Executive Blog

January/February 2013

Happy New Year!! 

As I travel to New Orleans for this year's Super Bowl, a place where I saw the Dallas Cowboys beat the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII, I think back to 1972 and Super Bowl VI, when the Dallas Cowboys finally won their first Super Bowl and were able to rid themselves of the moniker "next year's champions."   

That 1971 season was a season to remember, and one many remember well, and why it made for such a great story as writer Jaime Aron put into words in his book Breakthrough 'Boys ... the Story of the 1971 Super Bowl Champion DALLAS COWBOYS. And with this past year being the 40th anniversary of that season, a special evening was put together in which I was very honored to serve as Host and Master of Ceremonies, to reflect with all the great players from that team, what it meant to be a Cowboy and play for the enduring Head Coach, Tom Landry.

Furthermore, Murray Media was very proud to be the Event and Video production company for the event, leading to the additional opportunity to turn the evening into a 1-Hour television program that will air on FOX Sports Southwest on Friday, February 1st, at 11pm central time.  

That night was a great evening and one I hope will be enjoyed again and again by all on DVD. So, that leads me to my thoughts on this year's game and what I'd say to all the coaches and players involved. For that, I quote Coach Tom Landry, "If you are prepared, you will be confident, and will do the job."

And as always, catch FYI FW, airing the 1st Sunday evening of every month, on Ch. 21, produced by Murray Media.

August/September 2012

      Are you ready for some football? Seems to me we’ve heard that before. But, it is that time of year that the gridirons here in Texas begin to heat up with the anticipation of another season of football in the high school, college and professional ranks. In the N.F.L., the Dallas Cowboys held their annual Kickoff Luncheon on August 28 at Cowboys Stadium. Proceeds from the event support the great mission of Happy Hill Farm, helping underserved and underprivileged children by providing a comprehensive education, developing each student’s character and God-given abilities, while cultivating their mind and enriching their heart. Chad Hennings and Bob Breunig are among former Cowboys players who have served on the board of directors of the farm since it was founded in 1975 by Ed Shipman.

     Former Dallas Cowboys head coach, Jimmy Johnson, now an analyst on “FOX NFL Sunday”, was the keynote speaker at the AT&T kickoff luncheon at this year’s PwC-SMU Athletic Forum. It was exactly two decades ago this season that Johnson led the Cowboys to their first Super Bowl win in 15 years. Johnson, always armed with an opinion, seemed pleased to be back in Texas, just as much as the sellout crowd seemed to have him here. The outspoken head coach who led the University of Miami football team to a National Championship in the eighties eventually became the first coach in history to win an NCAA title and a Super Bowl ring, when he coached the Cowboys to back to back Super Bowl Championships in 1992 and 1993.

     One of Jimmy’s former players at Miami, who would also be the NFL’s top pick in the 1991 draft, All-America and Outland Trophy winner, Russell Maryland, was officially inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this summer. Russell retired from competitive football with two NCAA titles with Miami and three Super Bowl rings with the Cowboys. Russell now stays busy speaking to various organizations and doing charity work with groups like the C-5 Youth Foundation of Texas, where he serves as spokesperson. The mission of the non-profit is to inspire high-potential youth from risk-filled environments to pursue personal success while preparing for leadership roles in college, work and community, motivating them to become role models for others.
     Thanks also to former World Boxing Champion, Paulie Ayala, of Fort Worth. He was, once again, ringside at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel in downtown Fort Worth for the 13th annual Boxing at the Ballroom, benefitting the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Fort Worth. Paulie has been instrumental in helping to gather some of the rising boxing stars in the DFW area to compete in the fun and fund-raising event, working with area non-profits that focus on children and teenagers.

     The Texas Chapter at Speedway Children’s Charities is most grateful to NASCAR’s reigning Sprint Cup Champion. Owner/driver, Tony Stewart, spent a day in mid-August, at the Great American Speedway, hosting his annual summer “Smoke Show” racing experience. Over $200,000 was generated from the one-day event, bringing the total raised in the last four years to over one million dollars. And, don’t ever say Stewart is full of “smoke” and hot air. He has donated most of the money back to SCC to be distributed to children’s charities in the local 4-county area of Dallas, Denton, Collin and Tarrant.

     In closing, welcome home and congratulations to all of our north Texas Olympians, in particular, Dana Vollmer. She grew up in Granbury, and returned from the London Summer Games with three gold medals in swimming, not to mention the admiration of millions. Hers is an amazing story of grit, determination and resiliency considering it was just four years ago that she was contemplating her future in the sport after failing to qualify for the 2008 Games in Bejing, China. It was certainly a time of great disappointment from someone who had already enjoyed the experience of winning gold in Athens, Greece, just four years earlier. But, quit was never a part of her Texas vocabulary. So, now 2012, four years removed from the greatest disappointment of her young life, having regained her focus and commitment, she captured three gold medals in England. Proof positive why she’s an Olympic champion.

     I remember well as a young kid just out of college, covering my first Olympic Games as a broadcast journalist in Montreal, Quebec, back in 1976. You might recall that’s where the world was introduced to the first “perfect 10” in gymnastics, Nadia Comaneci, along with soon-to-be world boxing champion, Sugar Ray Leonard, and ’76 Decathlon Champion, Bruce Jenner (now probably better known, at least by the Y generation, as the patriarch of the Kardashian family). I had never been to Montreal, had never covered a global sporting event with the magnitude of the Olympics, nor experienced anything as competitive, meaningful, and patriotic.  Now, 36 years later, the Olympic experience is still as meaningful as ever. Seeing 204 countries collectively come together as one in the Closing Ceremonies was a sight to behold, while the words from the John Lennon “Imagine” segment recapped it best… “I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will live as one.” Wouldn’t that be something!

November/December 2011

      Despite the fact that the NBA Lockout has resulted in a shortened season, Tom Thumb Breakfast with a Champion has the right menu for Mavericks fans with an appetite to relive the title season of this year. Presented for over 15 years by the March of Dimes, this annual event has hosted the likes of Bob Costas, Tommy Lasorda, Greg Gumbel, Johnny Bench, Troy Aikman, Roger Staubach, Bo Jackson, Tony Dorsett, Don Shula, among others. This year the breakfast salutes the NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks, past and present.  We’ll be interviewing Head Coach, Rick Carlisle, Donnie Nelson, Rolando Blackman and Derek Harper while the team’s founding owners, Linda and Don Carter, will be on hand as recipients of the inaugural Community Champions Award. Current Mavs owner, Mark Cuban, will make certain the Larry O’Brien Trophy will be there as well. The breakfast will take place at the Hilton Anatole, Wednesday, November 2. It is open to the public.

     It was obvious in the 5th annual Expanding Worlds Luncheon, benefitting those with learning disabilities through the Launchability organization, that Charlotte Jones Anderson, can hold her own with just about anybody. She was joined by automobile mogul, Carl Sewell, entrepreneur, Ted Skokos, and longtime Mark Cuban friend and business partner, Todd Wagner. All four talked about business, philanthropy and life and all four were most engaging, each with some wonderful stories to share. Yet, even though Charlotte was outnumbered by the opposite sex, she remained most passionate and  obviously most capable of holding her own in the competitive corporate world.

     Lastly, a giant thank you to World Golf Hall of Famer, Annika Sorenstam, for allowing us to share in her special evening for the ANNIKA Foundation. The ANNIKA Experience hosted a two-day event entitled “Wine and Golf for Good” with Dallasites, Dr. Clay and Brenda Cockerell.  It started with a late afternoon of fun and golf entertainment starring Annika and her newest pupil, President George W. Bush. The President and Annika obviously had a great deal of fun trading both verbal and golf shots on the practice fairway, much to the approval of the supportive crowd.  It was most entertaining. From there it was on to the Park Cities Club for an 8-course (I didn’t know there was such a thing) with many of the wines coming from ANNIKA Wines, her own personal vineyard in California. Following dinner and a fundraising live auction for her foundation, Annika joined me on stage for an intimate question and answer session. Thousands of dollars raised, tons of fun had. It’s amazing how Annika has re-invented herself.  She might have retired from competitive golf three years ago, but, she remains one of the most successful golfers in the history of the game. Annika has 90 international tournament wins to her credit, the most ever of any woman on the planet. She ranks #1 all-time in LPGA career earnings with over $22 million, a record 8 Player of the Year awards, and she is the only woman to ever have shot a 59 in competition. And now, 8 years after playing in the Bank of America Colonial tournament in Fort Worth, the first woman to compete in a men’s PGA Tour event since 1945, she has reinvented herself.  With her husband, Mike McGee, son of former PGA Tour and Champions Tour player, Jerry McGee, serving as the managing director of ANNIKA brand with the brand statement, “Share My Passion”, she has become the ultimate entrepreneur. From course design to ANNIKA Academy to ANNIKA Wines to an ANNIKA clothing line, it’s amazing what she continues to create and build upon. But, it’s her ANNIKA Foundation that continues to make the biggest difference. Partnering with Make-A-Wish Foundation, she has hosted clinics for junior golfers at The Annika Invitational, an invitation-only event featuring the top 60 young female golfers from around the world, allowing those with big dreams a chance to fulfill those wishes, much the way she did as a shy 12-year-old junior in her native Sweden, where she used to deliberately three putt at the end of a tournament to avoid giving the victory speech. Imagine! Here’s wishing you and your family a meaningful, joyous and safe time during the holiday season.

July/August 2011

     When last we met, the summer was about to begin. Now the holiday weekends of Memorial Day and the Fourth of July are already behind us. And, thankfully, so too, the talk of when the Mavericks will ever win the NBA Championship. Say no more. In one of the grittiest “never say die” performances in league finals history, Dallas emerged with a six-game win over Miami, the very city that snatched the crown from the Mavs in the Finals five years ago after Dallas had taken a 2-0 lead and was about to win Game 3. Wade who? LeBron what?  This was Miami’s title to lose.  And, they did, appropriately on their home court, in front of their home crowd, as the rest of the world watched. Unlike 2006, this year it was the Mavs that constantly turned up the “Heat,” not Miami.  Justice had been served.  And, the title could not have come a moment too soon. Especially for elder statesmen, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd, 33, 33 and 38 years old respectively and a combined total of 3,219 regular season games played without a title. But, no more. The word “champion” will, forever, accompany their name.  Just the way it should be. Thank you Jet…  thank you J Kidd…. and, certainly, an extra thank you to Dirk.  Your commitment and loyalty to this team and its fans for so long is unmatched.  You deserve every accolade and more now coming your way. And, to Mark Cuban, arguably the most passionate owner in the NBA, and certainly the team’s biggest fan, a giant thank you for stepping aside and allowing the Mavs founding owners, Linda and Don Carter, to receive the Larry O’Brien NBA Trophy from league commission, David Stern.  A classy move if there ever was one, making for a fitting finish to the most memorable season in franchise history.  The children in the four county area of Denton, Dallas, Tarrant and Collin counties will benefit greatly from the generosity of those who attended the annual Life in the Fast Lane gala at the condos at Texas Motor Speedway, hosted by Speedway Children’s Charities.  While practice sessions continued around the track, some of the top chefs in Dallas prepared and served their finest delicacies to fans and friends alike as they toured about the condos. A live auction that followed allowed those on hand to bid on the likes of parade laps with Indy car drivers, Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves and Danica Patrick.  As Vice President of the board of SCC, I was most pleased when all three went for several thousand dollars, allowing the charity that has given away a million dollars a year the past three years, to continue its great generosity and benevolent ways.

     NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart, brings his Smoke Show to the Speedway on August 16.  It’s your chance of a lifetime to attend the fantasy driving camp.  You’ll get to drive an authentic NASCAR race car, receiving personalized feedback from Tony himself. From classroom to hot laps to competitive laps in a Sprint Cup car, it’s like nothing you’ve ever done before.  And, if you want more, you can even tour the track with Tony at the wheel.  Last year’s event, which is limited to only 30 people, raised over $200,000 for Speedway Children’s Charities. For more information, simply call (817) 215-8421.

     I’m thinkin’ Texas Rangers manager, Ron Washington, isn’t as fast as Tony Stewart, but, he does have a new set of wheels to motor around town in.  Trust you’ve heard the story how Washington lost his black 1985 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz during Hurricane Katrina back in 2005.  Car enthusiasts can certainly identify with the loss a prized possession like that and how devastating it can be.  So, the Rangers brass, obviously pleased with the job Washington did last season, leading Texas to its first ever appearance in the World Series, saw fit to try and find a replica, as a worthy gift.  So, when Rangers President/CEO, Nolan Ryan handed Washington the keys to the car during a presentation at home plate, you’d have thought it was Christmas morning from the look on Ron’s face.  Said Ryan, “It’s fun to do something like this. It's so unique to find an identical car that it's better than a trip or something like that."  Unless, of course, it’s a trip back to the World Series. But, for now, it’s plenty enough to put a smile on any ones face, including Washington’s. Drive carefully, Ron!

     A little bit further West of the Ballpark, former SMU and New England Patriots running back and current network broadcaster, Craig James, will be the featured guest.  We’ll have the opportunity to sit down with Craig and serve as the interviewer at the Business Community “Kickoff” Luncheon, hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes of Greater Fort Worth. The event is scheduled for August 24, from 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM at the Fort Worth Ticket information is available by calling (817) 276-8100.

     In the meantime, enjoy your summer. Don’t you know the Mavericks will enjoy their’s.  And, deservedly so!

May/June 2011

     The months of May and June promise to be just as busy as April here in north Texas. Emmitt Smith will be hosting his Second Annual Emmitt Smith Celebrity Invitational Weekend.  The festivities will include several first-class events, celebrity sightings, fundraising initiatives and brand integration sponsorship opportunities. Celebrity invitees include Michael Jordan, Justin Timberlake, Phil Ivey, Jerry Rice, Eric Dickerson, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, George Lopez, Marcus Allen, Ray Romano, Magic Johnson, Barry Sanders, Celine Dion, Demi Moore, Jane Seymour, Cheryl Burke and more. The event sold out last year so secure your sponsorships early. The event benefits Pat and Emmitt Smith Charities and will be held at Craig Ranch in McKinney, May 13-14.

     As soon as Emmitt and his buddies are finished up at the TPC layout in McKinney, it’s off to Fort Worth for the annual Crowne Plaza Invitational at Colonial, May 19-22. The top touring pros in the world converge on north Texas for back to back weekends of golf.  When Colonial has crowned a winner and dressed the champion with the coveted Colonial plaid jacket, it’s off to the TPC Four Seasons Resort Las Colinas – Irving, Tx. for the HP Byron Nelson Championship, May 26-29.

     While the PGA pros battle on the final round of The Nelson, the 29th of May will be an even bigger day at the Brickyard in Indiana.  The Centennial Edition of the Indianapolis 500 will be run at the historic raceway, just two weeks before the same cars and drivers come to north Texas to compete at the Great American Speedway. Texas Motor Speedway will again host open-wheel racing under the lights on Saturday night for the Indy Racing League, June 11, and that usually means the winner of the Indy 500 will be present and taking part. And, if watching the cars travel in excess of 200 mph is your thing, then why not help the cause and have some fun at the same time at the Life in the Fast Lane Condo Tour and Progressive Feast. While the cars race practice laps around the track, you wine and dine as you tour from condo to condo. All proceeds from this great event benefit the Texas Chapter of the Speedway Children’s Charities. For more information simply call 817-215-8421. And, we’ll see you under the lights.

     If dancing under the stars is more to your liking, then just wait a week and catch the fourth annual Top Hat and Tails version of Dancing with the Stars. Yours truly and Preston Pearson will be looking forward to co-hosting the 4th annual event benefitting Paws in the City. It’s crazy fun and most competitive as the capacity crowd really gets into it. Mark your calendars: Saturday, June 18, at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field. Winners the past two years have included contestants with a Cowboys connection. The 2009 Champion was Laurie Phillips (wife of former Cowboys Head Coach, Wade) and the 2010 winner was Michelle Witten (wife of Cowboys Pro Bowl tight end, Jason). This year, former Cowboys Super Bowl Champion, Tony Casillas, is among the dancing fools with happy feet. And, already, he’s predicting victory with a nice smooth Pasodoble. Good luck Senor Casillas!   And, to all of you, all the best for a great, safe summer.

April 2011