OXNARD, Calif. — The Dallas Cowboys have played preseason games in Pendleton, Oregon; Roanoke, Virginia; Shreveport, Louisiana; and Canton, Ohio. They have also played in international locales such as London, Mexico City, Monterrey, Mexico, Tokyo and Toronto.
On Saturday they will play their first preseason game in Hawaii when they take on the Los Angeles Rams (10 p.m. ET, NFL Network) at Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium.
“I’ve never been to Hawaii before, so I’m excited to get over there with the guys, do a little team bonding,” said Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith, who played a game in Ireland while he was at Notre Dame. “But then it’s preseason game No. 2 against the Rams.”
Dallas wide receiver Michael Gallup was at Colorado State when he played at Aloha Stadium, and he recommends players try the fresh pineapple. But fruit aside, the Cowboys want this to be a business trip.
“We’re not going to be there very long, so we’re really just there to play. Yeah, it’s an important trip for us,” safety Jeff Heath said. “We’re getting closer to the regular season and you only get so many opportunities to play in these games before it gets real.”
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett looks forward to the 2,500-mile trip from Oxnard to Honolulu.
“Hawaii is a magical place. There is a great football tradition there. A lot of great players have come from there,” Garrett said. “One of our great players years ago, Mark Tuinei, is from Hawaii and so many others. There is a real tradition of individual guys. The Pro Bowl being over there for so many years, the Hula Bowl was there for so many years. I think it’s something we’re really excited about doing. It’s a little bit different leaving training camp to go to Hawaii to play a game than going back to Dallas. We get all that. But once you get around the logistical part, it’s going to be fun to go over there and play a football game and hopefully grow as a team in a great environment.”
A lot of work goes into the move
Speaking of logistics, the real work began after Wednesday’s practice.
Long after the players were done with their final padded practice in Oxnard, the team’s equipment staff was busy packing trucks with gear — blocking sleds, tackling dummies and anything else associated with the team’s 21-day stay.
The planning for the staging of camp and the eventual breakdown started in May and culminated Thursday with seven 53-foot trailers making the trek back to Texas.
“They’ll leave about 3 o’clock [Thursday] and be in Dallas Friday night,” equipment manager Bucky Buchanan said of the trucks.
What made this packing job a little different is that a portion of the gear had to be packed for the plane ride to Hawaii.
“It’s a regular road trip for us,” Buchanan said. “Everybody thinks we’re going to be out of the country but we’re not. It’s just we’re going to be there one extra day than normal during the season. Once everybody got that mindset right, everything’s been falling into place.”
When the Cowboys and Rams ironed out the details about a preseason game in Honolulu, owners Jerry Jones and Stan Kroenke discussed the possibility of practicing together for two days while on the island but the logistics never worked out.
Beyond the game
Since becoming the Cowboys’ head coach, Garrett has used several road tips as learning experiences for his team. In 2014, the Cowboys had a dinner at the Tower of London before playing the Jacksonville Jaguars at Wembley Stadium. The Cowboys made a trip to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City in 2015. Last season, the Cowboys visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.
This trip will be no different. Following the Cowboys’ walk-through on Friday, they are scheduled to visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial.
“That will be cool,” running back Alfred Morris said. “Seen the movies and studied the history. That will be good.”
Once the Cowboys landed in Hawaii, the equipment crew headed to Aloha Stadium to set up the locker room with jerseys hanging in lockers and pads at the ready. Because the Cowboys will hold their walk-through at the team’s hotel, the equipment guys will get a little respite.
Immediately following Saturday’s game, the Cowboys will fly back to Dallas and the equipment staff will be in action again, making sure the 18,000 pounds of gear gets to the plane. Not long after landing, the Cowboys’ equipment crew will head to The Star. Interns will have taken care of the trucks that brought back the gear from Oxnard and have that in place by Sunday. When equipment director Mike McCord, Buchanan and the rest arrive, the focus will be on unpacking from the Rams game.
“Hopefully we’ll be done by noontime Monday,” Buchanan said.
On Tuesday, the Cowboys will have their first training camp practice at The Star in Frisco, Texas.
Everything will be in order, despite the work it took to get everything home.
“Those guys work their ass off,” Heath said. “They’re probably some of the hardest workers here. We don’t make their job very easy. We try our best to pick up, but it always seems like the locker room will be a mess and the next day it’s perfect. We’re very thankful for those guys.”
Foot Locker gifts Saints’ Jordan after referee dig
Jordan, who dropped a “Foot Locker” reference while criticizing the officiating crew after the game, revealed on Twitter that the sportswear company sent him a gift box with new shoes and a note that read: “Cam, we’ve got your back … and your feet. — Your friends at Foot Locker.”
The officiating error occurred when Jordan appeared to return a fumble 87 yards for a touchdown late in the second quarter of New Orleans’ 27-9 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. However, officials initially ruled the play as an incomplete pass.
The Saints challenged the call, and it was reversed to a fumble — but the ball could not be advanced since it had been whistled dead.
“Normally you let the play happen,” Jordan said after the game. “Any Foot Locker — I mean referee — tells you that you let the play happen and then you go back and review the play. That’s a 10-point swing right there. … Seems like it’s affect the game, right?”
Foot Locker employees wear referee uniforms.
— cameron jordan (@camjordan94) September 21, 2019
Jordan added that he was “absolutely positive” that it was a fumble and not an incomplete pass.
“Hence, why there was no slowdown by anybody. Everybody was full-go. Everybody understood what happened,” said Jordan, who then quickly added, “I shouldn’t say everybody.
“People are in their prime when they’re in their prime. And sometimes they’re not in their prime, but they were in their prime maybe a decade ago.”
The NFL’s senior vice president of officiating, Al Riveron, told a pool reporter after the game that officials are indeed instructed that “when in doubt, to let it play out.” Jordan was warned for his comments, but not fined, according to a source.
Teams interested in AB, want legal info
Antonio Brown’s agent already has had communication “with a few teams that are interested” in his client and that “want information regarding his legal situation and the NFL investigation” into him, Drew Rosenhaus told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Saturday.
Other people around the league believe, however, that until the league’s investigation is resolved, a deal is not likely to happen, a source told Schefter.
Brown was released by the New England Patriots on Friday, making him an unrestricted free agent eligible to sign with any team. The NFL released a statement Friday night that said Brown would not be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list while he is a free agent but warned, “If he is signed by a club, such placement may become appropriate at any time depending on the status of the investigation.”
The NFL also said its investigation into Brown is “ongoing and will be pursued vigorously and expeditiously.”
Brown has been accused of sexually assaulting his former trainer, Britney Taylor, according to a civil lawsuit she filed Sept. 10. Taylor met with the NFL on Monday. A source had told ESPN that there are “more interviews and information-gathering being conducted now beyond Taylor.” It remains unclear when or if Brown will interview with the league.
In addition to the lawsuit, Brown faces an allegation of sexual misconduct by a female artist who was working at his western Pennsylvania home in 2017. That allegation was part of a Sports Illustrated report published Monday that detailed domestic incidents involving Brown, a charity auction theft and multiple unpaid debts.
On Thursday, the lawyer for the artist reached out to the NFL after Brown apparently sent what were described as threatening text messages to her client. The sides spoke Friday morning, with the woman’s attorneys saying in a statement that the league “pledged to conduct a thorough investigation under its Personal Conduct Policy.” According to that statement, the league also contacted the Patriots, who then directed Brown to have no further contact with the woman.
Brown, 31, made his debut with the Patriots on Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, totaling four catches for 56 yards and one touchdown. His release came less than two weeks after he signed with the Pats.
Browns’ Garrett fined $42K for two Siemian hits
The Browns pass-rusher was penalized four times on Monday night, which included two calls for roughing the passer. The second resulted in a season-ending ankle injury to Siemian.
“You do not want to put anybody out for the season,” Garrett said earlier this week. “That is their job. That is something that you do not do unless you love it, and you do not want to take that away from anybody. I hope [Siemian] comes back faster and stronger than he ever has. I wish the best for him.”
First of all, I want to wish @TrevorSiemian a speedy recovery. We put our bodies on the line every single snap, and I wouldn’t wish an injury on anyone.
Other than that, great team win but we still have a lot of work to do. So much love to all the fans, onto next week🤟🏾
— Myles “Flash” Garrett ⚡️ (@MylesLGarrett) September 17, 2019
Garrett leads the NFL with five sacks.
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