Behind-the-Scenes at Training Camp: A Really Cool Tradition for True Blue Fans
Saturday evening after a long, bruising afternoon practice that included ‘goal line’ and ‘short yardage’ skirmishes, the Cowboys offensive line had one final piece of important business to complete before heading to dinner and meetings.
The entire position group walked to an area along the edge of the practice field that was set up by the Cowboys and the City of Oxnard as a designated space for autographs and photos for disabled fans.
“This is one of my favorite parts of practice,” says Pro Bowl center Travis Frederick. “It’s nice when we see all the fans out here, but when we get a chance to come to this area and visit with fans that are overcoming the challenges of physical disabilities, it really means a lot for us to give back to them and thank them for coming out. We really care about this community and want all fans to know they are appreciated.”
“This has become a really neat tradition at Training Camp in Oxnard,” notes Emily Robbins, Cowboys Senior Director of Community Affairs and Alumni Relations. “Our department works with the City of Oxnard to identify an area that we can designate for fans that may have some type of disability and may not be able to stand along the fence line and get autographs, or may not be able to reach over the fence to shake hands with players.
“We ensure that one of the Cowboys’ position groups rotates through following various practices. We make sure these fans have easy access for autographs and an opportunity to meet the guys. The players enjoy spending the time after practice making sure these fans get an autograph. The offensive linemen, including our three All-Pro players on the line, took their turn on Saturday. The previous week, we’ve already had the quarterbacks, defensive backs, and tight ends take their turns. The players are very gracious. Coach Garrett lets the players know when it’s their day to sign.”
“Coach asks a specific group to come over and sign and, of course, I’d sign any day of the week,” adds guard Joe Looney. “It’s important to us. Going though training camp is obviously hard physically as a football player, but being able to do the things we do, these people would give their heart and soul to be out there on the field, running around, catching the ball. It puts things in perspective for us.
“We have some of the best fans in the NFL and they come out to support us every day, weekend or week day,” notes All Pro right guard Zack Martin. “It’s good we come meet everyone and let them have a chance to meet us because they’re coming out to support us. Having all this support in California is really cool.”