Dallas Cowboys

Cowboys center Travis Frederick grew up less than 200 miles from Green Bay

mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

FRISCO – Travis Frederick grew up in a Wisconsin state of mind.

But Frederick doesn’t have to worry about his family’s stomach churning in different directions Sunday when he and the Dallas Cowboys host the Green Bay Packers in a divisional playoff game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

The Cowboys’ three-time Pro Bowl center, Fredrick was raised in Sharon, WI -- a small town with a population of around 1,600 that’s about a three-hour drive from Green Bay. Although Frederick grew up a fan of the Chicago Bears, he knows the Packers still rule the state of Wisconsin as far as football is concerned.

"I grew up being able to see the way that (the Packers) play, and you can tell they’ve continued that tradition,’’ Frederick said following Thursday’s practice at The Star. "They’re a phenomenal team and it’s going to be a great game Sunday.’’

While Frederick has no direct ties with the Packers, he still has connections with his alma mater – the University of Wisconsin. Frederick played for the Badgers from 2009-’12, was a first-team All-American in 2012, and eventually became a first-round draft pick by the Cowboys in 2013.

During Frederick’s college days, Paul Chryst was Wisconsin’s offensive coordinator and quarterback coach, and now he’s the Badgers’ head coach. That close tie led to Frederick being on the Wisconsin sideline last week at AT&T Stadium when the Badgers defeated Western Michigan, 24-16, in the Cotton Bowl.

"I love coach Chryst and what he’s done there in the last year, two years,’’ Frederick said. "I’m excited for him and I’m excited for the direction of the program and I love going back there and talking to the guys.

"Unfortunately this is the last year that I know anybody playing on the team having played with them, so I’m going to be a little bit disconnected and I’m going to be the odd man out. But I’m excited every time I get a chance to go back there.’’

Frederick, 25, also is excited about getting an opportunity to beat the Packers and earn the Cowboys’ first trip to the NFC Championship game since 1996.

"They have a great front seven,’’ Frederick said. "As a whole I think their defense plays well together, and the challenge is the defense.

"Obviously they have some great pieces up front on their (defensive) line. But the way that they do a few movements and the way that they set it up, they’re going to provide a great challenge for us.’’

The Cowboys forced four turnovers and upended the Packers, 30-16, in Green Bay on Oct. 16. The Packers’ record eventually fell to 4-6, but have since strung together seven straight victories.

"Obviously they’ve had a season to prove,’’ Frederick said. "They’ve gotten better just the way that we have.

"Throughout the season you gain experience and you gain the skills that you practice throughout the year.’’

For Frederick, although he has amassed some fame and fortune since leaving Sharon, WI, he maintains the humble qualities his parents instilled in him. And even though the Cowboys awarded him with a six-year, $56.4 million extension last summer—making the 6-4, 218-pounder the highest paid center in NFL history – that didn’t change the person folks describe as the most dominant center in the game.

"For me, my wife does a good job of making sure that I stay on the ground,’’ Fredrick said. "She’ll smack me if I’m starting to get a little smart.

"For me, it’s just about staying true to who I was growing up and the man that my parents raised me to be. I just want to be able to make them proud in everything that I do, and make my wife proud and the rest of my family, and just try to be the best person that I can be.’’

Dwain Price: 817-390-7760, @dwainprice

Center Travis Frederick, along with two teammates, guard Zack Martin and running back Alfred Morris appeared at the new Tom Thumb in West Bend in Fort Worth on Tuesday to help raise awareness for Frederick's Blocking Out Hunger Foundation and to d

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