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Spagnola: What A Walk Down What Now Is Cowboys Memory Lane Forever

FRISCO, Texas – Somewhere Tex Schramm is smiling.

         See, Tex Schramm was big on history. History of the NFL. History of the country. History of those World Wars. You name it.

         But I can remember the one thing Tex seemed to contemplate in his later years, before passing away on July 15, 2003:

Had he done enough during his 83 years on this earth to be remembered? Did he make his mark?

         Silly Texas E. Schramm. Why, in 1991, Tex was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his numerous contributions to the NFL and for his tireless work as president and general manager of the highly successful Dallas Cowboys. So, he knew his bust would be in the Hall of Fame rotunda for eternity.

         He also knew he was going into the Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium, his name forever being immortalized with the franchise's greatest players, even if he passed away three months prior to the halftime ceremony.

The guy just wanted to leave a legacy.

         Well, Tex, not to worry. Nor should Tom Landry, Don Meredith or Bob Hayes. If having your names ringing the façade at AT&T Stadium's Ring of Honor level or your busts for all to see in Canton, Ohio, isn't enough, there is now another reminder here at The Star:

         The newly christened Cowboys Ring of Honor Walk, where Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and family have built a tribute to the 21 Ring of Honor members and those to come as part of the Cowboys' sprawling Star complex for all to see.

         And as a public service announcement, you all need to see. Seriously.

         What a Monday it was. Not only were 16 of the 17 living members of this exclusive 21-member Ring of Honor club here for the dedication ceremony of The Walk, but so were representatives of the four members who have passed away. So we're talking Schramm's daughter Kandy Court. Landry's son Tom Jr. Meredith's son Michael. And Hayes' daughter Adrienne Hayes Thomas.

         Certainly was an emotional time for them. Heck, an emotional time for those of us who knew those guys or knew of them.

         Just take it from Drew Pearson. The original No. 88 said, "Now I know where I want to be buried," referring to his No. 88 display on The Walk.

         Let me tell you, knowing Drew, he was only half-joking.

         For me, someone who's had the opportunity to meet, watch, play or interview 20 of the 21 Ring members – only Chuck Howley has escaped my net – this was like one of those once in a lifetime opportunities. You just don't get all these guys or their family members together like this all at once. You don't. And who knows, this might be the last time they're all together again.

         That group picture is priceless.

         That's why this was such an emotional event, especially when you realize these were the guys who paved the way for this Dallas Cowboys franchise to become what it has been and what it is today. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had said it and said it over and over again, how the franchise has stood and still stands on these Ring of Honor guys' shoulders.

         Here was the other part that struck me: Howley, the MVP of Super Bowl V, the only Super Bowl MVP in history to be voted so off the losing team, gets around these days in a wheelchair. Yet when it came time to appear on the second floor for the unveiling of the honorees pictures on the façade along the Walk, by golly he got to his feet with the help of his grandson in his Navy uniform. There would be no sitting, no matter what.

         Nearly the same for Don Perkins, the first of many Pro Bowl running backs in Cowboys history. Don is now 79. Gets around for short distances with the use of his cane. Hey, that's a lot of years and a lot of yards on those legs.

         Well, when the Ring members' numbers along The Walk were unveiled one by one – in Tom's case it was his hat and in Tex's case it was the Cowboys Star – the guys were taken to the location on the Walk to pull the draping off and then pose for pictures.

         Well, when "Perk" arrived on his golf cart to his location, accompanied by his daughter, Judy Wykoff, a guy walked up with a wheelchair to assist him to the spot where his No. 43 is. Perkins looked at the wheelchair, and I could see it in the six-time Pro Bowler's eyes, like he was saying, "I'll be damned if I'm going to be wheeled behind my number."

         Nope, these still are very proud men. Grabbed his cane, and walked on his own the short distance to then pose for pictures behind that 43.

         Four-time Pro Bowl running back Tony Dorsett said he got chills when he saw his No. 33.

         Cowboys' first Ring of Honor inductee Bob Lilly was marveling at the entire Star complex, and began reminiscing about the team's first practice facility and locker room, over at Burnett Field. He mostly remembered the locker room, cramped, musty and the fact they couldn't leave any of their sweaty uniforms on the floor. Too many rats running around, he said. Claimed the rats would eat them.

         "They'd spread rat poison around," Lilly said. "The rat poison didn't kill 'em. They just got bigger and bigger.

         "And now we're in the state of the art."

         Their stories are as priceless as were their careers.

         As Jerry Jones said, looking around at this must-see tribute, "This is a triumph for Cowboys fans and certainly the Cowboys organization. The Cowboys are Tom Landry and Tex Schramm."

         They sure are. Same for Numbers 8 and 22 and both 88s. Same for "Woody" and Tony and Roger and "Dandy Don" and Perk and "L.A." and "Crash" and "Bullet Bob" and Charles. There is Howley and "Mr. Cowboy" and "Fro" and Lee Roy and "Big Cat" and the "Manster."

         "These are the names I first saw when I walked into Texas Stadium," Emmitt said of the honor to be among them now. "Great to see that history, that tradition."

         So Tex, not to worry. As Emmitt would say, "(Tex) won't be forgotten. He's part of the history."

         And who could ever want anything more out of life.

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