Dallas Cowboys

No do-over. Amendola’s rise to fame came long after his short stint in Dallas

Look back at the Dallas Cowboys' 2017 season in 90 seconds

Cowboys fans' expectations were high after last year's 13-3 regular-season effort. But Dak Prescott's rising star seemed to fade and Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension limited his playing time, keeping the Cowboys from getting to the postseason
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Cowboys fans' expectations were high after last year's 13-3 regular-season effort. But Dak Prescott's rising star seemed to fade and Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension limited his playing time, keeping the Cowboys from getting to the postseason

It’s an annual loser’s right of passage.

Which player in the Super Bowl is further proof of front office failure with the Dallas Cowboys and another reason why they haven’t been in the big game since 1995 with just two playoff wins since 1996.

Cue the “Jeopardy” music.

How about New England Patriots receiver Danny Amendola for $10,000 Alex?

You guys remember Amendola don’t you?

A training camp and “Hard Knocks” HBO series sensation in 2008, Amendola was ultimately cut before landing on the Cowboys’ practice squad. He is now working on his third Super Bowl ring as the unlikely No. 1 wide receiver for the Patriots.

Watching Amendola now, there is no question he would be an impact player on the current Cowboys as arguably their most reliable and trusty pass catcher.

His play in the playoffs to get the Patriots to Super Bowl LII Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles is certain evidence of that.

In the Patriots’ 35-14 win over the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the AFC playoffs, Amendola had a career-high 11 catches for 112 yards.

He then added two fourth-quarter touchdown catches in the 24-20 comeback victory against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game.

That he was also a star the comeback overtime victory against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI last year _ he caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass and a two-point conversion pass after James White’s touchdown to tie it near the end of regulation _ has teammates giving him a new nickname, “Danny Playoffs”.

Not bad for a someone who has had to live life with the moniker “squeaky” givign to him by a fourth-grade physcial education teacher because of his high pitched voice.

“Squeaky stuck with me but ‘Playoffs’ is cool,” Amendola said with a smile Monday night and then explained his postseason prowes.

“I love playing meaningul games late in the season and be there for my teammates as much as I can.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick calls him invaluable.

“When you look up ‘good football player’ in the dictionary, his picture is right there beside it,” Belichick said. “It doesn’t matter what it is. Fielding punts, third down, big play, red area, onside kick recover — whatever we need him to do.”

Brady calls him irreplaceable.

“He’s made so many big catches,” Brady said. “I’m always looking for him at some point. I mean, he’s a big part of what we do, so he’s never not part of what we’re doing.”

Suffice it to say, the Cowboys should have regrets, but it’s understandable why they did what they did.

In 2008, the Cowboys were considered deep at receiver with Terrell Owens, Roy Williams, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin and Sam Hurd as their top five.

Hurd is now in jail. The others have long since been out of football.

Amendola, an undrafted rookie from Texas Tech, had a great camp and was featured on “Hard Knocks.” He looked to be another Wes Welker in the making.

But he was a rookie and nowhere near the player he is today.

So the Cowboys cut him and put on their practice squad where he remained all season.

He signed with the Eagles, but began 2009 on their practice squad before signing with the St. Louis Rams and seeing his career finally take off.

Amendola spent four years there before coming to the Patriots as a real-life replacement for Welker on the recommendation of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. His play and stature has since gone to another level.

“You saw a good player in St. Louis, but you didn’t see all the things behind the scenes that you kind of can see when you actually have the player on your team,” Belichick said. “Josh saw that and he made us aware of all the things that Danny does and how well he does them.”

Amendola explains his career as being “a lot about preparation, circumstance, opportunity, being ready and no fear.”

He had the makings of that player in Dallas in 2008.

Babe Laufenburg, the team’s longtime radio analyst, said at the time that the Cowboys would regret letting Amendola get away.

It was a tough decision for the Cowboys, coming off a 13-3 season in 2007 and hoping to make a Super Bowl run.

They liked Amendola, but they had no time for development. They didn’t have a good vision for the player and ultimately didn’t do enough to keep him around.

He still has no regrets or bad feelings about his time in Dallas.

“I learned a lot my first year in Dallas, a lot how the busienes off the NFL workds and lot about X’s and O’s,” Amedola said. “It was an eye opening experience, definitely a period of growh for me. Without that experience I wouldn’t be here.”

The Cowboys will never admit regrets, but actions speak louder than words.

One reason they fought so hard to stick by Cole Beasley when he walked away in training camp in 2012 was they didn’t want to let another Amendola get away.

If only the Cowboys had worked harder to keep the first one.

Clarence Hill: 817-390-7760, @clarencehilljr

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