It wasn’t the night before Christmas.
It was actually three nights before Christmas and hundreds of Dallas Cowboys fans were stirring at Academy Sports in Arlington.
The Philadelphia Eagles had just beaten the New York Giants 24-19 Thursday night, allowing the Cowboys to clinch the NFC East Championship and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
It can be looked at as an early Christmas gift for Cowboys fans and Academy.
As the game neared its end Thursday night, fans began heading to Academy, which has been promoting the past few weeks that the store would have championship shirts as soon as the Cowboys clinched.
And it did.
“They started lining up pretty deep as the game wound down,” said Jack Osborne, the store director. “It’s been pretty exciting to see all the community come out. That is the fun part. We’re just happy to be here and supply the Arlington customers with the goods and see the smile on their faces.”
The first hint was the high number of cars on the lot. The second hint was the rush of fans exiting their cars to get into the store.
Near the store entrance there were several tables lined up with stacks of shirts, hats and banners. The shirts, which read “Hold Down The East, 2016 NFC East Champions,” were by far the most sought-after item. They cost $30.
However, the store employees didn’t see the shirts for the first time until the Eagles had beaten the Giants, which was at 10:35 p.m.
“Exactly when the Eagles won the game, that’s when it clinched for us, which allowed us to open the boxes,” Osborne said. “This is our first time seeing them, just like the customers.”
Cowboys fans weren’t the only people stirring in the night. radio station 106.1 KISS FM was broadcasting from inside the store and a cameraman could be seen interviewing fans as they departed the store.
The Cowboys (12-2) host Detroit (9-5) on Monday night. The Cowboys are the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season and now they have a division title and home-field advantage as the top seed.
The Cowboys will put all remaining 2016-2017 playoff tickets for the divisional round on sale to the general public on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
Ticket prices will range from $115 to $560 per seat. The standing-room-only Party Pass tickets, starting at $40, will also be available for purchase.
The hunt for shirts will likely continue today and throughout the weekend.
But Osborne doesn’t mind.
“We’ve been waiting,” Osborne said. “We’re just as excited as they are to get them (shirts) out here.”