However: a special teams coach is in the hospital after surgery on two broken vertebra; a scout has broken vertebra, and is in the hospital in, as best I can ascertain: unspecified serious to critical yet non life threatening condition.
Tragic Update: Rich Brehm, the scout, is paralyzed from the waist down. His spinal cord was severed. This is terrible news. However, I have faith in this: Mr. Brehm will live a valuable, if painful and difficult, life. It will just as valuable, maybe even moreso, than his life before. I have faith.
Lets say this had happened in previous years and decades: what would have been the reaction of players who were the unquestioned team leaders?
1966: Don Meredith and Lee Roy Jordan would be at the hospital, would assume natural leadership roles amongst the players.
1975: Roger Staubach and Lee Roy Jordan assume natural leadership roles.
1984: Danny White and Bob Breunig were natural leaders.
1993: Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Darryl Johnston, Tony Casillas led.
2002: Darren Woodsen, Emmitt Smith. Smith was not an ideal leader.
2009? Jason Witten went to the hospital - good. Where is Greg Ellis? Where is Bradie James? Where is Terrance Newman? Where is Tony Romo?
Answer: they are nowhere, maybe b/c they are out of town, maybe b/c of unavoidable circumstances. Yet, it's impossible to ignore the suspicion these current players also lack the moral righteousness to assume natural leadership roles.
Leaders know what the rest of the team truly wants, yet what the rest of the team sometimes forgets they truly want, i.e. moral, virtuous, courageous commitment to excellence and achievement. When the rest of the team forgets what they truly want, leaders remind them of what they truly want.
I suspect Ellis, James, Newman, and Romo do not possess the morality, virtue, and courageous commitment to step forth into natural leadership positions. Thus, the soul of the current Dallas Cowboys is hollow.
More and more, I'm thinking leadership comes down to morality. When you are committed to moral choices and goals, you instinctively know you have the right to speak up amongst peers. You just know it. You've earned it, via displaying morality and commitment. The current Cowboys suffer a dearth of morality amongst players who ought to be leading the team. Those players who ought to be leaders know of their own immorality, which is why they are reluctant and ineffective leaders. A leader is not reluctant. A leader knows, in his bones, he has earned the right to speak up.
These old time players knew they had earned that right: Meredith, Jordan, Staubach, White, Breunig, Aikman, Irvin, Johnston, Woodsen. And others: Reeves, Renfro, Lilly, Ditka, Harris, Pearson, Stepnoski, Hennings. Current edition players haven't earned it.