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Hansen again shows why the balls are in his court

Dale Hansen, Wade Phillips and DMN columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor

Dale Hansen just doesn't give a damn, and this has nothing to do with his on-air performance.

What's refreshing is his disdain for office politics, particularly when it calls for cozying up to the Belo mothership. Hansen just doesn't give a damn about that.

His "Hansen Unplugged" segment on Monday's 10 p.m. Belo8 newscast showed why he's still unequivocally his own man in times when corporate tentacles choke off freedom of speech within certain fields of play. Hansen nonetheless fired away at Dallas Morning News sports columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor despite the fact that both his station and the newspaper are owned and operated by Belo Corp. He, unlike Taylor, doesn't think that Dallas Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips is principally to blame for Sunday's stunning playoff loss to the New York Giants.

Allow a brief digression. The DMN in turn does not allow critiques of Belo8 -- or any another local TV station for that matter. It's been banned since February 2000, which just happened to be the month that former Belo8 mainstay Tracy Rowlett began anchoring for CBS11.

Hansen, who last year signed a long-term contract with Belo8, doesn't see any point in playing by those rules. His fellow anchors dutifully promote upcoming DMN stories during newscasts, but Hansen will lock horns with the newspaper's sports columnists if he feels they're writing nonsense. This is healthy, and Taylor, for one, is big enough to take it. The hell with ill-conceived, childish corporate policy.

Hansen had a good time clotheslining Taylor after noting at the top of his commentary that the columnist "said the Cowboys might need another coach and says the Giants' first touchdown was an indictment of Phillips."

Taylor in fact did say that, writing Monday, "Amani Toomer, who can't outrun me, broke two tackles and scored on a 52-yard touchdown on the game's first series. That's an indictment of Phillips."

"Let's take a look at that play and see just what Wade Phillips did," Hansen retorted. "There's Phillips missing the first tackle and there he is missing another one."

Hansen narrated further game footage that showed "Phillips" missing a wide open Terrell Owens near the end zone, "Phillips" dropping a key third down pass and "Phillips" slowing up in the end zone rather than catch a perfectly thrown pass from QB Tony Romo.

Then came the hammer.

"This blame game so many people insist on playing makes no sense if you watched the game and know just a little bit about the NFL."

Which is to strongly infer that Taylor doesn't.

Taylor, who demanded a trade of Dirk Nowitzki after the Mavericks' playoff collapse, also blitzed the first-year Cowboys coach with this assessment of his leadership skills: "Phillips, so defensive any time the Cowboys were criticized, coddled this team. He provided the players with ready-made excuses for their few deficiencies, while failing to recognize that they had become a collection of narcissists."

Hansen, after noting the playoff struggles of numerous prominent coaches and quarterbacks, said the Cowboys "lost because they made too many mistakes in a game that doesn't allow many and didn't make the plays they needed in a game that demands some. It happens in sports. It happens to 31 NFL teams every year."

His defense of Phillips is an about-face from Hansen's constant -- some would say incessant -- pounding of former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, whom he serenaded with "Ding dong the witch is dead" when he resigned.

But now, "the arrow is pointing up" with the Cowboys, Hansen concluded. "For the first time in a long time, you have a reason now to be excited about next year. And I am. I still am. Because I am the voice of reason."

Not all of the time he isn't. Hansen also is highly accomplished at making an ass of himself, and readily admits it. His ego still won't fit in a bus terminal. And his wardrobe -- well, this is one area where he should take some advice from dapper weatherman and sparring partner Pete Delkus.

No one tops Hansen, though, as both a man of his word, and as a sports anchor who's unafraid to tackle anybody, any time. He may be right about Phillips, but so may Taylor.

You can choose sides while also knowing for certain that Hansen is the guy you'd want on your side when the going gets tough, and the ass-kissers jump ship. He'll always want to be the Captain. But he won't be a Queeg.