Perseverance pays off for Cowboys receiver Jesse Holley

Much of the focus in Dallas over the last week has been on the health of quarterback Tony Romo and whether he'll be able to endure the pain of cracked ribs (and a punctured lung) enough to play against the Redskins. But the Holley story too has captured the imagination of those fans.

For good reason. Holley's path to the Cowboys was anything but typical. In 2009, the onetime cellphone salesman was the winner of Irvin's reality show "4th and Long" — pro football's answer to "American Idol" — and was invited to training camp. He wound up making the practice squad, then last season worked his way onto the 53-man roster as a special-teams standout.

Then, late in the game at San Francisco, injuries to Dez Bryant and Miles Austin created an opening for him at receiver. Holley made catches of 11 and eight yards on consecutive downs in the 10-play, fourth-quarter drive that set up the tying field goal. Those were the first catches of his pro career.

Irvin, who watched the early games with his fellow NFL Network analysts but retired to his office for the Dallas game "because I needed some one-on-one time with my Cowboys," peeked out his door then hollered, " '4th and Long' in the house!" when Holley made his first catch.


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