The Cowboys Reflect On 9/11

What an emotionally charged evening it will be tonight when the Cowboys take on the New York Jets on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. had a nice tribute piece compete with video that is definitely worth a look.

They also have four narratives from current Cowboys who were very close to the events of that fateful day. Here are two of them.

Jesse Holley, Roselle, N.J.

“I was at school when it happened, and every TV in the school suddenly was on the news. You know how things go, there were whispers all over the school, and every classroom you went into was just complete silence. All the teachers stopped their lesson plans, everybody stopped what they were doing, and we were locked onto the TV in each classroom, just watching and praying for everybody that was there, and checking on your family members that might have been in that area to see if they were OK.

“Being that close to the city, it was a scary situation because you didn’t know when the next one was going to come. You didn’t know where it was coming from. You just hoped that it was the end of the madness for that day.

“That afternoon we went out to the practice field for football practice, and you could still see the smoke coming from the buildings all the way in Roselle, N.J.

“It was hard to concentrate. We had a couple of guys whose moms, dads, brothers actually worked in the city, so we were trying to conduct practice that day, but it was a situation that you just couldn’t even focus on the matter at hand. At that time we just wanted to come together as a group and try to be together, make sure nobody was apart. If you had a situation or problem you were able to get some help and have some guys around you.

“I remember we had one kid on our team whose brother was an FBI agent, and actually worked in the city. He was a really good friend of mine, and he was really down. It just so happened that his brother was running late that morning going to work, and didn’t make it into the city on time, was on his way to work when it happened. And that was a blessing because if he had been at work he would’ve been right there at Ground Zero. He wouldn’t be here today.

“I just remember it vividly. You can still smell the smoke. It’s something that you’ll never forget, a lasting memory that you’ll have forever. It was a horrific situation, one I hope we never have to relive.”

Jason Garrett, Manhattan
“We played Denver on Monday night, in Denver, Sept. 10. My memory of that is it was a rough game for us. Eddy McCaffrey, the receiver for Denver, tore his ACL and was going to be out for the year. Morten Andersen was our kicker, and he missed an extra point because the holder didn’t get the ball placed properly. He came over to me on the sideline and said, ‘You’re holding next week.’

“We got back to the Newark airport at, say, 5 o’clock in the morning, and I was living in the city. So we took a bus from the airport to our complex, and then I drove into the city. My memories are the big story on the radio that morning was Michael Jordan coming back from retirement. I probably got back to my apartment at 7, and my wife and I watched the Today Show for a half hour, and I went to sleep. Now it’s Tuesday, we’re working the next day, I’ll catch up on some sleep on the day off. Probably an hour or so later the sirens going past my windows were just unbelievable.

“We lived at 79th and West End, and West End is a quiet street commercially, even though there’s always noise in New York. But it was just ridiculous, siren after siren. I wake up kind of, ‘What is going on?’ At that time we got a phone call, and Eric Bjornson, who used to play here, a good buddy of mine, called from California and said, ‘Are you guys OK?’ We’re like, ‘What do you mean, OK?’

“‘Turn the TV on.’

“So we did, and probably a half an hour later the second plane went in. You’re watching it on TV, probably four or five miles from the site, and it all feels like a movie. Looking at it on the screen, it doesn’t feel like it’s real life right outside your window. I have a number of friends who worked down in that Wall Street area, in and around those building, so the first inclination is, are those guys OK? You try to make the phone calls and you can’t get through to anybody.

“One of the most interesting memories I have is that the weather was so beautiful that day and that entire week. Just beautiful blue sky, you couldn’t describe it unless you saw it. And then you see people coming from Lower Manhattan north, just walking with their briefcases, north, away from the whole thing. In my mind their suits are kind of tattered. Sometimes your mind kind of conjures those things, but that’s my memory, everybody coming from the south to the north. People were very much in a daze.

“My memory is they didn’t officially cancel or postpone that week’s games until like Thursday, which was ridiculously long given the circumstance. And then when you’re in the city, at different points, you’re not allowed to leave. They’re blocking all the bridges and tunnels. Those logistics of life crept in quickly.

“I played a couple more years with the Giants. Immediately it was an incredibly emotional time. The number of people killed in the tragedy was so pervasive. The firemen, the policemen, all the people you saw on a daily basis were affected by it, and indirectly you were affected by it. It was just really, really emotional and sad.

“But then after that, my memories are of a sense of pride in how people responded to it. I remember immediately afterward there was a call to go give blood. And by the time we went to do it, 24, 48 hours later, they were saying we don’t need any more. People rallied around and were supportive of each other. It’s such a diverse place, but you got the feeling everyone was unified in their response.

“During such a tragic time, the immediate response was just so great, loving and caring and compassionate. Those are my memories as much as anything else. And then it fades from memory a little bit, but I don’t think it faded there. It was in the forefront of everybody’s mind for a long time.”

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