Go behind the scenes with SI.com's Arash Markazi whoâs âOn The Scene,â writing a regular journal from anywhere and everywhere about anything and everything.
7/30/2006 04:01:00 PM
The Boys Are Back
There’s never a dull moment at Dallas Cowboys Training Camp.
To call the Dallas Cowboys’ training camp a circus wouldn’t be complete hyperbole.
Pulling into the mud parking lot, surrounded by dirt piles at the River Ridge complex, that may one day have a river ridge and complex, a giant inflated Cowboys helmet lets fans know they’re in the right place. As soon as you walk through past the helmet and souvenir selling trucks and through the sawdust covered entrance, you’re greeted by a five-piece country music band playing, “The Boys Are Back in Town,” on stage, as Cowboys Cheerleaders and Rowdy, the Cowboys mascot, mingle with fans. To the right is an Astroturf covered area called the ‘Cowboys Experience’ is set up where kids are able to go through Cowboy colored mazes, slides and possibly even throw T.O.-like tantrums if they like.
To the left, a two-tiered truck serves as a portable ‘Cowboys Hall of Fame,’ with all five Super Bowls and championship rings on display along with game worn jerseys, helmets and trivia games. Nearby, smaller trucks, serving as the ‘Cowboys Pro Shop,’ are parked attracting hundreds of fans to shell over anywhere from $2 for a team roster to $400 for a three-foot Terrell Owens bobblehead. The most popular item is the $80 T.O. replica white jersey, followed by his authentic white jersey which is going for $250. “Anything with T.O. on it is selling like hot cakes,” said one vendor, putting a smaller $20 T.O. bobble head and Owens’ new $25 book, appropriately named, T.O., into a bag for a customer. “He’s the most popular guy right now.”
After fans were finished buying merchandise, answering trivia questions, going through mazes, listening to live music, grubbing down on some authentic Tex-Mex food and taking pictures with cheerleaders, most of them probably made their way to five grandstands set up under tents to watch the Cowboys practice. On Saturday, the first day of Cowboys Training Camp, a record 10, 100 showed up for both the morning and afternoon sessions, beating the previous Oxnard record of 8,300, set two years ago. "This is a class organization," said Dr. Thomas Holden, the mayor of Oxnard. "It's a great event for us when they’re here." That being said, the team will be moving its training camp to San Antonio next year and won’t likely return to California anytime soon for its camp.
Jerry Porter is not a happy campyer, but that’s no surprise to ‘On The Scene’ readers.
Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
So Jerry Porter is looking for a trade, huh? That shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who reads this blog. I wrote that Porter was upset at the Raiders and Art Shell almost two weeks ago when I talked to him at a party in Los Angeles. In fact, he was positioning himself for a trade back then when he made it a point to tell me and another reporter that he was furious and wanted to be traded after the team passed up on Mike Martz as their next head coach and went with Art Shell, who hired Tom Walsh as his offensive coordinator. Neither has been in their respective positions since both were fired by the Raiders back in 1994. While Porter seems like a decent enough guy, I doubt he won over many fans by rocking Ted DiBiase’s “Million Dollar Belt” with no shirt on as he sat out the start of training camp looking for a trade. By the way the same belt Porter was wearing can be had for far less than a million dollars here.
- I was hanging out with a handful of NBA All-Stars this week for a commercial shoot that yours truly might be making a cameo in. While I have been sworn to secrecy until the ad drops this fall, I can relay a classic exchange that took place while we were waiting around on set.
“Have you guys been on You Tube?” asked player one. “It’s crazy, go on there and you’ll find everything. You’ll find every commercial you every did, every highlight you ever made, even stuff from your high school days.”
“Are you serious?” asked player two. “I got to check it out.”
“Yeah, it’s crazy,” chimed in player three. “You have to see the 720 dunk by the Air Conditioner.”
“His name is Air Up There,” said player four. “It was sick.”
“Yeah, if you have something to do, don’t go on You Tube,” said player five. “Forget about it.”
When a laptop was brought out and the players were shown the 720 dunk they all went crazy.
“You know if someone would have tried that in the league, they’d be taken out,” said player one. “Reggie Evans would have taken that guy out!”
- Vince Young took a lot of heat when he hired longtime family friend Major Adams as his agent out of college, but after signing a six-year deal that includes an option year that could be worth $58 million, with $25.9 million in guaranteed money, he doesn’t look so bad now. In fact after talking with a high-profile agent yesterday, it was probably the best hire he’s ever made. “I looked over that contract for a few hours, just to see how it was structured, and it’s impressive. He (Adams) might have taken a lot of hits, but he probably negotiated the best contract in the draft.”
USC coach Pete Carroll was not smiling when he heard about the new rule changes in college football this season.
As coaches chomped away at their plates of chicken parmigiana and salad after Pac-10 media day, it didn’t take much to ruin their appetite. All it took were three hyphenated numbers and a letter, or more specifically, NCAA Rule 3-2-5-e, which is the new rule that states that the game clock will begin as soon as an official marks the ball ready for play after a change of possession.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” said Oregon coach Mike Bellotti. “It’s the most dramatic rule change that I can remember and I have yet to find someone who likes it. It will change the football game significantly, more than people think. It’s going to limit and shorten the game which I don’t think needs to be done and it takes away your opportunities at the end of the game to get as many plays in and comeback if you’re behind. Nobody will claim responsibility for wanting to change the rules and shorten the game – not TV, not the coaches, not the administrators – so it’s one of those mystery deals I guess.”
Before the rule change, the clock wouldn’t start until the ball was snapped after a kickoff or interception. Now, offensive units will have to rush onto the field near the end of the half or the game as the clock will start as soon as the ball is put in play by the official. Coaches fear those precious few seconds lost during the ball being put down by the official to the ball being snapped to the quarterback will make it virtually impossible to throw up a ‘Hail Mary’ pass if they get the ball back with less than four seconds.
“We’re still not sure when they’re going to start the clock,” said Washington State coach Bill Doba. “Are they going to wait until both teams are on the field and ready to go, or can one team take their time and let the clock run? So you’re really at the mercy of the officials now. It will certainly affect our two-minute drill. I don’t like the rule. They’re trying to shorten the game and I ask, ‘Why?’ I don’t get it.”
Another rule change the coaches were against was the new video replay rule which says a coach can challenge one play per game and if they are wrong they are docked a timeout. “The coaches’ challenge doesn’t help us because we have no video replay units up in the booth,” said Bellotti, noting that video monitors in the booth are not allowed in college as they are in the NFL. “So it’s the same thing you and I see on the field and I don’t think that’s worth a timeout…As a coach, I’m appalled by the rule changes. It will change the game as we know it. It changes a lot of strategies. And I can’t find anyone who likes these rules. I hope they are overturned next year.”
The final rule change that had the coaches up in arms was the new kickoff rule which says the clock will start when the kicker’s foot touches the ball, not when the returning team touches the ball. “If you got a kid who can kick it out of the end zone and you’re ahead with four seconds to go, the game’s over,” says Doba. “If they start the clock when you kick the ball, you won’t have a chance to touch the ball.”
Besides disliking the rule changes, the coaches were still confused at how and why the rules were passed to shorten the game. Many argued that if there was one sport where fans wouldn’t mind having an extra few minutes of game time, it would be college football; where fans tailgate and party for days and plan year-round for the handful of home games they will attend.
“I don’t like the rules. I think it’s a joke,” said Arizona State coach Dirk Koetter. “College football is an all day event. Fans wait all year for our game. Who said we were trying to shorten the game? Who came out with this national statement saying that we’re trying to make college football like the NFL? We’re not the NFL. We’re college football. This game has worked fine for over 100 years and now they are making major rule changes that affects 18-percent of all plays. I don’t get it and I don’t like it.”
Other coaches brought up the fact that the shortening of the game will also affect records, since offensive players won’t get as many touches as their predecessors. “The records are going to different now that the clock is shorter,” said USC coach Pete Carroll. “There are going to be less plays and you won’t have as many chances to throw the ball. If we threw the ball an average of 38 times a game, that number might be 32 times this year. That’s six passes, or 50 passes a year and stuff like that can start to effect records. Everything will start to be asterisked. Is it astristicked? Asterisked? Whatever, it’s a sad situation.”
Tiger Woods basking in the glow of his second consecutive British Open win.
You already know what sports editors and producers think is the top sports story this morning. It’s clearly Tiger Woods winning his 11th major championship at the British Open, and his first title without his father, Earl, who succumbed to cancer two months ago. Nestled somewhere on the front page of sports pages and websites is “the other” big story of the day, Floyd Landis, overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, to become only the third American to win the Tour de France. But what do you think is the bigger story?
On one hand you have Tiger Woods, who after clinching the British Open, cried uncontrollably as he embraced his caddie, Steve Williams, and later, his wife, Elin. It was a rare show of emotion for Woods, who a month after missing his first cut at a major, became the first golfer to win back-to-back British Opens in nearly 25 years. "After the last putt, I realized my dad's never going to see this again, and I wish he could have seen this one last time," said Woods at the trophy presentation. "He was out there today keeping me calm."
Floyd Landis toasting his first Tour De France win and the eighth straight for the U.S.
On the other hand you have Floyd Landis, who has an arthritic right hip that needs surgery, coming back to win the Tour de France after being in 11th place and over eight minutes behind the leader just three days earlier. Landis’ remarkable turnaround after falling so far behind, so late in the Tour was so impressive that race director Jean-Marie Leblanc, who has overseen the Tour de France for the past 18 years, called it "the best performance in the modern history of the Tour."
On most any given Sunday, Landis’ win in one of the most prestigious sporting events in the world would be the top story, but there was no way he was going to overcome the popularity of Tiger Woods and his emotional win some 400 miles away. It would have been like coming back from an over 8-hour deficit in the Alps. It just wasn’t happening. That being said, what did you think was the biggest sports story on Sunday?