The Cowboys have hammered out a contract with their first-round pick.
The team on Friday agreed to terms with rookie linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, a source told NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport. Dallas later announced the signing.
The No. 19 overall pick in the draft, Vander Esch is expected to slide right into a starting spot alongside veterans Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith.
Seen as a three-down contributor, Vander Esch starred at Boise State and thrived at the combine as a SPARQ-score darling. He is viewed by the Cowboys as something of a Brian Urlacher 2.0. according to NFL Network’s Jane Slater.
At least for the mainstream fan and skittish team management who didn’t want their players getting involved in race and social issues, the messy stuff of raised black fists and boycotts, greenwashing solved the issue. By the end of the 20th century, it had been nearly 30 years since a top-shelf, in-his-prime athlete had embraced the Heritage. Jackie Robinson had been dead nearly 30 years. Muhammad Ali had been ravaged by the effects of Parkinson’s disease, and he and the country had reconciled. Ali was embraced as a courageous warrior of yesterday’s fights, not a living, activist threat.
Wilson was born on August 16, 1996. Vinatieri has kicked 559 field goals and scored 2,487 points in his career, both second-most in NFL history behind Morten Andersen. If he plays all 16 games he’s sure to break Andersen’s record, and his young teammates will be there to see NFL history that started before they were old enough to watch football.
Fans had no issue with players being vocal. It was dissent from the black athlete the public didn’t want. After the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, Red Sox superstar David Ortiz took the microphone at Fenway Park before Boston’s first game back and said memorably, “This is our f—ing city!” to delirious applause. Later that year, as the Red Sox were on their way to overcoming a dismal, last-place 2012 season with a World Series championship, one of the enduring photos of the playoffs was a police officer cheering in the bullpen after an Ortiz grand slam.