OXNARD, Calif. – Luke McCown had been through 13 NFL seasons and worked for five different NFL clubs, but the chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys was a different matter entirely.
The veteran quarterback fielded plenty of phone calls this offseason, gauging interest from several different teams across the league. But as a native of Jacksonville, Texas, he admitted there was one in particular he was holding out hope on.
"I was evaluating a couple of other options, knowing that this could be a possibility," McCown said Saturday evening. "I was holding out hope – as an East Texas kid, I was holding out hope that something would go down here. Sure enough, it did."
The Cowboys signed McCown to replace fellow veteran Zac Dysert, who herniated a disc in his back on Thursday. The 36-year-old most recently spent four seasons behind Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints.
With a young quarterback group of 24-year-old Dak Prescott, 28-year-old Kellen Moore and rookie Cooper Rush, McCown said he looked forward to sharing what he's learned over more than a decade in the league.
"As the elder statesman in the room now, by a lot, I'm going to try to help those guys along with the experience I have in various offenses – pick up Coach Linehan's stuff as quick as I can and try to perform," he said.
What McCown said he isn't going to do is resign himself to life at the back of the depth chart. The Cowboys seem content with the duo of Prescott and Moore as their top two quarterbacks, but McCown bristled at the suggestion that he's with the team purely to be a "camp arm."
"Golly, what an awful way to think of yourself, as just a camp arm – I mean, I have two legs, too," he said. "No, of course not. I'm coming in with competition on my mind – to learn, to establish a rapport with the guys that I'm going to be around, with Dak, with Kellen, with Coop."
The Cowboys opted not to mix McCown into practice on Saturday evening, given that he had just arrived in California hours earlier. Considering his lengthy NFL resume, though, it's a good bet he'll be involved sooner rather later.
It might seem like a quick transition to go from being at home with six children to attending NFL meetings and practices. But McCown was confident he'd be able to get into the swing of things quickly.
"I've been traded overnight twice," he said. "Between my first and second year in the league, I got traded from Cleveland to Tampa, literally overnight – I mean, I found out on the Internet that I was getting traded. And then from Tampa to Jacksonville, when I got traded in '09, again it was overnight. So I understand the process of the NFL quite well."
That process is probably going to dictate that McCown see some action before too long. It's unlikely Prescott will play much, if at all, in Thursday night's Hall of Fame Game. Moore is doubtful to see an extensive workload, either.
That leaves Rush and McCown to handle the rest of the work in a four-quarter game against Arizona.
He might have to acclimate quickly. But for a guy who grew up two hours outside Dallas, that's a challenge he's happy to face.
"Listen, I mean, growing up, it's all there was -- was Cowboys football," McCown said. "You dream of wearing the star, and you dream of being a part of the silver and blue. To have that opportunity is really special."