OXNARD — The first time Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones stepped on the practice fields at River Ridge, his team was just visiting.
In 1989, Jones’ first year as owner, the Cowboys were still holding training camp at Cal Lutheran while the Oakland Raiders were using the River Ridge fields for their training camp facility.
Raiders owner Al Davis, who was close friends with Jones, invited the Cowboys up to Oxnard for a practice session.
Twenty-five years later, the two teams will again compete on the River Ridge fields, but this time around, it’s the Cowboys serving as hosts.
“It will be great to have the Raiders coming here for the last few days of our camp to have some work against them and to bring back some old memories,” Jones said when training camp opened nearly three weeks ago.
“But we won’t have Al sitting there stopping the drills halfway through saying, ‘That’s too rough, boys. Let’s hold it back a little bit.’ “
The Raiders and Cowboys will participate in two joint practices Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.
This is the first time since 2005 the Raiders have traveled for a preseason practice. In doing so they return to a facility where they held training camp from 1985 to 1995.
Raiders head coach Bruce Allen told the team’s website he and his team are excited for the opportunity to change up the setting and face another team.
“Getting a chance to see some different looks, from a different team, go up against different personnel is a positive. I think at this point in training camp, anything you can do to change up the schedule a little bit to get the guys a little bit of energy, I think, is a positive,” Allen told Raiders.com.
“I’m looking for our guys to go down there and compete for two days against a good football team.”
Dallas head coach Jason Garrett shares Allen’s enthusiasm about the benefits of changing up the training-camp routine. Garrett said when he played for the Cowboys, there were several years where they scrimmaged against the Raiders.
He recalled the Raiders back then featured a collection of future Hall of Famers like Ronnie Lott and Eric Dickerson. His Cowboys also had future Hall of Famers, but at that point they were not established stars like the Raiders’ players
“The practices were really, really competitive. There were a number of fights,” Garrett said with a smile. “We would have a 12-play set of plays for seven-on-seven, or maybe it was 15 plays. Oftentimes, Al Davis would kind of step into the middle of it and say ‘Our guys are good’ after about seven (plays). We would all kind of look at each other like, ‘Huh?’
“Our coaches weren’t necessarily happy about it, but it was always very interesting working against them. It was a great experience, I can remember some real competitive situations, and I do think we both benefited a great deal from it.”
Garrett said working against another team changes the atmosphere of the practice day. He said when players work against people they don’t know, it gets them out of their routine and the competitive spirit gets heightened, which is good.
Cowboys star wide receiver Dez Bryant agrees with his coach.