The Ezekiel Elliott suspension is hanging over this year’s Cowboys team, but that hasn’t dampened expectations for them. At least as far as some of the organization’s greats are concerned.
The Triplets of the 1990s Super Bowl teams – Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith – still view this year’s team as a legitimate threat to snap what has become a 22-year Super Bowl drought.
“They should be a solid team,” said Aikman, on hand for the Ring of Honor Walk unveiling Monday outside the Ford Center. “Ezekiel’s situation is certainly somewhat of a concern, but I think with that offensive line and the other running backs they have, I would expect them to still have success running the football much like they did the other night.
“There’s been some other distractions with some of the suspensions and things of that nature, but I do think this will still be a solid team and come out of the gates and play well. I expect them to have another great year.”
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Irvin feels the Cowboys can overcome the six-game absence of Elliott, too. After all, the 1993 Cowboys championship team was without Smith (who was holding out for a new contract) the first two games and went on to win the Super Bowl.
“What’s great about football are those ultimate end moments. But what gets to those ultimate end moments are the journeys,” Irvin said. “The journey’s that make the moments special. Right now the Cowboys have a challenge in front of them, going through the first six games without the best running back in the National Football League on their team.
“To see if you can maintain through those six games. And then when you get whole again, it would be at a great time you can make a run and take it all the way to a Super Bowl. I look at the journey and the possible end results and how sweet would that be if the Cowboys emulate what New England did last year without their top guy.”
Irvin is referring to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension for “Deflategate” to start last season, and then leading that franchise to its fifth championship.
Smith echoed those thoughts. He didn’t want to delve into any conversations he may have had with Elliott, but said he thinks “very highly” of the league’s reigning rushing leader.
And Smith feels the Cowboys have pieces in place to make a championship run if they can stay afloat without Elliott.
“We’ll see. We’ll see. Got some work to do,” Smith said. “Got a lot of work to do and this is the time to be forging that chemistry that’s required to build a Super Bowl contending kind of team.
“So do have some pieces of the puzzle that are in place and in tact. We do have some areas that we still need to continue to improve upon, but so does everyone else. It’s a matter of how the team comes together and how we execute our X’s and O’s.”
The Triplets were among 16 living members to attend the Ring of Honor Walk unveiling, along with other greats such as Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach and Randy White.
In all, those players are the reason why the organization has five Super Bowl trophies.
Asked about living up to those lofty standards, tight end Jason Witten said: “I don’t think you ever try to live up to their standard. They were so great, I think you just kind of embrace it and what they stood for, how they played, the kind of teammates they were. That’s ultimately a huge honor to be around them.”