"Thou shalt not seek publicity"

Today's professional athletes are bathed in the spotlight of intense media scrutiny from the time they sign for huge bonuses until the day they retire; and in some cases, even to the end of their days.

Every word spoken and every move made are reported on television and radio and in newspapers and magazines  . They have zero privacy.

When they dine in public restaurants their meals constantly are interrupted by autograph seekers. The same thing happens in movie theaters, shopping malls and just walking down the street.

Unlike Superman, who can put on a suit and a pair of glasses and become unrecognized as Clark Kent, these super athletes have no place to hide.

Remember Lamont Cranston who had the power to cloud men's minds so they couldn't see him (The Shadow)? Football players do not have that luxury. They cannot escape their fame. Especially Dallas Cowboys.

But it was not always so. A few years ago a group of players developed a style, a special way of doing things, and they were completely ignored. These were starting football players, but they were the Rodney Daingerfields of the Cowboys; they got no respect.

They formed the infamous Zero Club. Larry Cole, Blaine Nye and Pat Toomay were their names.

Each was a starter for the Cowboys, but their careers were highlighted by the fact that they were the only members of the Zero Club. The club was formed with no particular purpose and lacked any necessity.

It came into being slowly, was never incorporated, had no bylaws or charter and no one is really sure when it was dissolved; if it ever was.

Members are not even sure how it got started.

Cole thinks it was in training camp on a Saturday night when the three of them were the only ones left in the dorm and they had no place to go. Even the rookies wouldn't go out with them.

Others think it may have been formed at a more public spectacle like on Super Bowl press day where hundreds of photographers and reporters swarmed all the players except Cole, Toomay and Nye.

"Why are we here?" one of them asked. The other two looked at each other and shrugged. They didn't have an answer. Cole played defensive end and tackle for 13 years. Ermal Allen, assistant head coach to Tom Landry, once told me that Larry Cole graded out higher in the films than any other, player on defense after the game.


Nye made the Pro Bowl twice. But none of that playing good football stuff made any difference. This trio was the Zero Club.

"Occasionally other players said they were interested in joining the club," said Cole, "but the fact they showed interest disqualified them immediately."

Cole has been retired now for nearly 20 years and the others even longer than that, but they still have some fame as the only members of the Zero Club.

Cole gained attention as a home builder in the mid-cities area of Dallas/Fort Worth. The other two, in typical Zero Club fashion, have man aged to keep such a low profile that we don't even know where they are.

Toomay was trying to write a book which if he finished it, may have inspired the TV series Seinfeld, a show about nothing. 

Russ Russell, Publisher
Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly

From the June 1999 Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly.

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Copyright © 1999 Tim Stone
Last Modified - June 1999