Besides making their annual hospital visits Monday, Cowboys players also heard from former Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis.
Lewis played 17 seasons, making 13 Pro Bowls, seven All-Pro teams while earning two defensive player of the year awards and a Super Bowl MVP.
“It was great,” Cowboys tight end Jason Witten said. “It’s good anytime you have a chance to be around one of the greatest football players to ever play, and he hasn’t been retired that long, so he has a pretty good pulse on what the game is still like today. It changes. I just think his life experiences, what he’s gone through and overcome, but more importantly just the way he attacked it as a pro, who he was as a leader and as a teammate, I think it was neat for our team to hear.
“He is one of the greatest ever, and so everybody listened to him talk about how you approach it day in and day out. His message was pretty much as simple as that: The games are byproduct of who you are every single day and how you practice. You won’t remember so much the wins and losses as you will the people you did it with. A lot of times when you’re young, you don’t necessarily realize that. That’s certainly something I realize at this point where I am in my career. He did a great job being able to connect to young players, and he’s a great motivator.”
As coach of the Cowboys, Jason Garrett has had inspirational messages delivered to his team nearly every year. Two years, the Cowboys visited the Navy SEALs at Coronado Island before preseason games against the Chargers. Another year, the Cowboys went to Camp Pendleton to hear from the Marines.
But the Cowboys didn’t play the Chargers in the preseason this year, so they didn’t get to San Diego.
“Ray’s obviously one of the most inspirational, one of the greatest players ever to play in the National Football League,” Garrett said. “It came through our player engagement department. The NFL does a really good job emphasizing the importance of having some kind of talk from an outsider over the course of the year. This was our time to do that, and we were able to do that on Monday and Ray spoke.
“Again, very inspirational, a great example in so many ways to the players. He played 17 years in the National Football League, a 13-time Pro Bowler, 10-time All-Pro, won two Super Bowls, so he has great credibility when he walks into the room. Even some of the younger guys who maybe he was a tick before their time, I think they grew up watching him. He was outstanding. Speaks from the heart and a lot of great wisdom for our guys.”