It can be painful to look two ways at once, unless you're a gecko. But as we say goodbye to 2016 and embrace 2017 it's a good time to examine those who've left, those who are leaving and those who'll arrive in Dallas.
Arrived or Arriving
Dak Prescott — When the Cowboys drafted Rayne Dakota Prescott in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft, they thought they were getting a project. Prescott was going to sit behind Tony Romo for at least the 2016 season and hopefully a couple more.
That isn’t what they got. Instead, Romo went down with a back injury during the first series of his first 2016 preseason, leaving Prescott to start the Cowboys' season opener. Prescott, a couple of bumps against the Giants notwithstanding, has been amazing. He’s thrown 23 touchdowns against just four interceptions, putting up a stat line that is unequivocally better than every season of Romo’s career, except the former starter’s very best in 2014. While running up a 13-2 record, he’s earned the respect of the locker room, including Romo, who acknowledged in November that Prescott earned the right to keep the starting job. Prescott is here now, and he should be for a long time to come.
Ezekiel Elliott — Unlike Prescott, Elliott came to the Cowboys bearing the weight of the highest expectations. In a league where running backs are viewed as interchangeable, disposable commodities, the Cowboys picked Elliott fourth in the draft, betting their biggest draft asset in years on the fact that Elliott would be great, rather than just very good.
All Elliott’s done is exceed those expectations. Through 15 games, he leads the NFL in rushing and sits within 200 yards of Eric Dickerson’s NFL rookie rushing record. Elliott probably won’t get there, mainly because the Cowboys will want to limit his collisions on Sunday against the Eagles ahead of what they hope will be a deep playoff run. As often happens with running backs, Elliott’s star turn in Dallas may be brief, but his should burn brightly.
T.C. Broadnax — On Feb. 1, erstwhile Tacoma, Washington, City Manager T.C. Broadnax will take over the reins of Dallas from A.C. Gonzalez. As he takes the job, he’ll be faced with serving as the chief executive of a city that struggles to maintain its infrastructure, faces a tremendous economic threat from its woefully underfunded police and fire pension system and is in the midst of dealing with almost 8,000 loose dogs roaming the streets of its southern sector.
Broadnax is the consensus choice, as the only finalist named by the mayor and the city council, but he’ll be faced with ascertaining and facilitating the will of a council that is fractured and often rancorous. Dallas’ city manager gig might be the toughest municipal job in the country. Here’s hoping Broadnax stays off the departure list next year.
New Police Chief, to Be Named Soon — The biggest decision Broadnax will make early in his tenure as city manager will be naming the replacement for outgoing Dallas Police Chief David Brown. Charles Cato and Rob Sherwin, two of the likeliest internal candidates, left the department in 2016 to become chiefs at smaller suburban departments, so it seems likely that Broadnax's search will be heavy on outside candidates. Whoever gets the job will be faced with Brown’s legacy of pushing community policing and de-escalation, often at the expense of his popularity with Dallas’ rank and file, and more so the police unions.
Jonathan Lucroy — The Rangers picked Lucroy up at the 2016 trade deadline hoping that he’d prove to be the missing piece on a World Series team. The catcher was fantastic down the stretch, but couldn’t help the Rangers from being unceremoniously dumped in the American League Division Series by the Blue Jays.
Lucroy, one of the three or four best catchers in the league, will be in Arlington for the 2017 season, filling a position that’s been a black hole for the Rangers for the last half decade. If Lucroy can hit the highs he did last August and September over a full season, the Rangers could be primed for another run to the playoffs.
Bishop Edward Burns — When Pope Francis appointed Edward Burns to replace departed Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell, the Dallas Diocese’s 1.3 million Catholics got a leader with a sense of humor. On the day of the announcement, Burns declared himself a Cowboys fan, but hedged about whether or not he would root for them against his hometown Pittsburgh Steelers. "I would have to consult with my spiritual adviser [about who to root for]," he said. With both the Cowboys and Steelers entering the playoffs as maybe the best teams in their respective conferences, let’s hope he has to face this worldly dilemma.
Faith Johnson — Before being named Susan Hawk’s replacement as Dallas County district attorney, Faith Johnson was best known for throwing a party, cake and streamers included, in her district courtroom to celebrate the return of a fugitive defendant for sentencing. In 2017, she’ll get a chance to steady Dallas County’s tumultuous prosecutor’s office, which is still reeling from Hawk’s frequent, mental illness-caused absences and erratic behavior.
NEXT PAGE: The Departed
Departed and Departing
David Brown — Following the deaths of five Dallas police officers in a July 7 ambush, Police Chief David Brown became the city’s voice, whether it was on TV or at the stirring interfaith memorial for the officers held at the Meyerson on July 12. Brown, it was widely believed, could do no wrong. His job, one he’d already held for 6 years, was his as long as he wanted it. And that made Brown uncomfortable.
In September, he announced that he was stepping down in October. Later, we’d learn that Brown was headed for the greener pastures of TV commentary and book advances. He’ll be on ABC News and has a memoir due out in 2017.
Tony Romo — While we may not have seen the very last of Tony Romo, he will not begin another season as the Cowboys starting quarterback, barring a catastrophic injury to Prescott. He’ll likely leave in the offseason to ride in one more rodeo. A good team in need of a quarterback, like the Broncos, could be a perfect fit.
A.C. Gonzalez — Gonzalez began his run as city manager by nearly booting Uber from the city of Dallas. The rest of his tenure was marked mistrust from city council members who often believed he was hiding something and his struggle to balance the city’s priorities — perhaps best exemplified by his transfer of Rob Sherwin from DPD’s crimes against persons unit to Dallas Animal Services as Dallas struggled to solve even half of its murders in 2016.
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John Wiley Price (maybe) — This could be a bit of a reach, but there is every chance John Wiley Price won’t be on the Dallas County Commissioner’s Court by Jan. 1, 2018. On Feb. 6, Price will go on trial at the federal courthouse downtown in the face of terabytes upon terabytes of federal evidence that he accepted bribes for county contracts and a co-defendant, Christian Campbell, who’s flipped. The corruption trial, one of the biggest in Dallas history, may last a couple of months, but it could be the beginning of the end of Price’s time in Dallas’ public eye.
Susan Hawk — In September, Susan Hawk finally resigned. After several stints away from her office seeking treatment for depression and suicidal ideation, Hawk, Dallas County’s Republican to have been elected county wide, finally gave up her post. The final straw was likely the Aug. 22 deadline for the governor to call a special election to find her replacement. Once that passed, Hawk could rest easy that Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott would be the one to choose her successor.