ARLINGTON, Texas – Michael Gallup was surrounded by his Cowboys teammates, holding the ball in Dallas's dressing room Thursday night after a victory over 31-23 over Washington Redskins.
Coach Jason Gareth coach gave the newcomer rock and Gallup spoke thanks to the teammates who supported him in the four days since he learned that his brother Andrew had died of suicide.
The players listened carefully as Gallup explained he was happy.
"We are happy to have a win and he has done it for his brother," said Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie. His brother stared at us.
"It is certainly a matter of football: playing for others, having a reason to play, we had a reason to play."
Gallup stayed in Atlanta after Dallas's victory on Sunday to his hometown to mourn with his family. He joined the team on Wednesday, took two balls for 12 yards on Thursday and is now returning to Georgia for Andrew's funeral on Friday.
The classmates prayed for the Gallup family, texts and support messages. Owner Jerry Jones offers his private plane to carry Gallup back and forth.
The Dak Quarter The press, who lost his cancer mother five years ago while in Mississippi, has given the receiver a gentle message.
"I told him no one could tell him how to feel and no one could tell him what to do," the press said. – Do what you think is right, do what the heart tells you to do.
"Do not try to compare a tragedy with another, not in this case, but as you experience it and you have gone through it, I felt it important to tell him to feel what you think is right to feel."
On Thursday, Gallup felt it was right to join his teammates to qualify for Thanksgiving. The cowboys left his decision, respecting what he considered best for his family and the grief. But Gallup was consoled to be surrounded by teammates. His teammates wondered about the energy, passion and calm of the 22-year-olds who described you as a "warrior" in the face of the tragedy.
Gallup did not talk to the media, but sent an email "Thank you," with his fingers crossed and a photo.
"If you've been a football player for a while, you'll start to understand lifetime, that's your way out," said Defender DeMarcus Lawrence. "That's how you live your life.
"We just wanted to make sure he knew we were with him and his family. There's no need to worry.
On Sunday after Dallas settled Atlanta 22-19 with the final second goal, Jones told reporters that the winning dressing room was grim with tragedy learning with the player's family.
Thursday, Jones discovered his post-heroes, saying he was "sure he was proud" of the cowboys.
"You would have been if you saw what they did with Michael Gallup there (the locker room)," Jones added. "When you are young, death is really hard to live with.
"This team gathered around him in a great way … For such an authentic, touching moment that I have been part of."
Follow Gary Epstein on Twitter @ JoriEpstein,