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Tuesday, October 22, 1996

Hit him in the mouth! (And you really should watch that bad breath); Scenes from rival camp
By Dan Le Batard
Knight-Ridder Newspapers

(Oct. 22, 1996)

IRVING, Texas (KRT) - Snapshots from Cowboys camp Monday on the week of the most-publicized game ever played between two 4-3 teams:

Dozens of national-media members, groveling for any crumb they can get about Jimmy Johnson, thunder over to the locker of special teamer Bill Bates because, well, all the other Dallas players are hiding.

"My allegiance is to the star on my helmet and the uniform I wear," Bates says when asked about Jimmy Johnson, and it's hard to keep from weeping.

The electricity in the locker room suddenly goes off while Bates is talking. Hail the size of a baby's fist starts clacking against the windows.

"Geez," Bates jokes. "Jimmy is pretty powerful."

A member of the Cowboys walks through the halls and is congratulated by a receptionist.
"I love your new commercial!" she yells.

This Cowboy is used to this kind of adoration.

He has not one, but two, radio shows.

Even though he is only the special-teams coach.

Running back Emmitt Smith stands in front of his locker, about to be suffocated by all the reporters before him. He begins to talk, but then stops. The baseball cap he's wearing, it's all wrong. A lot of people are going to be watching this, right? Smith searches through his locker until he finds a Starter cap - Starter being the company that he represents, of course.

Scouts and sponsors say the same thing: Emmitt Smith is pretty quick on his feet.

Practice hasn't begun, so 332-pound Nate Newton hasn't had time to work up a thirst. Yet he drinks two 12-ounce cans of Gatorade in, no joke, five gulps.

Says Newton: "I'm going to be in every weight-loss program available after football - I'll be into lyposuction and ab-crunchers and, if that doesn't work, then I'm just going to stay in bed eating and have them bury me in a piano."

Newton breaks into his favorite Jimmy Johnson pre-game speech:

" 'The best way to hit a gorilla is to catch him in the face when he turns sideways! Hit him in the mouth when he isn't expecting it! With a shot all the way from Georgia! And then just keep wailing on him!' "

A too-close reporter asks a question, and Newton crinkles up his nose.

"You need a peppermint!" Newton barks. "You go up to Jimmy Johnson with that onion breath, and you would melt his hairdo."

It is learned that, honest to God, quarterback Troy Aikman has asked his attorneys what it would cost to punch out writer Skip Bayless, who wrote a book recently in which he floated the rumor that Aikman is gay.

Aikman's attorneys told him it would probably cost between $1 million and $5 million in a lawsuit.

Five million is too much to pay, Aikman figures.

But he thinks it would be worth it for just $1 million.

At a news conference, Cowboys Coach Barry Switzer tells the true story of the time he and Jimmy got drunk back in 1970 and, dressed in drag, crashed the homes of assistant coaches.

"I've got it on tape," Switzer says. "I forget whether I was a blond or brunette. Jimmy was really chesty."

Michael Irvin walks into the locker room. He doesn't do mid-week interviews any more because every time he wants to talk about coverages, reporters keep asking about strippers. Reporters approach warily, in bunches of dozens, hunters stalking prey. As soon as they get close, Irvin flees like a scared squirrel.

"It would be like two wins for Jimmy to beat us," Dale Hellstrae says.

Hellstrae is the team's long-snapper.

But he is famous enough to quote.

Because he, too, has his own radio show.

(Dan Le Batard is a sports columnist for the Miami Herald. Write to him at: Miami Herald, One Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132.)


All content copyright 1996, KRT, The Abilene Reporter-News and Reporter OnLine

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