August 8, 1996 is a date that most Dallas Cowboys fans will not remember. Yet, it’s a significant moment in my life and for others.
If you live around the DFW area, watching the Cowboys play might not be as exciting as the first time you watched them play. Repeatedly doing things or making them common in your life often dulls the sensation to a point where it could become a chore.
This could explain why home games aren’t as loud as they should be. I have talked to Cowboy fans who often and unassumingly take for granted the ability to go watch the Cowboys whenever they are in season. For some of us, it often takes a well-organized and preplanned logistical effort to see America’s Team play.
Before I get to the anniversary, I want to discuss the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard. I understand the fact that the weather out there is fantastic almost year-round and it makes for pleasant practices. I grew up with the Valley Ranch Cowboys who would practice in the grueling heat. At least, that is what the newspaper would say.
It was my understanding that players knew the unforgiving sun was building a callus over them so that they were tougher and better prepared than their opponents in inclement weather. I couldn’t argue the point as my childhood Cowboys won a lot of Super Bowls.
I have heard one of the reasons the Dallas Cowboys practice in Oxnard is because the team wants to grow their brand outside of Texas. The Dallas Cowboys continue to lead the way as they have been branded as the most valuable NFL and sports franchise in the world.
Trying to spread the brand by practicing outside of Texas so more fans can see them is great but you are starting to neglect the fans in Texas that aren’t necessarily within weekend driving distances. You are already the biggest and best attraction, why continue to reach?
August 8, 1996 is a memory to me because that is the only time in my childhood that I was able to watch the Dallas Cowboys play in person. No, my parents did not take me to the stadium rather the Dallas Cowboys came to me.
The Dallas Cowboys traveled to El Paso, Texas, and played the Houston Oilers in the Sun Bowl. I didn’t have great seats but the first memory that comes to mind when thinking about that moment was watching Dallas Cowboys defensive end Charles Haley spitting his seeds as he looked up in awe at how many people came out to witness a scrimmage.
Not a bad trip as the announced crowd of 51,118 El Pasoans watched the reigning World Champions prepare to defend their title. The drought continues to this day.
Haley chuckled as the crowd did the wave to show their appreciation. Little did we know, that would be the last season he would wear a Dallas Cowboys uniform. Wideout Billy Davis and defensive end Tony Tolbert were fan favorites as they both have ties to the El Paso community.
I still remember the feeling of not wanting to leave and I remember telling my mom that I wanted to be the last person out of the stadium as I couldn’t get enough. As nice as Oxnard has been, I think it might be time for the Dallas Cowboys to give back to Cowboys fans living in Texas by spreading the love and at least have some sort of appearance in random Texas towns.
Midland, Odessa, Lubbock, El Paso, Amarillo, Austin, San Antonio, and Brownsville are just a few of the many options that immediately come to mind. After all, its home base fans are the ones that have allowed the Dallas Cowboys to become the most valuable franchise in all of sports.
I keep that memory and still have my ticket stub and scrimmage program in my possession to this day. In the age of social media, how many Texas kids would be influenced by having the Dallas Cowboys hold training camps in their town. The effect it had on me as a kid has shaped who I am today.
If you do not believe me, listen to a Hall of Fame running back LaDainian Tomlinson tell his story about the importance of seeing your childhood idols and what kind of impact they can have. Tomlinson lived relatively close to the DFW area and it was still difficult for him to see his idols.
El Paso Texas is the sixth-largest city in Texas and even has more people than Arlington, home to AT&T Stadium. Collectively, the surrounding areas that make up DFW cannot be matched by my small city but if expanding the game outside of the country could make my border town attractive.
The city of Juarez, Mexico has a population of over 1.5 million people. That number climbs even higher when you count the surrounding areas much like the DFW area. If you count the surrounding areas, that is over three million people with heavy Hispanic backgrounds that can help grow the game internationally while staying in the comforts of Texas.
Believe me when I tell you El Pasoans feel the Juarez tourists in El Paso especially when there are major events going on in the city. The first time was a success and the Dallas Cowboys came back to El Paso and scrimmaged the Raiders (picture above) in 1998.
The Dallas Cowboys originally used California for the nice weather and larger media market to grow the brand but in this day and age, the Cowboys could practice in Death Valley and they would still generate more headlines than any other NFL team.
Having training camps in other states is fine. Just don’t forget about where your roots originally grew. Some Texans feel left out and it might be time for an encore. Happy 25th anniversary to El Paso and the Dallas Cowboys!