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Memories Come Marching In

but he felt like he needed to say something. Heck, no one knew what tomorrow would hold, so we were just going to bid him goodbye. He had been good to us. 

Jimmy looked up, and said rather awkwardly, "Well, whatever," and then after a short pause, I'll never forget him adding, "Well now you know what us coaches feel like." He meant because they get fired so often and have to change jobs and move families. Point well taken. 

So we trudged back to the press box afterward to write . . . one last time. My best friend from Jackson, Miss., was in town to cover the game. He thought I was out of my mind when I told him to hang, that I had to write another story about the playoff implications. Just seemed like the right thing to do. Someone was going to pay a quarter for this on Monday morning. 

And then there was this, which I didn't remember one bit, but was reminded while reading the stories from that day stored for posterity sake in the daily files stacked out here in the media library. Evidently it was late, we were nearly done working, and our phone rang. As the story goes, written by Gil LeBreton, columnist at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he quotes me as saying while picking up the phone, "Sorry, we're closed." 

Ha. Real funny guy, then off into an uncertain world we went. 

Never forget this either. Rich Dalrymple, the Cowboys' head of public relations, relayed this gesture from Jerry, that even though we no longer had any function covering the team, he wanted us to see the season through. Offered to take us on the team charter the next week to Philadelphia, where a win would clinch a playoff berth. The offered included a hotel room on his dime. 

Jerry would tell us later, knowing we had been there since the day he arrived, and never mind we had not been the most flattering lot with him those early years, "You deserved the right to see this (season) through." So we went to Philly. The Cowboys won. They clinched a playoff berth. He and Jimmy had qualified their program, and could have flown home without a plan. The Cowboys would then play a first-round game at Chicago. He took us there, too, and after that win, again to Detroit, even though the charter was full. Bought us a regular-fare ticket. 

The Jerry Jones few ever see, and prefers not to be seen. 

The journey ended there. The Cowboys lost - again - to Detroit, and the finality of what took place a month ago really sank in. Now what? Now where?  

Strange this life we live. Figured I had covered my last Dallas Cowboys football game, or at least for any media outlet in this area. Time to pick up and move again. There is some gypsy in us newspaper folks. 

Well, here it is, 15 years to the day on Friday, and by the grace of God, here I sit at The Ranch, amazingly still covering the Dallas Cowboys, with the same Saints coming to town, the same best friend on his way here from Jackson and the Cowboys and Saints fighting for playoff rights once again. 

Much of the reason for still being here has to do with having covered the Dallas Cowboys - who they are and how far their antennas spread. As John Madden said in an NBC conference call on Thursday, "They always have something going on." 

Or as Al Michaels said, "When (fans) hear Dallas, they just perk up a little bit more." 

Winning three of the next four Super Bowls didn't hurt either. No one around the nation or locally could get enough of the Dallas Cowboys. There was work out there in one form or another. Who knew two years later the first all-sports radio station would sprout up in Dallas? Who knew television stations would start valuing what you knew, not how you looked? Did anyone 15 years ago even know how to spell internet? Please, you can that. 

No disrespect, though, but this wouldn't have been possible covering, say the Bengals. As Madden proclaimed saying the Cowboys is like saying the Yankees. I'm living proof. 

So come Sunday, I'll still here be at Texas Stadium. Different press box, of course. Higher and on the other side of the stadium. Same seat, though, since moving over there in 1993. But stuffed with a lifetime more of memories: The flyover before Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl; the White House visit; preseason

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