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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Lacewell always had eye for spotting talent

by Wally Hall | January 13, 2022 at 2:24 a.m.

It was January 1993 and about two hours before the Dallas Cowboys would take on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game.

Rains had been heavy that week and groundskeepers were still replacing mud that had once been grass with huge plots of fresh sod.

Engrossed in the process it wasn't immediately noticed when the next chair was pulled out.

Turning and expecting to find old friend Randy Galloway, then of the Dallas Morning News, it was a little surprising to find Larry Lacewell.

Lacewell had around his neck an all-access pass as part of the Dallas Cowboys, although at that point he was still unofficial and wouldn't become director of scouting until a few months later.

Everyone knew that from the time Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys in 1989 (when yours truly won a case of refreshments from Galloway) Lacewll had been a close advisor for the new owner.

Lacewell had a talent for spotting talent.

He was also a defensive wizard and had a keen mind about everything football.

He had won national championships as an assistant at Oklahoma, and as head coach made Arkansas State University a Division I-AA threat almost every year.

Sometimes at ASU he worked on the sideline, but a lot of the times he was in the coaches box so he could see the whole field.

"We have a chance here," he said quietly that day. "The 49ers are good, but they aren't better than us. It may come down to quarterback play. Troy has a chance to be one of the greats."

Lacewell's knowledge proved to be visionary as Troy Aikman completed 24 of 34 passes for 322 yards and 2 touchdowns

Steve Young was effective, completing 25 of 35 for 313 yards and 1 touchdown.

Aikman had no interceptions, Young had two and the Cowboys won 30-20 to advance to the Super Bowl.

In the 30 years since, the Cowboys and 49ers have faced off many times, and will do again Sunday at 3:30 p,m. on CBS. This game is in AT&T Stadium, often known as Jerry World.

There's not a record book kept about teams' associations with high schools, but this game seems to run directly through Little Rock's Catholic High.

San Francisco co-chairman John York graduated from Catholic High in 1967. York is a retired cancer research pathologist who married Denise DeBartolo in 1978. She and her brother inherited the team from their father Edward Debartolo.

She became co-chairman of the family company upon her father's death and later bought out her brother who had some legal issues.

All along the way, her number one advisor and partner has been her husband.

As for the Cowboys, Executive Vice President and CEO Stephen Jones graduated from Catholic High in 1982, later played for the Arkansas Razorbacks before joining the family business. Cowboys' Executive Vice President and Chief Sales and Marketing Officer Jerry Jones Jr. graduated from Catholic High in 1988, graduated from Georgetown University and got his law degree from SMU.

Father George Tribou, former rector for Catholic High, will be looking down Saturday smiling at both teams.

Also watching will be Lacewell, who lives in Jonesboro with his wife Criss.

Don't remember if Lacewell made a prediction on the Super Bowl played in the Rose Bowl, but it was a day to remember.

Garth Brooks sang the national anthem, Michael Jackson was the halftime entertainment and the coin toss was by O.J. Simpson.

The Cowboys rolled that day, taking a 28-10 halftime lead and winning 52-17.

Troy Aikman threw four touchdown passes and was named Most Valuable Player, and as Lacewell suspected, turned out to be as good as he thought.

Print Headline: Lacewell always had eye for spotting talent


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