A Cowboys Thanksgiving

While many are aware that the Dallas Cowboys work with dairy farmers, most people don’t know just how much we have in common. While our workplaces look different, we are just as devoted. We hold the same things dear. Football centers around family, and the holidays are a big part of that. Now that its fall, most people think of pumpkin spice, Thanksgiving and football. As the Senior Director of Community Relations and Alumni Affairs for the Dallas Cowboys, my fall is packed with football … even my Thanksgiving looks a bit different. For the three hours that fans get to enjoy the game and nationally televised Red Kettle Kickoff halftime show, we are busy.

While many people are home eating turkey and watching football, the Dallas Cowboys are hard at work. I’m grateful to work on Thanksgiving Day, because it is special. It’s extra exciting because it’s a holiday, and usually the weather is finally cool for Texas – which adds to the holiday feel. Thanksgiving falls in the heart of football season, so for us it’s like Sunday, but on Thursday. And there’s just something extra special about football and holidays that makes me happy. It’s probably because of all of the happy memories I have growing up and watching the Cowboys with my family on Thanksgiving Day! Plus, I still get to enjoy a turkey dinner with all the fixin’s in the Cowboys Press Box at AT&T Stadium. If you’ve never had the food at AT&T Stadium, it’s about the best food you can find anywhere!

Since I joined the Cowboys in 1993, I have spent every Thanksgiving seeing a different side of the game. Over my 24 seasons with the team, I’ve seen lots changes when it comes to the Thanksgiving game. The biggest was our transition from Texas Stadium to AT&T Stadium – especially when it comes to the weather forecast on game day! The roof at Texas Stadium was legendary for being basically open. We were exposed to the elements whether it was extra warm or freezing cold; you just never knew what you would get!

Besides the move into our fabulous AT&T Stadium, I think about all of the wonderful times I’ve enjoyed working on Thanksgiving. Perhaps the most memorable was Thanksgiving 1997, when we hosted our very first national Red Kettle Kickoff for The Salvation Army. Just days before Thanksgiving, Jerry Jones, Troy Aikman, Charlotte Jones Anderson and I were in a Dallas recording studio with Reba McEntire watching her record “What If,” a song written by Diane Warren. Afterward, both Reba and Diane donated all the proceeds from the song to The Salvation Army. As we prepared for a Super Bowl-caliber halftime show and watched Reba sing “What If,” the first live, nationally televised Thanksgiving Day halftime was created! I was so proud to be a part of something so huge. The now-20-year tradition has helped so many by raising more than $2.3 billion in red kettles during the holidays, and it all started on Thanksgiving at the Cowboys game halftime kickoff!

Off the field, as we say in football, my responsibilities have changed dramatically! When I started with the Cowboys, I wasn’t married. I married in 1999 and we started our family in 2002. I quickly learned about the importance of balance between work and family. Now, I involve my family in the Thanksgiving experience by hosting them at the game. Even though I’m not with them during the game, it’s just nice to know they are in the stadium, cheering on the Cowboys and having a great time! I’ll let you in on a secret: The big joke in my family is that I’ll never learn to cook a turkey and dressing because I’m always at work!

As you gather your family around the table or TV for Thanksgiving and football this year, please know that the Cowboys are celebrating, too. Although our celebration may be in a nontraditional way, football is our family and we are happy to share our Thanksgiving together with you!

By Emily Cruz Robbins

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