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A Fan's Ultimate Trip

by Dan Gunderson

For a lot of us, the ultimate sports adventure would include a trip to your favorite team’s stadium with a group of buddies for a weekend full of beer, wings, sports and not much else. I was blessed enough to live that ultimate sports adventure this past weekend.

For as long as I can remember, my favorite sports team in the world has been the Dallas Cowboys. I’m not sure how this happened. Whether it was my cousin Chris being a huge Cowboy fan at the time and me wanting to be like him in every way at a young age or if it was the Cowboys were good when I was extremely impressionable. It doesn't matter.

What matters is that I became one and stuck with the Cowboys even through the Quincy Carter years and the time Jake Plummer and the Arizona Cardinals beat the Cowboys in a playoff game in Cowboy Stadium. (Look it up. It really happened.)

However, at 24-years-old, I had yet to see the Cowboys play live. So, when my girlfriend’s brother, Ryan, came to me and said I could come with him and his group of friends to Dallas in November, I wanted jump up and down screaming, “Absolutely!!!!!!!!” at the top of my lungs.

Unfortunately, it wasn't that easy for me. See, my conscious is pretty much my father repeating the words, “How much is it going to cost?” over and over again. Every decision comes with a price tag and that was drilled into my head at a young age.

Time passed and I still really hadn't given Ryan a solid answer. Finally, about a month before they were scheduled to leave, he came to me one more time and asked if I wanted to go. I finally relented and said, “Okay.”

Soon, the apprehension over cost let way to excitement over the fact that I was going to get to go to a real Dallas Cowboys game in Dallas. The ultimate sports adventure would include the following: Beer, wings and sports. That was pretty much the only plans we had going into this.

We all flew out of Minneapolis on Friday evening and even though my flight was delayed by a full three hours, my spirits were never dampened. I was set on full throttle the whole weekend. One of our groups members, Jake, had a sister that lived in a suburb of Texas and we all crashed with her that night.

The next day, the plan was pretty fluid. Frankly, there was no plan. We woke up to a house filled with the smell of bacon and about a dozen small lap dogs running around the residence. We sat around trying to figure out what we could fit into this Saturday.

We decided that we could go tour Cowboy Stadium, (I realize it is AT&T Stadium but it never will be to me) try and catch the Texas Christian University game at home against West Virginia University and finish off by just chilling out a local sports bar.

Mind you, we came to Dallas with no plans so I felt pretty proud that the group came to this collective agreement. I was a little unsure about the tour of the stadium because we were going to be there on Sunday and how much were we really going to see anyways. It turned out that we got to see a lot.

The stadium itself is this huge, spaceship looking shiny building. It would stick out no matter where it was built, but it does more so in this area because the second tallest building might be just three stories high. Jerry Jones, owner, knew what he was doing when he built this sucker.

You walk in and you realize that when everybody talks about how massive it is, they are not exaggerating. 

It is tough to put into words but imagine the biggest hay shed you have ever stood in and times that by 10. And then add another, oh, 12 hay sheds on top of that.

My mouth needed to be picked up off the ground. I wanted to separate myself from my group just because I wanted to explore every inch of this building. If I would have been one of those children in a harness with a leash on it, I would have broken free within seconds of entering the building.

The concourses, especially the openings at both end zones, were impressive but you lost your breath once you got to the field. Staring up at the scoreboard, I almost ran into a half dozen people, trying to comprehend how something that large could be suspended that high off the ground.

I made my way towards the middle of the field, where the Dallas Cowboys logo, a blue star, was prominently placed. People were taking pictures on it but I choose just to stare. There was a lot of staring going on, if you hadn't picked up on that fact yet.

I made my way to the end zone, where plenty of people were pretending to be their favorite Cowboy catching a touchdown.

I laughed at them, thinking how childish do you have to be to do this, and then preceded to run fake five yard outs, wishing Troy Aikman was throwing me the ball. I am not embarrassed by my actions.

As I was walking around, looking all the part of a star struck tourist, one of the members of our group took us towards the Cowboys’ locker room. The locker room is nothing spectacular but that might be because it does not blow you away like the rest of the building.

I did find it pretty cool that I was seeing where guys like Jason Witten and Dez Bryant would dress the next day. I took pictures because I am a Dallas Cowboys fan boy. So what.

After seeing about everything we possibly could take in, we got in our rental van and headed towards the campus of TCU. The Horned Frogs and Mountaineers were not having particularly good seasons but at just about three dollars a ticket, why not try and get into the game.

Okay, this part is to the school of TCU. I was a little disappointed in your stadium and the passion of your fans. You are a Big 12 school. I get that you have had a disappointing season but the students made me want to fall asleep instead of stand up and cheer. Frankly, North Dakota State University puts you all to shame.

With that being said, did you know that most of the female students wear sun dresses to college football games in the south? That I was okay with.

After a spirited night of dr…. hanging out and doing nothing to finish out the night, we fell asleep to prepare for tomorrow’s festivities. We woke up a good three hours before kickoff to head to the tailgating.

It was a disappointing showing from Cowboy fans and I was ill-prepared to carry the torch for the entire lot.  There was one Viking fan who, let us just say, was feeling quite well for 10 in the morning. He showed me his tattoo that he had put on his body the other night. It was not pretty. I don’t have a picture of this.

Entering the stadium and seeing all the other Cowboy fans renewed my energy. I had traveled thousands of miles. I wanted my favorite team to win. I wanted to celebrate with all the other Cowboy fans, something I have never done.

The game, as many of you know, was a entertaining one. In the end, the Cowboys pulled it out and kept their playoff hopes alive. The Vikings suffered yet another late loss and continue their downward spiral.

After the game, I felt like running around the stadium and high fiving every Cowboy fan I could find. I wanted to tell them that this was my first Cowboys game and this was fun. This was what I dreamed it would be. That I would get to see my favorite team win in their home building.

It was a lifelong dream and an experience I will never forget. For those who have a favorite team nowhere close to where they live, make it a point to go see them play at home. I don’t care if they are good or bad, you have to go see them.

I don’t know if I will ever get back to Dallas to watch the Cowboys play. I probably won’t. In the very least, I went once. I had many friends make fun of me being a Cowboys fan and even one friend asked, “Have you even seen them play live?”

That question always bothered me because I felt that his question made sense. If you really like a team, you have to go watch them play don’t you? Well, guess what buddy, I finally did. And I couldn’t be happier.

You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.