It seems fitting that a few days after legendary Dallas Cowboys scout Gil Brandt died that team posthumously honored him by signing right tackle Terence Steele to a five-year, $86.8 million contract extension with $50 million guaranteed.
It was Brandt who helped build the Cowboys America’s Team legacy and championship pedigree with his unique ability to uncover hidden gems like Hall of Famers Drew Pearson and Cliff Harris, Everson Walls and Cornell Green.
That was carried on with the undrafted finds of quarterback Tony Romo and receiver Miles Austin long after Brandt left the team organization.
Steele is an extension of that. He joined the Cowboys in 2020 as an undrafted free agent from Texas Texas Tech and has become an anchor at right tackle, with 40 starts in 45 games.
“I was overcome with pretty much every emotion,” Steele said Monday upon signing his contract. “It was a dream come true. And I’ve thought of this since I was very young. So just to actually see it coming to fruition and it’s awesome, like all the hard work I put in paid off. But I also know that there’s more work to be put in so I won’t be complacent and I am ready to push it forward.”
Steele’s journey resonated with Cowboys coach McCarthy. He joined the team at the start of the COVID pandemic. There was no real offseason program, no real training camp and no preseason games. And yet he was called on to start 14 games as a rookie due to injuries.
“Terence Steele, the man. Just look at his journey here,” McCarthy said. “His first year. He’s earned everything. He’s someone we have very high value tied to him. He signed his contract. We’re really proud of him. Just his work ethic and the way he goes about it. He’s improved every year in what we’ve asked of him. It says so much about him as a person.”
That he got the deal after he tore his ACL in December, forcing him to miss the final four games for the season, says a lot of about him as well.
He attacked his rehab with athletic trainer Britt Brown. He was at the facility at 6 a.m. every morning. And he was good to go for the start of training camp.
“Our doctors, our medical staff do an excellent job as far as setting a plan, forecasting,” McCarthy said. “I think Britt Brown is outstanding once he gets his hands on them and gets them moving out there in the fieldwork. Once they get to that phase, you can see ‘Hey, this guy is ahead of schedule’. That’s the way it was with Terence. He did not have one setback. Didn’t miss a day. He was in here every day, the same time. It was like clockwork watching him attack his rehab. Which is how he attacks everything. It’s the man. Terence Steele.”
Steele, the man, got the work ethic and discipline from being raised in San Antonio in a military household.
His mom and his dad were the first people he called after he signed the contract. Then he contacted his financial adviser.
Of course, mom had already taken care of some of that advice.
“They believed in me since I was young,” Steele said. ”They’re always on my ear, you know, encouraging me. They always said I’d be here and it worked out so thanks to them for just keeping that in my ear in my head and just telling me I can be whatever I want to be.
“They’re obviously happy. My mom, she was ecstatic. My pops was ecstatic. They couldn’t say enough good things. They’re telling me just be smart with just people coming at me and just don’t waste my money. All that mom stuff.”
That mom stuff is about to be rewarded by the new “big money” man in the Cowboys organization as right guard Zack Martin playfully yelled at Steele during his interview.
What is he going to buy first?
“I’m gonna probably take care of my parents, buy my mom car, get pops something, make sure he’s good,” Steele said. “Take care of my family first and I’ll worry about whatever I need after that.”