IRVING, Texas – While the Cowboys' current roster went through their morning practice, a roster of its former greats looked on from the sideline.
The Cowboys held their annual Alumni Day at Valley Ranch on Wednesday morning, allowing former players from the recent and distant past to get up close and personal with the current team. The group of alumni was far-reaching, with Bob Breunig, Wendell Davis, Doug Donley, Dixon Edwards, Walt Garrison, Andre Gurode, Cliff Harris, Charles Haley, Chad Hennings, Bradie James, Butch Johnson, Nathan James, Michael Myers, Timmy Newsome, John Niland, Jay Novacek, Kurt Petersen, Phil Pozderac, Cory Procter, Jethro Pugh, Tom Rafferty, Jay Saldi, and Tony Talbert all in attendance.
"It's cool – to see some of the guys, see some of the older guys. It's a lot of fun," Gurode said. "Some of the alumni, they don't think I'm alumni. They're like 'You were just here a few minutes ago.' But it's pretty cool, though."
Gurode, the five-time Pro Bowler who played with the Cowboys from 2002-10, was one of the youngest alums to visit the facility. But the lineage at Alumni Day went much further back, with players like Garrison donning the Cowboys' uniform before the team even moved in to its Valley Ranch facility.
"This facility is unbelievable, and now they're building a new one in Frisco, so that's even better," Garrison said. "I've got a lot of sweaty memories, but good memories."
Garrison shared plenty of stories about the Cowboys' formative seasons, including some reminiscences about his teammate in the backfield, Robert Newhouse, who passed away earlier this summer.
"House was a good guy – he was a great guy. I remember when he came in, and he was one of the reasons I retired, because he was fixing to replace me anyway," Garrison said. "Great man, great guy – funny little guy and tougher than a boot." [embedded_ad]
With the Cowboys preparing for their preseason trip to Miami, longtime receiver Butch Johnson said it was interesting to see the difference in routine and method from his playing days in Dallas, upward of 30 years ago with Tom Landry.
"It's kind of fun to watch the guys – to watch what they do and how they do it. The difference between today and yesterday is quite a bit different," he said. "Our pace was a little different, because we were kind of a military team – Coach was a military guy, and so were other coaches."
In a locker room with big-name players like Dez Bryant, Tony Romo and Jason Witten, it was fitting that Johnson was asked to recount his history with his "California Quake" celebration – bridging the gap between then and now.
"I wasn't dancing just to be dancing," he said. "At that time, it was a transition. What came after was taking the player's face from beyond the facemask – that was the whole purpose, because I felt the football business would become the entertainment business."
Given how far the sport, and the franchise, has come since then, it'll be interesting to see what the conversation is like when Bryant or Romo come to visit on Alumni Days in the future.