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From Bauhaus to Jerry Jones’ House

Last week, I visited The Star, the Dallas Cowboys’ training and practice facility, which opened in 2017 in Frisco, TX, about an hour west of their stadium in Arlington. Dubbed a "Football Oz" last year by the Dallas Morning News, The Star is certainly impressively looking, filled with Cowboys memorabilia, ranging from reproductions of their uniforms throughout the years, to their five Super Bowl trophies. It also has two side-by-side practice fields (with space to park Jerry Jones’ helicopter between them) -- one with grass, the other with artificial turf. Back inside, there's a film room so big, you expect George C. Scott in Cinerama as General Patton to come bounding out to give a speech at the podium, not the Cowboys’ unassuming head coach Jason Garrett.

The Star's film room. George C. Scott as Patton, not included.

Everything looks dazzling, but as with most things Cowboys, it’s also an exercise in maximum hype. As Skip Bayless wrote in God’s Coach, his 1990 profile of Tom Landry, during the 1970s, the Cowboys practiced in infinitely more primitive conditions:

I won’t forget the first time I saw this facility, which was a twenty-minute drive from the team’s classy tower offices, north on Greenville Avenue, and east on Forest Lane to Abrams. The practice field was squeezed between a faded apartment complex and a Pizza Hut. Across busy Forest Lane was a shopping center that featured a Tom Thumb grocery store, where many players grabbed lunch of fried chicken at the deli. Could it be? America’s Team resided in a one-story prefab of rippled aluminum siding painted light blue. Butch Johnson called it “a roach-infested tent.” It was like walking into a discarded dollhouse full of giant humans. Everything was incredibly cramped and poorly lit. Naked egos and light bulbs. Lots of Dallas high school teams had a more spacious training, meeting, and equipment room. At six-feet-nine, Ed “Too Tall” Jones appeared to walk with a stoop.

Somehow, despite, as Mr. Spock would say, those “stone knives and bearskins” level facilities, Landry’s teams went to 10 NFC Championships, leading to five Super Bowls (they won two). Flash-forward to 2017, when Architectural Digest ran its “exclusive first-look at the [Cowboys’] state-of-the-art $1.5 billion mega-complex.” It began thusly:

“This wasn’t about dressing up the locker room,” says Charlotte Jones Anderson, daughter of Jerry Jones and the EVP and chief brand officer of her father's prized Dallas Cowboys. “This was about establishing a connection with high school football and the community that could not be replicated. Sometimes, even in religion, you need the bricks and mortar to validate the why.”

Interesting word in that context, “religion.”

How America's Team Became German Socialist Worker Housing's Most Famous Tenant.