Camp memories for Cowboys, Raiders

OXNARD, Calif. -- The original plan was for the Dallas Cowboys to head to Napa to practice against the Oakland Raiders in training camp.

Thanks to a One Direction concert at AT&T Stadium on Aug. 24, the Raiders had to come to Oxnard, California, for the work because the Cowboys could not play their first two preseason games on the road, as is custom.

For Jerry Jones, seeing the teams practice at Oxnard takes him back to his first year as the Cowboys’ owner and general manager in 1989 and started a long friendship with former Raiders boss Al Davis.

“The first time I ever saw this place I was walking across the field when we drove up here from Thousand Oaks,” Jones said. “Of course (Davis) had green protection screens because Al didn’t want anybody watching practice, so we walked across here and that’s the first time I’d ever met him and talked with him apart from at a league meeting. It was the beginning of an on-the-field, great relationship.”

The Cowboys and Raiders would practice together later in Austin, Texas, over the years as well, which Jason Garrett remembers well.

"I can remember Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday was two-a-days against the Raiders; Thursday night at Burger (Stadium) somewhere in Austin, we were scrimmaging Houston and then we’d play the Vikings on Saturday night back at Texas Stadium,” Garrett said. “It was just all ball, all the time. The Raiders back then, it was like a collection of Hall of Famers like none other -- Willie Gault would be walking out there, Ronnie Lott, Eric Dickerson, along with all the other great players they had. The wide receivers could run, the quarterbacks could throw it. They just had this big, strapping-looking team. We had a team that was certainly pretty good back at that time, too, probably a younger team. But the practices were really, really competitive, there were a number of fights.

“Some of the great stories were that we would have a 12-play set of plays for 7-on-7, or maybe it was 15 plays. Oftentimes, Al Davis would kind of step into the middle of it and say ‘Our guys are good’ after about seven (plays). We would all kind of look at each other like ‘Huh?’ And our coaches weren’t necessarily happy about it, but it was always very interesting working against them. It was a great experience, I can remember some real competitive situations, and I do think we both benefitted a great deal from it.”

Normally teams practice against each other leading into a preseason game or at least after a preseason game as the Cowboys did two years ago with the San Diego Chargers. The players are looking forward to seeing another team, which generally raises the level of practice.

“I think it’s good,” Garrett said. “It stimulates the whole thing.”