Cowboys Head to Japan, Face Falcons

Wednesday, August 2nd 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

IRVING, Texas (AP) — Randall Cunningham has played three preseason games on foreign turf, including one in Japan, so it's from experience that he offers the following advice to his Tokyo-bound teammates on the Dallas Cowboys.

Tip No. 1: You can find some great deals on electronics. Cunningham is looking for sound-mixing equipment for his music production business.

Tip No. 2: The hotel will have room service, an amenity that wouldn't be available if the team was spending the week at training camp in Wichita Falls, bunking in the dormitories at Midwestern State University.

Those reminders will be needed most during the 13-hour plane flight that was supposed to begin before 3 p.m. Wednesday Dallas time and end after 6 p.m. Thursday Japan time. The Cowboys play the Atlanta Falcons in the American Bowl at 11 a.m. local time Sunday, which translates to late Saturday in the United States.

``The flight is the only thing players dread,'' said Cunningham, who went to Tokyo once and London twice during his days in Philadelphia. ``If it was a two-hour flight to Japan, it'd be cool.

``It's tough to fly that many hours, play a football game a few days later and then fly back. But the enjoyment is when you're there.''

The Cowboys will practice Friday, then have a walkthrough Saturday. There will be some time spent promoting the game, but players also will have time to tour the city — and the electronics stores.

``I don't really mind it too much,'' said Troy Aikman, who will be making his fifth visit to Tokyo and second for a game. ``I've been there a few times on the behalf of the team and the response has always been very positive.''

Players brought their packed bags to team headquarters Tuesday. A luggage tag with the game's logo — both teams' helmets and the flags of the United States and Japan — was attached to each suitcase.

International trips have been common for the Cowboys. They went to Tokyo in 1992, London in '93 and Mexico City in '94 and '98. They also played in Toronto in 1995 and Monterrey, Mexico, in '96.

``I think some of the young guys are excited and some of the older guys would probably rather stay home,'' said coach Dave Campo, whose passport has been stamped often since joining the staff in 1989.

``But I told them the other day, 'Hey, this is America's Team. That's why we are who we are. This is a trip we're going to make almost every year, so you better get used to it.' ''

Emmitt Smith made a publicity trip in April and said he's looking forward to going back. The only regret is the lost practice time.

``You spend 13 hours in the air, where if you spend that on the ground you could get in two practices and a couple meetings, too,'' he said. ``But as far as the league goes, it's a great opportunity to promote American football.''

Tight end Jackie Harris is entering his 11th season and has never made one of these overseas trips. He also never envied the teams that did.

``I didn't see the schedule until June and when I did, I was like, 'Oh, man!' '' Harris said. ``When you've been playing 10 years and been through 10 camps, you just don't want to travel.

``But this is a way to really capitalize what the organization is all about and a chance to experience different things. Maybe I'll see some things I like and want to go back over on my own time.

``But the plane ride — I don't think anybody is looking forward to that.''

Cunningham might use that time to flip through some electronics catalogs.

``I'm looking for a mixer like radio stations use, but it's for mastering,'' he said. ``I want to see how much it is over there, then figure out how much it is in dollars.

``I'm going to have to take a calculator — or I can get one there.''