The Evil Empire Rising Again?
By: Les Barnhart 
Posted: 2005-03-17
Category: Washington Redskins News
Many in the sports world identify the “Evil Empire” as the New York Yankees thanks in large part to Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and the Red Sox nation. While it may be hard to picture George Steinbrenner as Darth Vader, it is easy to see how the correlation is made. And while the Yankees are viewed with disdain by those who aren’t fans of the Boys in Pinstripes, it is another set of Boys that have worn the label of the “Evil Empire” for many years. Those “boys”, of course, are the Dallas Cowboys.

With the final chapter of the Star Wars saga coming to the big screen in May, we will see how Darth Vader and the Emperor created the Evil Empire inside the Death Star. A month before that, we will see how The Tuna and the Jerrah plan to recreate the sports world’s Evil Empire inside the Cowboy Star.

The team that proclaimed themselves as “America’s Team” is trying to resurrect a franchise that is still searching for its identity since their last glory days with the Big Three; Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. They started this resurrection two seasons ago when they landed The Tuna, Bill Parcells. That move translated into seemingly an immediate success as the overachieving Cowboys made the postseason. They were then knocked off their horse in 2004 as they stumbled through the season and missed the playoffs. With the third year of Parcells regime possibly being his last considering his history of abruptly calling it quits, owner Jerry Jones has opened his checkbook in hopes to stock the shelves for a hopefully return to glory in 2005.

For once, NFC East teams other than the Redskins are throwing money at free agents as they try to fill several weaknesses that were exposed in 2004. It is debatable as to which Cowboy free agent signing will make the biggest impact and in fact, it may actually be the NFL draft in April that truly defines the Cowboys off-season. The Cowboys currently hold two picks in the first round (11th and 20th overall) and those picks could definitely land them impact players for the 2005 season. But the Cowboys better be careful; front-loading contracts is seldom practiced because of the risk-to-cost factor involved if a player should get injured early.

With the New York Giants also adding players through free agency and trades, the Philadelphia Eagles looking to add another quality wide out to compliment Terrell Owens, and the Redskins addressing their weaknesses at wide receiver and offensive line, the NFC East looks to be a tough division in 2005. It also appears that the stranglehold that the Eagles have had on the division may have weakened a bit as well.

Then again, like in any sport, just because a team looks good before the season doesn’t always mean they look good in the season. After all, how many years have the Redskins won the league in March and April based on signings and trades, only to be watching the playoffs in January.

-Wingman
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