With the current labor lockout threatening to derail the momentum that was the NFL's growing popularity, and on the heels of a disappointing 6-10 season, it's easy to forget how much of a relief the 2009 season was for Dallas Cowboys fans, players and personnel. The team was able to win the NFC East, and thoroughly thumped the hated Eagles for the team's first playoff victory since 1996. Although Dallas flopped in Minnesota the following week, the 2009 season can fondly be looked back at as the year the Cowboys rid themselves of the monkey. Overall a happy ending to a season that didn't start off on the best footing, but sometimes resiliency and good karma win out.
When the Dallas Cowboys practice facility collapsed in May leading up to the season, the organization was thrown into disarray. But, thanks to a strong effort by the team and the front-office, the 2009 Cowboys rallied for a successful season.
On May 2nd, 2009, while the Cowboys were hosting a rookie mini-camp, severe storms ripped through the area. The high winds and inclement weather ripped through the practice facility, collapsing the structure and injuring over 60 people in the process. Cowboys scouting assistant Rich Behm was the most seriously hurt, as he was permanently paralyzed when his spine was severed. Special Teams coach Joe DeCamillis also suffered a serious vertebrae injury, but he has since made a full recovery. Many people will say that in today's world, people are too caught up with their day to day lives to worry about anything outside of their household. However, when tragedy strikes, the American Way is to pull together and help those in need. America's Team was no different here, and rose to the occasion in the midst of the tragedy.
Through the tragedy, we got to see the humanity of several team players and personnel. In the days following, stories filtered out about how players and personnel were helping to dig each other out from under rubble and lead each other to safer standing. There were people that were trapped under fallen metal, in constant danger of electrocution with the whipping rain and standing water mixing with damaged equipment. Often times in tragedies people react without any concern for their own well being, as these stories showed.
Cowboys fans, beat writers, news reporters and all, championed the cause to get the Behm family as much financial and long-distance moral support as they could muster. Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and then-head coach Wade Phillips made several hospital trips to visit the injured. Only a few days after the accident, the team coordinated with Bank of America and instituted the Rich Behm Trust. Cowboys spokesperson Rich Dalrymple said the trust was created because of the overwhelming amount of interest shown by Cowboys fans in trying to assist. Even here on BTB, Dave suspended the fundraiser for training camp coverage in a request that donations be directed toward the facility victims.
Nothing unifies a strong contingent more so than having a just cause to rally around. I'm not going to infer that the success Dallas had in 2009 was a result of the tragedy, I wouldn't even dream of it. What I will say is that through the actions of several players and team personnel, I know what kind of guys were in the foxhole together during that time. I know that they had the inner makeup to withstand such a tragedy, and from there, the challenges on the football field get put into a different perspective.
The 2009 season was marred by tragedy at the start, but the 2009 Cowboys showed class, rallied around the injured, and succeeded in having a great season.