Work in Sports
Quick stop with the 'Boys
This is the second in a series of postcards Sports Illustrated's Peter King will e-mail from his annual NFL training-camp tour.
Tuesday, July 18
TEAM: Dallas Cowboys
SITE: Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, about two hours northwest of Dallas. A broiler in summer. It was 104° Tuesday afternoon, with a heat index of 111 when the Cowboys kicked off their 4 p.m. practice.
"Oh LORD!!!" cried safety George Teague when he emerged from his 70° cocoon of a locker room at 3:35. "This is crazy!" No. It is, however, Texas in July.
PLAYER I SAW WHOM I REALLY LIKED: I came here to see the speed of the Dallas receiving troika -- Rocket Ismail, James McKnight and Joey Galloway -- and came away from the afternoon workout duly impressed. But the guy whose talent really opened my eyes today was the fourth-round corner from West Texas A&M, Kareem Larrimore. Playing against the first offense in a seven-on-seven scrimmage, Larrimore closed quickly on Galloway, doing a 12-yard in-cut. So quickly in fact that he batted away a Troy Aikman line drive headed straight for Galloway's gut. Larrimore's a keeper.
THE FOOD: The Cowboys always do well in foodville and this year in the main cafeteria at MSU is no different. My luncheon lineup:
Rotini with marinara ... B+ Fresh sausage pizza slice ... A Tossed salad (romaine, cukes, broccoli, cauliflower) in lite ranch ... A- Filtered water ... S
(Water, on the King grading system, is either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. I am not a water geek.)
My interview with linebacker Dat Nguyen, while fulfilling and interesting, did interrupt my pasta-eating. Thus, the last half of the pasta was eaten cold. This only slightly diminished the enjoyment.
OPINION/FACTOID THAT MIGHT BE INTERESTING ONLY TO ME: My first extended interview with Michael Irvin came in a strip joint. It was 1992, I think. I met him at the Cowboys' training complex. He told me to follow where he'd be driving. I followed. We ended up in Gentlemen's Something-Or-Other (I forget the name, but not the sights). I said: "I can't interview you here!" He said: "Then there's no interview." And as the loud mayhem went on around us, I shouted questions and he yelled back answers.
Dear NFL Junkie:
Would you like to hear about my day?
Up at 4:20 a.m. in north Jersey, cab to Newark Airport, fly to Dallas at 6 a.m., write a good chunk of my NFL preview on the Eagles while in the air (how did sportswriters live in the Pre-Laptop Era?), land in Dallas at 8:10 Central time, rent a Hertz car at the most out-of-the-way rental complex in civilization, drive 117 miles through some of the most arid and cattle-stocked country in the country to Wichita Falls (I saw a dead armadillo, legs up, just outside Fort Worth), arrive at 11 a.m., watch the end-of-morning Cowboys practice, say "hey" to Emmitt Smith (who has some distinguished flecks of gray in his beard, which I point out to Emmitt's enjoyment) and Aikman, interview Dave Campo and Nguyen, chow, meet with Jerry Jones, chat up Randall Cunningham about what a dumb decision the Vikings made to go with the rookie quarterback, thank the Lord for air conditioning, pull out the laptop, write the postcard, watch the afternoon practice.
Would you like to hear about the rest of my day?
If all goes according to plan, I'll check out of Wichita Falls at 6 p.m., drive past the dry cows back to DFW Airport, be frustrated by the in-and-out cell-phone quality as I try to call story subject Chris Samuels of the Washington Redskins to talk about his new rich contract, hustle to return the car to the most out-of-the-way rental complex in civilization, catch the 8:35 p.m. plane to Boston, wonder how my daughters did for Montclair High in their summer softball doubleheader with always-tough Rutherford, land around 1 a.m. in the morning, rent another car, drive south into the Massachusetts burbs, pine over missing Sox-Expos matchup at Fenway just hours earlier, eat a soy-packed Crunchy Peanut Balance Outdoor bar, locate the Red Roof Inn somewhere near the Patriots' training camp in Foxboro (and feel blessed to have a room because every other hotel within 916 miles of Boston, apparently, is full Tuesday night), see if there's a Perry Mason or Leave It To Beaver rerun on the 19-inch TV, drink a big bottle of water, floss, brush my teeth, lay down --hopefully at about 3 a.m. Wednesday morning -- and get five hours of sleep before heading over to Pats camp for their 9 a.m. workout.
I will probably wake up with the TV on. That usually happens.
Of course you clicked here to find out what I think of the Cowboys.
Nine wins maybe. No fewer than eight. P.K.
Check back soon for more postcards from camp. Next: New