Dave Walsh: Following The Pokes In The Pros

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By Dave Walsh, Cowboy State Daily

Don’t you love it when there are those “Pokes in the Pros” to follow as they take their talents and abilities and try to apply them at the very top level? And it really doesn’t matter which Cowboy or Cowgirl it is or the sport in which they compete. 

When someone who has gained our interest while competing in the Brown and Bold advances to the next level, most Wyoming fans just have to keep up and keep tabs.

Cowboy football fans now have their latest and newest possible Pokes in the Pros to root for. Wyoming linebacker Chad Muma was drafted by the Jacksonville Jaguars a week ago. Muma, like Logan Wilson two NFL drafts ago, was picked early in the third round. 

A pair of Cowboy linemen have also been signed as undrafted free agents. Cowboy center Keegan Cryder and defensive end Garrett Crall will get NFL shots too. And there could be more Cowboy free-agent signings. 

All three of these Cowboys will report to rookie camps in the next week or so. Of course, there is the matter of “making the team” for any player, drafted or not. I think these three are all NFL-worthy. 

Muma, of course, would seem to have the best opportunity, being the 70th player picked in the draft and going to a team that could sure use the help. But Cryder will get a great look at Tampa, and Crall will get strong consideration in Miami.

And won’t it be fun watching it all play out! Wyoming football fans are as passionate and faithful as any in the country. And their passion and interest doesn’t fade, it follows their former Pokes wherever they go. And it’s always been that way. 

The Josh Allen craze that continues here in the Cowboy State is certainly not the first example. The Logan Wilson infatuation will not be the last. Will there be a flurry of Jacksonville Jaguar jersey sightings coming soon?

It seems impossible to go anywhere in Wyoming, especially a Wyoming athletic event, without seeing a Buffalo Bills article of apparel. It might be a T-shirt or a sweatshirt with the number 17 and the name “Allen” on it. It could have “Bills Mafia” emblazoned upon it. 

Have you noticed the “Wilson” Cincinnati Bengals jerseys out and about? I even spotted a Mitch Donahue San Francisco 49ers jersey at the Cowboys Spring Game last weekend.

And again, this has been going on for a long time. Forty years ago, when I finally found home here in Wyoming, I encountered many Jim Kiick Miami Dolphins Jerseys. Kiick hadn’t played for the Dolphins since 1974, and would also play for the Broncos and Redskins, but here in Wyoming in 1982, the former Wyoming Cowboy‘s pro jersey was very popular. There were also Ken Fantetti Detroit Lions tops and Aaron Kyle Dallas Cowboys AND Denver Broncos jerseys.

I had the pleasure and honor of broadcasting Cowboy Football games during the senior season of one of the best Wyoming athletes ever. My first season on the Cowboy radio broadcast was Jay Novacek’s senior season at Wyoming. Novacek was a two-sport star at UW. He was a decorated decathlete on the Cowboy track and field team and a tight end on the Wyoming football team. 

Novacek was drafted in the sixth round of the 1985 NFL draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. So you would see a few Novacek-Cardinals jerseys around the state. Then, in 1990, Novacek was traded to the Dallas Cowboys, where he would play for seven mostly Pro Bowl seasons. And the Novacek-Dallas Cowboy apparel exploded in popularity here in Wyoming.

When a home grown Wyoming product gets drafted, well, those jerseys become immediate collector’s items. Imagine the run on Chris Prosinski Jacksonville Jaguars apparel in 2011. The John Wendling Buffalo Bills jersey was very popular in 2007, the Casey Bramlet Cincinnati Bengals jersey was hot in 2004, and we saw lots of John Burrough Atlanta Falcons tops in Wyoming back in 1995.

I understand that NFL fans are much like college football fans. Both are just fans of the game, they love the sport. I enjoy watching any level of football, no matter who is playing. But like most football fans, we tend to closely identify with a single team, and the players on that team. And when those players, Cowboy football players in this case, continue on in their pro careers, we cannot resist, we must follow.

The NFL certainly has become more interesting to me over the years because of that. Like many others, I can’t help but seek out NFL games in which former Wyoming Cowboys are involved. The pro game is a great product, made even better by those Pokes in the Pros.

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