How ballet, posters and parking spots are keeping the 2014 Cowboys healthy

When you think of the Dallas Cowboys a few names obviously immediately jump to mind – owner Jerry Jones, head coaches Jason Garret and Jimmy Johnson, quarterbacks Tony Romo, Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, wide receivers Dez Bryant, Michael Irvin and Drew Pearson, along with hundreds of other big name stars whose names adorn the backs of jerseys in bars and living rooms across America on Sunday afternoons.

Less likely to happen is for someone to recall the name of the IT director, the assistant to the head coach, or the director of video. But these people – and the thousands of others who work at AT&T Stadium during the season – ensure the organization hums along, supporting those big names we know so they can do what we as fans demand of them: win football games.

As we think abut all of the things that are clicking for the team right now, one that cannot be overlooked is the role of Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Woicik. For those that don’t know, Woicik is one of the most decorated coaches in NFL history, having won three Super Bowl rings with the Dallas Cowboys in the 90s and the New England Patriots in the early 2000s.

Recognized by his peers on numerous occasions as being one of the best in the business, he returned to Dallas in February 2011 and players got on board with his philosophy. Like the 90s, Woicik instituted an awards program for off-season work – captured in-depth by former staff writer Rowan Kavner for Star magazine in 2012:

Woicik’s award system was simple. Separate the participants by position or strength, come up with several categories, and dole out awards and incentives for the top performers in each of those areas. The Cowboys staff discussed the worthiness of those who put in the extra effort and decided to add more players to the awards list, if deserving.

Rewards have changed since the high-flying days of the early 90s – mostly due to salary cap implications – but the coaching staff got creative:

Winners received a parking spot at Valley Ranch, a poster in their honor and a weight room photo for demonstrating the best attendance, work ethic, leadership, improvement and performance in the offseason.

Tight end Jason Witten – arguably one of the best and most reliable tight ends of all time, even according to Romo – has been a recipient of one of the awards and his off-season workout partner running back DeMarco Murray not only won an award himself this year, but credited his time with Witten for his performance thus far this season, telling the Dallas Morning News:

“It helped a lot, obviously with the stamina aspect, just building a good armor for your body so you can take some hits and take the pounding of a long season.”

And while this season has seen some unconventional methods like ballet and ski machines, the players are feeling and are seeing the effects. There have been fewer injuries and the players appear – even to the naked eye – less gassed come the fourth quarter.

Even ‘Off-Day Wednesdays’ for Romo – where he actually does do walk-throughs and then heads to the weight room with Woicik – initially had people shaking their heads and wondering if he was really 100%. Given his current stats, everyone is now jumping on the game plan bandwagon.

So while ‘Cowboys hamstring injuries’ may potentially continue to be a one of the most oft searched phrases, and the second half is always the true test, I think we should all take a moment a give quick tip of our caps to Mike Woicik for all of his hard work thus far.

How ballet, posters and parking spots are keeping the 2014 Cowboys healthy How ballet, posters and parking spots are keeping the 2014 Cowboys healthy Reviewed by Mr. DCStands4 on 1:34:00 AM Rating: 5

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