Interview: Daryl Johnston on Concussions, RGIII, and Jerry Jones' Decision Making

In our phone interview with former Cowboys FB, Daryl Johnston, we talk about the state of NFL concussions, Cowboys fans liking RGIII over Romo, and if Jerry Jones' decision-making is clouded by his desire to win another Super Bowl yesterday.

Fox analyst and former Cowboys' FB, Daryl Johnston, is in New Orleans for the "canine combine," an event promoted by Purina which has a mobile app to help train one's dog. This event sounds like the Puppy Bowl on PEDs, but kidding aside, it's a great event and the mobile app is available for anyone that is looking to train their dog and track it. Moose's dog, Gunner, qualified for the event.

I asked Moose if any of the other dog owners in the canine combine are former NFL players...citing how great it would be to go up against Wilber Marshall or Charles Mann? Unfortunately not. I would love to see Dexter Manley's dog in this event.

Anyway, Moose and I had a nice, ten minute conversations talking Redskins, Cowboys, and concussions. Before talking to Moose, I did a little research and discovered that he is not part of the class-action suit against the NFL. In fact, he's voiced his opinion that players knew what they were getting into and that hopefully players are not just in it for the money. Surely, it helps Moose's stance that he had his brain examined and it came back with a perfect bill of health.

Kevin: What were you thoughts on Bernard Pollard's comments that the NFL will likely be gone in 20-30 years?

Moose: Well, number one, you have to tie in cost and the league being bankrupt. I think the league has moved in a direction that has brought a lot of positives in it. You're talking about a commissioner who's committed to player safety by his words and his actions. We're trying to change the targeting. I think the players are starting to get the message and we're seeing change. At least we're talking about it. For the first 40-50 years we weren't even talking about this. Of course the positives are always over-shadowed by the tragedies and the death of a former player. And when that player has the stature of Junior Seau, it's such a devastating thing to all the guys in the retired community. The message I want people to know is there are positives coming out of it. Return to play policies that were put in place. Second impact syndrome is a real thing. When they're on the field too soon and the second concussion happens, that's when something really tragic can happen. Baseline testing for kids. Not just at the college and high school levels, but all the way down to the youth football level. My son at school started getting the baseline test when he was in 5th grade. I think to ease parents concerns should my child play, there's a lot of positives we're just not talking about that I wish we could enter the conversation.

I feel like Jerry Jones is in that desperation mode and hindering the progress of building a team the right way. Thoughts?

I don't think it's desperation. If you talk to any player that played on our teams...all Jerry Jones does is want to win games. He wants the organization back at the level it was in the 90s. When I see a decision that has not worked out well, I think it's a rush to get back there. I don't think it's desperation...I think it's just a desire to be there as quickly as possible. It's difficult with the salary cap and free agency to get back to where we were in the 90s. Sometimes patience is the most important thing.

That's why the talk of "Is this Jason Garrett's last year?"..."Are they prepping Jon Gruden to be the Coach in the next few years?"..."Is Tony Romo's career over?" have the head coach and Quarterback connected for a number of years gives you a great opportunity for success. Brady Belichick. Look what Payton and Brees have done. It's going to be fun to watch McCarthy and Rodgers move forward. If you go back in history, Noll and Bradhsaw, Jimmy and Aikman during our run, Joe Montana and Bill Walsh...those great relationships between head coach and Quarterback are critical to a team's success. You can't change quickly. But there's such a desire to win now in the NFL, it really impacts decisions.

I saw a poll on Dallas Morning News that 60% of Cowboys fans would rather have RGIII than Romo as their QB right now.

(laughing) Uhh...well, yea...I blame the media for creating this whole firestorm because it's the media that puts Tony Romo on the same pedestal as Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman very early in his career. He had not earned that right. Statistically he's going to be superior to both of those guys because he played in different eras, but success in the NFL is not measured by 300 yard games and multiple touchdown games, it's measured by Championships. And when you have one QB that's won 2 and the other that's won three, to put a young QB in the same league without any championships, it was the media that created these expectations...this is not a position Tony created for himself. He'll always be on the hot seat until he wins a championship because everybody expect these statistics to translate to championships.

Given RGIII's second ACL injury, what's your take on his long-term success?

It'll be interesting to see how he'll come back. When we sat down with Robert Griffin III earlier this year [as part of a broadcast], everyone came away extremely impressed. He was voted team captain by his teammates halfway through the season. He's going to do everything he can to get back as quickly as he can. Will he be the same guy? This is not just an ACL, it's also a LCL. It's too early to tell. It's all speculation. I hope he gets back. He's great for the League and great for the NFC East.

Who do you think is going to win the Super Bowl ?

I think San Francisco is. It's funny to say, Baltimore has always had that march to them, but San Fran is a tougher team on both sides of the ball. It's going to be a physical game. The 49ers are built stronger and tougher than Baltimore is right now. I think SF played a poor game in the first half vs Atlanta and I don't think that will happen again. I'll think they'll fix that. Baltimore will have to find another way to attack them. I think SF is just too good.

And they're younger...but the David Akers inconsistency has me doubting that pick too.

Last year was crazy...snapper, kicker, punter were all Pro Bowl guys and that got little attention but that wasn't the case this year. It'll take Joe Flacco's best effort to win this. The offense is going to have to win it.

I just think the speed on the 49ers creates a nightmare matchup for Baltimore's defense.

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