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Saturday
December 12, 1994
"The Cowboys are unique, a phenomenon that transcends the narrow confines of regional fandom"
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December 12, 1994

Saturday

"The Cowboys are unique, a phenomenon that transcends the narrow confines of regional fandom"

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After lunch Dalrymple goes to the back of the plane, to stand by the rest room and enjoy a quiet dip of snuff with Aikman, who is such a trouper that he has come along for the trip, bad knee and all. He's there just in case Dallas's first two quarterbacks, Rodney Peete and Jason Garrett, get injured and the Cowboys need someone to take snaps and run out the clock.

Back in his seat, Dalrymple ponders another of the perennial duties of his job: fielding queries from young people asking him how they, too, can become p.r. directors of major sports franchises. "I say if you're out of college, it's already too late," he says. "You've got to work for the student publication, the sports office or whatever at your school, folding letters, covering women's tennis, for free. Then, do whatever nobody else wants to do. In 1982 I got my first job as the sports information director for Otterbein College, Division III, and I was also the assistant p.r. guy for the whole school. I was even the photographer, and I didn't know how to take pictures. Before every home football and basketball game I carried the typewriter, pencils, paper and this ditto machine, a heavy, old thing with all that smelly fluid, up to the press box, 35 rows up the bleachers in the case of football."

Dalrymple stretches, smiles happily, a Super Bowl ring gleaming on his finger. "This," he says, "this is a good job." He takes a quick look at the large men behind him. "It's also a pleasure to know that if the flight crew goes down, Chad Hennings can bring this baby in. And Chris Boniol's at least the first mate."

The entourage boards two buses at the Philadelphia airport, and with one police car in front and one behind, the buses proceed downtown to the Wyndham Franklin Plaza Hotel. At the hotel the buses feint, as though heading to the front entrance, then suddenly stop on a side street. Police quickly block off the area so the players can disembark and then scurry into a back door and through the kitchen to the service elevators. Realizing the deception, fans come screaming in streams from their stakeout of the main entrance, most of them too late to see anyone but equipment men and coaches walking past.

"The Beatles did that, too," says Dalrymple of the kitchen ruse.

After dinner and meetings the players get a couple of hours to themselves, but by 10:45 p.m. most are already back in their rooms in preparation for 11 o'clock bed check. Tomorrow's starting quarterback, Peete, lies on the bed in his room, calm as a monk. He has already visited with his fiancée, Holly Robinson, one of the stars of TV's Hangin' with Mr. Cooper, over at the Ritz Carlton, and now he's just kicking back until he is ready for sleep.

"I'm fine," Peete says. "It's not like this is the first time I've ever started in the NFL, even though some people think that." He did start 47 games in five years for the Detroit Lions; still, this is his first start for the Cowboys, who signed him as a free agent before this season.

"I'm relaxed because this is exactly why they brought me in," he says with a smile. "To fill in for Troy. It's so comfortable."

Despite his success last week, Garrett is now the backup to Peete, whose injured right thumb has healed. That's just how it is, clean and simple: Aikman, Peete, Garrett. One, two, three. Switzer wants no quarterback intrigue. "We quarterbacks have a great relationship," says Peete. "We all know our roles. We never had that at Detroit." He flips through his playbook. Even though it is balmy this weekend in Philly, Peete is wearing thermal underwear. "I'm a Southern Cal guy," he explains.

He also has a single room, though most of his teammates are doubled up. "I can't sleep with somebody next to me snoring," he says. The discounted rooms cost the team $53 apiece, and any player can have a single if he's willing to pay half of that, $26.50, for the luxury of solitude. But 36 of the players are doubled up, and only 14 have singles. How cheap are those 36? "Real cheap," answers Peete.

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