Longtime Media Members Reflect on Covering Cowboys From Valley Ranch

IRVING, Texas - Since opening its doors in 1985, Valley Ranch has been home to seven Pro Football Hall of Famers, as well as two Hall of Fame coaches and countless future legends. Today, the Dallas Cowboys held the last practice in Valley Ranch's history and look forward to a revitalized new headquarters in Frisco, Texas.   

The pictures on the walls, though helpful, cannot even begin to describe the legacy of the team and the role the former state-of-the-art facility played in taking the Cowboys to three Super Bowls in four years.  The most veteran members of the media that have spent their careers following the Cowboys, however, have plenty of stories to tell.

The move from Valley Ranch to the Star will not only signify a new start for the Cowboys but also a transition for the media and the way the team is covered.

 Todd Archer – ESPN
"My favorite season was probably the 2006 season, when Tony Romo first started and they made the playoffs.  My best memories of covering this team come from just the Parcells era, because Bill was just great.  If you listened, you learned a lot.  He gave you good answers and he wasn't afraid to answer questions. That '06 season was when I saw that the Cowboys were really a huge, huge deal. I guess in a way I'll be sad to leave here. You go to a new place and you don't know the nooks and crannies, so I guess I will be a little sad."

 Charean Williams – Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"My most memorable memory from Valley Ranch is probably when I almost burnt the place down trying to reheat a piece of pizza and it caught on fire. When I first got here it was just different.  It's like a second home now.  We're here more than we are at the office.  You have the office, the library, where we have the press conferences; we almost know it better than our own homes. I was looking at everything today a little closer.  There's a lot of history in this place and that's what set it apart more than the look of it.  Watching Bill Parcells in practice and listening to him in his press conferences were probably the highlights of Valley Ranch. I probably learned more out here than the rest of my 23 years doing this total."

David Moore – Dallas Morning News
"The whole transition when they announced that Jerry Jones was the new owner of the team was very memorable.  I remember Jerry said he's in charge of everything from socks to jocks, and everyone was looking around the room because every owner before him had just stayed in the background. The first time I came out here, this place was state-of-the-art. To walk around and see the photos was a pretty impressive thing. A lot of people say the boring stuff happens out at Valley Ranch, but there are a lot more memorable, small moments that happened out here."

Clarence Hill – Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"It was just a different culture back when I first got here and it was different for the media.  I remember the fake wrestling in the locker room, the fights in the locker room, the characters of the '90s.  There are so many memories all across the board because it's been 19 years for me.  The way I got acclimated to Valley Ranch was spending a day in the life of Jerry Jones and that's how we began our relationship.  There have been so many changes even at Valley Ranch, we used to be able to come out here and stay all day. I know I'll miss the routine of coming here, and I'm sure one day I'll accidentally drive to Valley Ranch."

 Jean-Jacques Taylor – ESPN
"In the mid-'90s, I brought my grandmother out here and she had a blast. She saw Emmitt Smith's locker and she just acted a fool at his locker.  When we were leaving we bumped into Jerry and that was one of her great times visiting me in Dallas. Valley Ranch has a lot of history and if you think about it you can get sentimental, but in the last years there hasn't been much history made.  For the Star to have the same legacy as Valley Ranch, they have to win."

Arnold Payne – WFAA, Dallas
"The bubble collapse would be my most memorable moment by far.  It happened kind of fast.  Once the ceiling started falling, we started running.  I was actually rolling tape as it was falling and that video is actually on Youtube.  I called into the station that day and I called in three times and they didn't believe me. This is 35-and-a-half years for me and Valley Ranch is legendary.  Once they turn Valley Ranch into a housing addition, if they do, I want to come to a house and say, 'Did you know you're sitting in the middle of the Cowboys' locker room?'"

Babe Laufenberg – Former QB and current analyst for Cowboys radio broadcast
"My fondest memory was probably the first day I got here in the spring of '89.  As a kid I grew up pre-cable, but you still have the Cowboys on TV every weekend because they won for 20 years. Walking through the hall for the last time, there's finality to things and you don't know it.  The new practice facility will be iconic just like AT&T Stadium." 

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