Sat. Sep 22nd, 2018

Sham Won’t Call Cowboys Opener

We learned this week that Dez Bryant indeed will be on the job at AT&T Stadium on the opening Sunday night of the Cowboys season. Brad Sham, however, will not.

Instead of opening his 37th season in the Cowboys broadcast booth, Sham will be celebrating the first night of the Jewish New Year on Sept. 13.

It will be only the second game Sham has missed in two tours with the Cowboys, interrupted by a three-year hiatus in the mid-1990s when he worked Rangers radio.

Replacing Sham in the Cowboys’ opening night booth will be a familiar voice. Verne Lundquist, who retired as the play-by-play voice of the Cowboys at the end of the 1983 season, will fill in alongside Babe Laufenberg. The last time Lundquist called Cowboys play-by-play, they lost a playoff game at Texas Stadium to the Rams, who then were still anchored in Los Angeles.

The very next day was Lundquist’s last as the lead sports anchor at WFAA-TV (Channel 8) as he prepared to set off for a network television career. That prompted Sham’s switch from the Cowboys analyst seat to play-by-play.

Sham had been prepared to miss a game in order to observe a religious holiday in each of his first 36 seasons on the job. But that never proved an issue until the 2015 schedule was released in April.

Although you may recall that in September 2009, after he was honored with an afternoon reading at Temple Emanu-El on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish Year, Sham flew via private jet from Love Field to Arlington Municipal Airport and was given a police escort to AT&T Stadium so he could be on time to work the Carolina Panthers-Cowboys game on Monday Night Football.

“It’s always the first thing I look for when the schedule comes out,” Sham said Friday. “I don’t look for opponents, whether games are home or away, or anything like that. I look to see if there will be a conflict with the Jewish High Holidays.”

Sham knew the Cowboys’ 2015 season probably would be opening on Sept. 13. He hoped they would be slotted into a day game that would have ended before the holiday arrived at sundown.

As soon as he saw it would be a 7:30 p.m. kickoff against the New York Giants, Sham knew his iron-voice streak that dated to the final game of the 1982 season at the Minnesota Vikings was over. That, too, was a night game. On Monday Night Football, Tony Dorsett set an NFL record with a 99-yard touchdown run. Lundquist called it alongside guest analyst Charlie Waters while Sham was battling an upset stomach at the hotel.

Sham said he would like to take the credit for coming up with the idea of inviting Lundquist to be his substitute. But that should go to Douglas Barricklow, a producer on the Cowboys’ broadcast. He suggested it to Scott Purcel, the Cowboys director of broadcasting. Everyone at the Cowboys loved the idea.

It was left to Sham to ask his friend, Lundquist.

Keep in mind that Lundquist has a job calling football. He is the voice of CBS’ Saturday afternoon Southeastern Conference games.

It wasn’t until the end of June when Sham finally was able to broach the subject with Lundquist over the phone.

“I was hopeful,” Sham said.

Lundquist listened.

“It took me about 10 seconds to say yes,’’ Lundquist said in an interview.

Lundquist, who celebrated his 75th birthday Friday, will work the Georgia-Vanderbilt game Sept. 12. He’ll fly to Dallas-Fort Worth on Sunday morning and arrive in plenty of time for the game.

He has a date later in the week to participate in a banquet for prominent University of Texas booster Joe Jamail in Houston, and then he’ll be back at CBS to work the Auburn-LSU game in Baton Rouge.

“This will be a pleasure,” said Lundquist, who has one AT&T Stadium game on his résumé. He worked last season’s Texas A&M-Arkansas game.

“I am really pumped,” he said. “I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be that day.”

Credit to the Dallas News who originally published this article

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