The Book on the NFC East

With one flag football game left before the new National Football League season means something, it's a good time to pick up a book I'm having a hard time putting down: Mark Maske's brand-new tome War Without Death: A Year of Extreme Competition in Pro Football's NFC East. It's a look back at last season (and pre-season) from the Washington Post sports writer, who spends considerable time with Your Dallas Cowboys -- in Oxnard and Irving and all points on the schedule. (Here's an excerpt.)

Dunno how much time Maske actually spent with the team, but there are nice details throughout -- from Terrell Owens' locker-room blow-up following the October 8 game in Philly ("Why did y'all bring me here?! Why the fuck am I here?!") to kicker Mike Vanderjagt's unwarranted cockiness ("I happen to be a pretty good field goal kicker ... I'm not here to miss field goals") to Peyton Manning's paying Tony Romo an on-field compliment ("You're a good player," awwww). And one former Cowboy thinks Parcells shoulda been a "biscuit commercial."

And there's a great deal in there about the promotion of Romo from backup to starter -- an idea Jerry Jones didn't like for a good long time, to the point where he apologized to Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson before the Cowboys played a Sunday-night game in Bank of America Stadium.

"I just can't do any more for you than to come to Charlotte and put a quarterback in that's never started a game before," Jones tells Richardson. "That's about all I can do for you. You're my buddy, but we can't do too much more." He'd eventually feel a whole lot better about the decision -- at least, till the first weekend in January. --Robert Wilonsky

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