OXNARD, Calif.– There are various reasons the Cowboys come out to California every year for training camp, ranging from the weather, the fans and the chance to unite as a team away from home.
But make no mistake, the Cowboys organization never forgets their roots, something that was more than apparent Saturday afternoon at the start of the first practice here in Oxnard.
Arm in arm, the Cowboys players and coaches, and front-office personnel walked out on the field – not only uniting together as a team, but locking arms with four families of the victims from the deadly shootings involving Dallas Police officers on July 7 in downtown Dallas. Also included in the tribute were Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and DPD Chief David O. Brown.
The Cowboys was message was simple: unity.
As the entire team stood together in a circle on the field, it symbolized one of its 2016 themes, creating a united front that stems much further than the locker room of players, but to the community, especially back home in Dallas.
The team will wear an "Arm in Arm" helmet logo that features a star that represents the police and the Cowboys players, and the circle surrounding the star that represents community and unity.
I would like to say thank you to the Dallas Cowboys for lifting a city up today," Rawlings said in a press conference. "They lifted the city up because they lifted a lot of individuals that have been down up today. Those families, those young kids – to be arm-in-arm with a quarterback, a coach or a big lineman, they'll remember that for the rest of their lives. You know, there are mythic moments in history, in the histories of cities. We went through a terrible one a few weeks ago. This hopefully is a mythic moment to take us to the next level. As I reminded the team today that they'll always be the Cowboys, but this year, play for Dallas like they've never played before."[embeddedad0]
Chief Brown, an admitted longtime Cowboys fans, not only echoed Rawlings' sentiments, but shared the message he delivered to the players.
"I talked about responsibility and playing a role in our society as pro athletes – to have a voice in the conversation about race, to have a voice in the conversation about communities and police departments and police-involved shootings," Brown said. "I think that people need to hear, from all parts of society, a discussion on race. It's the toughest discussion that we all have, but it's part of the root cause of some of the problems that we see in some of our communities. I really do believe that sports, entertainment can have an influence on young people if they were able to strike the right chord in the way they talk about some of these issues."
Brown, who said he had goosebumps all over his body throughout the tribute, again reiterated what a special moment it was to be involved in the start of the Cowboys' training camp.
"This moment here is overwhelming. Our profession – and I've repeated this – hasn't seen a lot of support from communities because of some of the problems we see in communities with police relationships," he said. "So support like this really is priceless. It is just priceless to have a sports team – a major sports team like the Cowboys – show this kind of support for law enforcement. And not taking a position on right or wrong or whether or not something had happened in another city is the right position to take here in Dallas – it's showing support for the men and women in blue who sacrifice their lives every day to protect our citizens. This is special, and we'll never forget the Cowboys organization stepping up in our time of grief."
Mayor Mike Rawlings, DPD Chief David Brown, and DPD victim's families walked into the first day of training camp practice arm-in-arm.