This isn't shtick in advance of Monday's annual observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It's about the Dallas Cowboys' locker room chemistry out at Valley Ranch.
Ray Sherman was a respected voice and, at times, yes, a coddling sounding board among the team's black players. Now that he's gone, new head coach Jason Garrett's replacement selection is, I believe, extremely important.
I've been told that receiver Dez Bryant nodded off in meetings more than a few times this season and that he never learned the entire playbook, only to be pardoned by Sherman. The receivers coach, who will not be back next season after his contract expired last week, was once a buffer between Terrell Owens and trouble and he created a weekly Thursday bitch session called "Keep It Real" for receivers to vent their frustrations.
I can tell you from talking to players that there was somewhat of a divide on Garrett along racial lines.
While Wade Phillips and his doting granddad approach were almost universally embraced, Garrett and his immediate injection of discipline and accountability -- not to mention full-pads practices -- rubbed some players the wrong way.
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There were four assistant coaches with expiring contracts this off-season: Sherman, tight ends coach John Garrett, kicking coach Chris Boniol and quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson. While John Garrett is interviewing for the offensive coordinator job with the Miami Dolphins and Wilson and Boniol are expected to be retained by Jason Garrett, the Sherman vacancy needs to be handled correctly.
You cannot downplay the importance of team chemistry and locker-room harmony.
For now Skip Peete (running backs) and Brett Maxie (safeties) are on Garrett's staff as the lone black assistants. There needs to be a strong third voice.
The Cowboys will soon hire a new defensive coordinator and new receivers coach. Watch these moves carefully. I know the players will be.