Sunday, September 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cowboys Ring of Honor members take a walk, reminisce

FRISCO, Texas — Emmitt Smith is the NFL's all-time leading rusher. He helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls in the 1990s as part of the famed "Triplets" alongside quarterback Troy Aikman and receiver Michael Irvin.

All three were on hand for the opening of the Ring of Honor Walk outside the Ford Center at The Star. Smith made sure his 7-year-old son, Elijah, took part in the ceremony when he unveiled the '22' monument.

"It'll probably be a moment that he'll never forget," the former Gator star said of having his son accompany him. "Something he'll be able to talk about, show-and-tell at school would be great, but he's trying to soak it all in.

"He's trying to understand what all of this is all about because he wasn't around when I played. To him, I'm just Daddy. If my kids ever forget what their daddy used to do, they'll always have a place to go."

The same can be said for the rest of the 21 members of the Ring of Honor. Smith was one of 16 living members of the Ring of Honor to attend the ceremony, along with Aikman, Irvin, Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, Rayfield Wright, Cliff Harris, Don Perkins, Drew Pearson, Randy White, Lee Roy Jordan, Tony Dorsett, Charles Haley and Darren Woodson.

The families of four deceased members — Don Meredith, Tom Landry, Bob Hayes and Tex Schramm — were also on hand.

The only Ring of Honor member not in attendance or represented by family was Larry Allen.

"The meaningful thing for those of us that are in it is that it's a small number and you're talking about an organization that has won five world championships and a lot of great players," Aikman said. "And so from that standpoint, it means a lot.

"On the other hand, as I said, I understand that there are some that are very deserving that aren't in, but I know when you go around to some of these other stadiums, there's a lot of names, sometimes it's a bit overwhelming with the number of names, and I think that's been one of the neat things for Dallas' history or their Ring of Honor is that there aren't as many names."

Said Harris, a defensive back for the Cowboys from 1970-79, "It's an incredible experience. It's been a life experience, coming from a little, small school, Ouachita Baptist, to being part of the Ring of Honor is beyond belief."

All of the members enjoyed sharing stories from their playing days, of course.

Harris joked about running into Perkins as both wore No. 43.

"The equipment manager said, 'You're going to be No. 43.' I said, 'There's another 43,' '' Harris said. "He said, 'Don't worry. You're not going to make the team anyway.' That's how I got to be No. 43."

Lilly, the old TCU standout, recalled the early days of the Cowboys and practicing at Burnett Field in Dallas compared with the state-of-the-art facility the team now calls home.

"It was a condemned baseball stadium in Oak Cliff. We had to hang our uniforms and our shoes up because if you had sweat on stuff, the rats would come in at night and eat them all up," Lilly said. "We had no doors going into our locker room, so we learned to hang that up. We put rat poison out all the time and the rats just got bigger. They ate more and more.

"Now we're in a state-of-the-art facility."

Irvin enjoyed being around the organization's all-time greats and debating who would be in the starting lineup had they played in the same era.

"Who is starting — Emmitt or Tony?" Irvin said. "Who is starting — Roger or Troy? We are having those conversations. Of course, Drew Pearson and I say we are both starting at the same time. That works out for us."

The Ring of Honor members and their families then joined the current Cowboys roster for lunch prior to the first training camp practice at the Ford Center. That is always a special moment, particularly for a longtime player such as tight end Jason Witten, who will likely join them in the Ring of Honor whenever his career ends.

"It's great for us," Witten said. "You learn real quick when you get drafted here, what a privilege it is, the foundation those guys laid. To have a chance to be around them, not only some of the best ever to play here, but ever to play in the NFL, is really special for us."

Witten enjoys interacting with all of the greats, but has grown particularly close to Staubach and Irvin ever since joining the franchise as a third-round pick in 2003.

"Roger's always been a great resource for me over the years and amazing just how successful he is and how he just roots for us, always just genuinely pulling for us and a great man off the field," Witten said. "Michael is someone I've enjoyed being with. Just unbelievable passion, represented so much of what they were about. Emmitt's been somebody I looked up to as a kid and had the opportunity to be around. Those guys in the '90s are just great resources for all of us.

"If you're here long enough, you're around a lot of them."

Comments
Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide to Steelers-Buccaneers: Where is Ronald Jones?

Sound-Smarter-Than-Your-Friends Guide to Steelers-Buccaneers: Where is Ronald Jones?

One of the dominant storylines heading into Monday Night Football between the first-place Buccaneers and the last-place Steelers will be the things we didn’t expect to see. It’s the team that usually melts down against the team that actua...
Updated: 1 hour ago
McFarland on FitzMagic: ‘Play the guy with the hot hand’

McFarland on FitzMagic: ‘Play the guy with the hot hand’

TAMPA — Why wait until Monday Night Football? We got former Bucs defensive tackle Booger McFarland, the field analyst for the ESPN crew, to break down the Bucs-Steelers matchup. In his straight-forward, brutally honest style, McFarland dissects...
Updated: 2 hours ago
How Booger McFarland rose from a Tampa FM station to ‘Monday Night Football’

How Booger McFarland rose from a Tampa FM station to ‘Monday Night Football’

TAMPA — When Booger McFarland auditioned for the new Monday Night Football broadcast team, producer Jay Rothman was blown away."I closed my eyes and said, 'Holy (bleep), I feel like I'm listening to football's Charles Barkley,'' Rothman said.Si...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Bucs have to be ‘reasonable,’ about their plan to play defensive tackle Vita Vea

Bucs have to be ‘reasonable,’ about their plan to play defensive tackle Vita Vea

Defensive tackle Vita Vea made it through practice this week, his first since straining his left calf muscle July 29. But coach Dirk Koetter was pretty non-committal about how much, or if, Vea will play Monday night against the Steelers."When you've ...
Published: 09/22/18

How Tampa Bay is savoring its FitzMagic carpet ride

TAMPA — Bucs fan Dallas Collins has it all planned out.On Monday night, he and his family are going to whip up an Irish Boiled Dinner. You know, corned beef, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and onions.Then they're going to sit down and watch the Buc...
Published: 09/22/18
Bucs PK Chandler Catanzaro insists he’s curse-free

Bucs PK Chandler Catanzaro insists he’s curse-free

TAMPA — When placekicker Chandler Catanzaro missed a 44-yard field goal in the fourth quarter at New Orleans and a point-after attempt last week against the Eagles, he left the door open for a possible comeback by the Saints and Eagles.The Bucs...
Published: 09/21/18
Ryan Fitzpatrick said his only goal was to go 3-0 while Jameis Winston was suspended

Ryan Fitzpatrick said his only goal was to go 3-0 while Jameis Winston was suspended

TAMPA — Shortly after he learned he would be starting the first three games this season, Ryan Fitzpatrick saw the opportunity to do something few thought would be possible.No, not take Jameis Winston's job.The Bucs starting quarterback was susp...
Published: 09/21/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs-Steelers, Vita Vea, Rays’ playoff chances, more

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Mailbag: Bucs-Steelers, Vita Vea, Rays’ playoff chances, more

It's our mailbag episode, with questions about how many games the Bucs can win this season, the reason for their offensive explosion and what we can expect from Vita Vea this week against the Steelers.Plus, what moves should the Rays make this offsea...
Published: 09/21/18
FitzMagic is everywhere, even in Cleveland

FitzMagic is everywhere, even in Cleveland

It feels like there's FitzMagic in the air everywhere these days, even in Cleveland.When Baker Mayfield came off the bench Thursday night to lead the Browns to a 21-17 win over the Jets — Cleveland's first victory in 635 days — he became ...
Published: 09/21/18
Bucs DT Vita Vea, CB Brent Grimes return to practice, could play vs. Steelers

Bucs DT Vita Vea, CB Brent Grimes return to practice, could play vs. Steelers

TAMPA — For the first time in seven weeks, Vita Vea played football Thursday.At least it looked like the rookie defensive tackle was playing football when he walked to the Bucs' practice field wearing a helmet and full pads and took a three-poi...
Published: 09/20/18