There were players in attendance for sure, JohnWeber having conducted the pregame chapels and Bible studies for years and years, having made a defined impression on these young men. But that's not all. There were members of the front office in attendance; trainers and equipment guys; members of the TV and radio departments; Internet and video; media and community relations; player development; football operations; Dallas Cowboys Star Magazine and security; Desperados players and coaches.
Still, that's not all. The guy who takes care of the team's game-day sideline communication systems was here. One of the lunch caterers was here. The recently retired American Airlines pilot who flew the team charter flights for so many years. Guys from American's ground crew. Members of the local media - writers and TV guys. Amazing.
Even more so, there were former Cowboys players, guys like Chad Hennings and Billy Cundiff and Tim Seder and Mike Saxon, and those were just the ones I saw among the maybe more than some 500 people at the memorial. And even defensive lineman Kenyon Coleman, now playing for the New York Jets but who saw fit to spend part of his bye week attending this service.
To me, that is the greatest tribute to a man's 59 years on this earth. JohnWeber cast a wide net, a true fisher of men.
Now a lot of speaker-types had something to say about him after his five children so eloquently summed up their father, including Pat Summerall, who called this guy who had a way of staying in the background yet having such a profound affect on so many "a man's man."
But leave it to Greg Ellis to get to the bottom of JohnWeber. And this was not just some afterthought for Ellis. As you might have read on DallasCowboys.com after the Philadelphia game, Ellis would follow Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips' awarding Terrell Owens a game ball for his performance in Sunday night's 38-17 victory by grabbing one of the actual footballs used in the game, standing up in the middle of the group with the ball held high and saying this would be JohnWeber's game ball. The players all nodded.
This had been on Ellis' mind.
So Ellis strode to the lectern, ball in hand again to eventually present to Carol Weber, saying, "It really hit me how important John was to the world." Ellis remembered a few of JohnWeber's pregame chapel talks, one this year at Buffalo and one a few years ago. He had taken notes, recalling JohnWeber once saying, "Integrity is doing what is right even when it's hard" and then this, too, about faith and freedom, Ellis quoting, "Freedom is doing what you ought to do, not what you want to do."
Geesh, leave it to Ellis. He kept saying all the things I was thinking of saying about JohnWeber. So did his kids. So did his friends. So just maybe JohnWeber was all this to everybody, seemingly an exhausting task to be that consistent, that caring to so many for so long.
There are too shames to all this:
In my books, 59 years then is not long enough for such a unique man, and, sometimes you never realize what you got until it's gone, those very thoughts racing through my head on the charter flight to Philadelphia when the charter coordinator stopped by to chat about JohnWeber, then telling me what I didn't want to know: That I was sitting in what would have been his seat.
How I wished I could ask JohnWeber just one question . . . just one.
A lesson learned for sure, one about being more aware and more grateful of those people we meet, because in the end, well, let Ellis so appropriately and fittingly sum up JohnWeber far better than I ever could:
"Sometimes you don't realize when you have greatness with you."