Leighton Vander Esch's first day with the Cowboys
Leighton Vander Esch thought it’d been a joke when told he’d be arriving at The Star on Friday in Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ helicopter.
But, at about 1:30 p.m., Vander Esch and his family landed in the chopper on the Cowboys’ practice fields as his first day with the Cowboys started in style.
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was working out on the field when the helicopter arrived, and then Vander Esch toured the billion-dollar practice facility. He eyed the organization’s five Lombardi Trophies and Super Bowl rings.
"We’ve got to get a few more of these," Vander Esch said.
Vander Esch then had his introductory news conference with Jones, executive vice president Stephen Jones and coach Jason Garrett. Of course, the biggest story of the day was Jason Witten’s pending retirement.
But that didn’t dampen Vander Esch’s moment.
"It’s been a whirlwind, but it’s been the best morning of my life so far," Vander Esch said. "I’ve always wanted to play here. This is where I wanted to be since Day 1 of this whole entire process, and the fact that it came true made it that much more surreal. I don’t know if its hit me yet; I’m still on cloud nine. I probably will be for a while, but it’s been an awesome journey getting to experience that there at AT&T Stadium. Sitting in the green room with my family and my friends, and my girlfriend and her family, was pretty special.
"And sitting there for 19 picks waiting to get my name called. I was just sitting there watching my phone saying, ‘They’ll be calling you in a little bit, just relax.’ I was just sitting there having a heart attack. Dallas, Texas pops up on my phone. No caller ID; just Dallas, Texas. I had to take a second and just breathe and realize that it was actually happening."
Vander Esch went on to talk about his family’s famous bus that they used to drive to Boise State road games. His dad, Darwin, bought the bus and renovated the inside of it to make it more spacious, as well as covering the outside in Boise State colors (blue and orange).
Jerry Jones smiled as Vander Esch talked about the bus, as Jones has a recognizable bus himself.
"I thought [my dad] was crazy at first for doing it, but it turned out awesome knowing that everyone can get together and go to the games together with each other and have a big group of people," Vander Esch said. "He customized it a little bit. One of my best friend’s dad has a body shop, so he painted the bus for us and we had some other friends that had decals so we had the whole thing decked out, turned out... It was awesome."
For the entire Vander Esch family, this weekend won't soon be forgotten.
Darwin, the father, knew Leighton had potential at an early age.
"He went from crawling to walking to running and not falling down in two weeks time," Darwin said. "And that is not an exaggeration."
Darwin went on to say Leighton has now fulfilled his childhood dreams in football.
"Leighton wanted to play football at Boise State and he wanted to play football for the Dallas Cowboys," Darwin said. "So to see that all come together and actually happen is pretty neat."