IRVING, TX. -- Unfortunately, the ABC-TV cameras didn't take you very near Monday night's Ring of Honor ceremony. In contrast, TheRanchReport.com takes you so inside you can taste it.
We found a way to sneak onto the field before the game and at halftime. So we bumped into Troy Aikman, and we talked old times.
That 1992 team was, as he and we were recalling, quite wet behind the ears. "Naive,'' as he put it. "There was never another year like that first year,'' Troy told us. And then we recounted a day, the Monday before that first Super Bowl in Pasadena, that proves it.
What did Aikman do all day? Hang with movie stars? Golf with business leaders? No, he took me and another friend to the UCLA campus. He drove us over there in a rental car (not a very nice one) and gave us a tour of the place. Took us to the cafeteria, where we had to beg for something to eat (even though his donations back to his alma mater probably paid for half the building). Fielded phone calls from people like Jim Kelly, who would be the opposing QB for Buffalo six days later. ("Jim wants me to go out drinking with him this week, but I'm not falling for it,'' Aikman told us. "He'll get me hung over so I can't practice. Meanwhile, he'll drink twice as much and it won't even phase him.'')
So we're telling these old tales, and the same thought occurs to both of us at the same time: "Could you imagine us doing something like that now?'' Troy says.
Nope. There was never another year like that first year.
Explain to me again why ABC/ESPN/Disney couldn't show the Ring of Honor ceremony on TV? Oh yeah, because all the focus had to be on the hurricane relief effort.
Um, except what were all those commercials doing in there?! If ABC/ESPN/Disney was fully devoted to showing only the relief-fund stuff, why not be FULLY DEVOTED?
It was easy to explain the presence of some celebs at the game. (We personally had the most fun after the game with Nate Newton, who has some stories to tell -- stories that in the coming weeks you'll hear about exclusively in this space). We can't quite explain the sideline presence, though, of NBA guards Steve Francis and Allen Iverson. Maybe AI kissed up just right, though: he was wearing a purple ABC shirt and a Cowboys hat.
Easy to predict: After the halftime ceremony, as the whole Ring of Honor group walked toward the tunnel, Roger Staubach picked up a nerf ball and threw several bombs in the end zone to Michael Irvin's two sons. A literal bridge between older Cowboys and newer Cowboys. Pretty cool scene.
Harder to predict: By far -- curiously to us -- the loudest, longest ovation was given to Emmitt Smith.
We're not saying this to knock Emmitt, not at all. We're just fascinated at the way he's been able to cultivate his image in such a way that while not every is wild about Michael, and not everybody is wild about Troy. ... well, as those old Sara Lee cakes commercials used to double-negative sing, "Nobody Doesn't Like Emmitt Smith.''
Destined to be replayed endlessly by Jerry Jones' critics is his classically twisted introduction of the Triplets, starting with this opening line: "First, in alphabetical order, let's hear from Michael Irvin!"
Good one, Mr. Jones. Next we go to the zoo, to introduce all the animals, starting in alphabetical order. "Meet the zebra!''
We present to you an exercise we'll call "Typical Triplets'': After the three went on the ESPN pregame set, they apparently had some free time. To us -- and we are proud to say we've known and dealt with each of these fellas on an almost daily basis for most of 15 years -- what they did with that spare time says a lot about who they are.
Aikman chatted with Sean Payton and a Redskins staffer, going inside football.
Irvin slowly and patiently walked around the wall of the stadium shaking hands and signing autographs, communing with his "people.''
Emmitt went over to another set and for 30 minutes was on QVC to hawk a commemorative No. 22 jersey.