The Dallas Cowboys held practice outside on Wednesday, in full view of a fan who had a high powered camera to take pictures, or video, of everything the team did.
There was nothing the Cowboys could do about it, because the fan with the camera was sitting on his patio.
This is part of the luxury of living at the Station House apartments in Frisco.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett wanted the team to practice outside, because the weather in North Texas on Wednesday was similar to the expected conditions for L.A. on Saturday night.
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Having a fan or two potentially watch everything you do at your practice is part of the job of coaching the Dallas Cowboys: Everything is for sale, including views of your top secret plays.
NFL coaches are notoriously paranoid to reveal any minute detail up to and including the time of day, because it could be used against them; some teams bar members of the media from out of town to watch practice at all.
Most teams allow only a small part of practice to be watched by the media, which seldom includes any plays. During the season, media is typically allowed to watch stretching, and some warmup drills.
For teams who do allow the media to watch an entire practice, it’s either understood or stated they are not to reveal to the public what they saw that could be state secrets.
And then there are the Dallas Cowboys.
Part of the development around The Star in Frisco includes the Omni Hotel, which offers views of both the indoor and outdoor practice fields, and now the Station House apartment complex, too.
A one bedroom, one bath apartment on the third floor of this three-story apartment building that offers a clean view of the practice fields costs $1,500 per month. A two bed, two bath is $2,080.
Like the nearby Omni Hotel, which is part of The Star’s master plan, the view of the field is a point of sale for the Station House.
For roughly $429 a night, you can get a room at the Omni to see most of a practice. So could a scout, or coach, from another NFL team.
Ask for room 1601. The room is not the Honeymoon Suite, but it may as well be the Dallas Cowboys Suite.
If you are on a budget, hang a left off the elevator and look out the windows of the 16th floor. There is an affordable view of the two outdoor practice fields.
Technically, all of the rooms from the 11th to the 16th floors facing the west offer views of the Cowboys practice field. The rooms on the 16th floor offer the best views of a Cowboys’ practice.
Both practice fields are visible, with the exception of approximately 25 yards on the east side of the two fields. Binoculars would help here.
Given the advanced state of video cameras these days, it would not be hard to film a large chunk of practice to see just exactly what America’s Team is doing during a given workout from the Omni.
From the Station House apartments, your dog could shoot a good video of a Cowboys’ practice.
The hotel also offers conference spaces that overlook the indoor practice field at The Ford Center. People who rent those rooms are only supposed to watch a practice, but it’s not hard to take a shot with a cell phone.
A fan who had attended a meeting in one of those conference rooms easily snapped this photo with their cell phone and sent it to me on Facebook:
This is another illustration of just how needless, pointless and self-important NFL teams have become in their quest for a “schematic advantage,” and hiding themselves when it has zero impact on the game.
When the team’s headquarters were on Forest Lane and Abrams in Dallas from 1967 to ‘84, the practice fields were next to a motel. Coach Tom Landry later learned Washington Redskins’ scouts would rent out a room or two to “spy” on the Cowboys’ practices.
Cowboys president Tex Schramm would then rent out the entire upstairs of the motel on the days the Cowboys practiced to prevent any opponent from advanced scouting.
When the team moved from Dallas to its headquarters at Valley Ranch, there was no motel or hotel within close proximity, although there was a “White House.”
There were also two-story and condos, some of which featured a clear view of the Cowboys’ practice fields.
Now the Cowboys are in Frisco, at The Star, and doing what the Cowboys do best: Sell everything up to and including the views.
So if you, or an opposing coach, has the cash and a decent camera, you too can do some quality advanced scouting.