Alumni Day for the Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys practicing at Valley Ranch. Photo Courtesy: Will Martin

By Will Martin

In the days leading up to the recent exhibition game with the Miami Dolphins, Valley Ranch has been having morning practices.

8 am comes awfully early yet one is able to glean a veritable plethora of pictures, video, sights, and sounds that bring out the most passionate of football fans.

You also get to enjoy a pleasant surprise or two.

August 20 there were some two dozen Dallas Cowboys alumni players at Valley Ranch watching the team practice.

As time wound down the media was privy to getting a moment or two to speak to certain players of past great teams.

We learned that our first interview was someone who anchored the offensive line just a few years ago and was currently working with Josh Brent on his return to the Silver and Blue. Center Andre Gurode was amongst the alums. We take a moment to hear from the one time Cowboys Center.

Back in 1973 I remember being a nine year old in New Jersey sneaking a peak at the television after the folks went to bed and getting one of my earliest tastes of ‘Monday Night Football’ with the Cowboys and Redskins. I recall Walt Garrison scoring a touchdown late in the game to give Dallas the victory.

I also remember Mr. Garrison for a commercial he did for Skoal smokeless tobacco not too long after. In any event I remember Walt Garrison was part of the team that went to their first Super Bowl in 1970. A sloppily played game where Jim OBrien kicked a 32-yard field goal for a 16-13 victory.

After the move from the Cotton Bowl to the newly built Texas Stadium October 24, 1971 it was only a matter of months before Team Walt and America’s Team went back to the Super Bowl and wound up victorious 24-3.

We now take a moment to talk with Walt Garrison.

Because of time constraints I was only able to get a couple of moments with a few old timers. Otherwise I would have found time with one and all like at Big 12 Media Days. The next player to come on by and talk about the good old days was a wide receiver who hailed from California, was very animated and entertaining when he got the ball, caught the ball, and scored a touchdown.

There was that quiver, and then the drawing out of the six shooters. Better known as the ‘California Quake’ he made an incredible circus catch of a touchdown pass in Super Bowl XII, indeed we speak of #86 Butch Johnson. He had some sage things to say. You won’t believe whom Butch chose to spend time with back in the day.

Being amongst one of the older guys in the mix it was a blessing to actually remember events going back over 40 years or so in the Cowboys heyday whilst surrounded by a group of youngsters who are still learning. Still, to be amongst greatness from days past that is always a good thing for nostalgia sake.

Guard John Niland was also in the group of alums who I came across. I first met Mr. Niland way back in 2004 in Addison.

In his heyday he was money alongside Tony Liscio. I did get to catch a picture with John and Walt. The anchor to that first Super Bowl title in 1971.

On a sadder note it was announced that because of neck issues the career of Devonte Holloman appears over.