IRVING (105.3 THE FAN) – On the first night Dallas Cowboys Nation met just-drafted safety J.J. Wilcox, he lost his composure in a comically positive way, accepting the news from owner Jerry Jones while screaming with glee in the phone – with a chorus of his family and friends screaming with glee in the background.
On Wednesday, the rookie returned to practice and to the locker room after spending 10 days back home in Georgia to mourn the death of his mother.
And he did so with great composure.
“Text messages, the flowers and stuff, the coaches calling and checking up on me, the PR people – it was great,” Wilcox said, calmly fielding dozen of questions from the media. “It makes a difference when you have somebody that’s supporting you.”
Wilcox recorded an interception in Oakland almost two weeks ago and was in a celebratory mood, but shortly after that got the call from home that his mother, Marshell Wilcox, 49, had lost her 13-year battle with lupus.
“She was fighting it for a long time,” Wilcox said. “I’m proud of her. She was a strong lady. And I definitely want to stand up and fight for her.”
Wilcox expressed deep sadness at the thought of his father, James Sr., and his teenage sister going on without Marshell. But he is attempting to support his family the same way the Cowboys have attempted to support him. The 6-0, 216-pound third-round draftee from Georgia Southern remains the odds-on favorite to be the team’s third safety as his absence didn’t change that; coach Jason Garrett frequently praises him as a high-quality “upbeat’’ person and a defender who plays with an “on-the-edge’’ physicality.
And now Wilcox returns to the best support group he knows.
Most people in the locker room weren’t aware of Wilcox’ mother’s illness until tragedy struck. They are now, though, especially after fellow rookie defensive back B.W. Webb wore J.J.’s No. 27 jersey at the close of camp in Oxnard as a tribute to the Wilcox family.
“When I saw that, it definitely brought tears to my eyes,” Wilcox said. “It let me know that the guys still love me and they’re still backing me 110 percent when I’m not here, so that makes a difference.”
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