One of Jason Garrett’s favorite sayings is his Dallas Cowboys players have to be ready to play anywhere — AT&T Stadium, the parking lot or the moon. He can add London to that list.
The Cowboys agreed to play a road game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at London’s Wembley Stadium next season. The league announced the matchup Thursday, as part of a three-game international series in 2014.
The league has not announced dates of the games, but the other pairings will have the Atlanta Falcons hosting the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders hosting the Miami Dolphins.
“The Dallas Cowboys are used to playing in a lot of interesting kinds of games, a lot of different schedules,” the Cowboys coach said. “And that’s something that we always preach to our players that these are opportunities, never say, ‘Ah, we got in late; we’re playing this game; we’re playing that game.’ That’s not really our mentality. It’s a great opportunity for our organization to go over there and play, and we’re going to do what we need to do logistically to play our best.”
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The NFL played its first regular-season game in London in 2007. It played one game overseas each of the next five seasons before adding a second game to the overseas schedule this year.
The Minnesota Vikings beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 34-27 in London on Sept. 29. The Jaguars play host to the San Francisco 49ers in London on Sunday.
Jacksonville also agreed to play one home game in the UK in each season from 2014-2016.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones long has desired to play a regular-season game outside the U.S., but with the NFL’s largest stadium, the Cowboys had no interest in giving up a home game. They have averaged 87,298 in their four home games this season.
“This London thing is very intriguing,” Jones said. “I’m glad to participate. They’ve been playing these games the last few years, and we wouldn’t ever play a home game over there, but certainly an away game would be good.”
The Cowboys have played nine preseason games outside the U.S., the last coming in 2001 against the Raiders in Mexico City. They played preseason games in London in 1986 and ’93.
Garrett served as a backup quarterback on the ’93 team that played at Wembley. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 190 yards with an interception and a touchdown in the exhibition game that ended in a 13-13 tie against the Lions.
“We know firsthand we have a lot of Cowboys fans there, and we had a great time,” Jones said. “It seems like yesterday. It’s unbelievable it’s been 20 years ago. I’m excited about that. It will be a lot different, because it’s in the regular season, and we’re trying to get a feel for how it is to play a regular-season game there, how it is relative to the fan base. It should be a real positive for our fans.”
Several Cowboys players, including Tony Romo, Bruce Carter, DeMarcus Ware and Sean Lee, said they have never been to London. They are looking forward to the trip, though no one, even Jones, knows the logistics yet.
Most teams have traveled to London on the Tuesday off day. The Steelers left after their Thursday practice, getting to the UK two days before kickoff.
“I think it’ll be great,” Romo said. “We’re very routine-oriented as football players, and any time you think about that, initially you don’t ever want to go too far, I guess you could say, but the experience of that and how the league is evolving is just part of what’s going to happen. I just think it’ll be a great experience for everyone involved.”
Jones already is lobbying for another international road game. With a big Cowboys fan base in Mexico, he hopes to play a regular-season game there one day.
The NFL played its first regular-season international game in Mexico City in 2005. It hasn’t returned, instead concentrating its efforts in the UK.
“I have always lobbied to get to play in Mexico and want to every chance we get,” Jones said, “and I’m looking forward to that in the future, Mexico.”