Wherever Bill Parcells has coached, he has issued rookies helmets without the team decal, saying he wants them to earn it. He found that to be a bit difficult in Dallas, where the star on the helmet is a highly marketable icon.
"It took an act of Congress to get it done," Parcells said. "I just told the equipment guys, 'Don't let the rookies have a star.' They were like, 'Whoa! Wait a minute!'"
It seems to have worked.
Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones said some rookies wanted the star as badly as they wanted their paychecks.
"It sounds corny, but it is kind of like a badge," Parcells said.
"It's what some of these young guys aspire to be. This has been a dream for some of them. My dad used to tell me that the long hard road is the surest way to go, and strangely enough when you get to your goal that's the most satisfying. I think that's really what that's about."
Second-year receiver Antonio Bryant has the star, but thinks veterans should have to earn it, too.
"He didn't have to just do that for the rookies," Bryant said. "He could've done that for all of us, give us an objective, something to work for."
World's toughest exec?: If anyone doubts that Matt Millen was one of the toughest players in recent history, here's an example that proves it.
Last month, the Detroit Lions' president underwent surgery to repair a bulging disk in his back. He hurt it in 1978, when he was playing at Penn State.
He spent the next quarter century without being able to feel much in his left foot. That included 12 seasons as an NFL linebacker in which he won four Super Bowl rings with the Raiders, 49ers and Redskins.
"I just wanted to keep playing," Millen says. "It didn't affect me that much on the field. I was slow anyway."
Trent's heavy heart: Trent Dilfer looks as steady as ever, but this training camp promises to be a little tougher than previous years.
Dilfer's 5-year-old son, Trevin, died in April after a 40-day fight against heart infection.
At a Seattle Seahawks' minicamp in June, Dilfer broke into tears and didn't take questions in his first public comments on his son's death. Dilfer isn't ready for interviews in camp and wants to focus on football.
Matt Hasselbeck, Seattle's projected starter at quarterback, said training camp was therapeutic.
"He lives right next to me in the dorms and we're having fun," Hasselbeck said. "I don't think either of us has shut our doors yet. We're just back-and-forth, having fun, playing video games and just doing everything together."
Dilfer also is trying to come back from a torn right Achilles' tendon that forced him to miss the second half of last season.
Hoops time: Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups was at Lions training camp Thursday and after practice, a basketball net appeared on the field.
Billups was a quarterback and safety in high school, but had a little trouble trying to get a football into the net.
"I think Chauncey was shocked when I gave him that football," Detroit coach Steve Mariucci said. "It threw him right out of his rhythm."
Mariucci wouldn't let the players go until somebody made a shot, so rookie wide receiver David Kircus did.
He used a basketball.
Working hard for October: Vikings tight end Byron Chamberlain tested positive for the herbal stimulant ephedra and he will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season.
He's still trying to approach training camp the way he normally would, however.
"The whole point of camp is to prepare for Sept. 7, opening day, and I'm not going to be there," Chamberlain said. "But I'm going to work hard and try to improve myself again like I do every year."
Chamberlain, who will appeal the suspension, said he misread the label and believed the product he was using didn't have ephedra, which speeds the heart rate. The NFL ruled it off limits in 2001, shortly after the death of Vikings lineman Korey Stringer.
"I don't even drink," he said. "I take this business of football very seriously. I'm very passionate about the game. Anything negative that attaches to my name or the image I like to portray, it was really hard to take."