When Deion Sanders’ Stylish Ride Changed The Landscape of Dallas Cowboys Training Camp
Training camps across America have taken on an entirely new feel for NFL followers over the past two decades. Gone are the days when fans savored two-a-day practices, the shrieking whistle, and each meticulous special teams routine.
Today training camps are just another form of football entertainment, complete with mascot, cheerleaders, and loud music.
It comes as no surprise to anyone out there, I’m sure, to discover that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was at the bottom of this cultural shift. The fact that Jones’ first streak of showmanship on a practice field coincided with his team’s decline during the 1990’s probably won’t surprise anyone either.
When Barry Switzer agreed to replace taskmaster Jimmy Johnson as the Cowboys head coach in March of 1994, it was acknowledged that the two-time defending Super Bowl champions would have a more relaxed façade to enhance their shining brand. But when training camp rolled around later that summer in toasty Austin, Texas, all of America was soon to learn just how much more so.
The sidelines, once a place reserved for team personnel only, was now overrun with family, friends and celebrities. Dallas Morning News columnist Skip Bayless would often joke that Switzer allowed any graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Switzer’s head coaching home for more than a decade, onto the sideline.
Maybe the real truth was that Switzer would allow anyone…and anything.
When All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders showed up for his first training camp with the Cowboys on the campus of St. Edwards in 1996, he not only brought his Primetime ego along, but a Primetime ride as well. Rather than ride to practice in a standard white golf cart like teammates Troy Aikman and Daryl Johnston, Sanders arrived driving a custom, sporty black $30,000 Mercedes golf cart decked with cushy seating, tinted windows, a mist dispenser, and a stereo system. For dramatic emphasis, Sanders even opted to blare rap music from the said speakers during portions of practice.
It’s safe to say that the Cowboys – and training camps – have never been the same since.