Cowboys Past & Present Get Nostalgic After Final Practice At Valley Ranch

IRVING, Texas – The Cowboys won't officially move into their new home in Frisco, The Star, until late July.

However, when it comes to actual football practice, the book has now been closed at Valley Ranch, the Cowboys' team headquarters for more than 30 years.

Thursday's minicamp practice, filled with steam rising from the field in the near triple-digit heat, housed the final practice here in Irving, as the Cowboys will take a break from the action until reporting to training camp on July 29. 

The place where Tom Landry used to hold his practices in the mid-1980s, where the Triplets of the 1990s dynasty roamed, where the current and new stars of the team such as Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott has seen its final football activity.

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On the field, some veterans like Tony Romo and Jason Witten paid their respects, wearing the throwback gray shorts, similar to the ones Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith wore in practices.

Head coach Jason Garrett, who also spent most of the 1990s here as a player, showed the team a video of the 1992 season that had Valley Ranch memoires.

"A lot of us have been here for a number of years. What I told our team this morning in our team meeting was that this is a really special place," Garrett said in his press conference. "For the last 31 years some of the greatest coaches, the greatest players and the greatest teams ever assembled in the National Football League worked here. The standard they set is high. What we try to do as coaches and players is embrace that standard every day."

Garrett said the background of the practice fields might look vastly different, but the goal and the mindset of what's happening on the field hasn't changed.

"I showed them some video from 1992 of football practice here at Valley Ranch. It's really amazing when you look at it. The fields are in the same place, but you get a certain view of the field, a certain camera angle where it kind of pulls back, and you see that there were no bushes, no hedges there. I don't think there was a canal back there. There certainly weren't any houses. It looks like farmland. A lot of things have happened around this place since then, but the fundamentals of winning football remain the same."

Several former players, such as Michael Irvin, Daryl Johnston, Chad Hennings and Miles Austin made their way back to watch the final Valley Ranch practice. In all, more than 20 former players were in attendance, including several like Jason Garrett who are on the Cowboys' current coaching staff.

Another attendant Thursday was Gil Brandt, the Cowboys' longtime director of player personnel.

"I was here for the first practice here at Valley Ranch and now the last one," Brandt said. "I don't know if many people can say that. It's a special place. I think we're all going to miss it. But I know the new place over in Frisco is going to be spectacular."

That is certainly the idea, just as it was for the Cowboys when they moved from Texas Stadium to AT&T Stadium, which is now hosted a Super Bowl, a Final Four, a college football national championship, the NBA All-Star Game and concerts such as U2, Taylor Swift and Beyoncé.

While the events won't be as big at The Star, the new home is expected to host weekly high school football games for the Frisco ISD, and the Cowboys have said this week that there is a plan to get the NFL Draft to North Texas, either at the stadium in Arlington or possibly at the Star, which will also house the Cowboys' War Room for the draft.

The Dallas Cowboys had notable visitors in attendance, including Cowboys legends, players, and personnel, past and present. 

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