready to return to the field.

Bills won’t hurry this year

Armchair quarterbacks probably won’t be thrilled initially with Buffalo’s new offense.

With the departure of quarterback Jim Kelly, there is no longer a need to sprint from the recliner to the refrigerator like they did when he was orchestrating touchdown drives out of the no-huddle offense.

New offensive coordinator Dan Henning is a huddler. He wants his team to take time off the clock before scoring. He also likes running plays, so chances are fans can run a few errands and maybe take a power nap without missing a touchdown.

Henning has two Super Bowl rings in part because of his offensive style. That is two more than the Bills have in four attempts at the Super Bowl running the hurry-up offense.

“If we win, nobody will remember the no-huddle,” running back Thurman Thomas said. “We know it’s going to take time, but if we win some ballgames and get into a rhythm and keep winning, people will forget about it. Our main goal is to win, whether it’s 30-0 or 10-6.”


Five months after it appeared Randall McDaniel’s career in Minnesota might be ending, the perennial All-Pro guard has signed a contract he says will keep him with the Vikings until he retires. McDaniel reported to camp with a new four-year, $12.5 million package, including a $3 million signing bonus. … A protection order against New Orleans Saints running back Derek Brown has been extended for one year. Amy Trout of Lincoln has two children fathered by Brown. She said she called police after she saw him sitting on her car outside her apartment. She said he also made numerous phone calls to her apartment and harassed her. … Miami Dolphins running back Irving Spikes practiced Tuesday, less than two weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery. … Roosevelt Potts won’t be in training camp with the Indianapolis Colts when veterans report Thursday, even though his one-year suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy has ended, his agent said.

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