Fort Worth Star-Telegram Randy Galloway column
Nov 03, 2012 (Menafn - Fort Worth Star-Telegram - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --Tyron Smith, at the age of 21, is paid nicely by the Dallas Cowboys to face off 16 times each season against the best and most fierce pass rushers the NFL has to offer.
Tony Romo's health, not to mention the offensive game plan, depends on the youngster being able to at least hold his own, snap after snap.
OK, with these kinds of responsibilities, the Cowboys are putting a load on Smith's football plate. It's also obviously plenty of weekly brain-overload.
Tyron's grade at left tackle thus far has been "above adequate, better than average, but with tremendous upside for the future," according to one voice at Valley Ranch on Thursday.
Better yet, Smith is already in his second NFL season (as the youngest rookie in the league a year ago, he started at right tackle) and, age-wise, he should still be a senior in college.
Even though the Cowboys' draft night decision two Aprils ago came down to either Smith or J.J. Watt, and Watt is tearing up the league at defensive end for the Texans, there's no second-guessing over the decision, particularly since the team had a desperate need to find a high-end offensive lineman.
This week, however, brand new respect surfaced for Tyron, particularly from the standpoint of mental toughness and maturity.
A strange police report out of Dallas surfaced on Wednesday, citing a 911 call from the home of Smith early Tuesday afternoon. After the police arrived, a report was filed that persons known to the caller, who was Tyron, had shown up at his home to "harass and torment in the pursuit of financial gain."
Huh? Tyron is 6-foot-5, and 308 pounds. Who would harass and torment that. Unless, of course, it was...
Sure enough, later published reports in the Dallas News, citing sources, say it was two of Smith's three sisters, among a group of three or more, who came to the house seeking money.
Then came even more ugly news.
Over the summer, according to the sources, Smith obtained a protective order against his mother and his stepfather, both residents of the Los Angeles area, to keep them from having any contact with him, directly or through his siblings.
The protective order prohibited his parents from attending Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, 40 miles north of LA. Sources also said, during training camp, one of Smith's family members had to be removed from the practice facility.
As the No. 9 pick overall in the 2011 draft, Smith signed a four-year, 12.5 million contract, including a 7.5 million bonus. Reportedly, Smith rewarded his family with a "substantial amount of money" at that time, but the "requests" for more financial assistance never ended.
Unfortunately, Tyron's story is not new news in the world of big-time jockdom.
"The league has rookie symposiums every year warning players of this exact thing," said a Cowboys staffer on Thursday, who asked his name not be used because the team policy at the moment is not to speak on this subject.
(At his Thursday media session, coach Jason Garrett answered short and curt when asked about the Smith story, and had a nothing-to-see-here attitude.)
The staffer continued: "The basic message at these symposiums stresses that at some point you will probably be better served by just saying no, even if it's a close family member. It's sad, but it's a fact that money-grabs do happen, and often."
It's remarkable, said the staffer, that Smith, at his age, has handled the situation so well.
"I'm sure he's upset by it. Who wouldn't be? It's his family. But Tyron has not allowed it to impact his job as a football player. He's just a great kid who loves the game. I think he uses football as an outlet from all this."
The staff member cited another young player, now-injured linebacker Sean Lee, as the ultimate in daily work ethic and game preparation.
"We say Lee is great in this area, and actually, he's the best I've seen here. But Tyron, he's very good. That means he's right under Lee. That's about as high a compliment as we can pay regarding work ethic and prep.
"But then, when you consider what Tyron has been going through in his private life, that makes it even more remarkable. There's never been even a dip in his daily football preparation in two years."
With huge money on the line for a top-10 draft pick, the Cowboys, of course, do extensive background checks and character research before the draft.
Was there even a hint that family issues might later surface?
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing that this would be a factor, and the USC coaches also never mentioned a word," answered the staff member.
"In fact, his parents own an industrial cleaning business, and Tyron had been helping them since he was in grade school, working his butt off. We loved that blue-collar background type of thing and, by the way, he does have that blue-collar work ethic."
Obviously, this is a disturbing story because it involves sordid family behavior. But at the same time it serves as a testimony to the mental toughness and character of one of the Cowboys' key young elements.
Through it all, Tyron Smith has played on, and worked diligently at his job.
Randy Galloway can be heard 3-6 p.m. weekdays on Galloway & Co. on ESPN/103.3 FM.
Randy Galloway, 817-390-7697
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