FRISCO, Texas – Oxnard, here we come.
Give me some of that.
Nothing better than to be at Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif., the last couple of weeks in July and the first couple of weeks in August. Especially if you live where we do in North Texas that time of year. Puts an extra year on your life, I do maintain.
Just in case you're not aware, here is a great example. The high today here in Frisco is 95degrees, with a feel-like at 104. In Oxnard, we're talking a high of 76, a low of 63. In the summertime, for goodness sakes.
Plus, there is nothing like training camp practice outdoors. Not just for us media types, but also the players and the coaching staff. And I mean outdoors not in Wichita Falls, where the Cowboys held camp from 1998-2000, when the temperatures would climb to 115 degrees seemingly every day, and most days the wind blowing 10-15 mph. A convection oven existence.
"I'm looking forward to the setting and the weather out there," head coach Mike McCarthy said after spending his first training camp with the Cowboys last year in Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Say no more.
The setting? The Cowboys have two practice fields at the River Ridge Sports Complex, with their hotel adjacent and to the other side a great 18-hole golf course. Oh, and like three miles from the Pacific Ocean as the bike rides. Marine layer is a wonderful thing, most mornings and nearly every late evening, rolling in around 5:00 or so. Rain? Hardly ever.
And best part this year? Fans will be allowed back in to watch the morning training camp practices, although fenced off at least 20 feet removed from any players or coaches, per NFL COVID precautions still in place. So no autographs.
But hey, at least another step toward normalcy.
Never fear, more shots to follow, and if you are getting a load of the NFL's revamped COVID protocols for the players, Tier 1 and 2 staff members and even the media, you will conclude more real shots are being incentivized.
- Shot Report: According to the NFL, 16 of 32 teams have at least 51 of 90 roster players vaccinated, while the 16 othershave no more than 50 players vaccinated on their 90-man rosters. The report didn't name names, and the Cowboys have not revealed any sort of numbers. And when it comes to Tier 1 and 2 personnel – coaching staffs and team personnel with direct contact with players – 30 teams have reached a 95-percent vaccination level, with the other two coming in somewhere between 90-95 percent.
- Get The Shot: That's the message the NFL and NFLPA is sending out to all players with the start of training camp now about five to six weeks away. And if you have seen NFL.com's breakdown of this year's COVID protocols, it's loud and clear, giving much more freedom for those players who have been vaccinated but2020 tight restrictions for those who have not. For example, for those already two weeks removed from their second vaccination shot, no more daily testing, just once every two weeks as opposed to daily testing for those unvaccinated. No travel restrictions for players vaccinated. They are also being allowed to use team cafeteria facilities and no five-day isolation period if in close contact with a person testing positive for COVID-19. Those players who haven't been vaccinated must continue quarantining on the road in their hotel rooms, no visitors or family members allowed and no eating out in restaurants and the same continued restrictions from public settings at home. Maybe Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold, who says he's not been vaccinated and needs more information, might hurry to receive his needed info after this restrictive report came out Wednesday.
- Media, Too: For unvaccinated members of the media, the reports says they will not be allowed in press boxes, locker rooms or on the sidelines while vaccinated members, within certain numbers, will be. Hmmm. And this is interesting: Unvaccinated players will not be allowed to participate in in-person team marketing events nor in-person interviews with members of the media. Even more incentive to get the shot.
- Good News: At the resumption of Cliff Harris' annual golf tournament benefiting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation on Monday, the event raised upwards of $270,000. And what a gathering of Pro Football Hall of Famers. First of all, Cliff obviously was there, along with Drew Pearson, both heading into the Hall of Fame this August. Joining them at the event were Hall of Famers Roger Staubach, Mel Renfro, Rayfield Wright and Joe Greene. Always amazing how many of Cliff's former teammates and former Cowboys players participate in the event, even if it means only showing up to mingle with sponsors and participants and to take a group picture.
- • Camp Shorts: In the now 62-seasonhistory of the Dallas Cowboys, they have conducted training camp at nine different sites, this one becoming the 42nd in the state of California – 27 up the road in Thousand Oaks at Cal-LutheranUniversity and now for the 15th time in Oxnard … And if you need a Cowboys trivia question, ask where was the team's first training camp site? Answer being Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, for only the summer of 1960 …Even though the Cowboys will be playing in the Pro Football Hall of Fame preseason game on Aug. 5, the team won't remain in Canton, Ohio, for Harris, Pearson and Jimmy Johnson's induction ceremonies over Aug. 7-8. The Cowboys will be returning home immediately after the game, with Friday a day off and then a planned practice against the Rams on Saturday, Aug. 7 … As for Harris and Pearson, both have completed their bust sittings and have been measured for their gold jackets. Now they are into party planning, and as Pearson said, "This is like planning out a wedding."
Not many words available this week for the last word, so in case you missed it, here is Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on training camp returning to Oxnard and fans being allowed to attend the camp practices:
"We learned last year that the absence of NFL preseason games and the training camps being closed to the public were things that our fans really missed as part of the ramp-up period heading into the regular season. We believe our approach to this year's camp and preseason will help us provide a safely managed return to the July and August weeks that have been such an important part of our country's football culture for decades. This time of team-building and preparation will serve as a strong foundation for a successful 2021 season for all 32 of the NFL clubs – and most importantly the fans of all of those teams."