GRAPEVINE, Texas – If you're a fan of the Cowboys – past and present – and a fan of exotic foods, Glass Cactus in Grapevine was certainly the place to be Sunday night.
The Cowboys, teamed up with the NFL for the ninth annual Taste of the NFL: The Cowboys Ultimate Tailgate Party. The event, sponsored by Abacus and presented by Lockheed Martin, raises money for the North Texas Food Bank as they tackle childhood hunger.
Once again, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Hatcher spearheaded the event, which has become a league-wide initiative in all 32 NFL cities. Former players such as Preston Pearson, Chad Hennings and Daryl "Moose" Johnston also helped organize the event from the alumni side.
Gourmet chefs from around the area served the finest of cuisines, while fans also were able to participate in auctions to raise money for the North Texas Food Bank. Since its inception in 2004, the Ultimate Cowboys Tailgate Party has provided more than four million meals and raised more than $1 million to feed hungry North Texas children.
"This means a lot to me," Hatchers said. "It's one of the things I can relate to. I can relate to these kids. That's why I'm here today. I'll put any time and effort into an (event) like this I can relate to. Our kids are the future. We can't let any stones go unturned."
Ware has been involved with this event since his rookie year when teammate "La'Roi Glover handed over the reins" in 2005.
Ware said events like this are only small steps in trying to give back to the community, something that seems to hit home even more this week, based on the tragic events that have occurred in Boston and West, Texas. But Ware said childhood hunger is a tragedy that is continuous.
"All the tragedies that are going on, you sit back and think what's going on in the world," Ware said. "But some of the other tragedies going on are childhood hunger. The North Texas Food Bank gives us the opportunity with this event to raise money. Every dollar that is earned feeds three meals. I wish I could go to the store and get three meals. Being a part of something like that is really good."
Many former and current players and coaches were on hand. Brandon Carr and Nate Livings joined Hatcher and Ware and other players, while former Cowboys such as Mel Renfro, Billy Joe DuPree, Nate Newton and Charles Haley were in attendance as well.
"The old-school players really support each other," Hatcher said. "We've got a ways to go in that. We see some of our players, but the core guys need to come out and support each other a little more. But the camaraderie is great – old-school and new-school guys."
The North Texas Food Bank received 100 percent of the proceeds from Sunday's event, which helps support children's programs such as Kids Café and Food 4 Kids.
Additional event sponsors included Uber; Albertson's Market; Black, Mann & Graham, LLP; McAlister's; USMD Physician Services and Wingstop.