DALLAS COWBOYS: Five Time Superbowl Champions
For over three decades the Dallas Cowboys have been an icon of american football. Athletes, players, coaches, spectators and more have looked to the Cowboys as “America’s Team.” With a record five Su
By Greg Shepard
Published: Winter 1998
My first stop at the Dallas Cowboy Complex was the Media Relations department to get a media guide, photos and other information for this article. I was told that practice was at 11:00 AM but nobody is ever allowed on the practice field.
Next, I went through the Cowboy locker rooms to the strength and conditioning facility. I met Joe Juraszek and his staff. He was most gracious and rolled out the red carpet. We talked about his program for over an hour and then some players began coming in to train before their practice.
Darren Woodson, an all-pro safety, was one of the first. This seventh year veteran from Arizona State was all business. Troy Aikman also dropped by. This was before his injury at Denver. It was exciting to see so many committed players. Coach Juraszek said it was time to go to practice and that I would have to stay in the weight room. Nobody is allowed on the practice field.
After ten minutes, Joe came running back. “Coach Gailey says you can come out and watch practice.” I was impressed with their size but much more impressed with the lineman and their quickness and body position. After practice I talked with the new Dallas football coach, Chan Gailey. I can tell you that he is a class individual. He told me that he reads the BFS Journals and likes them. That is why I was invited to the practice.
Some players came into the weight room after practice. Chad Hennings came running up to me. He was all smiles. I featured Chad when he was at Air Force and the Outland Trophy Winner. Chad made my day.
Leon Lett and Kavika Pittman were doing some rehabilitation work for some minor injuries. The trainer shouted out encouragement. “Push yourself to your limit.” They both snapped their heads towards the trainer at the exact same time and answered, “We don't have limits.”
Clay Shiver, the Cowboys starting center at 6-2 294 from Wyoming, said while he was doing lunges and step-ups, “Coach Juraszek is one of the finest strength coaches that I've been around. He has taken us to new levels. Coach Juraszek is so good about backing us off when we should and pressing us when we need it.”
I would heartily concur with Clay. Coach Juraszek is a great strength coach and an Upper Limit person. I was amazed, as we talked, that his program included the fun, motivational stuff that I like to do at the high school and college level. The following is the interview and exact words from Joe Juraszek:
If you get released here, you are not a failure. You have been successful compared to most people. To make cuts is hard on me because I get attached to the players. I'll never get used to it, at least, I hope I will never get used to it.
I enjoy the high profile aspect of being with the Cowboys but I have learned to put that behind me. Our weight room is the only area where the guys can be themselves and act normal. The football coaches know I don't like them talking X's and O's in my weight room. The press is not allowed in the weight room. Nobody outside our organization is allowed in the weight room. As a result, they like being here... away from the hype and outside pressures.
It is now in-season and we concentrate on one body part a day. The players have five days to get four workouts. The four workouts are: Shoulders, Legs, Chest/Back and Arm/Elbow. The elbow in the pro-game has become an injury prone area.
SHOULDERS: We do an Upright Row with a 5-foot bar, Cleans, Snatch, Snatch Pulls, and Dumbbell Shoulder ISO's. We try to isolate the three heads of the delts. The front, side and back. The most neglected area, I feel, is the rear deltoid for the shoulders. We also do shoulder shrugs with a 7-foot bar. We use all free weights on our shoulder day.
All of our players do our program. They come from a variety of programs but we want to integrate them into our program as soon as possible.
Sometimes some of the older players need to have some adjustments. We do have alternatives. For example, we love squats but some players can't do them so we have a Smith Machine, The Bear, Front Squats, and Belt Squats.
There are guys who come in who don't make it. You must pay the price regardless of talent. If you are lazy and don't do it in the weight room, you will probably miss some things on the field,
LEGS: We do a Single Leg Press which gives us a unilateral movement. This is done as a warm-up for 4-8 reps. Then we Squat. I might say we get them to squat lower than most of them are used to, but I want them parallel. I want range of motion not weight. We also do Leg Curls and Extensions for 1-2 sets for 10-15 reps. The Glute Ham Raise is important and we add Lunges and Step-ups as a warm-up in the off-season.
CHEST/BACK: We do Bench Press, Incline Dumbbell Press, Dumbbell Flys and Back Pulls for the rear delts.
BICEPS/TRICEPS: We do Curls with a 7-foot bar. We do not use an EZ-Curl bar because I want to balance the elbow joint stress along with the Triceps and Biceps. We also use a Narrow Grip Bench Press, Dumbbell Triceps behind the head, Dips, if their shoulders can take it, and Tricep Pushdowns.
All of our In-Season workouts take between 20-30 minutes. Troy Aikman can do it in 15 minutes. I have noticed that guys at this level bust their butt. The game is more precise which makes it more physical. It is a violent game to be sure. I am just amazed about how many of our guys just plain love the game.
If they do not get their four workouts in and it is due to laziness, they get fined. But, even if a guy is hurt, I work closely with the trainers to find an alternative. I always try to develop a positive relationship with the trainers. You just have to work together. If you don't, the players lose.
I am in charge of conditioning like sprinting eight 40's. I also stretch them and do basic speed drills. During the off-season, we do the BFS Dot Drill. I remember one player saying that he did that drill in high school. We also do Plyometrics and Box Jumps.
During the season, I want the guys to be consistent. We want them focused with perfect technique. We also want patience. Greatness does not happen overnight.
I love Daryl Johnston our starting fullback. No one works harder with more intensity. I call him, “The Last Man Standing.” If 52 guys were on the field in all out war, Daryl would be the last man standing. He had a fusion on his 6-7 cervical. Everybody but Daryl and myself said it was a career ending injury but he made his comeback happen.
No one is more intense than Michael Irvin. Sometimes he makes poor choices off the field but he really takes his conditioning seriously. Those that know him, the players and the coaches, would not refute that.
People ask me if we ever go for maxes. Yes we do. We go for a one-rep-max on the Bench. Our guys like it better than our 3 or 5 rep max. I watch them carefully. Over my career, I have had very few injuries. I prepare my players. We have a big testing period for four days in June. The top player at each position gets $1,500.00.
The top three performers overall on our point system get an additional $2,000, $1,800 and
$1,600.00 for their award. The point system is based on attendance, leadership and our evaluation.
We also have an award for the most improved player, the best free agent and the best rehab player. All the money that is awarded goes against our salary cap. There is a big time pride factor that goes on. A lot of times, the veterans who win will give it to others.
It is amazing to see grown men yelling and screaming like high school kids. When Larry Allen Benched 600 pounds, everyone went crazy.
Dexter Coakley, who is 5-10, 250 pounds from Appalachian State, made the All-Rookie team but he wanted more size. In one year, Dexter improved his forty time from 4.35 down to 4.28 while increasing his body weight by 15 pounds. His bo