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Cardinals Consider Cowboys

Posted Aug 16, 2013

The Cards from Texas had mixed feelings about the team from Dallas

Wide receiver Andre Roberts fends off a Dallas defender the last time the Cowboys came to Arizona in 2011.

They’re America’s Team.

You either love them or hate them. Or simply just don’t care about them.

With the Dallas Cowboys coming to University of Phoenix Stadium on Saturday, the Cardinals who hail from the Great State of Texas were definitively divided on them. They either loved them, hated them or didn’t give two cents about them.

“Hated them,” said right tackle Eric Winston, who grew up in Midland, Texas. “My family is not really from Texas so I guess I didn’t really have any ties.”

Winston, who’ll turn 30 in November, was an avid 49ers fan during his childhood, when San Francisco dominated the 1980s and the Cowboys owned the early part of the 1990s.

But then there are Cardinals whose loyalty to the Cowboys ran deep as a child.

“To be honest, it was ride-or-die Cowboys in the Gill household,” said wide receiver Robert Gill, who hails from San Antonio where the Cowboys held training camp for most of the early 2000s. “Especially with the Cowboys (having) had their training camp in San Antonio, it’s a big deal out there. My dad just transferred over to a Cardinals fan after 50-plus years. (The) Cowboys (were) pretty rich in my family.”

Another San Antonio native couldn’t have cared less about the Cowboys growing up.

Tight end Rob Housler wasn’t a pro football fan growing up, instead giving all his childhood passion to the San Antonio Spurs.

To some, the Cowboys are just another team on the schedule.

“I just never liked the Cowboys really too much,” said cornerback Jamell Fleming, who grew up in Arlington, Texas, about 30 minutes from the old Cowboys Stadium. “It’s not that I disliked them. I just liked everybody in the NFL. I didn’t have that one team.”

Playing against the Cowboys for a native Texan is a whole different story.

Rookie Stepfan Taylor, who grew up in Mansfield, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, won’t buy into the narrative of a hometown boy playing his childhood team in his second NFL game. He’s trying to push it as far out of his head as possible. He plays for the Cardinals now, he’s not a teenager going to Cowboys games anymore.

“I can’t have that in my head,” Taylor said.

Even coach Bruce Arians was indifferent to the Cowboys growing up in York, Pa., about 50 miles from Baltimore. He grew up a Baltimore Colts fan, looking up to Johnny Unitas. His brother, Denny, was a Packers fan. The Cowboys? They were a new team somewhere in Texas.

“Never thought much about them,” Arians said.

While Taylor won’t let the big blue star distract his attention, it’ll be harder for rookie linebacker Alex Okafor, who grew up in Pflugerville, Texas, a suburb of Austin.

He’ll be lining up across the field from his favorite player as a kid, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Although Okafor wasn’t a Cowboys fan, playing them is still a big deal.

“It’s definitely one I circled on the calendar,” he said.

In Texas, very few things – if anything – trump the Cowboys.

Growing up in the city or on the plains, in the shadow of Cowboys Stadium or an oil derrick, it was all the same: The Cowboys ruled Big D. And for the Cardinals who called Texas home, they’re facing a childhood of memories.

“Just because I’m from Texas, they have high expectations for me,” Fleming said. “They want me to do well but they also want the Cowboys to do well at the same time. It’s going to be exciting especially for the people that hat know me.”


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