Johnston likes supporting role


LOS ANGELES -- Daryl Johnston doesn't mind being just another face in the Dallas Cowboys crowd.

"I enjoy being able to just go around and not really be recognized. When you see guys like Emmitt [Smith] and Michael [Irvin] and Troy [Aikman] and what they have to go through from the personal side just walking around town, it's very difficult. It's a lot tougher than people realize," he said.

It's not a problem for Johnston because as he blocking back for the Cowboys, he rarely gets noticed.

That changed a week ago when CBS announcer John Madden lauded him for his role in the 30-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC title game. He scored a touchdown and caught four passes for 26 yards.

That prompted Aikman to needle Johnston by saying, "He's gone from the most underrated player in the league to the most overrated."

Johnston said he hasn't seen the tape of the game, but he heard that Madden complimented him. He said that Aikman put in a good word for him with Madden.

Johnston is something of a throwback to the days of the two-back offenses before the one-back and the run-and-shoot offenses became popular and he's a valuable cog in the offense because he paves the way for Smith's runs.

It doesn't bother Johnston that Smith gets all the limelight while he does the work in the trenches while carrying the ball just 17 times the last two years in the regular season.

"It doesn't bother me at all. Everybody asks me if it's a problem for your ego. But I've never considered myself somebody who's had an ego. It's easy for me. I know what my role is. When you've got a guy like Emmitt Smith on our team, you want to get him the ball as much as you possibly can," he said.

A second-round pick out of Syracuse where he gained 1,830 yards at his collegiate career, Johnston grew up in Youngstown, N.Y., about an hour's drive from Buffalo's Rich Stadium.

But Johnston was never a Buffalo fan. He grew up rooting for the Miami Dolphins.

"I'm probably accused of jumping ona winning team's bandwagon at a young age when they were one of the top teams in the NFL," he said.

NAACP charges racism

Officials from the NAACP in Dallas have accused the Cowboys of racism in their minority hiring practices and community involvement.

"The Cowboys organization reeks of racism in all facets of its operations. It appears they want African-Americans only on the playing field as gladiators," said Grand Prairie NAACP president Lee Alcorn. The NAACP, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Black State Employees Association say they want to meet with Cowboys officials after the Super Bowl.

A team spokesman said the team hasn't hired many employees since Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989. He cut the number of staff members from 100 to 64.

The spokesman also said the team hired only one minority coach in its first 29 years, but has hired three since Jones took over and two are still on the staff.

Jones said he wasn't aware of the complaint, but said of the charges,"I don't agree with that. We're sensitive to any minority issues."

An evasive guy

Charles Haley never seems to mix well with reporters.

That's why it wasn't surprising that the defensive lineman didn't make it all the way through his media session at Dodger Stadium yesterday.

When he was asked if he had fond memories of his time with San Francisco -- the 49ers traded him after several highly publicized disputes -- Haley said, "Next question.

"OK, then, that's enough. Thank you all. We did good today. . . . 30 minutes."

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