PEORIA, Ariz.– Way back when, Cowboys president and general manager Tex Schramm was Jerry Jones before Jerry Jones.
He was an innovator, like the first man to figure out how to direct television coverage of the Winter Olympics, the 1960 ones in Squaw Valley. Tex was ahead of his time in many aspects, and brought that forward-thinking aspect to the Dallas Cowboys when they came into the NFL in 1960.
See Tex is part of the reason why there has been so many Dallas Cowboys fans in the state of Arizona. New Mexico, too. When he came up with the idea of a Dallas Cowboys radio network, he didn't just concentrate on the state of Texas. He was looking for markets possibly starving for NFL football, and remember when the Cowboys came into existence they were the furthest Southern team in existence. Back then, there was no Atlanta, no New Orleans in the NFL. There certainly was no Arizona. No Tennessee. Only the AFL's Houston Oilers, and heck, that was the AFL.
So Tex started including radio stations on the network in faraway places, like the states of Arizona and New Mexico. Even Virginia Beach, Va., had one, just expanding the Cowboys brand.
Well, even though the St. Louis Cardinals moved to Phoenix in 1988, the state of Arizona was a hotbed for Cowboys fans.
Evidently still is. And we can vouch for that. If you had been on our Road Trippin' 2016 Cowboys Bus trip to training camp in Oxnard, Calif., you could, too. My goodness, we were inundated with Cowboys fans on Saturday during our stops visiting Cowboys fans clubs in Tucson and Phoenix.
Now the stop here at Salty Senorita in suburban Phoenix was anticipated. It was at night, an evening event at this well shaded and misted outdoor venue. And it was, thanks to all the work of Dallas Martinez and his gang, head of Arizona's No. 1 Dallas Cowboys Fan Club did.
But Tucson? Come on, we were passing through on our five-day, 1,900-mile trip at high noon. And it was hot. Like real hot. Believe at one point saw on my phone it was 106.
Didn't matter. Cowboys fans overran Famous Sam's again, same place we stopped on our road trip last year. In a well-organized event by Cindy Regens, and get this, for former president of Arizona's #1 Dallas Cowboys Fan Club Tucson chapter, and venue manager Cindy Roberts, they figured we signed nearly 400 autographs, myself, Rowdy and our intrepid Cowboys Bus driver Emory Tyler, within like a 2½-hour span. Took pictures with whoever asked.
You'd have thought this was a pep rally the night before a regular-season game, with all the chants, music and endless talkin' Cowboys.
But we should have known. Made a pit stop as we were pulling into the outskirts of Tucson, and as we were getting out of the bus, there was this U.S., Border Patrolman breathlessly flagging us down. His name was Ivan. He was heading to work his shift.
"I was watching you guys on the App when I saw the bus," he said of the videos from our previous stops Jacob had posted.
So as any longtime Cowboys fans would do, he did a U-turn to follow the bus, knowing we eventually were going to make a stop at Famous Sam's. Remember, he was watching our reports on the App. And as was detouring, said he called his supervisor to tell them him was going to be "a half-hour late." Not sure if he revealed the reason, but if they had inspected his car later on they would have known why. We loaded him up with "stuff."
There was Cowboys fan Donna from Abilene. She couldn't make our appearance at KRBC-TV that started our trip on Thursday. But she was headed to Tucson. And she basically drove the same route we had, and caught up with us decked out in her Cowboys gear at Famous Sam's.
What a great event, too, the fan club asking fans to bring school supplies that were going to be donated to one of the local school districts. The restaurant and Fan Club collected items for a raffle. We did a little Q&A with the fans.[embeddedad0]
And guess what? The majority of the event was streamed live on an internet-based radio station, DJ's and all, thanks to the station's utility woman Sam Cloud. She is one of those forward-thinkers, too, WRMX based on playing predominately music provided by local talent.
You know, we could have stayed there all afternoon. But duty called. We were scheduled to be at Salty's at 6 p.m. And almost made it; would have made it if the navigator hadn't put in just Phoenix on his GPS instead of the venue's suburban address. And, uh, Emory, didn't let me forget my faux pas, either, by the way.
What happens on the road doesn't always stay on the road.
No matter, another great event, our sixth Road Trippin' one, with Las Vegas starting at 3 p.m. Sunday and the final one, LA, at 5 p.m., at Saddle Ranch Chop House in West Hollywood. Best part, other than the turnout, might have been, since we were spending the night in Peoria, we had a chance after signing autographs and taking pictures to just hang with the Cowboys fans talkin' all things Cowboys. Lot of great questions by those attending. Look, and even though these folks are removed by the miles from the Cowboys, they were pretty hip to what was going on with the team.
Many said they would see us at training camp. Same from those in Tucson.
And as I've said time and time again, do not ever underestimate the power and the reach of that Blue Star.
Sunday, July 24: 3 p.m. (PDT), GameWorks, Town Square, 6587 Las
Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas Nev.
Monday, July 25: 5 p.m. (PDT), Saddle Ranch Chop House, 8371 Sunset
Blvd., West Hollywood, Calif.
At Some Point: Oxnard, Calif., River Ridge Sports Complex