Phillips compares Spencer to Hall of Famer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips was kind enough to stop and visit with four reporters in a hotel lobby earlier this afternoon. I asked him several questions, but his most interesting response involved outside linebacker Anthony Spencer. He said Spencer was "one of the best players in the league at the end of the year."

Phillips indicated that Spencer was talented enough to one day be compared with a member of the Saints' famed "Dome Patrol," linebacker Rickey Jackson. The former New Orleans star was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame a couple weeks ago and he was part of Bum Phillips' first draft class in New Orleans (1981).

Phillips also talked Friday about how much he enjoys the scouting process. His father, Bum, used to send coaches out on the road to scout players. Wade was responsible for the University of Tulsa when the Oilers selected wide receiver Steve Largent in 1976. But when the Oilers needed a roster spot in the preseason, the offensive coaches decided that Largent was expendable. He was eventually traded to the Seahawks for an eighth-round draft pick. And I think most of you know the rest of that story.

In other news, Phillips said he thought the Cowboys' inclusion in the Hall of Fame Game was a positive despite the extra travel and practice time it will require.

"With our team, I think it’s a good thing," Phillips said. "We have a lot of young players. We had some young players that were hurt last year, or didn’t play a whole lot or played some and need more playing time. I can just see that helping."

When I last saw Phillips on Friday, he was catching up with Redskins coach Mike Shanahan. Phillips was replaced as head coach of the Broncos by Shanahan after the 1994 season. Now the two will square off in the NFC East. OK, let's do this again Saturday.