FRISCO, Texas – Just when I was losing faith in mankind.
Just when I thought we as a society were moving closer and closer to imploding upon ourselves.
Just when …
I mean, bickering had reached cacophonic decibels. Charlottesville. Dead people offensiveness. Kneeling for the national anthem. Walls. Borders. Bathrooms.
Sensitivity is at an all-time high.
Darn, is anyone having any fun?
Then along came Harvey.
See, water is not discriminating. Knows no color, religion, social status, ethnicity, sex. Same with torrential winds. They could care less. Mow down anyone in their path. No detours.
And Harv, he was not just any ol’ hurricane. This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime events (we hope) striking Houston and South Texas, incomprehensible flooding affecting millions of people. The pictures, the videos, the tears were inescapable. To the point you almost had to take a break now and then from watching.
Shame it takes the worst to bring out the best in people.
But darn if we didn’t mobilize. Volunteers towing their own boats to rescue people down south. Neighbors helping neighbors. Neighbors helping strangers. Strangers making lifelong friends in the face of disaster.
My words are inadequate.
Maybe Dez Bryant says it best: “God cares how you treat everybody.”
Sure, there are some foul balls out there, trying to take advantage of those so desperate. Price gouging began. Selling bottled water at disgustingly-high prices. Jacking up room rates three times over. Raising gas prices to monopolize on our fears of a shortage, creating 1979 gas-rationing-long lines when in reality panic created the shortage. See the Great Depression.
But in general, the good in people exploded. Those rolling up their sleeves. Those donating money. Those offering square meals. Those offering a cot. Those offering a safe refuge. Those donating money, did I mention that.
None of that other stuff mattered.
And the Dallas Cowboys humbly did what they could. They shared Ford Center at The Star with the stranded Houston Texans. Gave them a place to practice. A place to eat during the day. A place to wash their laundry. And offered to donate their stadium for the final preseason game between the two teams, wanting to turn Thursday night’s game into a gigantic fundraiser with more than 50,000 tickets, and counting, sold for $25 each all in the name of charity.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones donated money. His players donated money. The Cowboys quickly partnered with The Salvation Army to raise money. The players lent helping hands to move merchandise and goods to The Salvation Army.
Dez was so moved, said he rented two U-hauls and was heading over to Sam’s Club to fill them with supplies to be taken to The Salvation Army.
This after that final preseason game was canceled so the heartbroken Texans could return home unexpectedly on Wednesday afternoon when they thought they would be here until at least Friday.
This after of the best, most entertaining, most heart-warming event the Cowboys organization has ever produced, or at least that I’ve witnessed now in my 34th season covering this team. And I’ve seen the Christmas hospital visits. I’ve seen serving those annual Thanksgiving meals at The Salvation Army. Seen those Red Kettle Halftime shows. Was there for the 9/11 Fundraiser in the parking lot at Texas Stadium.
But Thursday night’s telethon/practice at AT&T Stadium in place of the canceled preseason game shows that as Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett often says, the Cowboys have “the right kind of guys.”
Now, that has been roundly disputed over the past couple of months, with a couple of guys serving suspensions to start the season, a couple of guys involved with arrests but yet to be charged and now this entire Ezekiel Elliott ordeal that might finally be coming to its rightful conclusion.
But like society, few groups are perfect, right? Those people price-gouging should not disparage the rest of us. Those people rioting should not reflect on all of us.
Well, wonder if after Thursday night, after this past week, those waving those righteous banners will retract what they’ve been saying, insisting the Cowboys don’t have the right kind of guys. Wonder if they watched how Jason Witten and Sean Lee and Dez Bryant stepped to the plate Thursday night. Wonder if they watched those Cowboys players who would not have played in that final preseason game and were held out of the practice, man the phone lines, taking the phone-bank calls of those wanting to donate, along with Hall of Famers Tony Dorsett, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, of course, the star of the 90-minute telethon broadcast.
Did they witness, thanks to Jerry donating $1 million himself on that live, televised call Dez took, how this organization raised more than $3 million that night? To tell you the truth, the whole evening was humbling to all of us who had a small part in this huge event.
Sometimes painting a picture with a broad brush is irresponsible or, hush my mouth, inaccurate.
“I’m so proud of our organization,” Jerry rightfully said during his Friday morning weekly radio segment on 105.3 The Fan, knowing full-well how this whole deal came together within like a 30-hour notice.
Sometimes the truth is unavoidable.
Now look, are the Cowboys perfect? Hell no. But they’ve never been perfect. Not in the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s and goodness knows not in the 1990s. And I know the old saying, how one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch, but we aren’t a bunch of fruit, right? We are people, and despite mounting differences, we’ve been seeing the good coming out of people.
We’ve seen the rescues. We’ve seen the shelter volunteers. We’ve seen those priceless hugs. And have I mentioned the donations, Texans J.J. Watt setting an online fund-raising goal of a couple hundred thousand now reaching $15 million.
Jerry told the story this morning of a person calling in Thursday night wanting to put a $10 donation on his credit card. The card got rejected. And as Jerry said, the guy asked if they could wait until the morning to put the contribution he so badly wanted to make on his card.
Driving home yesterday afternoon, there in a long lineup for gas in the right-hand lane of the road were two guys pushing a young lady’s car that obviously had already run out of gas, like a yard at a time. Would have made for one of those great Americana pictures.
And couldn’t help from noticing what Texas Rangers manager Jeff Banister so emotionally pointed out this week. Banister, who played his high school ball at Houston area La Marque and college ball at the University of Houston, has ties to the flooded-out city. He was up to here with the petty bickering over the Rangers and Astros unable to agree on playing their three-game series this week in Arlington with Minute Maid Park in Houston unavailable, the dispute moving the series to the Rays Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“Donating money is great, that’s awesome,” Banister began. “I get it. We’re all gonna donate money. You know what? Post up and go help out. Roll your sleeves up, put some boots on and help some people dig out. That’s what we need. People need more than us in the next two weeks collecting money. They need all that. But they need support, whether it’s DFW, Houston, El Paso, Beaumont, Brownsville and everywhere in between.
“This is about human beings that are hurting in a place they’ve never been before … and we’re bickering over sports entities? Come on, we can strip the names off the front, we can put T-shirts on and go play for all I care.”
In other words, don’t sweat the small stuff.
And that then brings me to this: You know, never thought back in 2010 when the Cowboys traded up to draft Dez Bryant that starting his eighth season I’d be quoting him at a time like this. But he has grown so much, and what he’s had to say for more than the past week almost makes you want to reach out to give him a hug.
Maybe why Michael Irvin kept referring to him as “my son,” he’s so proud of how far Dez has come.
“I get emotional just seeing people caring about one another,” Dez said Thursday evening. “Seeing people caring is the best ever.”
And darn if he’s not absolutely right.
Harvey reminding us all of that in the cruelest of ways. Read