Dallas Cowboys owner, president, and general manager Jerry Jones took to stage at the Irving Convention Center as keynote speaker at the Salvation Army's Irving Super Lunch Tuesday.
It was the first time since 1993 Jones had addressed the Irving community at their "Super Lunch."
"It is a great thing to share with you, Irving, that you are my Dallas Cowboys home," Jones said in his keynote address.
The Cowboys played in Irving from 1971-2006 at Texas Stadium and trained in Irving neighborhood Valley Ranch from 1985-2016. All of the Super Bowl seasons in the Jones era occurred while the Cowboys were full residents of the Dallas suburb.
One of the best memories Jones has during the Irving era was in 1992 against the Los Angeles Raiders. All Jones had to show after three full seasons of ownership was a solitary wildcard playoff win in Chicago in 1991. "How bout them Cowboys" had yet to be uttered from head coach Jimmy Johnson's lips; Dallas was still up and coming in the NFL.
"They had a great team," Jones said of the '92 Raiders, who were 3-4 and sailing into the game with a three-game winning streak.
The AFC L.A. team had strung together two consecutive playoff-appearing seasons and had firepower with the likes of safety Ronnie Lott, cornerback Terry McDaniel, and defensive end Howie Long. The Raiders also possessed star power with receiver Tim Brown and running back Marcus Allen.
Jones, a son of nearby El Segundo, was inspired by the Cowboys fans lined up, entering the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
"Driving up, when we saw all that Cowboy contingency, it inspired us because we knew the Raiders following there too," said Jones.
Dallas already had inspiration enough coming into the game with a two-game winning streak and a 5-1 record. The offensive trifecta of quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and receiver Michael Irvin were already clicking. New defensive acquisition Charles Haley provided intimidation and results on defense as the unit produced nine takeaways heading into rumble with the Raiders.
The Raiders struck first with Allen plunge from the 1-yard line. A missed extra point kept the score 6-0 in the first quarter. Allen would finish with nine yards on three carries as Sealy, Texas, native Dickerson ran for 42 on eight attempts.
Dallas evened the score with Smith's 6-yard touchdown run. They took the lead in the first quarter with kicker Lin Elliott making his extra point (fun fact: he would eventually miss one that year in the NFC Championship Game in San Francisco).
Neither side could gain any ground in the second quarter.
Said Jones: "It was, of course, a war... The game was a war."
The Dallas defense held quarterback Todd Marinovich to 8-of-23 for 117 yards and a touchdown, a 31-yarder to receiver Willie Gault that put Los Angeles ahead 13-7 with 10:42 in the third quarter.
Cowboys fans did not waver in their confidence or admiration for their team. Whether due to truly being "America's Team" or the long influence of former president and general manager Tex Schramm having training camp in suburb Thousand Oaks from 1961-89, half of the 91,505 attendance were Cowboys fans.
Said Jones: "It literally was like one of these college games, half of them, like the Cotton Bowl or something like that [in Dallas]. But it was great."
The Cowboys drove 75 yards on the next series with 52 yards coming on an Aikman pass to receiver Alvin Harper. The sea of blue had more to cheer for when Smith scored his second touchdown from four yards out to give Dallas a 14-13 lead in the third.
With 10:06 left to play, Aikman, who completed 16-of-25 for 234 yards, scrambled from three yards out to give Dallas a 21-13 advantage. Smith's 26-yard touchdown run with 3:26 in the game sent the fans in silver and black heading for the exits as Los Angeles dropped to 3-5 on the year.
The Cowboys would lose only two of their next 12 games as they smacked the Philadelphia Eagles, their longtime bullies in the NFC East, in the nose in the divisional round of the playoffs, dethroned the kings of the NFC in the 49ers, and added to the Buffalo Bills' Super Bowl misery with a 52-17 blowout in Super Bowl XXVII a few miles away at the Rose Bowl.
Among a season that ended with a championship, among a life in the NFL that has had three such seasons end with such satisfaction, Jones recalls that regular season game on Oct. 25, 1992 fondly.
"We had all the respect in the world for the Davises and for Al, and it's one of my great memories of competition in the NFL," said Jones.
That Super Bowl trophy hoisted after Jones' first Super Bowl win accompanied Jones to the 1993 Salvation Army soup lunch in Irving. His presence along with the Lombardi Trophy and the club agreeing to cater the luncheon transformed the event into the Super Lunch, a name that has been used since.
It also created a proto-partnership that later blossomed, with the direction of Cowboys Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer Charlotte Jones Anderson, into the Red Kettle Kickoff, the Cowboys' annual halftime show that has raised $2 billion for the Salvation Army since its 1997 inception.
Said Jones: "I am lucky to say that when I travel, when I am in a community other than Dallas, and even Dallas frankly, I'll have more people walk up to me and say, 'Thank you for what you do with the Salvation Army' than I do, 'Go Cowboys.'"
When Jones and the Cowboys travel to Oakland for their final trip to the Black Hole, no doubt the Pro Football Hall of Fame owner is hoping, like in 1992, half the fans are shouting "Go Cowboys."
Will the Cowboys keep their winning streak and playoff hopes alive in Oakland? Share your thoughts and memories with Mark on Twitter @therealmarklane.