Pictures from training camp

By Seth Rubinroit, 15, Malibu HS
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Terrell Owens signs autographs for excited fans.
Photo by Sam Rubinroit, 13, Malibu HS

I saw professional football in Los Angeles. No joke. And no, for the people who remember that the Raiders and Rams both used to play in Los Angeles until 1994, I never saw one of those games. I saw NFL football in August 2006.

For the third straight year, the Dallas Cowboys have set up training camp in the city of Oxnard through August 20.

"It’s beautiful," said Cowboys Pro Bowl kicker Mike Vanderjagt, on Oxnard. "It has great weather, which is good for our stamina and good for everybody to stay healthy, and it seems like a great community.

"I think [training camp] would be pretty exciting [for the fans]," Vanderjagt continued. "Obviously the Dallas Cowboys are ‘America’s Team,’ and any chance they can come to your town, it would be a pretty cool deal to come check them out."

The best part of the Cowboys training camp is that admission is free, and football fans have been pouring into Oxnard to take advantage of the opportunity. On the first day of training camp, a record 5,500 people crammed around the practice fields, and since then an average of 2,000 people have shown up each day. Since the Cowboys will participate in training camp in San Antonio starting next year, this is likely the last chance current Los Angeles high school students will be able to see NFL football in their backyard. Despite being the second biggest media market in the country, Los Angeles has been denied a football team time and time again because of deals that have fallen through. However, Los Angeles still has some of the most passionate football fans in the world.

"It seems to me a pretty enthusiastic group of people were watching us," said Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells, on the fans of Los Angeles. "I know there is good interest in the Cowboys here, and it seems like there is good interest in football in this area."

The top story of training camp has been controversial wide receiver Terrell "T.O." Owens. Owens, fresh from being exiled from the Philadelphia Eagles after a contract dispute and a disagreement with quarterback Donovan McNabb, signed with the Cowboys in the off-season. Owens has become infamous for his touchdown celebrations and other antics, but there is no questioning that he is a Hall of Fame player, and the main attraction that has fans flocking to Oxnard. After every practice, nearly everyone is yelling, "T.O!" and waving their jerseys, helmets, and footballs, trying to get Owens to give them an autograph.

"It’s great," said Owens, in an interview prior to training camp at the Midsummer Night’s Dream charity celebrity basketball game, on practicing in Oxnard. "It gives me a chance to come back to the West Coast a little bit. It will be good to be donning that blue and silver, and that star on the side of my helmet. I am looking forward to it."

To get the most out of the camp, you should, (brace yourself)—bring your younger sibling or friend. If you get there early, kids 14 and under can go into Autograph Alley, which is the best place to get autographs since the players have to walk by it to get on the field. That is the area where Owens signs the most autographs. The best time to get autographs is before practice begins. The players usually arrive 15-20 minutes early, and you want to get there even earlier than that to get a good position near the front of the fence.

Other attractions: Fans of all ages enjoy "Rowdy," the team mascot, and the Kid’s Zone, a mini-amusement park with blow-up Cowboys slides and games. There is a Dallas Cowboys Pro Shop that sells gear to get signed, and other souvenirs. You also want to check out the Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame featuring exhibits on the history of the Cowboys, and replicas of their Super Bowl trophies.

Cowboys defensive end Kenyon Coleman, who was born in Fontana and went to UCLA, said he would have come to the training camp as a fan if it were here when he was growing up.

"Cowboys fans are everywhere, so I think it’s a real treat for them," he said.

Go to for updated practice times and directions to the training camp.