OXNARD—The 2016 football season officially kicked-off for the Dallas Cowboys as they arrived in Oxnard on Thursday, July 28 for their annual pilgrimage to this sleepy, ocean community. They have been here for 11 years for their pre-season camp, but this year is much different.

On Saturday, July 30 with the first practice, the beginning of drills took on a somber note. Dallas Chief of Police David Brown, Mayor Mike Rawlings and 13family members linked arms with Cowboys players and walked quietly out onto the field, forming a circle. Then they talked to the team telling them to stay “Dallas Strong!”

Dallas Executive Vice President Charlotte Jones Anderson had extended the invitation to promote a message of unity for the fallen officers. Also a catalyst was tight end Jason Witten, who along with Tony Romo had met one of the officers killed in the line of duty, Patrick Zamarripa. Patrick’s mother, Valerie was walking down the field in tears, accompanied by the mayor and Tony Romo. She said in a statement that, “I was crying because this is just a total tribute to my son, I was excited. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to come. But I will never forget this. I never expected this.”

After the seriousness of the ceremony it was time to play a little football.

Nine thousand screaming enthuastic fans for ‘America’s Team’ headed to River Ridge field in Oxnard to watch the team’s final year of holding their training camp in Oxnard after 11 years. Next season, the team will be moving to Frisco, Texas in their new multi-million dollar complex.

Cowboys and NFL star Dez Bryant gives the peace sign to fans during practice Sunday, July 31. Photo by Michael C. Floch.
Cowboys and NFL star Dez Bryant gives the peace sign to fans during practice Sunday, July 31. Photo by Michael C. Floch.

Cowboys Quarterback, Tony Romo was the subject of some ridicule on the internet and Twitter after pictures showed him with an apparent weight gain.  He practiced Saturday throwing the ball, on Sunday, he hardly threw the ball as Romo is coming back from a broken collar bone. The injury sidelined him for nearly  the entire 2015 season.  He appeared slightly larger, but not alarming or even out of shape. Dez Bryant seemed happy, the feeling at camp was this- nobody get hurt and interact with the fans in a positive way.

The players took this very seriously and it showed.  After a 4-12 season last year, many of the players spoke of not wanting to wait until the season started to change things around.  They will get their chance starting Saturday, August 13, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum when they face the Los Angeles Rams in what will be the first professional game in Los Angeles in over two decades. This exhibition game will match good friends Dallas Cowboy Owner Jerry Jones and Los Angeles Rams Owner Stan Kroenke;  Jones was instrumental in bringing the Rams back home as he showed the NFL why it was good for the cities and the NFL financially for football to return to Los Angeles.

The Cowboys will play a Blue Versus White scrimmage between themselves on Sunday, August 7 in Oxnard to prepare for the Rams.  Everything seems on track for a great rebound season. The only proper way to start the season is to exclaim- “How bout them Cowboys?”