IRVING, Texas – For 31 seasons the Dallas Cowboys have called Valley Ranch home. As the organization wrapped up its final minicamp at the facility this week, former and current Cowboys greats shared their memories:
Stephen Jones, Cowboys executive vice president:
"That's all we've ever known and as Cowboys, as a family, and really, that's most of my adult life has been spent at Valley Ranch. If you've measured all the hours I've spent in one place it may rank number one, maybe including the house. And I know early on we were averaging about 18-20 hours a day out there at Valley Ranch. And then you start to think it's more than just walls and brick and mortar. It's all the personalities and the people that have gone through the building.
"There will be a lot of emotion when we leave out of there. But at the same time it's all about the future. You can't live in the past and it's certainly our job -- as Jerry likes to say, you don't own the Dallas Cowboys, you just get to help make them special for a certain period of time and you don't know how long that'll last -- but certainly our job to make them better today than when we got our hands on them, and better in the future. And the only way to do that is to do things like AT&T Stadium, to do things like we're doing at The Star, and really set the bar high. I think our fans deserve it."
Michael Irvin, Cowboys Hall of Famer, Ring Of Honor member, and wide receiver from 1988-99:
"It's a lot of great memories here. I walked in this building my first year and, wow, everything that we all dreamed of and wanted to become, we all did it in this building because we came together as a team. Jason (Garrett) and I were just talking about all the days that we would spend here running routes when we were by ourselves. You start thinking about those times too. It's amazing. Time moves."
Jason Garrett, Cowboys head coach:
"What I told our team this morning in our team meeting was this is a really special place. 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."
Dez Bryant, Cowboys wide receiver:
"The first day I walked in this locker room, I got to see some of my favorite players and watching them on TV and then seeing them in person, extremely unbelievable."
Gil Brandt, Cowboys vice president of player personnel from 1960-88:
"I'll remember a lot of things about this place. I think the thing you remember most is people. As an example, I remember Duke when they won the basketball championship, coming out to use our facility. It was just so far ahead of everybody else. There wasn't anything like it and Jerry has kept it up really well. It's a project to keep up a facility like this."
Jason Witten, Cowboys tight end:
"I think just similar to a home when you're growing up, the memories you have are not just the great ones but also the ones that were learning experiences for you. Every time your car pulls in this parking lot, there are emotions that come with that. Not to get too deep, but that's what pro football's all about – the guys that can be able to handle that and embrace what that entails inside of a locker room – the wins and losses, the dreams and hard work and commitment when nobody's here but also just the brotherhood that comes with that. There's been some great relationships that I'll have for the rest of my life due to this facility and this opportunity that we all have."