Greg Hinkle said a decades-old dream came true when he experienced a “slice of football heaven” by attending his first Dallas Cowboys training camp.
Hinkle told the Daily Press he traveled to Oxnard on Monday with friend Gordon Soholt to mingle with Cowboy fans and to watch the “his boys” from Dallas practice before they take on the Arizona Cardinals during the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio on Thursday.
The 55-year-old Hinkle, who had never attended a training camp or professional football game, said he was “mesmerized” by the “size” of the players and “all the activity” during his two-day visit to the team’s practice facility at the Marriott River Ridge complex in Oxnard.
“I was next to Tyron Smith and he was humongous,” said Hinkle of the 320-pound tackle from the University of Southern California who stands over 6-feet tall. “It’s mind boggling to think these guys slam into each other every week.”
Hinkle, who lives in Apple Valley, said he had a chance to see a lot of players in action, including cornerback Nolan Carroll and his favorite player, quarterback Dak Prescott.
“It was cool to hear head coach Jason Garrett give the guys pep talks throughout the day,” Hinkle said. “We also got to watch all the rookies with no star on their helmets. They don’t have stars because they have to earn them.”
Hinkle, who was also joined by his brother, Jim, said he took a “camera load” of photos at the training facility, which included multiple fields where players stretched, practiced offensive and defensive drills and used a machine that launched footballs for multiple drills.
He added the public tryout was free, but he spent a few extra dollars to purchase special VIP and sideline tickets to be close to the action.
“They conducted quite a few game-time scrimmages and really focused on wide receiver, fumble recovery and goal line drills,” Hinkle said. “Some of these guys got a bit frisky and almost broke out into a scrum during one defensive pass rush drill.”
A Cowboys fan since 1971 when his team lost to the Baltimore Colts 16-13 in Super Bowl V, Hinkle predicts the Cowboys will represent the National Football Conference in February during Super Bowl LII.
“I know these guys mean business when I saw coach Jason Garrett running a seriously tight practice with no dilly-dallying,” Hinkle said. “These guys were totally focused and they’ll be ready to play once the regular season starts in September.”
For more information on the Cowboys and their Oxnard training camp, which runs through Aug. 17, visit www.dallascowboys.com.