THE PULSE OF AMERICA’S TEAM: Family Day followed by Fathers Day | Superhero dad Tony Romo super-charged | Dallas Cowboys family focused | 2015 minicamp wrap-up

THE PULSE OF AMERICA’S TEAM - Family Day followed by Fathers Day - Superhero dad Tony Romo super-charged - Dallas Cowboys family focused - 2015 minicamp wrap-up

Tony Romo’s wife, Candice, and their two sons Hawkins (age 3) and Rivers (age 1) were at AT&T Stadium for ‘Family Day’, the annual event in which players’ wives and kids are invited to watch the final practice of Dallas Cowboys Minicamp, then stay around for lunch and playtime on the field. 

As she watched Tony chase the boys around the sideline, Candice shared with friends her family’s plans for Father’s Day weekend.

“We’re actually going back to Tony’s hometown in Wisconsin for Father’s Day,” said Candice. “His parents have their 40th wedding anniversary, and then we’re going to the Wisconsin Dells (popular vacation area of Wisconsin with lakes & waterparks). So it’s perfect for Father’s Day.”

This will be Tony’s third year to celebrate Father’s Day as a daddy. But what can Candice buy Tony as a gift? It must be hard to find something for the guy who has everything!

“Okay, so I just got him something,” whispers Candice. “Hopefully he doesn’t see this or he’ll know. Our charger for our iPhones is broken, so I got him one of those charging pads. He can just lay the phone down on the pad, he doesn’t even have to charge it. I thought he’d be excited about the gift because he gets annoyed by having to find the chord. So I was trying to find something practical.”

Hawkins and Rivers are now getting old enough that they want to participate in choosing the Father’s Day gift. Well, maybe just Hawk. At least he’s old enough to help pick out the perfect greeting card, right?

“Actually right before this practice we stopped at the store and did the Father’s Day card buying,” Candice says with a laugh. “Tony’s going to get some superhero birthday cards. I told the boys that these were not Father’s Day cards, but the boys were adamant that we get the superhero Ninja Turtles cards.”


DALLAS COWBOYS FAMILY: They’re in this together


Head coach Jason Garrett likes to use the word “family” when he talks about the Dallas Cowboys. And he puts the word into action each summer by hosting Family Day on the final day of Cowboys minicamp. The wives and children of players and coaches are invited to AT&T Stadium to watch practice, followed by lunch in the stadium club and kids playtime on the football field.

NFL Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten and his wife, Michelle, are parents of four children: sons C.J. & Cooper, and daughters Landry & Hadley. Witten appreciates the way his head coach has fostered an atmosphere that feels family inclusive.

“Coach Garrett has created a family environment,” says Witten. “I think it’s neat. When you go to work and try to compete for championships there are a lot of sacrifices made by a lot of different people, especially our wives and kids. He acknowledges that and I think it’s great because he doesn’t have to do this for us. I think the families leave an event like today and say, ‘Wow, we’re a part of this, too’. And it doesn’t go unnoticed. To have this event, plus what he says to our families, it goes a long way.”

Candice Romo noted,

“The Cowboys do the best job of including all the wives and making sure we have as much information as possible and feel included in everything. They do such a great job of making us feel part of the team. So coming out to minicamp today is another example of that. We get to watch practice and they feed us lunch. They let the kids run around on the field. On the drive here, I was telling Hawk how special this is. I told him that it’s unique and not all boys & girls get to do this. So we try to take a lot of pictures and savor these moments.”

Brill Garrett has been part of the Cowboys family since her husband, Jason, joined the team as the third-string quarterback in 1993. She knows that once minicamp concludes, there’s a small window from mid-June through mid-July for families to enjoy quality time together before the coaches & players head to California for a full month of training camp.

“Everyone is so excited about summer vacation before we head to training camp, so it’s great to have the families together today before the upcoming season begins,” says Brill. “So this is a great way to end the offseason.

“We need everyone to be on-board and part of our team. When we talk about our ‘Cowboys family’ it’s more than just lip-service. And it starts with the Jones family. The Joneses always want everyone involved and feeling included. That extends to our coaching staff and the rest of the staff like the trainers and equipment people. And, of course, all of the players and their wives and kids. We’re in it together. We’re a team.”


MINI-CAMP UPDATE: Dallas Cowboys wrap up minicamp with Family Day


The Dallas Cowboys wrapped up their final day of mandatory minicamp with “Family.Day”

Some of the players and their families gathered on the field after practice and their children caught touchdowns or emulated their Daddy’s as the proud Fathers looked on.

Who could get tired of watching big powerful men turn into kids as their little ones bounce and run around on a football field. One wonderful moment was watching Fullback Tyler Clutts’ son ask for and get Daddy’s gloves to wear.

Then we were treated to Rivers Romo tackling older brother.

Hawkins with both boys sporting their custom “Daddy” number 9 jerseys. Rivers saw Dad and ran for a hug. Hawkins took a swig of Daddy’s drink.

But alas, there was football business to be had before the month long break prior to training camp in Oxnard, California. These are top six observations from day three of Dallas Cowboys mandatory minicamp.

1) Darren McFadden looks good…really good…

The Cowboys began the day with kickoff drills, and McFadden was back fielding the kicks. He was running after the catch with confidence and looked like a natural back there on special teams. Later on during 7-on-7 drills, Darren broke what would have been a long run for a touchdown. He has a quick burst and cuts with impunity when he has the ball. If he can stay healthy, Cowboys fans may be asking “DeMarco who?”

2) QB’s Brandon Weeden and Dustin Vaughan Run Drills

Cowboys QB Tony Romo threw the ball for about five minutes when he first entered the field of play on Thursday, but after that QB’s Brandon Weeden and Dustin Vaughan took over.

The battle for the backup position is an interesting one. Last season Weeden looked good during his relief appearance when Romo went down with his back injury in week 8, but Brandon struggled against Arizona taking the loss in the following week. QB coach Wade Wilson says that Weeden is the most improved guy on the team, but the quarterback has a battle on his hands as Vaughan looks substantially more comfortable now than he did this time last season.

During 7 on 7 drills, Vaughan threw a nice pass out to running back Lance Dunbar in the flat who then cut it up field and ran in for the touchdown. Compared to last season, he might be the more improved of the two QB’s.

3) La’el Collins Looked Like a Rookie

That’s not to say that he the rookie free agent was bad, it’s just that he did not look as polished as veteran G Ron Leary. Collins put in some good work with Tyron Smith against Greg Hardy, but La’el was called for a false start and seemed uncomfortable. Collins has a fantastic first step and enormous potential, but it will be interesting to see how he improves through training camp.

4) Byron Jones Shines on Punt Coverage

Cowboys 2015 first round draft pick Byron Jones is well known for his jumping ability blowing away NFL Combine records, but be aware of his special teams abilities. During punt coverage drills, Jones was consistently one of the first down the field to make the tackle. On at least three occasions he would have easily crushed the punt returner in a game situation. It’s important to note that this was not a full pad/contact practice, but still Jones impressed with his coverage.

The guy can jump, extremely high. Byron made a number of Michael Jordan hang-in-the-air-for-five-minutes type catches during interception drills. Opposing QB’s are going to learn quickly that it is better to short hop their wide receivers on misses against Jones than to overthrow their target.

5) Terrance Williams Hobbled

Terrance Williams went down with a left elbow injury roughly 10 minutes before the end of the practice. Coach Dooley said he was being taken back to Valley Ranch for further evaluation and x-rays that came back negative. According to Dooley, Williams has stepped up in a leadership position on the field to fill the absence of Dez Bryant.

6) Dez Bryant and Jerry Jones Hash-It-Out on Sidelines

Wide receiver Dez Bryant wants a long-term contract. The way the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement stands today, the Cowboys have all of the leverage. Dez has hinted about sitting out the Cowboys home opener against the New York Giants, but that move would cost him roughly $800k.

The team has until July 15th to come to a contract agreement, or Dez will be “forced” to take a $12.8 million paycheck for the season.

Dez was on the sidelines Thursday throwing the ball and talking with teammates. At one point, Jerry Jones walked over to him and the two had roughly a 10-minute conversation. Media types were on the opposite side of the field, and could not hear anything said, but afterwards both men shook hands and walked away.

Wide receivers coach Derek Dooley praised Dez and said he likes the WR’s passion for the game. Tight end Jason Witten also said he appreciated that Dez was there. Regardless if Jones and Bryant can come to an agreement before July’s deadline, his teammates and coaches were happy to see Dez on the sidelines.

It was a great day out at AT&T Stadium, and it was particularly rewarding to see the players and their families having fun and relaxed. As we enter the long and somewhat painful stretch between now and the start to training camp at the end of July, it’s time to wish everyone a safe and happy summer.

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