FRISCO, Texas – Get this question all the time.
Why have the Cowboys gone to Oxnard, Calif., all these years for training camp, a cozy seaside city nearly 60 miles north from downtown Los Angeles and some 30 miles south on the 101 from Santa Barbara?
Well, this is about how succinctly we can answer the question.
For the majority of this past week here, and maybe more, the heat index in North Texas has been higher at times than 110. The true temperature has broken the century mark the past three days.
And today, right now, at 1:30 p.m. Central time on Wednesday, it's 95 on its way to 104. Come on, 104! And it's not even July yet. In fact, at the 95 of 1:30 p.m., the heat index already has reached 112 in the sun.
But in dear ol' Oxnard, with the River Ridge Sports Complex where the Cowboys will arrive this summer on Monday, July 24, like five miles from the Pacific Ocean, the 11:30 a.m. Pacific time temperature is 64. That's right, no typo, 64. The predictable high Wednesday is 67, and the Thursday morning low around 6 a.m. when we usually wake up for a morning bike ride is 57. In another month, usually the temp never creeps higher than 80, and if it does, only lasts for maybe two hours with the marine layer flowing in around 4:30 p.m. or so, sending most fleeing for a sweatshirt. That's right, long sleeves, ha.
Any more questions?
Oh, and there's also this, too, about Oxnard, where the Cowboys utilize two practice fields adjacent to the Residence Inn complex we'll reside in from July 24 through August 18: One Albert Hammond once wrote the song lyrics, "Seems it never rains in Southern California."
True that, and never more than one exception a training camp.
So if you need to join us, first few ramp-up practices begin on July 27, at that ideal time of 11:30 a.m. Pacific. Opening Ceremony/Cowboys Back Together Weekend takes place on Saturday, July 29. By Monday, July 31, the pads likely come on for the first time. And here the Cowboys go.
Never too early to make those plans.
- Beats Downs: The Cowboys outscored their opponents over 17 games this past season, 467-342, and that 125-point overall margin of victory ranked fifth in the NFL, just two points behind the fourth place Chiefs (127). The 49ers led the NFL in 2022 with a 173-point differential, followed by the Bills at 169. The Eagles at 133 were only eight total points ahead of Dallas. Thought this interesting, too, when talking about a Cowboys offense so many seem worried about heading into 2023. The Cowboys tied the Rams for the largest margin of victory in a single game at 37, beating the Vikings 40-3 on Nov. 20. And the Cowboys also tied the Bills for the second-largest margin of victory at 35, beating Indianapolis on Dec. 4, 54-19. The 54 points in that game is the fifth most by the Cowboys in franchise history, tops being 59 twice (1968, 1980) and 56 twice (1966, 2021).
- Getting Zeked: Dak Prescott was asked during a 96.7 KTCK interview from the SMU Forum last week his thoughts on how Ezekiel Elliott was doing and what it might be like playing without his sidekick of the past seven years. "We're still tight. We might not be wearing the same jersey right now, but just trained with him this morning over at the house at 7 this morning." Please note, Dak did interject "right now." Yet another subtle indication Zeke may have been checked out of here, but he hasn't totally left just yet.
- Quiet Move: We knew NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith had announced in 2021 that 2022 would be his final season with the players union. But without much ado, very quietly the NFLPA board of player representatives just announced Lloyd Howell as the new executive director. Howell becomes only the NFLPA's fourth executive director, following Ed Garvey (1971-83), Gene Upshaw (1984-2009) and Smith (2009-2022). Howell retired in December from Booz Allen Hamilton, where he worked for more than 34 years and was the chief financial officer at the time of his retirement. He also is a trustee at the University of Pennsylvania. Howell has a bachelor's degree from Penn in electrical engineering and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Usually, the process of replacing the union leader has a much higher profile.
- More Offense: Here is another offensive stat from 2022 the Cowboys might have a hard time living up to. The Cowboys scored points on 54 of 56 trips inside the 20-yard yard, leading the league at 96.4 percent. They also led the NFL red zone touchdown percentage at 71.4 percent, scoring TDs on 40 of 56 drives inside the 20. Remember, and this was without Dak Prescott playing in those five games, that Cooper Rush led the Cowboys to eight touchdowns in 14 red zone possessions (57.1 percent), seven times settling for field goals.
- Hot Shots: Two other training camp notes, the Heroes Appreciation Day will take place on Monday, Aug. 7, and the team will treat the first preseason game like an away game, though playing at home on Saturday, Aug. 12, leaving the West Coast on Friday, Aug. 11, for the 4 p.m. Central start at AT&T Stadium that next day. They then immediately after the game return to Oxnard for another week of practice before breaking camp and heading to Seattle on Aug. 18 for the Aug. 19 game against the Seahawks with a 7 p.m. Pacific kickoff, meaning 9 p.m. in Dallas. Yet still returning home right after the game, probably arriving on Sunday at like 5 a.m. … About the only players still out at The Star this time of year are those continuing their offseason rehab recovering from surgeries or any minor injuries suffered during the minicamp workouts or OTAs … And another unearthed stat from the 2022 season, rookie cornerback DaRon Bland's five interceptions were the most by a Cowboys rookie since the 5-11 2002 season when Roy Williams and Derek Ross each had five interceptions. And likely no need mentioning, but the Cowboys rookie record belongs to Everson Walls with those 11 in 1981, the most by a rookie in the NFL since 1964.
Seems as if we need a last word during this NFL dead period, and one Micah Parsons is always good for saying something, as he did the other day at the Fanatics Merch Madness: Fan Gear Giveaway at the suburban Grand Prairie Boys and Girls Club, where there was an announced 300,00 pieces of donated apparel handed out.
So when Micah was asked how he plans to deal with increased attention from opposing offense this coming season, he had this to say:
"That's cool. Come. We want them to come. If you go to a safari, you see buses, they all pull up on lions. And they don't flinch. Why? Because they are king. They're not going to flinch. Please come visit. You're more than welcome. I'm OK with feeling uncomfortable. That's how you evolve."
Yep, that's cool, too.