The following entry is from NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, who attended Cowboys training camp Saturday. He is a former vice president of player personnel for the Cowboys from 1960-89.
The first training camp we went to was at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Ore. We stayed in 10×16 dorm rooms at the university.
Here at the Alamodome, the current players’ dorm rooms are in a 5-star hotel, where every guy has a separate room. They stay in the hotel for all their meetings now, whereas we had to go three blocks away to a gym-like facility back then.
There were probably about 10,000 people watching practice this morning at the Alamodome and there probably weren’t 10,000 in the entire town of Forest Grove. I doubt that over the combined 5-6 weeks we were there, that even 2,000 fans showed up.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told me they took a survey of San Antonio football fans and 97 percent were Cowboys fans. I think that’s higher than the percentage in Dallas.
The difference between training camp today (climate-controlled and indoors) is stark with our training camps of yesteryear (outdoors, when every afternoon practice was probably shortened due to lightning and rain). The dynamics of what you did then and now is completely different.
Back then you came into camp 17 days prior to the first preseason game. Then the purpose was to get people in shape, now you’re already in shape.
More than 150 credentialed media are here. Our first year at Forest Grove, we had two Dallas papers and two Fort Worth papers — that was it. Just four writers.
One of the great stories of all time was about our old radio broadcaster Wes Wise, who eventually became the mayor of Dallas. He was the 10 o’clock news guy at one of the network affiliates. The thinking was if you brought a guy like him, you’d get some fan interest because he’d be “the voice of the Cowboys.” Tex Schramm talked with him and he didn’t know if the football was pumped or stuffed. So Schramm came up with the idea to bring him out to training camp to learn about football.
Well Wise, “the official voice of the Cowboys,” decided to come, but sent a collect telegram to us the day he was arriving, asking us to pick him up from the airport.
There were no t-shirts or hats for sale back then, you just had plain shirts and hats with a “D” on it. You couldn’t buy it anyplace and nobody cared about it.
After our first training camp, we were just there for a few weeks because school started at Pacific in mid-September, so we had to find a different place to go to. We went to St. John’s military academy in Wisconsin for our last two games of the preseason. It was like being on a military base.
– Gil Brandt