ARLINGTON — For the last 15 years, the Dallas Cowboys' kickoff luncheon has been all about the kids at the Happy Hill Farm Academy.
"These are the reasons we do it right back here," said academy founder Ed Shipman. "We have thousands and thousands of them now."
"We came along at a time when our sport became bigger than 'Dancing with the Stars,'" Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said.
The kickoff luncheon is usually where management delivers its final message before the regular season opener.
"We are going to carry this mail on home," Jones said. "We had a disappointing time last year. Whether it happened last year or not, we are going to feed of it this year. We're going to feed off it this year and we're going to feed off it all the way down the line."
"We talk a lot about goals," Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett said. "The goal is pretty obvious. We want to be the 2012 Super Bowl champions. We lay that out in the first 30 seconds of the first meeting we have. That’s our goal. I ask each of these guys of holding that trophy over their head."
Former players who were in attendance in Arlington on Tuesday would like to see the Cowboys return to the glory days of old. All agree that the training camp that this team just completed is a camp they all wish they could have been a part of.
"Oh I would have loved it," said former Cowboys safety Darren Woodson. "I think I could have played 20 years, man. I’m telling you, I could have played 20 years if I had gone one practice a day, off the next, and practice again and have walk-throughs in between."
"In my opinion, there are two types of shape — there is cardio aerobic shape and then there is football shape," said former Cowboys defensive tackle Chad Hennings. "Part of the game of playing a violent sport like football, you have to hit. You have to be able to take a hit and deliver a hit, and that's all part of the game, and if you don't hit, in my opinion, you're missing something."
"If your game is one of violence and hitting and physical, I think you have to do things to acclimate yourself to that, says former Cowboys running back Preston Pearson.” "You got to get ready before the game starts," says former Cowboys fullback Robert Newhouse. "The game? You just go out and do that. But to get prepared for the game, you have to really put out."
"That's the old school way of thinking right there," added former Cowboys cornerback Everson Walls. "They don't think like that anymore. We're just some outdated dinosaurs over here."
Dinosaurs who won championships — something the Cowboys haven't done in more than 16 years