Cowboys pushing safety after tragedies

ARLINGTON, Texas – Today’s visit from the Pittsburgh Steelers will be filled with reminders of recent tragedy for the Dallas Cowboys.

The Jovan Belcher murder/suicide in Kansas City created a league-wide sadness. This week’s mass murder of school children in Newtown, Conn., is being recognized with a moment of silence to start all NFL games, including before the 3:25 kickoff at Cowboys Stadium. And the Cowboys will wear a No. 53 decal on their helmets today and for the rest of the season to honor the memory of practice-squad linebacker Jerry Brown, killed last week in a single-car accident for which teammate Josh Brent has been charged with intoxication manslaughter.

But the games push on, and life does, too – and at least one Cowboys player is pushing on safely.

I’m told that Cowboys tackle Tyron Smith celebrated his 22nd birthday on Friday (his birthday was Wednesday) with friends, family and “a few teammates” by renting a party bus to take the group to an assortment of nightspots.

It’s just one guy on a team of 53 … and it’s just one wise decision. But it’s a start – and a positive reflection on a Cowboys team that owner Jerry Jones says is atypical in its efforts to guide its players in a wise and safe direction.

Jones tells us that the team has a full-time, on-call driver available for late-night emergencies and pick-up service, a program designed specifically to avoid drinking-and-driving incidents.

“We have two limo services on stand-by and a full-time staff person on call 24 hours/seven days a week to pick up players,” Jones says. “That person has been called seven times this year.”

Jones’ statement suggests that those seven calls represent a high number; but given the number of times 53 men may have, over the course of 14 weeks this season, imbibed to excess, seven seems like a stunningly low number.

But it’s a start, as was Tyron Smith’s wise and safe decision on Friday night.