DALLAS – If ever the Cowboys needed a dose of perspective, Monday morning was a perfect opportunity.
The team spread out among five hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area on Monday morning, just 12 hours removed from a baffling loss that saw them surrender a 26-3 lead to Green Bay.
Roughly two dozen of those players, including veterans Tony Romo, Jason Witten and Brandon Carr, made the trek to Children's Medical center in downtown Dallas. Bedecked in their team jerseys and Santa Claus hats, they were able to visit with dozens of children being treated for various ailments.
"Just to put things in perspective, some of these kids have cancer. Some of these kids have had multiple open-heart surgeries," said Children's Medical Center CEO and President Chris Durovich. "Some of these kids have had a liver transplant, or a liver transplant, or a small intestine transplant, or a bone marrow transplant … But no matter what, no child has been turned away at Children's Medical Center for the last 100 years."
It's hard to dwell too long on a lost football game in light of those kinds of statistics. Watching as dozens of children met and mingled with the Cowboys players seemed to emphasize that fact.
"It's amazing to see the impact those kids can have on you. You put a smile on their face, but I think our lives are changed more than anything – just for the perspective they provide," Witten said. "When you see them and the courage that they show facing their battles … it's always a great feeling to be a part of this."
There's still two weeks of football left to play, and the Cowboys were quick to point out their season isn't over. But there's no denying the range of emotions – both from the Cowboys' roster and the fanbase that supports it – after such a crippling defeat.
Witten said the visit offered a good opportunity to step back.
"I don't know if it eases the pain of football, but you're able to look at real life in that perspective," he said. "I'm always amazed at the courage and toughness these kids and their families are able to show in this situation." [embedded_ad]
After meeting with scores of kids and their families, the players took to the hallways to visit patients in their rooms. None of the smiling faces seemed to indicate any pain about the night before – only happiness about a morning visit from the likes of Romo, Sean Lee and others.
"Any time you can see children smile it warms your day, and a lot of these kids are in tough situations and have gone through some tough things," Romo said. "Being a dad, you feel for them and their families. Any time you can brighten their day at all, I think it's a good thing for everybody."
Of course, the problems facing the Cowboys won't disappear in light of some holiday cheer. Preparations for Sunday's game against Washington are already underway, and a loss could knock Dallas out of the playoff picture.
With all those issues waiting for them, though, it was a stark reminder. Some things, such as Romo's late-game interceptions or Lee's injury issues, can quickly be put in perspective.
"For me there's been a lot of situations where I've been down, been frustrated because of not being able to be on the football field," Lee said. "You can only be so negative because you understand when it comes to real life and problems, there's a lot worse things that could happen than not being able to play football."