From UFL to Cowboys, Phillip Tanner's ride

August, 9, 2011
8/09/11
10:05
AM ET
SAN ANTONIO -- Growing up Phillip Tanner used to work the concession stands at Texas Stadium to raise money for his track team.

That he now has a chance to play in Cowboys Stadium on Thursday against Denver for the team he loved can be traced to the demise of the UFL.

Tanner was a fifth-round pick by the Hartford Colonials and was in Connecticut in July for what he thought was the beginning of training camp. A week later, the league was put on hold and Tanner returned to Middle Tennessee wondering what would happen.

“There was a lot going around the hotel that the league was going to be canceled for a while, but I was like that can’t be true,” Tanner said. “I said a prayer knowing God works in mysterious ways.”

With the NFL in the middle of a lockout Tanner did not know if he would be able to play professional football, but as soon as a settlement reached between the owners and the players his phone rang.

“I was actually laying in bed watching TV with my wife and then I got a 972 number on my ID,” Tanner said. “I didn’t think anything of it because I’m from Dallas and maybe it was my mom calling from work. Then it’s, “This is Skip Peete from the Cowboys.’ I just paused and smiled and said, ‘Yeah, I want to be a Cowboy.’”

Along with Lonyae Miller, Tanner has made the most of his added work with the absences of Tashard Choice and DeMarco Murray.

“My agent told me to be prepared for limited reps, just standing on the sideline watching,” Tanner said. “That was my mindset. That first day when I got that first rep I was like, ‘I’ve got to take advantage of this.’ We have the blue practices and I make sure I work hard and show them I’m going to work so I can gain their trust as a player.”

He will likely get even more of a chance Thursday against the Broncos.

Todd Archer

ESPN Dallas Cowboys reporter

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