Rage Against the Machine

It's only the first day of Dallas Cowboys training camp here in Oxnard, California, but at least one major player is already in mid-season form. Long-time WFAA-Channel 8 sports anchor Dale Hansen got Day 1 off to a rousing start, purposely directing football-specific questions to owner Jerry Jones and away from head coach Bill Parcells during the team's opening news conference.

Hansen--lemme see, how shall I put this?--has developed a contentious relationship with the coach. If that's to say it's a relationship at all. "I did it mostly because he's a dick," Hansen said of Parcells. "Trust me, Channel 8 is through doing positive stories on the Cowboys." Wow. Hansen's stance evolved from his disgust over the treatment of and access granted to local media. During the days of GM Tex Schramm, for example, Dallas' training camp practices were on live local television. Today, Parcells' dictatorship mandates TV crews not film contact drills and keeps assistant coaches under a constant gag order. After Friday's news conference, Parcells even forced two TV satellite trucks--which were unmanned at the time, no less--to move from their parking spots adjacent to where the Cowboys were running sprints.

"Tex is rolling over in his grave," Hansen said. And the metroplex's No. 1 sports station's philosophical change toward the organization formerly known as America's Team doesn't stop there. Hansen, whose nightly 30-minute specials and whose live sparring match with former coach Barry Switzer made him a camp legend, is only here for the weekend. After Hansen's live interview of Jones Sunday night, Channel 8 will air only its regular four-minute sportscasts throughout camp. "I know I'm spitting into the wind," admitted Hansen, who tried unsuccessfully to lobby other local stations into adopting his stance in an effort to force a more media-friendly change. "But at this rate eventually we'll have no access at all, and Super Bowls will be on pay-per-view."

Another sign of the switch: Channel 8 was the only station to not cover Terrell Owens' recent book signing at an Irving Wal-Mart. "Call it what you want, but we're pulling back," Hansen said. "And when the Cowboys come to us in December wanting us to shoot their visits to local hospitals, I'm gonna tell them, "We'll just use the network feed," and see how they like that." Stay tuned. --Richie Whitt

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Patrick Williams is editor-in-chief of the Dallas Observer.
Contact: Patrick Williams

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