OXNARD, Calif. – For some reason we were not as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the start of Day 3 at Dallas Cowboys training camp. Maybe we are still feeling the effects of travel day, but nonetheless, it’s the first day of workouts, so we hit the ground running.
Due to the collective bargaining agreement, there is no such thing as two-a-days any longer. You can still have the players on the field for workouts twice a day, but one of the two must be a walkthrough only, with no helmets. The second can be at full speed with helmets. There are also a limited number of days you can have the players in pads, and there’s also a limited number of days you can practice without a day off. It’s all about player health. But the good news, for those of us in the media, it makes the players available twice a day. Unlike most NFL camps, every Cowboys player is available after workouts if they want to talk. This goes all the way back to Tex Schramm, when he was the Cowboys general manager. Back then, the media was actually allowed to dine with the players at lunch and dinner. Those days are long gone, but the core of his belief of having a good working relationship with the media is still there, and quite frankly, I don’t know why more teams don’t adopt that approach.
One of our first interviews in camp is with Jason Witten after the Cowboys first walkthrough, and he was his usual great self. There are some athletes that are just gifted in dealing with the media, and Jason is one of them. It makes our job so much easier. I know he took a lot of flack from some folks for his performance on Monday Night Football, but you can’t ask for a better player on or off the field.
During Jason Garrett’s first solo press conference of camp, we find out the camp mantra is ‘Driven’. He likes to come up with words to describe the team attitude based on the word fight. Now, Jason is in a fight for his job as he starts his 10th season without a contract extension.
Jason Witten ready for first training camp since one year retirement. pic.twitter.com/7NVrhi4sG1— Greg Simmons (@GregSimmonsKSAT) July 27, 2019
After working for the next three hours filing stories for both our digital and television platforms, it’s time for the afternoon live shot. There are some challenges when it comes to lighting in the sun, and sometimes you need an extra reflector to take the shadows off. Thanks to our broadcast friend from KENS Joe Reinagel for holding the reflector for our 5:30 hit. Like I said before, we are all in this together, and it’s the product on the air that counts.
The official opening ceremonies kick off the second practice of training camp, including the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, Jerry Jones and Oxnard city officials. Representing Oxnard this year was the Mayor Pro Tem, who slipped up and called the Cowboys quarterback Dak Preston. It’s like live tv, once you say it you can’t take it back. After Jerry tells the crowd he wants to kick the Giants' _ss, it’s time for practice to begin. The afternoon workouts are more aggressive, but not at full speed until the pads come on this Monday. That’s when the fun begins, and that’s when after a few days, there are usually a couple of skirmishes. For now, it's just drills.
Just before practice ends, we are informed that Dak will be addressing the media for the first time. There is no podium appearance at Cowboys camp for any player. That’s just their policy so Dak is relegated to standing on the back of a cart that has seen better days, as if he was on a grass roots campaign in Iowa. But it got the job done.
Now the fun begins because this is all happening now with less than 2 hours to air. So scratch what we had planned for the 10 pm broadcast on Saturday. This now takes over as the lead story on both television and the web. While Billy sets up the live shot, Mike and I work on the broadcast and all of our digital platforms. We are done at straight up 10 pm San Antonio time, just in time for the live shot.
After dinner the pillow never felt so good… again.
Dak Prescott autographing memorabilia for fans after practice. pic.twitter.com/SRwKnq9VYc— Greg Simmons (@GregSimmonsKSAT) July 28, 2019