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Verne Lundquist returns to his roots as Cowboys’ radio voice

The former radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys, Verne Lundquist, is returning to call the Cowboys’ game on Sunday night as a replacement for Brad Sham, who is taking the game off to observe Rosh Hashanah.
The former radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys, Verne Lundquist, is returning to call the Cowboys’ game on Sunday night as a replacement for Brad Sham, who is taking the game off to observe Rosh Hashanah. CBS

Verne Lundquist estimates you have to be “north of 45” to remember that there was a day when he was the voice of the Dallas Cowboys. Anybody younger than that likely just knows that Verne’s work with CBS covering the PGA Tour, the NFL and NCAA football.

The last game Verne called as the radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys was, “December 20, 1983. They lost at Texas Stadium to the Rams,” he said.

On Sunday night for the Cowboys game season opener against the New York Giants, Verne Lundquist will return as the radio voice of the Dallas Cowboys for one game on 105.3 The Fan. The man that replaced Verne after the 1983 season, the venerable Brad Sham, is unable to call the game as he we will be observing Rosh Hashanah.

Lundquist left after 1983 and has become a fixture at CBS Sports ever since. The man has called everything and done everything, and is arguably as good as any play by play man working outside of my personal favorite, Vin Scully. Lundquist doesn’t have to do this, but he’s doing it because of Brad, and because it will be a nice sentimental stroll.

I caught up with Verne in his hotel room in Nashville as he is there to call the Vanderbilt/Georgia football game.

“Brad had asked me about this back in June when my wife and I were on a cruise in Venice and it just worked out. I am really excited to do this,” Lundquist said.

When Lundquist was trying to break in with network TV in 1979, he begged the Cowboys to take a game off so he could have a TV gig. Team president Tex Schramm agreed, and Verne called a boxing match in Japan. Sham filled in for Lundquist on Dec. 16, 1979 one of the most exciting games in Cowboys’ history when the team rallied to beat the Washington Redskins late in the fourth quarter to win the NFC East.

Lundquist listened to Sham’s call on the phone; Verne’s brother held the phone up to the radio so he could listen to the game.

“I told Brad I could return the favor,” Lundquist said.

For the younger generation that is familiar with Sham’s voice as the voice of the Cowboys, it was Lundquist who had manned the Cowboys’ mic before Sham became the regular play by play man.

“I started doing it in 1967; I did the pre and post game shows. (Former Dallas Morning News columnist) Blackie Sherrod was the color guy and Bill Mercer was the play by play guy,” Lundquist said. “We were doing a game in Pittsburgh in 1969, the day after the Big Shootout between Texas and Oklahoma. We were standing next to the press box elevator, and a piece of ice fell down and it hit Blackie on his hat. He just looked disgusted and said, ‘I’m not doing this any more.’ He relinquished his spot and I took it.

“Then a couple of years later, the Rangers moved to town and Bill Mercer had always aspired to do Major League Baseball - it’s a long, long story but I took Bill Mercer’s space. It was the single most important professional move of my career.”

Sham had joined the broadcast team at that time, and the two became the voices of the franchise. Lundquist will be the radio voice of the Cowboys one more time.

“They want me to do a pre-game hit on the field with (sideline reporter) Kristi Scales I think at 5:15 and that will be a joy and I hope I get a chance to see (NBC play by play man) Al Micheals on the field,” Lundquist said. “This is a very small fraternity and we all know each other. I am really excited about it and it will be very sentimental, and I’m happy to do it for Brad.”

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