A year ago when the Dallas Cowboys did their annual visit to Salvation Army locations in Fort Worth and Dallas to serve early Thanksgiving meals to the homeless, they were in the midst of a seven-game losing streak en route to a 4-12 season.
The visits served as an opportunity to lift their own spirits by giving them some perspective on the real world, while lifting the spirits of the less fortunate during, despite their on-field doldrums.
When the high-flying Cowboys, fresh off Sunday’s 35-30 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers to run their record to an NFL-best 8-1, visited the Salvation Army on Monday _ the veterans were in Dallas and rookies were in Fort Worth _ it was a big old party.
“Oh yeah you can tell a difference,” said tight end Jason Witten, who drew cheers every time he passed out a tray of food. “The energy is a lot better. It’s lot easier to get up after a big win and come here, but certainly to look back at the year and for them to know how much they’re pulling for us, it’s a great community to have behind you.
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“And these are some of the best fans. To be able to spend a few minutes with them, sign some stuff, high-five them, definitely the energy is a lot better when you come after a win. It’s good to feed off each other. But to be 8-1 and be here it’s a great time to be in Dallas.”
One thing that hasn’t changed from last year to this year is the advice given to the players on what they are doing wrong or how they can be even better.
“Yeah, you definitely notice the little differences,” Defensive tackle Tyrone Crawford said. “But most of the Cowboys fans here are definitely humble Cowboy fans and are just there to have your back regardless of what’s happening. You might hear the different comments about what we need to do as far as the football team and different things like that, but the same was said out here today – there was different things that were said that we need to do as a football team.”
No matter the comments, the goal and mission of the visit remained the same for the Cowboys whether they are winning or losing.
“I’ve said it many times, but it always puts a smile on your face to be able to come out and to see these fans and all of them having such challenging times in their lives, put a smile on their faces and know they’re pulling for us,” Witten said. “It means a lot for us and hopefully we can make a difference in their lives. It’s a great program. It’s a great partnership Mr. Jones and the Cowboys have with the Salvation Army.”