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Raiders Won't Be Among Cowboy Sympathizers : Pro football: Trying to turn things around, they couldn't care less about Dallas' preseason injury and holdout problems.


It never fails. By the time the Super Bowl-winning team has made it from the field to the trophy presentation in the locker room, somebody has already branded it a dynasty.

That's certainly the way it was for the Dallas Cowboys.

When Jerry Jones bought the franchise in 1989 and fired Tom Landry, the only coach the Cowboys had ever had, Jones was labeled a meddling dilettante who was out of his league. And the new coach, Jimmy Johnson, was questioned because he had no pro experience. And his quarterback, Troy Aikman, was doubted because he hadn't proven he could win the big one.

But after beating the Buffalo Bills, 52-17, Dallas was being hailed as the potential "Team of the '90s."

Dynasties, however, are best assessed at the end of a decade.

Sure enough, only 6 1/2 months after Super Bowl XXVII, the Cowboy squad that will face the Raiders tonight in an exhibition at Texas Stadium has already lost some of the luster of that bright day in Pasadena.

Aikman, having undergone off-season back surgery, has yet to play a down, and definitely won't play tonight, but is hoping to do so in next week's exhibition against the Houston Oilers.

Emmitt Smith, the NFL's leading rusher in each of the last two seasons, has yet to appear in camp because of a salary dispute.

The Cowboys have lost two safeties in as many exhibitions. In their opener against the Minnesota Vikings, Darren Woodson's forearm was broken. Last week, against the Detroit Lions in London, Kenneth Gant suffered a separated shoulder.

The latest Cowboy casualty is fullback Daryl Johnston, who suffered a broken finger on his right hand in practice this week and isn't expected to return until the regular season.

Add to all this the normal complacency that sets in after winning the championship, and it could be a long winter in Dallas.

But Johnson isn't conceding a thing, not with a team whose average age was 25.6 last season, youngest in the NFL.

"I think because of the youth of our team," Johnson said, "(complacency) really hasn't been a problem. Our guys have worked very hard. I think the attendance in the off-season program starting in March was probably better this year than we've ever had.

"I just want us to be as good as we can be. With guys injured and with our top running back out of camp, it's going to be difficult for us to be as good as we want to be."

While the Cowboys would like nothing better than to repeat their showing of last season, the Raiders don't even want to talk about 1992.

Make any reference to Coach Art Shell of last season's 7-9 Raiders and he waves his hands and says, "I won't talk about last year."

With some free-agent acquisitions, trades and a new attitude, the Raiders hope to have plenty to talk about this year.

In their exhibition opener against the Green Bay Packers, the Raiders looked like a very different team. As opposed to last year, the Raiders got the turnovers and capitalized on them. With the help of a solid defense and steady quarterbacking from Jeff Hostetler and Vince Evans, the Raiders won easily, 19-3.

But last Sunday, against the San Francisco 49ers, the Raiders lapsed into their old bad habits. Hostetler looked like the reincarnation of Jay Schroeder with two interceptions. The Raiders turned the ball over five times and lost, 27-0.

And the Cowboys think they have troubles.

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