: Preferred background song for this article : Whitesnake’s ‘Here I Go Again’ :
Here I am, driving west on Interstate 10, making my way to Oxnard, CA for yet another opening of Dallas Cowboys Training Camp. How many have I been to now? Five or six probably. It’s a 3 hour drive. Being a Dallas Cowboys fan living in California, what kind of fan would I be if I didn’t make the trip when the Cowboys come to train in my back yard? It’s my duty at that point, right? I mean, if one day I have grand children, what would I tell them if I didn’t go?
This time around, like every time I come to the Residence Inn at River Ridge for Cowboy’s training camp, I’m here as just another fan. No special privileges, no press pass (Steven). And this year, I even forgot my True Blue membership card to get in that slightly closer, slightly cooler (or dorkier) section. I won‘t forget it when I come back out on the 16th. As I said, just a fan. One of many, many fans that sell out the local hotels and drive from all over Southern California to get a glimpse of America’s Team. At the hotel I’m staying at, I met a family that flew down from Sacramento to come see their Dallas Cowboys practice and hopefully get some autographs (they didn’t forget their True Blue cards). I wonder if it was the same when the New Orleans Saints came out here last year? Some how, I doubt it.
This is quite a cool experience for those of us that don’t live in or around Dallas Fort worth, or anywhere in Texas, really, outside of Houston. When I look around the Cowboy’s training facility at all the Witten, Ware, Romo, Aikman and Staubach jerseys, I can’t help but feel a little bit like a groupy. I know that LA is going to get an NFL team again soon, but by the looks of things, we are in no rush. Here in So Cal, we have the Dallas Cowboys (and to a lesser extent, the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Gangsters).
You wouldn’t know it, looking around, that the Cowboys have 1 playoff win in, like, 17 years. There are always a lot of fans that come out to see them. Some years there’s more activity here than in other years. I did notice an uptick in attendance back when Bill Parcells became coach in 2003, and since. Parcells used to pick one person, always a kid, every day during training camp here in Oxnard to give an autograph to. Just one autograph! Except for the True Blues, the Dallas Cowboys ‘people’ would only let kids line up for autographs. Once you got the hang of it, if you didn’t have kids, its the only time you would happily invite the neighbors to travel to Oxnard with you because they had kids. Easily 70% of the kids in the autograph line had their parents hats or posters in their hands, it’s almost a joke, even the players knew what I..I mean, they, were up to.
Wonder if this year will be more of the same. I’m probably screwed this year because I always drag my nephew with me, but he’s 19 now. So, instead of playing the autograph game, I usually take a bunch of pictures. I’ve got Tony Romo in 2003 or 2004 running out for practice. Not a big deal, but back then, the kids and adults around me were asking, “who’s that?” – “Oh, he’s the 3rd string QB” – “Should we get his autograph?” “Don’t bother, he probably won’t make the team” … Funny, but I do have many pictures and a few autographs of no names that really didn’t make the team. This training camp autograph/picture thing is cut throat, you don’t know some times.
Anyway, here I go again, down an LA freeway, headed to another Dallas Cowboy’s Training Camp. The beginning of another long and winding road for Cowboys Nation to a possible playoff run. We are all starting off square, just as good a shot as any of the other 31 teams in this NFL. The coaches and players are all saying the right things, as they do every year. The fringe rookies are just happy to be here trying to make the team (you can usually tell who the rookies are, except for the high draft choices, they are the ones that will autograph anything you have to sign and pause to take pictures with you). And I’ll be trying to get my picture with DeMarcus Ware or Tony Romo, but will end up with another picture of me and Rowdy. – Artie Cappello