Dallas Cowboys

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

  Fittingly, 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.

5. Nov. 25, 1993 - Leon. Lett. Saw the highlight of his play the other day and I still find myself using body language to try to keep him from doing what he did.

4. Nov. 28, 1974 - Clint Longley's 50-yard bomb to Drew Pearson that beat the Redskins remains the play - the climax - that rendered me speechless.

3. Nov. 26, 1994 - Tyler John Tyler 48, Plano East 44 will forever be the craziest game in the history of football. No? TJT held a 41-17 lead with 3:03 remaining, only to watch PESH score four touchdowns - and recover three onsides kicks - to take an improbable four-point lead with :24 remaining. And, just like that, the most imossible comeback in the history of Texas High School football was anulled by a TJT 97-yard kickoff return for the winning touchdown.

2. Nov. 7, 1993 - Everyone remembers where they were when Jerry Jones fired Tom Landry. But I'll never forget standing on the field about 20 feet from the iconic head coach when he finally accepted enshrinement into the Ring of Honor. During Landry's slow drive around the stadium atop a convertible, I got a sense that it was again okay to love the Cowboys.

1. Dec. 16, 1979 - Down 34-21 to the Redskins with two minutes remaining, the last comeback of Roger Staubach's career is his best. His 8-yard touchdown pass to Tony Hill in the final :30 capped a 35-34 win that still to this day gives me goose bumps. - Richie Whitt

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt