Greg Simmons' Cowboys Training Camp Blog: Day 9

Wind chill, a tough interview and a celebrity sighting


OXNARD, Calif. – One of the perks of covering the Dallas Cowboys training camp is the weather in SoCal, especially in Oxnard. While the Los Angeles area is averaging around 85 degrees, the high forecast for Oxnard this weekend is 73 degrees. I think that’s why I get so burned, at times, because the weather is so cool you forget about the sun. And at night, it’s actually chilly. Last night I actually used my Texas Open pullover for the second time on this trip. Our punishment will be the “slap in the face” when we arrive home on Monday. It’s always a kick in the teeth when you step off the plane and boom, “Welcome home to Texas!” I will say this year has been more comfortable at home with very few 100 degree readings.

That’s the main reason the Cowboys train in California. That and the convenience of a complex that has the hotel and two football fields together. It’s a great camp headquarters. It’s still hard to believe the Cowboys actually trained in Wichita Falls. The thinking back then was if they could stand the heat in training camp, then they would be ready for September and October in Texas Stadium. That’s not an issue now inside the AT&T Stadium.

Our interview this Friday was with Cowboys left guard Connor Williams, the former Longhorn who is about to start his second season after winning the starting job last year as a rookie. The one-on-one session starts off well, but towards the end I lose him. You can tell when you lost an interview, they resort to one word or very short answers. At that moment they are done and it’s no sense taking his time or the viewers time after that. But I always blame myself for those incidents because it’s my job to engage them and make it interesting enough for them to want to respond. You have to realize, in some cases, these players have just gotten off the field and I would be fading about the third question in. I would much rather be getting treatments, eating or napping than talking to a sportscaster. Nonetheless, we appreciate the players time.

The afternoon session is punctuated by some great catches from Jason Witten, who is coming out of retirement.  He really helps in the red zone, where the Cowboys struggled last year. They finished ranked 29th in the league in touchdowns scored in the redzone. Now with Gronk out of the league, Witten admits he has to bring a better endzone celebration this season.

One of the guests at the afternoon session is Rico Rodriguez. You know him better as Manny on Modern Family and is a native of Bryan, Texas.  It turns out he is close friends with former Texan, now Dallas Cowboy defensive tackle Christian Covington. They became friends after Rodriguez’s family was named Texan Ambassadors. Maybe that’s one reason we got big timed when we asked for an interview, not wanting to be seen in Cowboys camp. And get this, it was his sister that did the brushing off citing a dinner engagement. If you don’t know and I didn’t until now, his sister is Raini Rodriguez, who is a big Disney channel actress. I learn something new everyday.


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