Thursday, December 18, 2008

Farewell to Texas Stadium

The Dallas Morning News published a special "Farewell to Texas Stadium" section last Sunday in anticipation of the Dallas Cowboys' final regular season game in the stadium against the Baltimore Ravens this weekend. I was in Dallas that day and would've picked up a copy had I known, but at least they have it on the website now.

My own memories of Texas Stadium come from the four or five years my family drove there on Thanksgiving to watch the Cowboys play. As I recall, we always sat in above the end zone because season ticket holders already had all the good seats. The game always started at 3pm, and if you were seated in the end zone facing west, you could count on being blinded as the sun receded between the roof and the top of the opposite-facing stands. This was before Jerry Jones filled in that gap with more luxury boxes, which probably improved the sun situation inside but made the stadium look architecturally slapdash from the outside.

Parking sucked. We always had to walk across the freeway and over a levee to a remote lot that was at least a mile away. It was usually cold during that time of year, too.

The first Cowboys game we saw was against the Chicago Bears in 1981. Walter Payton was playing for the Bears and Danny White was starting quarterback for the Cowboys, but he got hurt. As the fourth quarter wound down, backup quarterback Glenn Carano drove to within field goal range and kicker Rafael Septien won it for the Cowboys 10-9 with seconds to spare. None of the other games we saw were as exciting as that one.

I think we quit going to Cowboys games when I got out of high school. My family and I still recall those games fondly, but it was always kind of a relief to watch it on TV instead of schlepping through the parking lot and freezing in the stands.

That relief was particularly intense when we watched the icy 1993 Thanksgiving game against the Miami Dolphins in which defensive tackle Leon Lett mistakenly touched a live ball after a botched Dolphins field goal attempt, allowing them to kick again and win. O.J. Simpson was working as a sideline reporter for NBC Sports and his kids were throwing snowballs at him. I remember my mom saying she thought O.J. was really going to let his kids have it once the cameras cut away.

No comments: