Everything about the Dallas Cowboys seems to speak TEXAS, but what many people might not realize is that the team spends half its training camp period in Oxnard, CA. For the longest time, I’d intended to travel north to see the squad preparing for the regular season, but it wasn’t until this year that I got around to doing so. It also helped that my friend Mark (who famously snapped a photo of Jeff Schroeder holding a bottle of B-Side wine) has some NFL connections (he’s an agent) and managed to hook me up with a sweet VIP pass for the training camp. Clearly, I was destined for greatness.

Pics of my adventures to Oxnard after the jump…

Things began on quite the optimistic note as I found myself trailing behind a reality star as I merged onto the 101 North. Which reality star might that be?

Sugar from Survivor: Gabon! This wasn’t the first time I’d come across Sugar in traffic. I blogged about that initial encounter back in 2008 — something that irked Sugar enough to literally call me out during the live Survivor reunion special. Good times. Well, here she was again. This could only mean good things.

A breezy hour later, I arrived at the training camp. Here’s an exclusive view of the VIP parking lot. Take it in…

My VIP pass, issued to a Todd Williams, who I imagine is NOT the same Todd Williams from my high school graduating class. Although, maybe… Todd? Is this you?

Outside the field, I was surprised to encounter a small concession area full of many tents, but not a lot of patrons. I guess since this was a Tuesday, the masses were not teeming at the camp.

A nifty truck displayed an exhibit of great Cowboys of yore. It was stirring.

I noticed a clump of people hanging out in one area. Clearly, this was where I had to be.

This was actually a prime autograph zone, and as such, only little kids were really allowed in. I lurked in the back for a few moments to see who might emerge down the green carpet.

Huzzah! A player!

Meanwhile, a lonely wheel of fortune display went largely ignored. I almost gave it a whirl, but then I discovered it would cost $10 to do so. PASS.

Finally, I made my way to the VIP box, which was located at the endzone of a practice field. Note my proximity to the goal posts.

The field was still empty as only a few players had emerged from the locker rooms. Along the sidelines, the hoi polloi gather for a cramped and clearly unpleasant experience.

Soon the players began trotting out onto the field. I am regrettably not the most ardent of Cowboys fans; so many of the faces went unrecognized by me.

This player looked in dire need of a hug.

Meanwhile, the autograph area had become mildly frenzied as more and more players emerged.

I was hoping to get a spot at the fence, but these portly gentlemen seemed unwilling to consolidate space. This was the people version of double-parking.

As the players warmed up, I kept an eye out for Marc Colombo, who is not only an offensive tackle on the team, but one of my Twitter followers! That’s right, I have a real life football player following me. In fact, I have TWO! Cory Proctor from the Miami Dolphins too. Yeah, I’m bragging. Whatchu gonna do about it?

Turns out Marc Colombo had had surgery the day prior; so he wasn’t at camp. However, these guys were. And they were very big. In fact, EVERYONE was very big.

As more players streamed out, I became excited that some of the big names would be appearing soon too. I was really hoping to see Miles Austin.

The first major sighting: Jason Witten!

Suddenly, like a gazelle running across the savannah, Coach Wade Phillips made his triumphant entrance.

The grace of a million unicorns galloping on starlight.

And so concludes this triptych of Wade Phillips’ glory.

Wide receiver Sam Hurd jogs onto the field. He seems leery of me.

See? (He actually seemed very nice and promised to come back later to give the kid in front of me an autograph.)

Soon practice began. As the players all performed stretches and exercises, the squad looked not unlike a massive dance company strutting its stuff.

There was a lot of high stepping. A peppy jazz number would have scored this nicely.

Meanwhile, I’d spent all my time so focused on the green carpet area that I hadn’t realized players were also quietly entering the field from this staircase RIGHT BEHIND ME!

And thus I totally missed Miles Austin!! (seen here tying his shoe). He’s one of my favorites (up there with Hines Ward, LaDainian Tomlinson, Santana Moss, and Larry Fitzgerald). This was an epic fail by me. EPIC.

Making a late entrance was none other than the biggest star of them all: Tony Romo! Or as I like to call him, Tones Romes.

Now that I was aware of the secret staircase of the stars, I was able to snap this pic of Marion Barber (I think — it all happened so quickly).

Soon Felix Jones followed suit. I knew this was him for sure, mostly because people started yelling out “FELIX!!”

When it became clear that no one else was emerging from the locker room, I took a break at the VIP snack corner. Free soda and popcorn? Don’t mind if I do!

My lunch.

Upon return to the fence, I found this coach happily signing autographs.

Soon the drills began. There was nothing inherently interesting about them, and yet they were really cool. These guys are sort of like machines. Particularly Miles Austin (did I mention he was my favorite?), who did this nifty and very speedy stutter step exercise with his feet. Other players spent time sidestepping along the sidelines, all while tethered by rope to a trainer. Clearly, the same regimen I partake in before I blog.

#43 (Gerald Sensabaugh) dropped a pass during the drill and thus had to do punishment pushups. Claaaaaaaassic Gerald Sensabaugh.

Meanwhile, this guy (whose name I don’t know) spent a good amount of time doing sprints back and forth in front of me. He was fast and imposing. Inversely, I frequently am described as sluggish and delicate.

After about two hours, I had to head off, but I snapped this pic of the crowds (the NON VIP crowds, no less) on the sidelines. There were a surprisingly huge number of people there, more than this photo depicts.

Then… as I was leaving… the most amazing thing happened. I RECEIVED A COUPON FOR A COMPLIMENTARY BLOOMIN’ ONION!! Of course, I’ll have to travel back to Oxnard to claim it, but I’m sure I can wrangle my friends to join. The only thing that could have made this better would have been if this coupon had been autographed by MILES AUSTIN. And then the only thing that could have been better than that would have been if Miles Austin had said, “Hey, mind if I tag along to Outback?” And then we could be best friends. And I would have the most awesome, braggy Facebook photos ever!

But hey, the free Bloomin’ Onion is just fine too.

Thanks again for the VIP pass, Mark. I had a blast!!

Who else is ready for football season to begin??

14 replies on “B-Side Blog Visits The Dallas Cowboys Training Camp!”

  1. Being from the Bay Area (a Niner Fan)…I wouldn’t have recognized most of the Cowboys either. Now if only it was the era of Troy Aikman or Emmitt Smith…now THOSE were Cowboys that I would know anywhere 🙂

    Too bad Tony wasn’t still dating Jessica Simpson…you could have been hanging out with her in the VIP section!

  2. Awesome pics B! I’m so jealous, not only of your VIP Cowboys experience, but of your Ventura County weather. The Cowboys bail out of Texas in August and leave their fans behind to fry like eggs on the sidewalk.

    Enjoy your Bloomin Onion! I’m sure there’s a Red Lobster nearby too…. 😉

  3. I actually know Sam Hurd (I went to NIU and was a student football manager while he was on the team) and that pic is hilarious! And for the record he really is a genuinely nice guy and I’m sure he went back and signed the autograph.

    Great pics and Go Huskies! and Cowboys…..and Bears (I’m a born and raised Chicago girl, have to show my Bears some love too)

  4. OMG, OMG, OMG! As a resident of Dallas and a huge Cowboys fan, I am so jealous! Thanks so much for the pics. Cory Proctor was a Cowboy last year, they let him go. I think the player doing sprints is Jesse Holley, the winner of Michael Irvin’s 4th and Long.

    Go Cowboys!!

  5. As you know, I despise the cowboys and wish them nothing but failure upon failure upon failure. Here’s to an 0-16 season, drug arrests and positive steroid tests. May Romo be sacked a hundred times this year.

    I could not have gone to that. I’d have gotten the crap beat out of me because I would have explained to all those SoCal Cowboy fans that they don’t live in DallAss and therefore should not be Cowboy fans.

    (Note: Since SoCal has no team, I would offer the tiniest leeway on this very important point.)

    Go Eagles.

    1. excuse me sg but SoCal does have a team – the San Diego Chargers.
      but then what can I expect from an Eagles fan.


  6. I used to be a Cowboys fan when we lived in Texas, now I’ve given up. It’s hard to be a fan of a team with all the revolving door players switching teams. You have no clue who is on “your” team anymore.

    But hey, we’ve got a new football coach for our college team, so that is something I can look forward to!

    1. Any chance your college team is UVA, chick? ‘Cause I’m looking forward to our new head coach possibly moving us out of a decade of what I call “building years.”

  7. Soooo jealous! I am a born and raised Texan (from Arlington, no less) and a die-hard Cowboys Fan! No fair weather fan here. My boyfriend is going to just die! Die! Dallas_Fan hits the nail on the head. Thanks for the awesome pics.

  8. I have to say my favorite pic is the brave sole wearing a Crabtree jersey to the Cowboys Training Camp. A true Niner fan!

    Thanks for the pics, although I despise the Cowboys, it’s always fun to see up-close and personal pics of training camps and players.

    Go Niners!

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