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Mick Shots: Longing For The Ventura Highway


FROM HOME, Texas – Well, that's that for training camp.

That, too, now, from home.

Not sure which way the Cowboys were leaning on this subject, but no matter what, the NFL/NFLPA made the decision simple by mandating teams will be required to hold training camps this summer at their own facilities.

For many reasons, all seemingly sound during these COVID-19 infected times: Cutting down on unnecessary travel. Not having to secure, disinfect and adhere to medical restrictions at more than one facility. More equipped to control home environments.

Bye, bye those lovely 70-degree, Oxnard, Calf., summer days. No more 58-degree mornings. The guy at the roadside Lil Red Barn fruit stand probably will be wondering where the heck I am. No more day-off, long-oceanside bike rides, er, wait, that wasn't going to happen anyway since me, nor my bike, will be in any condition to do so even by then.

Hello, The Star and Ford Center. Upsides are obvious. No cross-country travel. No moving the entire operation. Able to feed the players onsite. Probably house them at the onsite hotel. Better control of facility staff and food service.


Well, heard new head coach Mike McCarthy was enthralled with the idea of having those two grass fields in Oxnard. But, there's only one at The Star. And if the Cowboys plan on practicing on the grass field outdoors, probably have to do that in the morning. Though that might suit Mike McCarthy's schedule just fine, since heard his preference is to flip what the Cowboys have been doing all these years at the River Ridge Sports Complex of conducting the walk-through practice in the morning and the padded one in the afternoon. He prefers the padded practice to be in the morning, which likely is the only way to practice outdoors avoiding the Texas 100-degree afternoons, with the afternoon walk-through then in Ford Center.

Either that, or the Cowboys can always practice inside Ford Center, although repeated indoor practices on artificial turf is not optimum for player legs. Oh, this also occurred to me the other day, since there is more time when working from home to daydream:

If the Cowboys want two, side-by-side grass fields to practice on, maybe they can commandeer two of the 17 grass practice fields over at the FC Dallas Soccer Center just a 10-minute bus ride away from The Star. These days do require flexibility to manage outside the box, you know.

As for fan access? Probably TBD since who knows what sort of access will be allowed by the third week in July with this pandemic not exactly subsiding. And if there is access, even on a limited basis, that would have to take place at either Ford Center or possibly a practice at AT&T Stadium.

Other than that, bet Brad Sham won't miss rooming with me for three weeks at The Residence Inn, certainly not as much as the folks at my at least weekly stop, if not more, Ferraro's Italian Restaurant in Ventura.

  • Questionable Hall: If the NFL is wanting to eliminate any unnecessary travel for teams during training camp, like also banning any two-team practices, just wondering if the Pro Football Hall of Fame game Aug. 6 between the Cowboys and Steelers is necessary. That would entail traveling for a third road preseason game. Heck, we aren't even sure if there will be any preseason games. Or if the game is held, for TV purposes, will any or how many of the fans buying 20,000 tickets to the game will be allowed to attend? Something to think about because if playing the game, the Cowboys and Steelers will be allowed to open training camp right around July 22, about five days ahead of the other 30 teams.
  • My Bad: Sure missed this one, and thanks to one of our avid readers pointing out that former Cowboys linebacker Anthony Dickerson, who started 32 of the 89 games over five seasons, passed away back on March 21 of last year. Not sure how that escaped our attention, but at 61 years of age, Dickerson suffered fatal injuries during a fall at his home. Dickerson played his college ball at SMU and was a team co-captain. In fact, in a game against Ohio State he was credited with 32 tackles. He had played 10 games for the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL before the Cowboys in 1980 signed the undrafted free agent who had been taking courses at the University of Houston, near his hometown of Pearland. Dickerson played for the Cowboys from 1980-84, starting 31 of 32 games for the Cowboys in 1983-84 before being traded to Buffalo. The outside linebacker might be best known for his 1983 game-winning safety, sacking Saints quarterback Kenny Stabler in the end zone with 1:58 to play for a 21-20 victory in a game the Cowboys turned the ball over six times in just the second half – six now – allowed quarterback Danny White to be sacked seven times and also had an extra point blocked in the fourth quarter. When head coach Tom Landry was asked afterward if his team was "motivated to play," Landry said, "I hope not. If we were motivated and played that bad, we're pretty poor." Cowboys finished that season 12-4, but were beaten in the first round of the playoffs 24-17 by the Rams, thanks mostly to turning the ball over four times.
  • Found Money: The Cowboys will add $7 million to their dwindling salary cap on Thursday when they are expected to finally turn in Travis Frederick's retirement papers. The Cowboys have waited until after June 1 to do so to spread the some $11 million of dead money over two years, mostly accumulated from reconstructing his contract. Frederick will count $4.975 this year against the cap. The $7 million from his 2020 base salary will just about cover the Cowboys $7.3 million rookie salary pool. While retired, Frederick continues to be active in the community with his Blocking Hunger Foundation, supplying a food pantry for kids and also on May 18 having begun Moving The Chains to Block Hunger, wanting to raise $22,500 to supply a food bank.
  • Speaking Out: Was asked just yesterday during an interview why Dak Prescott hasn't posted anything following the George Floyd killing in Minneapolis. Well, here it came today on Instagram, pledging $1 million to improve police training and address systematic racism in this country. Thought the most meaningful part of statement was this: "We will clean our streets and our communities not only of the looting and violence, but most importantly the racism, racial-profiling and hate!" Maybe donating $1 million is a sign Dak is planning on pocketing like a $50 million signing bonus when he finally signs a long-term deal before July 15.
  • Top 10: In Peter King's yearly power ranking for NBC Sports, he had the Cowboys coming in at No. 9, behind fifth-ranked Tampa Bay and eighth-ranked Las Vegas but the top-ranked NFC East team. Also noticed the Cowboys will play eight games against teams in his top 16, four of those against teams in the top 10. As for the rest, thanks to the NFC East, they will play four games against two of the bottom dwellers, two versus the No. 30 Giants and two more against No. 31 Washington. Philly by the way is ranked 15th.
  • Final Shots: Making the NFL's All-Under 25 team, meaning under 25 years of age, was Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch. (Note, since Ezekiel Elliott turns 25 on July 22, he was not considered … The NFL has added two positions to the officiating hierarchy, former head referee Walt Anderson as senior vice president of officiating training and development and former NFL assistant coach Perry Fewell as senior vice president of officiating administration. Me thinks that department needs all the help it can get … How about this for a summer internship? Jacksonville quarterback Josh Dobbs, an aerospace engineer major at Tennessee, working at NASA this offseason, and able to witness Saturday's SpaceX launch on the grounds.

A true sign that's it's later than you might think, the NFL season opener between Kansas City and Houston on Sept. 10 is now T-minus 99 days. We think.