Welcome To CowboysHQ - And 'The Ride'!
My Troy Aikman Guided Tour began at the team hotel in Southern California, down Highway 1 alongside the Pacific Ocean for a bit, and then finally on the UCLA campus, where just a few years earlier Aikman had begun forging a career that would make him an All-American, the first pick in the 1989 NFL Draft, a Dallas Cowboys icon, a Hall-of-Famer,, a superstar on TV with FOX Sports ... Oh, and the quarterback of three Super Bowl-winning teams – including the Super Bowl that would be played six days after our leisurely drive.
On the UCLA campus we stopped for lunch in the student dining hall. My all-too-serious journalistic ethics precluded me from allowing Aikman to pay for my little carton of milk, my hot dog and my Jell-O. But as we visited – about his love for football, about his burgeoning relationship with Jimmy Johnson, about women about the Buffalo Bills defense, about women, about his special leadership bond with Michael Irvin, and about women again, a thought loosely related to "journalistic ethics'' did come to me:
Is it OK to have a friendly relationship with the subjects you cover?
I certainly had done no such thing when, starting in 1982 straight out of college, I began covering the Denver Broncos on radio and later for the newspaper. The Broncos qualified for Super Bowls in 1986 and 1987 and while I went with them I certainly maintained a professional distance.
In 1988 I began a two-year stint covering the San Francisco 49ers. Again I felt there were very clear rules about "fraternization " even as I guardedly developed relationships with 49ers personnel.
When I came to Dallas in 1990, maybe the game had changed. Or maybe I had changed. I watched my then-new friend Brad Sham – a mentor to so many of us -- wear so many different hats with aplomb. Brad was and is a Cowboys critic, a Cowboys homer, a Cowboys celebrity, a Cowboys friend, a Cowboys fan. As a beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in those days, I couldn't quite stretch to Brad's expansive boundaries.
But I did wonder: what was I missing by not allowing myself to let players, coaches and executives know that I am human … And to recognize that they are the same?
I maintain that, all these years later, the relationships I have on hundreds of different levels with hundreds of different Cowboys folks hasn't stopped me from analyzing the work of those folks. Certainly it has helped me tell their stories in their words, which, as I have over the decades moved from the writer to columnist to radio personality to TV analyst, is really the essence of the job.
Telling their stories.
Which is also the essence of "The Ride."
Over the course of covering the Cowboys for the last quarter of a century (yikes!) I have found myself not only in Pasadena but also in Mexico City, Japan, and London. I will be with the team in London again this year and at every practice at Valley Ranch and at every workout at training camp in Oxnard. The power of FOX Sports and my work at the Cowboys official radio station 105.3 The Fan will have me at every road and home game. (I cannot speak highly enough about how 105.3 The Fan brings you into the game, with "Shan & RJ,'' "The GBag Nation,'' "Ben & Skin,'' "K & C Masterpiece,'' Brad Sham, Babe Laufenberg, Bryan Broaddus and the rest of our radio team truly performing at championship-level every single day.)
Here at CowboysHQ, our stellar staff, which is led by senior writer KD Drummond along with Mark Lane and Jordan Ross, will help me blanket the Cowboys in every possible way. (I'm on Twitter at FishSports and Jordan runs a terrific Facebook page for us here. (With 18,000 Likes and we're just getting started!)
We are off and running on this launch day (12:01 a.m., Valley Ranch time) with exclusive news and deep analysis of major storylines of the moment. Among the stories you'll find on the site right now:
*Josh Brent's freedom - and an Aikman/Irvin path he can follow.
*"Phone Tag: The Inside Story of Kyle Orton's Cowboys Disconnect.''
*"The 20-Step Free-Agency Guidebook - Grading How The Cowboys Followed It.''
And we're just getting started!
This is a relationship occupation and a relationship avocation – between us and the Cowboys and between us and you. We encourage you to enjoy Cowboys HQ at any level you wish. But I promise you there will be depth, as there is in the two regional best-selling books I've authored about the Cowboys (with forewords written by Jerry Jones and, yes, Troy Aikman.) We will have fresh stories and analysis and videos and coverage every day and throughout the day, and will offer exclusive one-on-one interviews and breaking news you can get nowhere else. We'll make sure the already-thriving CowboysHQ discussion boards continue to grow, and we will offer Premium Cowboys Coverage at about a dime a day. (If you are among the many who have loyally remained as a subscriber and in recent months feel a bit "under-served''? We're about to change that.) And with the purchase of that coverage which starts with a seven-day free trial you also get the inside scoop on the Dallas Mavericks at DallasBasketball.com (for 14 years my pride and joy), the Texas Longhorns at HornsDigest.com with Chip Brown, Texas A&M at Aggie Digest and hundreds of other pro and college teams – all your favorites across the country -- for that same dime.
So again, welcome to Cowboys HQ. We encourage your free membership, your feedback and your desire to enjoy our coverage of the Dallas Cowboys in whatever manner you wish ... And buckle up in the passenger seat for … "The Ride''!
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