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Going Camping?

Training camp is finally close enough to feel real. The most exciting Cowboys offseason in years has been numbed by the NFL's newest trend of delaying the season's start. What used to begin Labor Day weekend has now been deferred one week, so that, well I don't know why. So that the U.S. Open will finally get some ratings? So that the nation can adopt the new Thursday night opener? I'm not sure.

Whatever the reason, the NFL has provided some relief to the dreary month of February. Super Bowls now regularly sneak into that sports wasteland. Seriously, how many of you found yourself spending February Sundays watching taped games to overcome football withdrawl, rather than regular season NBA?

The tradeoff is that the start of training camp has moved from mid-to-late July, producing something approaching football dementia. It's like Santa Claus announced that he would henceforth make his Christmas run on January 8th. Our new friend K.C. Joyner has provided some relief, but his novel and exciting analyses only make the waiting harder.

That is why I'm more determined than ever to attend training camp in person. There are many exciting new faces and I don't trust our representatives in the sports press to give us the rundown on their progress. Strike that. I don't trust them to give us the rundown on their progress fast enough.

I don't know about you, but I resent the method of spoon feeding one player profile per day. And I'm not satisfied with the rote rundowns we get from camp, giving us the "player whose arrow is pointing up," "the player whose arrow is pointing down," "the catch of the day," usually made in a seven-on-seven drill or in a seven-on-nobody drill, where contact is not allowed.

I'll let you in on a little secret which explains why seemingly every Texas paper uses this formula. About ten years ago I attended camp and watched the press at work. They would assemble at one end of the practice field late in the afternoon and wait for the team P.R. director to arrive with a stack of xeroxed summaries, which included indespensible nuggets like that day's temperature, the attendance and the profile of the day.

As you might guess, the next day most of the mediots would produce slightly altered versions of this release. I don't want to log on twice a day for variations of this formula. I want to see these guys with my own eyes. I want to draw my own conclusions.

There's only one problem with this wish, as the quicker of you might have guessed: it costs money. And we at the Cowboys Blog are a little thin in that department right now. Raul and I have made some money from ads, and every penny has been reinvested in advertising and upgrading the site. We've held off asking for donations, but the time has come. You may have noticed some links have gone up recently allowing you to donate to the blog. If the site has value I encourage you to make a small donation. If we can raise enough for plane fare to California I'll be your eyes and ears in Oxnard.

What I can offer in exchange is the best camp coverage you'll find anywhere. You won't get recycled press releases from me. I'll give you rundowns on every position group. You'll know who's getting playing time. Who's injured. How the team is performing. And, if cameras are allowed at Oxnard (they were not allowed in the Alamodome) I'll post some photos too.