Texas Stadium: Rest in Pieces

 

You know it's a weird week when Mike Modano's final home game as a Dallas Star is only the second-saddest story.

Went out to Texas Stadium Sunday morning for a funeral and - hate to admit this - but I cried. For a building. I know, silly.

Or is it?

Just after dawn - 7:07 a.m. if you need a specific time of death - the world's most recognizable hole in the roof was imploded into a hole in the ground, symbolically tearing a hole in our heart. Christened by Tex Schramm, nurtured by Tom Landry and canonized by Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, Texas Stadium was built by 17 National Football League Hall of Famers and destroyed by 2,700 pounds of dynamite.

In what was more a money-making novelty act rather than a proper burial, Terrell 11-year-old Casey Rogers - the winner of an essay contest sponsored by Kraft - opened a yellow box and pushed the button that detonated our most beloved sports theater. After some fireworks foreplay, 55 well-placed explosions and a concussion that you could literally feel in your chest, the stadium that put Irving on the world's map went down in a heap.

And just like, in less than a minute, Texas' most recognizable architecture this side of The Alamo was gone.

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Texas Stadium Has Only 26 Days to Live

Texas Stadium - Star Rolled Up.jpg
‚ÄčMaybe I'm a sentimental old fool, but I'm going to miss the iconic eyesore called Texas Stadium.

I'm all for progress and upgrades and the future-is-now and I love Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, but I saw a story on the news last night about the preparations being made to blow up Texas Stadium and it yanked me nostalgic.

Sure the place had become a dump. Dingy roof. Faded, peeling paint. Standing water most everywhere. But to me it was, and always will be, the house that Tom Landry built. It was the playground for Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman and Tony Dorsett.

It was the site for some of my fondest childhood memories. Some of the happiest moments of my life. I worked there. I played there. I graduated high school from there. I watched there. I wrote there.

I'll miss going there.

It's going to be so weird driving 183 or Loop 12 or seeing our area's most cherished trophy case reduced to rubble.

And I'm not real happy that it's not getting a proper funeral.

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My Photographic Farewell to Texas Stadium

Texas Stadium Finale - Fond Farewell Sign.jpgI never claimed to be a great writer. Even a worse photographer.

Nonetheless, armed with an iPhone and a life's worth of memories, I'd be honored if you'd allow me to take you on a tour of Texas Stadium's final night.

Follow me. Right this way.

Here it is. The house that Tex Schramm built and Tom Landry turned into an icon. 

Texas Stadium Finale - Sign.jpgEverybody is nostalgic. Even, um, Santa Cowboy and his elves?

Texas Stadium Finale - Santa Landry.jpgLet's go in for one last spin around the joint, shall we?More »

The Top 10 Most Memorable Moments in the History of Grand Ol' Texas Stadium

  Texas Stadium - Hole.jpgFittingly, the stadium with the hole in the roof - so God could watch his favorite football team, duh - was christened by a 10-day Billy Graham crusade.

A month later - Oct. 24, 1971 - Texas Stadium opened for Cowboys' business. Come Saturday night, the ol' joint at Loop 12 and Highway 114 in the armpit of Irving will embrace its last traffic jam.

And perhaps provide one final indelible memory.

After Cowboys-Ravens, the Cowboys will trot out 100 former players and coaches including 10 Ring of Honor members. Seriously, it will be one of those nights you'll remember forever. Or at least until the new Jonestown Coliseum brainwashes you with its 60-yard HD video board next season.

(FYI, Texas Stadium will offer its final tours on Monday.)

Through its 37 years, the House That Tex Schramm Built has seen its share of both silly and spectacular.

Dallas Tornado soccer. Von Erich pro rasslin'. Lacrosse. Madonna. Motorcross. Michael Jackson. Farm Aid. Shoot, I remember watching Grease at the stadium's drive-in movie in the late 70s. I saw a buddy get married at midfield and another guy's wife flash her ya-ya's while standing on the star in a very memorable photograph.

But the heart of Texas Stadium's legacy, of course, is football.

I never played anything more than catch with my son in the stadium. But I've walked down the astro-turf-lined tunnel enough times and witnessed enough games - I am fortunate enough to have attended the stadium's first and last episodes - to have difficulty choosing my list of memorable moments:

10. Oct. 27, 2002 - Though it lacked suspense and was a relatively mundane run, Emmitt Smith breaking the NFL's All-Time Rushing record can't go without notice.

9. Nov. 4, 1973 - This one I wouldn't believe had I not seen it with my own eyes. In a routine, 38-10 win over the hapless Bengals, Cowboys' middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan intercepted three passes. All in the first quarter. All in a span of 4:52. As he returned the last one for a 31-yard touchdown, I remember asking Dad what the homemade sign meant, the one that read "They shall not pass over Jordan."

8. Jan. 2, 1972 - Less than three months after breaking in Texas Stadium, the Cowboys used it as a launching pad to their first Super Bowl. With a dominant defense that smothered 49ers' quarterback John Brodie, the Cowboys won the NFC Championship Game, 14-3, and officially shed the tag of "Next Year's Champions." In related news, Tom Landry actually smiled.

7. Jan. 23, 1994 - Actually, the 38-21 victory over the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game was anticlimactic. It was the buildup - from Jimmy Johnson's "Put it in 3-inch headlines!" guarantee to Jerry Rice's pre-game skirmish with James Washington - that gave this chapter its pizzazz. Watching Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin score at will, you got the feeling you weren't merely watching a great team, but more so a great dynasty.

6. Sept. 24, 200 - The day George Teague earned a special place in your heart forever. Tell me you didn't stand up and make a dorky sound effect - "boom!" - as Teague plowed over a punk named Terrell Owens on the most sacred star in sports.

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Godspeed, My Holy Friend

T-Minus five days until the final Dallas Cowboys' game at Texas Stadium.

I have a vague recollection of climbing atop Dad's shoulders and watching Don Meredith toss bombs to Bob Hayes at the Cotton Bowl, but basically my life's screenplay starts in Texas Stadium.  

Section 12. Row 24. Seat 8. For a 7-year-old punk, there was no better place on Earth than the 8-yard line, visitors' side.

Pops thinks he secured the right to those seats via a bond that cost him a cool $300. In Jonestown Coliseum, that seat license would be more like $30,000.

I'll have - surprise! - a list of my top all-time memories in this lil' corner of the blogosphere later this week and a warm-n-fuzzy column in next week's Dallas Observer, but for now I'm scrounging around for ways to squeeze every last drop out of the old joint.

For example:

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