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The Cowboys' Money in the Tank

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Damn that Super Bowl scent is intoxicating. A 2-0 start, a void in the defensive line and, voila, the Dallas Cowboys are taking a chance on a guy known to stockpile more munitions than David Koresh. Dallas’ signing of gun-toting, run-stuffing Tank Johnson is, of course, vintage Jerry Jones.

This all stems from Dallas’ 1992 gamble to trade for petulant 49ers defensive end Charles Haley, who, among other transgressions, lost favor in San Fran for pissing on an assistant coach’s car. That risk’s reward turned out to be three Super Bowls, and Jerry has since been convinced -- even obsessed -- with finding a similarly unique defensive lineman. He gambled on head cases like Leonardo Carson, Alonzo Spellman and Dimitrius Underwood, and spent first-round draft picks on defensive ends in ’94 (Shante Carver), ’96 (Kavika Pittman), ’98 (Greg Ellis), ’99 Ebenezer Ekuban), ’05 (DeMarcus Ware) and ’07 (Anthony Spencer). If that search comes equipped with national splash, so much the better.

Jerry loves attracting him some spotlight, whether it’s Deion Sanders or Terrell Owens or, yep, the Tank. Funny, cuz in ’04 the Cowboys yanked Tank off their draft board because of character issues. Three years and four arrests later, Johnson is now worth the risk?

A 300-pound tackle who’s never played nose guard in a 3-4 scheme, Tank isn’t the final piece to Dallas’ Super Bowl puzzle. If Greg Ellis doesn’t heal in time to rush some quarterbacks and if Terence Newman doesn’t heal in time to cover some receivers, Tank will just be a high-profile, low-impact sideshow. Which, barring a Super Bowl, might be just what Jerry is seeking. -- Richie Whitt

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