Credit: David Flores / Kens5.com
Mike McCord, a 1983 Roosevelt High School graduate, is preparing for his 22nd season with the Dallas Cowboys and 17th as their equipment manager.
Friday, Aug 6 at 8:41 AM
If you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, chances are good you’ve seen Mike McCord on the sideline since he became an equipment manager for the team in 1992.
A 1983 Roosevelt High School graduate, McCord became a familiar sight during broadcasts of Dallas games early in his career when TV cameras started capturing his ritual after Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith scored a touchdown.
McCord could be seen routinely taking the football Smith carried into the end zone, and jotting something on it before putting it in a trunk on the Dallas sideline for safekeeping.
“I would mark his number on it because I did the same for other players, and I didn’t want to get the footballs mixed up,” McCord said one day after practice this week. “I also would mark whether it was his first touchdown, second touchdown or whatever number it was near the laces of the ball. It started out as a small deal, but then it got bigger with each season.”
Although McCord’s ritual extended to other players on the team, the player who kept him the busiest was Smith, who set the
Cowboys’ career scoring record with 986 points during his 13-year career (1990-2002) with the team.
Smith, who scored 164 TDs and one two-point conversion, also set the single-season club record of 150 points with 25 TDs in 1995. His TD total that year was also an NFL record.
Smith helped lead the Cowboys’ 1992, 1993 and 1995 teams to Super Bowl victories.
McCord, who has been in San Antonio for the Cowboys’ training camp the past two weeks, said he will think about those halcyon days Saturday when he watches Smith get enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
“It was a wonderful time for all of us,” McCord said. “I got spoiled at an early age.”
Smith, who played two seasons with the Arizona Cardinals after he left the Cowboys in 2002, finished his career as the NFL’s all-time rushing leader with 18,355 yards.
“I’m really looking forward to watching Emmitt go into the Hall of Fame,” McCord said. “He accomplished so much. He was so focused and driven. This kid had something in him. He set goals and went after them.”
McCord, 45, was assistant equipment manager for two years before getting promoted to equipment manager in 1994 after Buck Buchanan retired.
McCord joined the Cowboys in 1989 as an assistant ticket manager, staying in that position until he went to football operations in 1991.
As he prepares for his 22nd season with Dallas, McCord has seen the franchise at its best and its worst.
The Cowboys went 1-15 in his first year with the team. The season was also the first in Dallas for owner Jerry Jones and head coach Jimmy Johnson.
“It was a tough, tough year,” McCord said. “But at the same time, you knew there was a sense of energy. Jimmy Johnson was so focused and so dialed in that there was a feeling it was going to turn around.”
The Cowboys improved to 7-9 in 1990 and made the playoffs the following year with an 11-5 record. They lost to Detroit in the divisional playoffs.
Then came three Super Bowl victories in four seasons.
“I was very fortunate to be around players who not only wanted to win, but had a passion for winning,” McCord said. “It was a unique group of players.”
McCord attended Southwest Texas State for two years before transferring to Texas, where he earned a marketing degree in 1987. He worked in the UT athletic department until joining the Cowboys.
McCord’s parents, Richard and Joan McCord, still live in San Antonio.
The Cowboys will have a brief walk-through practice at the Alamodome on Friday morning before breaking camp and returning to Dallas. They fly to Canton on Saturday and play the Cincinnati Bengals in their preseason opener Sunday night.
Dallas then returns home to prepare to play Oakland on Aug. 12, and opens the second half of its training camp in Oxnard, Calif., two days later.
“It’s been great having training camp in San Antonio,” McCord said. “I like to drive around the city whenever I have time. The city has changed a lot since I grew up here, but it’s still a great place.”
The Cowboys apparently think so, too.