An inside look at the Cotton Bowl Experience

The O-State Sports Report asked Elbert Craig to shoot pictures from the Cotton Bowl experience and forward his memories from the Cowboys' week in Dallas. The senior safety out of Oklahoma City wasn't able to play in the game because he is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his knee. (Taken from the January edition of the O-State Sports Report)

Craig suffered the torn ACL midway through the season but was able to come back to play all the way into the final game of the regular season when he suffered a setback against Baylor. Craig hangs out with a number of players on the team including his brother Marcus Craig, Tim Burrough, Antonio Smith, Mike Williams, Darrent Williams, Vernon Grant, Fath' Carter, Jamar Ransom and Chay Nease. Craig divided his thoughts by events during Cotton Bowl week.

Elbert's Thoughts Heading to Dallas and on Game Day: I'm just happy to be getting out of Oklahoma for Christmas break. Last year in Houston, and this year in Dallas, I was looking forward to having some fun. Going down there I was thinking I was going to have a great time, no pressure, all fun, because I wasn't able to play in the game. But then game day I really wanted to play. I saw all that orange in the stands and the atmosphere and it was killing me that I couldn't help my team. It was one of the hardest moments that I've ever had in my life. Most of the time during practice that week at Texas Stadium they kept Lawrence (Pinson) and I in rehab in the training room and not on the field. We had not seen much football during the trip, but on game day it all got to me not being able to play. We had a chance and we caught the perfect blitz in the backfield and one of the safeties had him in the backfield and let him get away.

Elbert on the Cowboys' hotel, The Wyndham Anatole: It was nice. Our hotel was so huge. That's where I ended up getting my wheelchair because the hospitality room was on the other end of the hotel, and it was so big that I needed the wheelchair just to get around. The food was great overall.

Elbert on going to see the Dallas Mavericks Game (The first major event had both teams going to the American Airlines Center to see the Mavericks host Memphis): It was fun. A lot of players had never been to an NBA game, and it was fun seeing their reaction. They treated us like stars, and it was fun. They had us in a big room before the game.

Elbert on the Main Event (the team went to a huge bowling and arcade facility for an entire evening): That was fun. Everybody was there with the band, cheerleaders, trainers. Players really enjoyed the laser tag and went offense versus defense. There were all kinds of games – race car games, bowling, all kinds of stuff and the guys really had a good time. They had burgers and those burgers were really good. I think the guys really enjoyed that. It was easygoing and we could do just about whatever we wanted to do.

Elbert on the trip to the Scottish Rite Hospital (After a practice, the Cowboys performed a Cotton Bowl tradition as they visited the children at the Scottish Rite Hospital. The Ole Miss players did the same at Children's Hospital): It was great for all the players to get up there to see the kids and see players put smiles on the faces of those kids. All those kids wanted an autograph and some of our players gave them their hats and T-shirts. Some of those kids will never have a chance to walk or do anything resembling a normal life. I think it made a lot of our guys realize how lucky they are. I know it made me feel a lot less sorry about my situation with my knee injury. To see those kids smile was really special, and I saw guys that normally are more concerned with themselves giving to those kids. I think that was one of the most important experiences we had the entire week.

Elbert on the Lawry's Beef Bowl at Lawry's Res- taurant (After the hospital visit, another Cotton Bowl tradition is the Lawry's Beef Bowl, normally a prime rib eating contest, but head coach Les Miles curtailed that by limiting the players to one 10-ounce piece of meat): Some of the linemen really wanted to get after it, but coach Miles held everybody to just one steak. That steak was really good, but a lot of players wanted more. They told us that was about a $50-a-plate meal. It was nice getting both teams together.

Elbert on the Medieval Times Dinner and Show (On New Year's Eve the team was transported to Medieval Times with dinner and a show with the Knights of the Realm): I enjoyed that, and they had horses. They had this black horse and a white horse and I really liked them. I love horses and they had the horses doing a lot of tricks, some of those I'm going to try with my horse. I took a lot of pictures there. I wasn't into all of that target stuff and the jousting, but I really enjoyed seeing the horses perform. They had some garlic bread that was great. We were all trying to get some more bread and they told us they had to check with the king, but they wouldn't give us any more. Most of us are used to eating with our hands.

Elbert on the SBC Big Play Luncheon (another Cotton Bowl tradition brought one of the funniest moments of the trip): Greg (Richmond) was preaching about the Cotton Bowl and that was one of the funniest things. That was at the luncheon. He was on the bus with the microphone, and he kept it up during the luncheon. Then when they showed the video of the off-the-bench tackle by that Alabama player in the game 50 years ago, he was going on and on that the power of the Cotton Bowl made him do it. It was funny, and all the guys were rolling on the floor.

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