Daryl Johnston Interview What's up Who Dats? This week I had the pleasure of interviewing 90's great Daryl 'Moose' Johnston, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, now a commentator for Fox. Daryl will be calling this Sunday's Panthers at Saints game and was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time. We chopped it about his playing days, changing the Pro Bowl, and his new promotion with T.G.I. Fridays. We have audio and text versions for your enjoyment!
Tee Word: If you don't mind, I'd like to jump right in and talk with you about a little bit of football and some Saints football and some of your history and resume as a player and on-air personality. If that's okay?
Daryl Johnston: Absolutely!
Tee: Okay! Let's jump with the first question. You spent your entire career with the Dallas Cowboys and were able to win three Super Bowls. What was it like playing in and winning the Super Bowl?
DJ: Well, it's hard to explain to people. I try to relate it to whatever their profession is and just imagine reaching the pinnacle of that and achieving success, so that's the biggest thing. When you get into it, in that terms, I think they understand it a bit more. For me, as a boy, growing up, watching that game with my father on Sundays, Super Bowl Sundays. You never expected the opportunity to play in that game, let alone playing on 3 winning teams. It was amazing in the fact that my first year in the league, along with Troy and Mark Stepnoski and Tony Tolbert, we were part of that first draft under Jimmy Johnson and we were 1-15. So to win a championship after a 1-15 season was unbelievable.
Tee: I see, that was something else that I wanted to ask you about. You all endured the 1-15 and next year you were 7-9 if I'm not mistaken? There was a point during that season that you all got hot around November and got a four game winning streak going and kept yourself in the playoff race. The Saints are in a very similar situation this year. What are your thoughts on how players respond to the pressure of trying to make a playoff push?
DJ: The biggest thing is not putting yourself in a position where you've lost control of your own destiny. And then you have to rely on other people. That was always our first priority. Number 1, let's try and win the division. Take of the division title and that gave us a lot more control over what we were doing. That year in 1990, I think a lot of people forget because it the 1-15 (season) and we were 3-7 after that. So we're sitting at 4-22 after a season and a half! As you pointed out, we did get hot down the stretch. Actually we forfeited control of our destiny. So a Monday night game that year, if it had fallen a specific way, we would have gotten in and the Saints were involved in that game (Saints won and dashed the Cowboys playoff hopes). It didn't work out in our favor, we finished 7-9. But I don't think anyone wants to back their way into the playoffs, even after a 1-15 season. It just showed us that there was a lot more work left to do. There's probably a lot of mixed emotions at that time.
Tee: It definitely would be a high pressure situation, trying to make that push. As a player you were so exceptional at your position, that they actually created a designation for fullbacks to make the Pro Bowl. Because you were so good, you kinda revolutionized catching passes, lead blocking for one of the best running backs ever. (Now) We have Jimmy Graham, Rob Gronkowski, and some other pass catching tight ends. Do you think they'd make a designation for more traditional/inline/blocking TEs to get in versus a Jimmy Graham?
DJ: No, I think the big thing is that that position is already designated as the tight end position. So as the league evolves and move around, there are different things that they're going to do. So the biggest thing is the fact that whether your inline or displaced throughout the formation, you're still a TE. I don't see that changing in any way, shape, or form moving forward.
Tee: I understand you have partnered with T.G.I. Fridays. Can you tell me about the Rib Flight Trio that they're doing?
DJ: Absolutely! They've added 3 new flavors to their existing flavors. So they still have the signature Jack Daniel's sauce and Tennessee barbecue. But they added Sweet Memphis Rub, which is my favorite, Chipotle Smoked barbecue, and an Applewood Bacon-Crusted Rib. And you can pick any 3 of those 5 to make your trio.It likens back to what we talked about in the game of football. I was with the Dallas Cowboys and we had Michael, Troy, and Emmitt who were known as the triplets. Which is a trio. You guys right now have Brees, Graham, and Ingram, down in New Orleans. If you look, you see the ability to throw the ball and also the ability to run the football. It really poses a problem to defenses. And its really a cool play on that. Because it's a 'no-lose' situation. But it makes it that much harder when you have 5 great options to choose from. It's been fun talking to people and finding out which 3 of the 5 they want to add to their own trio.
Tee: Having options is always a good thing, so that makes their promotion that much better. This week the Panthers play the Saints in the Superdome, you'll be there calling the game correct? What cities do you enjoy visiting when you get to call a game there? Which ones are kind of a star on the schedule.
DJ: It's funny because there are stars on the schedule for different reasons. Obviously Lambeau is starred, just because of the history and tradition of the Green Bay Packer organization. And really, the opportunity to experience a game at Lambeau Field is something that I hope every football fan gets to do. I'd put Arrow-Head right behind Lambeau as a close second. Another great experience, we had our first chance this year to go there after the renovations. It's absolutely fantastic, I love the environment of both those stadiums. And then you get into just the cool city, the atmosphere, the food. Philadelphia is a fun city, even as a Cowboy, to go to. Seattle is a nice city, cool stadium, cool city on the water there. Seafood from the Pacific Northwest. Then obviously what you guys provide down in New Orleans, one of the best eating towns in the country. The Superdome, the vibe inside that building on game day, the passion of the fans. To see how strong that organization has been through some difficult years and some difficult challenges. And then had the culmination of winning the super Bowl in 2009. Pretty cool! New Orleans is definitely ear-marked on our calender if we get a chance to go down there.
Tee: It's really a fantastic city for the vacationers and the residents. Did you have the opportunity to play in the Superdome?
DJ: I did, I played a couple games there. I actually played in the Sugar Bowl in college!
Tee: And what was that experience like? A lot of players talk about stadiums being loud or really hard to play in as a visiting player. What was your experience with that?
DJ: It definitely is loud. I think any indoor facility creates that challenge for the visiting team. We played down there one time in the early 90's when you guys were rolling with tremendous defense. With Rickey Jackson and (Pat) Swilling, that tremendous line-backing core. So unbelievable, it was tough. That was my first professional game in 1989. We opened up in New Orleans and you guys just clobbered us. So we quickly found out in Dallas that there was a difference between preseason and regular season games. It's been a mixed bag down in the Superdome. I've had some great memories and some very difficult days.
Tee: Daryl, I really appreciate you taking some time to speak with us today. It's been great talking to you, I love the information you've been able to pass on to me. If there is anything else you'd like to tell us about T.G.I. Fridays, we'd be happy to hear it.
DJ: There's a couple things on social media, a couple hash-tags. #PorkonPork is one, it ties in with the apple-wood bacon-crusted rib. Then you've got the #RibFlightTrio. Also, recently T.G.I. Fridays started the endless apps that's going to continue through the holiday season as well. So for $10, you can pick one of the appetizers from Friday's list of the most popular starters. And then you get unlimited refills on the same appetizer during the visit. The endless app is still going, so check in, send out a tweet to the #RibFlightTrio and let us know which one you like!
Tee: Thank you for your time!
That's a wrap guys, Be Cool Who Dats!