Dallas Cowboys Texas A&M Great
Retired Dallas Cowboys and Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen drops by the Roxo Media House studios and joins J.W. & Brinton on this episode of FORTitude FW. Dat reflects on his family’s journey to America and how they landed in Texas. He also discusses his time at Texas A&M and the Dallas Cowboys, as well as what it was like to play with Darren Woodson.
Dat Nguyen Dallas Cowboys Texas A&M Great
1:01PM • 47:39
play, dad, coach, people, ball, cowboys, years, run, day, mom, football, crews,
kick, college, rockport, left, win, high school
man. We’re Yeah. Thank you. Appreciate it. Pleasure.
longtime Cohen right. Ready. Yep Welcome back to FORTitude, folks. The guy
running the board, Brinton Payne. How are you Brinton?
gonna play some
with this stick with stick with the bay many sands going on you Wilson here
your co host. Thanks for joining us on fortitude brought to you by Captain Tex
just gonna thank him Mike Thomas in the gang local bank maybe only one or two
here. They’re good right down the street from our guests location that he’s
going to talk about.
local show so far. We bank local cap tax. We love you guys. Thank you. Yes. So
getting to this gentleman sitting between us we have we have a legend in the house.
One dat win. Thank you, dad for being here.
Thank you for having me. I can’t find the applause button fast enough. But I
will in the post
job that job. Yep. So can I can’t get moved on. So that let’s get into your
background because a lot of people were interested to hear what you have to say
on certain subjects. You’ve done quite a bit in your life. You were born in a
refugee camp in Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. Can you give us briefly the story
obviously, that was during the war, the Vietnam War, my family left Vietnam to
come to America. And you know, it’s funny because Dad didn’t say much about the
experience. He was fortunate to own a little radio and to listen to the news of
what’s going on during the war when the North invaded the South, or the
Vietcong was taken over. He planted where hey, when they come in, we’re going
to meet this boat or the marine Shipman is going to help us take our family out
to meet the American ships out in the sea. So I guess April 25 1975, that
midnight, got the phone, I’m sorry, got the radio and got a whole family
together. I’m a mom was six months, six months pregnant with myself, I’ve
siblings. So he took his whole family at 30 years old, and left left his
mainland to get on a boat to depart from his country.
other families I mean, it was it one of those things where he’s sick. He’s
planning with some other guys like we’re gonna all do this. Yes,
was in we had all immediate family and everybody had a job. He delegated
certain jobs, certain people. Yeah. And there was almost about 50 people on the
boat. And so we went out and what’s crazy was that the stupid car got so close,
because we lived in a small town called Binda. I’m sorry, south, bend down,
which is soft Saigon. And, and so we left in, the Vietcong got in so close
yeah, that they were shooting at my dad as they depart. No kidding. When they
did that, the American ship had to back out, and they were taking me couldn’t
connect. So we were stuck out there for about seven or 10 days in up in
Thailand about 710 days later, and my mom was pregnant myself, right. It is
mentioned and at that time, she always said that she didn’t think she could
care the pregnancy through and she felt like she wasn’t getting miscarriage.
But fortunately, we got to Thailand and connected with the Taiwanese get the
paperwork, got on land, and then went to Camp Pennington in San Diego. And then
from there, we flew to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, at a refugee camp, and that’s
where I was born. And, and it’s interesting. I was inducted to the Texas Sports
Hall of Fame. A few years back and Lovie Smith was an was the recipient as
well. And I went to the event and looking forward to seeing coach because he
coached me at my Senior Bowl when I was at Texas a&m. And, and his wife was
with them. Yeah. And all of a sudden, I saw Coach from a distance I’m walking
toward coach about to say hi to him. His wife comes out of nowhere, came
straight to me her. She was crying tears are falling. She goes, I don’t you I
know you don’t know me, but I need to tell you a story. Can you please sit
down? I said, Yes, ma’am. I sit down. I was like, do what I do. And she’s like,
well, let me tell you this story. My dad just passed this past year. Your senior
at Texas a&m, you played in the sugar bowl. I went to Ohio State you
playing against Ohio State but I’m always going to the game. My dad wanted to
follow me to the game. So during the game or watch the game and he will look
over and he goes he’s one of us. He’s one of us. And she will look at him. She
goes Dad, what are you talking about? Who’s one of us? Yeah, he goes dat dat
was born at the refugee camp. Her dad was a supervisor. Oh my gosh, at the
refugee camp from Chicago and on the weekends, he would go home and he will say
they’re going to take him I gotta get back. They’re gonna take him. I don’t
know what they’re gonna do. They’re gonna gonna take him and he keeps telling
them now the story about So that was her story. So it was kind of cool.
super cool. Who was rooting for them to win in that game who
Yeah, I mean, I totally know this but guys,
can’t. Yeah, that’s a great story.
you’re born and fortunate in Fort Chaffee. You? How did you end up in Rockport?
unfortunately, after we were there, we got settled a little bit, I think six
months, six weeks or so six weeks, and they start disputing disturbing people
all around the country. So some of our family members went to California back
to California, other went to Pennsylvania went and some went to South Texas
Gulf Coast down in Mississippi. And we went to Kalamazoo, Michigan, and a
Catholic church took us in and gave my dad a job, gave us a 1970 Ford Ltd. If
you guys remember that. So we were there for six months. And everybody
obviously, everything was letters, no phones back then. My dad connected again
with my relative down south, I think was Gulf Coast, Miss Mississippi. And he
decided during Michigan and the cameras Zoo. The weather is not good for Asian
people. So when I got recruited by Michigan, I went up there for my visit. And
it was a great visit and and I remember coming back and I touched my dad, I was
like, Hey, we weren’t Kalamazoo, Michigan. I went to an Auburn last weekend.
People were great. Why didn’t we stay in Michigan? He goes son, or Southeast
Asian people. We don’t like that cold weather. So so my dad and my brother who
was 13 at that time when we came home from Vietnam, six months in and Kalamazoo
Michigan not knowing any English and English as a second language. So I don’t
know how they navigated themselves. Yeah, Ford Ltd, all eight of us in the car.
And back then obviously, no seatbelts, no car seats, you know. So we all the
way back down to Mississippi Gulf Coast, Mississippi, because we did the
fishing industry in Vietnam. Oh, yeah. And that’s where that’s where we ended
up and then eventually we moved to Rockport, which my mom’s family and was
settled in Rockport. And I remember I told you the story that I grew. We were
in the small village south of Saigon called Binda translation of Binda is
poured a rock. Oh nice. Seto and rapo for the last 48 years. Yes, seven years
you’re growing up and you’re growing up in Rockport. As a kid you’re obviously
football finds you in high school. What’s the family doing during this time in
the restaurant business?
mom was really a first with the shipping industry and swimming business. We
were in government housing. When I first got there, we first got there. And
what happens that always Lee it’s almost like, Vietnamese and Spanish people
are very similar with FTA relationships and, and so everything was because I’m
cos I was talking about but it’s my house, your house. And my so they did was
they got together to three families together got to know shrimp boat, and they
they did the savings and spread the profits and then eventually have multiple
shrimp boats. And then my dad decided, hey, in Vietnam, I did the marine
supply. And I was like, I want to sell my shrimp boat to buy this building to
supply all the marine supplies to all the shrimpers or fishermen in the area.
And so we did that and then there was a little room. I don’t know maybe 20 by
2040 square foot if that and mom would go with my dad at four o’clock in the
morning my brother would go out shrimping but that would open the marine supply
just in case anybody needs a last minute thing for their for their catch of the
day. So mom will make coffee and then by lunch limit after lunch mom will make
lunch and she’s like why would I keep making this stuff? And they’ll get no
money from it. So she decided to open that restaurant.
She decided to open the restaurant which is still running now down in South
Texas call who dad so my my family I was a who that restaurant in Rockport,
Corpus Christi. And Greg, good point and that live in the south Texas area.
this is in your blood. I didn’t realize that. Yeah.
brother’s name is my next brother. So hyung Hu and G Mom took his first two
letters of his name and took my name somebody who that video is registered
going strong. Yeah.
sister What about the older brother though he gets left out.
He’s a shrewd
he was a stripper but he’s, you know, he’s now he owns yoga shops down in
Corpus Christi. But he was the one who was 18 years old. Guess what? Five
years? Yeah. Five, six years, six years in. He was 13. He came over 18 years
when we graduate from high school when he got out of high school. His gift was
a shrimp boat. So he got a shovel. Oh,
After a restaurant. Yeah. I was trying to think about the split up of kid to
parents on that in that Ltd of eight. Like, three in the front and five in the
back. I don’t really know how
down in down in the bottom of the feet.
Yeah, go ahead. Take your NAP down there.
right, dad. So you’re in high school in Rockport. You’re obviously a good high
school player. You start getting recruited by schools like Michigan, you
mentioned UCLA Notre Dame, Texas, Texas a&m, Texas a&m, obviously
piqued your interest the most so you sign with Texas a&m. You’re off to
college. Everybody. This is one thing that was one thing I love about you just
reading about you over the years is everybody always told you I’m guessing
throughout your career that you’re too small your dad you’re too small your 511
to 35 to 38 a&m, obviously, let’s talk about ATM a little bit. You’re part
of this thing called the Wrecking Crew, which was for a lot of Aggies, which we
all have friends are Aggies is a very, very special thing.
is a special place and you know what’s crazy? Always think back about my
career, right? So we didn’t have Instagram, we didn’t have Facebook, we didn’t
have Snapchat is any of these social media outlets, or we didn’t have many, if
even one recruiting outlet during that time in 1994. Going back to my
recruiting process, it’s your went to a&m I signed with a&m. And, and
when I got to a&m, I didn’t realize how many people signed. You know what I
mean? I got there as a hey, introduce everybody. There was 28 of us and I was
like 1234 Guys, I just met our linebackers. And then I signed as a linebacker,
that’s funny. Sounds like doing the math. That’s like gonna get this famous
Wrecking Crew defense, right, three defensive linemen four linebackers, and
there’s five of us that sign one of us not gonna fly. So, God and behold, and I
was the one that had to redshirt I was the one that really had a lot of doubts.
And if the transport is the transport portal is that easy now, I would have
been at it because it was I knew what was going to play the guy that was I was
going to be backup was gonna be an all American high school players gonna start
the next three years. So you know, I thought time was the know of low or the
the whole year. And it was the best thing for me. And it made me even stronger
as I grew, and I mature, but at 17 years old, and then when you get recruited
by all these universities, and I’m telling you everything you wanted to hear
that you show up the campus like Dude,
more people than we do spots. And
so So I
went back to high school. And I talked to my high school coach who was a
baseball player for a&m, he played for the Colt 45, which became the at the
Houston Astros. He was there for like 20 plus years with the with the
organization. And I, when we talked, we were it was really a mentor for me. And
he said that athletics going to end one day, son, go back and get the
education. So I went back pride, reorganized my priorities, and I made
academically getting degree number one, and then school was to and, you know, I
tell people all the time, I said, Man, when I made the decision, six o’clock, I
was at the weight room, go to class at eight, I came back at lunch, was back in
the weight room, came back and forth with the team in the weight room, or a
whole year I did three times a day, three days, three days, for the whole year.
And I said I just want an opportunity. I’m Asian, I’m small, not fast. But you
can lift some weight. I was when I was running. I was wondering opportunity.
Yeah, because it was weights with speeds do whatever I needed to work on. And
then and during that time I learned about the game. Because I understood Hey,
this is a situation stuff. This is down in distance all this stuff. I was
watching film and understanding a little bit more besides just the physicality
of the game, which is obviously you need so so I did that. And I said, Hey,
I’ll just work myself all the way to be a backup to that. High School All
American, the parade on we’re the number one recruit in the state of Texas. He
was he was a signing group with us as a linebacker who was Trenton driver, and
out of Cleveland, Texas, great guy, great guy. And so I worked all all year to
be his backup. So with their spring ball, everything’s like Oh, man. So for two
more years, or maybe three years, he’ll start my senior year I’m gonna have a
chance to start so that was my goal. Yeah, hey, just be a contributor on
special teams. And then and then one day, maybe your senior year you start and
then so we are Galloway went there. We went there for fall camp, and then that
Wednesday leading up to the opening kickoff of the 95 season the following
year. I was a redshirt freshman. And that Wednesday, Coach Slocum goes, Hey
guys get aligned with run sprints. So we got ran sprints back forth. Also in
his spring he steps in the sprinkler head. He can’t play Oh, she’s got to
start. That’s how my career started. That’s
left off. If you dad so what would you I was going to ask you the question you
kind of answered it what do you think got you to where you were in high school
told the player it was it was his oldest heart but that’s your That’s your
secret sauce is the hard work you put into it to be
High School. I don’t think I was more lazy than high school like basketball. I
think I was more athletic. Just because that’s how I made it and and like I told
you guys earlier there was no media outlet
feel Lettis ism came from all that traveling in your mom’s womb.
no, it was a decade on the strip bone. So that’s my quick hands on an awful
alignment right now. But um, but what’s what’s funny in answering your question
is that I wasn’t really athletic. I was athletic in high school, but we didn’t
have recruiting. So, December 1, first day, a head coach and be at your house
in 1994. Eight o’clock in the morning, get a knock on the door. Now open the
door, and it’s like, whoa. Gary Moeller, the head coach from University of
Michigan, wants to talk to mom and dad about hey, coming up to visit Michigan.
And I was like, Whoa, I can’t translate. Yeah, mom or dad doesn’t speak any
English. So I had to call my cousin who was really the pioneer of a football
down in south Texas. He’s the first one that played and he’s really opened the
door for all of us to play. So he comes over and he’s starstruck, he’s like,
Oh, my God, I see him every Saturday on TV and he’s here 3000 miles away. So we
visited and then they said, mom and dad’s like, I just put your sister to
school. I know how expensive is no one’s gonna pay you to go to school and
college, especially college and to play football match. Yeah,
of pay, we gotta tell real quick shout out to Capitec Bank that that they pay
for players to go to college, but always probably help on the banking side of
things local bank. And just thanks to Mike Thomas again for that.
Mike and Brinton, just so you know, it worked out really well for him at
a&m. He had 51 career starts 517 Crick tackles which is an a&m record
the record he’s the only Aggie that will leave the team four consecutive years.
Part of the lick the Wrecking Crew we mentioned he’s generally this is this the
cool part and that you can you can confirm this or deny it but you’re generally
considered the best offensive player in a&m history know that a lot of
people say this debt and you I think you probably know you’re in the you’re in
the discussion. So I want
take me down there and show me that sprinkler head that guy fell.
that Brinton, nada in 1998 he was an all American Chuck Bednarik award, the
best defensive player on the Lombardi best college lineman the jack Lambert
Ward, big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. Runner up for the Butkus you lost by
the two who do you lose to Chris Claiborne? So TCU played I played my junior
year against USC and Chris Claiborne. Yes being that was the year so you’re in
the Hall of Fame a&m College, a cotton ball Hall of Fame all time big 12
team sport Texas Sports Hall of Fame you mentioned these are all these are
often his a&m days. And he truly was the legends of all time, wrote before
we move on to the next round. What was your favorite game you ever had you’ve
it has to be. So sad to say that was the lone championship here the last 20
plus years of a&m football won the big 12 championship. We went to play
Kansas State. And we were obviously we were the underdog. We just lost the
University of Texas in the last minute. We already clinched the South Beach was
south and and Kansas State was the number two team in the country during that
time, and we you go play up there at the St. Louis. Was that the bush that
dome? The dome, the TCA don’t Oh, yeah. Whatever. TC, whatever that is, this is
football, not baseball. But we went up there and we were severely. It was it
was lopsided. They had about 60,000 people and we had 5000 people that might
have travel and because they they were number two, we just lost it Texas, so so
nobody really gave us a chance. We were the underdog. And we were playing the
game, the game was going back and forth. And then also they took the lead and they
were buying 20 Something points at one time. And then and then all of a sudden,
the announcer went on the microphone and said the number one team UCLA played
Miami because that hurricane came into Miami fabric seat right before that
season started. And they had postponed that game to the end of season. So they
just got on the microphone and announced that UCLA has just loss to the
University of Michigan to University of Miami. So they went bananas because
they now they’re going to tears Fiesta Bowl, they’re going to be number one
team in the country. So should they throw an audit on everything on the field.
And it was gonna just erupted right? So we’re like, oh, shoot, now it’s over
for us, right? So we’re playing and then we’re down by 15 points. And it was
like four minutes and 16 moment, four minutes and 16 seconds left in the game.
We’re down by two scores. And I remember RC stokin came over to the defense and
he put his hand on my shoulders. He told me he goes guys, just make one play.
Just make one play. And I looked up that clock and I was like 416 down by fifth
t here’s the
have it’s kind of hard to get this one because they’re the number one team now
right your brains here you’re thinking that so all of a sudden we get the ball
we get we go into the next series is forced a fumble, got the ball back, we
came down scored. And the defense scores, offense score. Okay, and then we kick
he’ll go down a bit number eight. And then next series, we picked the ball off
on Michael Bishop through an in route, we picked it off. And then we drove
down, we scored and convert the two point conversion. Okay, now it’s time over
time. So we’re going to overtime, back and forth. And then what’s crazy in the
third overtime, you had to go for two. And I think we went to kick Phil, Phil
football and then we went down and really sir Parker ran a slam and Brian
Brown, Brandon Stewart hit him. And we won the Stephenville product brand. And,
and that might be the most exciting game of my career, because it was like it
was so high, so low, and it’s so high then. Yeah, like it was unbelievable.
And, and I think that’s, it’s awesome. So yeah,
Coach sloka Marcy Slocum, what does he mean to you?
he’s obviously gonna be the biggest one of the biggest part of my life. And,
you know, he just got on a mission out of cancer just to pass cancer. So he’s
done with cancer, which is great. It’s great 1212 12 sessions or 12 treatment
that he just went through. So it was tough. But He’s unbelievable. That guy.
You know, he’s just one of those guys that always is there for you. And, and if
you needed somebody to talk to, he’s there to talk to. And I think he helped me
a lot grown as a young man, because you were a kid when I was a kid. 1718 years
old. Yeah, I didn’t know any better. And then, and then what’s stuck to me
though, the first day we got to Texas a&m, when I saw those other four
linebackers. We sat down in a in an auditorium, which is no one that Bay was a
cane Hall, which is a is a history site, I guess, for the dormitory for all
student athletes. And we sat in the auditorium, he says, Look to your left, and
look to your right. Three years from now. One of those guys not going to be
here. Yeah, he kicked in, you know, and out of those 28 guys or 26 guys that we
signed that year. I think there’s only like, 10 of us that were there to win
the big 12 championship. Yeah. So
like, oh, Aggies. We know, is there? Is there a disdain for the university? And
in Austin? Are you are you a fan? Or?
have nothing against them. I think I respect a lot of them. Like now there’s a
lot of people we like Williams, who had to play for years and my career against
one of the better. You know, he’s, he’s one of the best running backs I played
here. Yeah, if not, I think Curtis Martin is number one in my, in my career.
Rick is not far from that he’s, you know, let’s two or three. But everybody,
even Mack Brown was a coach during that time when we were there. He’s still you
know, he’s the first one that sent me a letter to congratulate me off of
winning being an All American and winning an award. So I don’t have anything
against them. It’s just that Oh, it’s just it’s just fun, competitive. But I
wish that game will come back the bragging rights of those two teams. Hopefully
we get a chance to play him again, or I guess we will hit a few years. But but
it’s for so many years. That’s just all it’s about. Yeah, it was just Yeah,
rights. And as most of all, it’s just fun for family and friends get together
for Thanksgiving weekend. And then to be able to sit there and just my team is
gonna win or your season, whatever it is, but but but that’s you lose that and,
and talk about Texas. We played Texas last year. And I said earlier that we
lost that game, right? We lost that close game. You know, major Applewhite was
a quarterback who was a redshirt freshman quarterback. He drove him down and,
and we had a chance to, to wit to seal the game or two in the game, but it was
a pick. He went in route and then about to pick it off and somebody tipped the
ball and the ball and everything the next play hit, he hit a receiver they ran
over down kick the field gonna beat us. But I left that game with my mom
because it was Thanksgiving and during that time coach said hey, if your
parents are here, you can leave with them. And I’ll see you back on Monday or
Sunday night study hall. So as a first time that experience anything crazy as I
did leaving the stadium, so I go out and there’s that they have this parking
garage and this parking garage and all the obviously the drunk and the load
from the game football fans know that debt when so this chunking bottles out me
seriously. It was crazy stuff like me and your mom Mom was with me. Yeah, my God.
since that’s part of it, you played Ricky you said for years did you guys have
an in game rival where you think like would you tackle him or he’d run around?
Would you guys have a thing because you guys know each other so well on the
field without we
knew each other on the field, but just more respect. And I think as we went to
our senior year, and you know, all the awards after the season, I got to know
him and I was watching your mom Sandy and got to know his twin sisters. So we
all went all the same places. Yeah, I mean, yeah, Maxwell, we went to obviously
Orlando and we have that ESPN deal. So we spent a lot of time together. But
it’s, you know, I think it’s more of just talking about life like you know, Is
it hard to
tackle? Oh, he’s Yeah, he’s just like a train.
young Earl Campbell if you really put him in the category of those big thighs
and, and he’s fast the heat, and when he’s fast, you don’t realize how fast
that guy is. But you can feel it when you try to. Oh, you bring that up. Like,
I tell people that when I used to play for the Cowboys, and there was a guy
named Roy Williams the other Williams Yeah, he comes in hit somebody can you
can feel the vibration? Oh, you can hear the other guy, right? Just like Ricky
man when Ricky had a stinger against Ricky, I think are the year that the
sophomore year. And I bet you I got a sting. I can feel my whole arm and I
played the whole the whole series. And I bet you that might be the hardest hit.
And I bet you just popped up and we got a bigger smile, you know? But that’s
how we Yeah, yeah, yeah. Before
on to the Cowboys, which you just alluded to, can we get an Aggie whoop at a us
that something? Do?
something there a thumb involved somewhere?
something like that. Double giggle alright.
finished your a&m career that you’re a third round pick of the Cowboys.
Then it gets really? You go through the same stuff. Everybody says, Oh, he’s
too small to play with the Cowboys. You played from 99 205 for a guy named Bill
Parcells. Interesting. Yeah. Interesting. Phenomenal. legendary coach. A 10304
You lead cowboys and tackles which is just stands. It shows incredible work ethic
you put into it. You got what you’re seeking. Started 65 games 516 tackles, six
sacks. IMTS. With the Cowboys. You retired in 2006. Because injuries, troubles
but you ranked 10th All time when cowboys history and tackles I mean, it goes
on and on. Let’s talk cowboys for a second. There’s a lot to cover there. And
we got we only have a limited amount of time. My partner is gonna probably
start playing the exit music here.
like that. He’s cool. I can deal with them. Now. I
lot of stores with a cowboy the first day I got to the Cowboys. We got drafted.
Right. So you get drafted. And during that time, you get drafted the following
week as mini camp, right? Yeah, it’s like rookie minicamp. So really what chan
Gailey, they brought everybody in. So all the veterans were there too. So I
walk in first day and I see Darren Woodson there and what’s in a Wycombe Woody,
he looks over he goes Hey dad, congratulation. Love the way you play the game
of football. But just remember you’ll be a former player on whether you do
player does resonate. Then they get about as like oh man like the offseason I
remember I thought like well, what are you trying to tell me because now I was
on cloud nine draft high school ball and Texas you play college on Texas now.
You know me this crazy, right play for eight for the Cowboys now. And that
that’s America’s team came from America pay America sport they play for the
Americas team. Right? How crazy is all this stuff? So what he tells me that and
then we go through practice and we go to meetings, and then we go to practice
and the first day of practice, they go out there and you know, it’s from
a&m or our playbook is about an inch thick or so at a&m. Yeah, the
Cowboys about three or four just because of every situation every day and this
is everything you can think of it’s in there. And obviously football is a 24
hour deal is not how you don’t go to class and worry about school. You know, I
mean, just every football so I’m halfway through seven on seven. This drill that
we do seven on seven quarterback receivers, running backs tight end versus
linebackers, safeties or defensive back. So I’m halfway through the drill. Dave
Campbell, who is our defensive coordinator goes Hey, Dad, that get in there. I
was like, what? I was like, Hey, I’m a rookie as I like to play 50 plus games
at a&m. I know what I’m doing. So I go in, I get the signals from coach my
back’s hurting from the offense. And then all sudden we break the huddle and I
look over was Troy Sigmund. I’d like to behind him. It was Emmitt Smith.
to my rights Michael Irvin they snap the ball I’d even move yeah this guy this
guy and watch on Sundays after our games and Saturdays yeah so long and and it
was pretty cool. And
does it take to get over that though?
better get over quick I was it was one play was it no next for you to go on
because you couldn’t you couldn’t look you can’t look back right yeah, but but
that was my first experience with with those guys and it was it was pretty
cool. My poor sales go back to coach propel you mentioned him is I learned more
football in four years with Coach Parcells than I did 20 years prior to that
and he just make the game so interesting situation of football we we go play
the Giants and you guys had cowboy fans out there. Within the first year that
was their guest the New York Giants. He’s going back to New York where he went
to Super Bowl. You know, he’s He’s excited. He’s pumped, right so we do the
situation and training camp. We call it six to max Cafe x q, which is three by
one. If you guys play football, and then the backside runs a seven cut or a
keel, which many of us have covered too. He runs a free safety and he cuts the
cue. I got it. I got all that. Yeah. The guys on the front side, which the
three guys is going to be just the deke. way. So, so we did we did all that.
But three times in the game, he goes in practice and he goes, Hey, this
situation might never come up in a game. But if it does, you better know it. So
when a guy, whatever you know, because we just think this is new to us too,
because you play I play football for so long, and I think I knew everything and
this guy comes in he has all the situations, every situation think of short,
safety, long safety, you name it. So we go play the Giants. Monday Night
Football. We were leading the whole game, Dawson giants came back here to cut
the ball and they ran they’ve got this cuts down. And they were up by seven
about three I’m sorry, but but three, and we’re down but we’re down by three
the kick the kick off remember this ball, they hit the pylon and went out of
bounds with 11 seconds left in the game. So my cowboy fans will remember right?
So if he kicked the ball go out of bounds. Before you get to the endzone the
ball has to be placed at the 40 yard line. For real Yeah. So so the ball was
placed at the 40 yard line. No timeout, so
timeouts. Right and we have the one play that all of us say Oh shoot 62 Max
Cafe XQ. So all of his new on the sideline. That Hey, the ball this is the
court Antonio Brown Antonio Bryan is gonna run this seven cut on the backside
and Quincy Carter is gonna take his five step drop is he’s onto that seven cut.
So the autumn Yehovah 25 yard gain, he catches the ball went out of bounds we
kicked the 52 yard field go tie the game, went to overtime, got the ball drove
down kick the field goal and won the game. Well, I only smoke this guy. Now. We
want a good tip of Mortimore five and 11 for three consecutive years. And all
of a sudden, all of us rally because we do this dude just won a game because of
one situation we practice.
know what I mean? That was like a like a situation that you’d never think of
never think of and it’s quite literally if I’ve never heard of it. Yeah. And
then the fall in the fall of that. Can
you one more story The following week. So we were off on Monday night so we
often next Monday next week watching Tom Brady Bill Belichick with Belichick is
a disciple of Bill Parcells, right. So they go play mile high up in Denver, and
winds gusting winds blowing and, and
your own podcast. Good story Denver.
was up by four. Okay, New England was backed up on the one yard line going out
winds blowing to the face. So they said okay, if we kick the ball, punt the
ball, the ball is gonna land on the 30 maybe 30 yard line, if it’s a kick, good
pot. If they kick a field goal down by seven score, touchdown game over. So it
took a short safety. So now six point behind instead of seven. So now you have
a chance to kick the ball. No, we’re gonna kick the ball to Denver down by six
stop them get the ball back drove down. Tom Brady hit David Givens in the back
corner. win the game by one guest who played that play? So that Monday night or
Tuesday night we came back? We came back from our meeting. Guess what he
played? He played let’s talk about the situations I go that’s when we practice
this is why we did this show safety. Yeah, right you know all this stuff. So
was that as fast and it’s all watch football now totally different. What I did,
you learn so much from him. Yeah. situation like,
you talked about Bella check. You’re talking about Sean Payton. You know, those
guys. It’s not just the X’s and O’s. It’s like when do you make that situation?
Play? Yeah, thanks. When the suit bogus. You gotta have some way to kick that
onside kick, right before? Yeah, right after the half. Right. So does that
lacking, I suppose? Does that decision making come more from the coach and your
execution? Or does that decision making come from you like saying, I gotta make
this decision, because we’re preparing you for a decision to
that. But they put you in like a, like a timeout. So for example, if you’re
down, it’s called for money drill. So defensively, hey, if they run the ball,
we call timeout. So we get the ball back. So yeah, Tom, sure. You gotta get the
ball back somehow, if they throw the ball, but you don’t want to waste the
time. So we practice all that stuff where now the players are aware. Yeah, but
the coach got to play my position. Okay. Remind them real quick, because that
that’s what’s so cool about ourselves that I tell people all the time like,
man, it’s fascinating. Because the other thing that he does was crazy. He’s
like, there’s 17 crews of referees in the National Football League. 15 of them
work every week. So we are what humans are what you guys know, creatures of
habit for sure. So every crew will call something within a few weeks down the
road. Hey, this crew would call a lot of pass interference. Guess what
defensive back keep your hands in a team cause a lot of holding this crew does
guess what office alignment keep your elbows in hands in you know because it’s
changed yes the hidden yes nobody talks about Pilates men because poor cell was
talking about it. turnovers are the same you watch a football game college a
little bit more different cuz there’s more possessions back then it was very
similar to the NFL. Now it’s changed because of the spread. But the NFL is
still the same by okay if the turnovers are the same. If you watch the box or
even watch the game, you don’t even watch a game you just look at the box
score. You go okay. passing yards, rushing yards, return yards and penalties.
minus all those every 50 yards if this team on the left is 50 yards plus on
yardage, they will win by three points. If they’re plus by 100 is seven point
me sometime? Hey, but speaking of crews, let’s get on to the kind of the next
Can I finish up real quick? This is worth noting trust me.
was trying to transition us that and then it’s what would he do stop he was
defensive player I guess isn’t
transitional point, by the way. So is there a point in your cowboys career when
you’re like when you knew that you could actually play this game at this level?
There’s a point when that’ll happen to you.
think like anything and as a freshman going to college to save the speed of the
game kind of slows down and I think in the National Football League, like,
like, Man, I practice every day against a guy that’s a Hall of Famer name and
Larry Allen. Oh, yeah, you know what I mean, when you when you practice against
him games are like, it’s like, it’s easy. Right? And, and I think when you work
out and you round people you see the speed of the game. Eventually is slows
down for you. But man at one time, I think when I think in 2000, my my best
year in 2003, and personal segment, I felt like I was I could do anything. I
said not anything but I felt like I was one of the better players in the
National Football League because it had confidence and ability. I understand
that I have worked, you know, and then all of a sudden, bam, the following
year, I was like, you know, me is so crazy that out. I was that offseason
before I decided to retired, I felt the best. Yeah, it was 2005.
know, it’s interesting. I’m not trying to tell your story. But you talked about
both of those scenarios at a&m. And at the Cowboys. There’s this little
word humility that happened to like you, there were two things that you
specifically brought up that took place that kind of set you in a mindset,
probably to take on all of that. And it was probably just a little bit of
putting that ego aside and then listen to those coaches like that. I mean, I
know you knew that. And I know our listeners hear that. But it was just kind of
telling to me that in both of those scenarios, you talked about those first
things happening at those first practices when you line up against those guys,
and then an a&m like that. So this good,
moment and cowboys for you.
moment. Golly, we had so many I think, I don’t know this games, and we didn’t
win enough games, obviously, a lot of five and 11 season doesn’t help. I think
the locker room is the best part. Like you know, I always tell people, I miss
the it might be the only place in the world that you can say you don’t get sued
for harassment. You know, I mean, everything goes like it goes like my towel
pops. I mean is that that’s minor compared to Yeah, seriously. Yeah, but it’s
just like anything from not just the locker room but like on the plane and you
don’t mean guys getting busted for wearing crazy clothes, right suits, you
know, purple suits on the plane like what are you doing on but they’re but
they’re so quick and witty. That’s what’s so crazy. Some of these players, you
know that Tony Romo of the world like Tony, Tony, Tony, Tony was a rookie
rookie second year, third year. So it was three years were played with Tommy
for three years. He didn’t scratch. He wasn’t on the field the first two years.
And I can tell you, he was a rookie quarterback and Dexter Coakley and myself
on Fridays we call it perfect Fridays. Yeah, right. Mike Zimmer was the
defensive coordinator during that time with Bill Parcells. It’s okay. We don’t
make mistakes. Everything we do, we don’t have that many plays of practice. But
when we do it, it got to be perfect. So here we get a little kid out of Eastern
Illinois. And, and what’s crazy is that he will get the ball and he knows at
that time that hey, linebackers are reading my eyes. They don’t know what kind
of they kind of know position, information and etc. But they do. So he snaps
the ball and he flipped his hips and then he looked his eyes all the way to the
right. And then knowing that there’s a back end cut on the backside so Dexter Koch
and myself always looking at the quarterback whispering this where he’s gonna
get this little rookie. And he just throws it back the corner. It’s like a
little giddy, you know, he’s like, giggling and him and Witten. You know, and
they came in together, obviously, I roommates. But man, it was crazy. Like that
guy was good then but obviously he turned out to be was
lot of like kidding and laughter about those types of things afterwards to just
the way that like, personally,
to tie him to the goalposts and dump ice on him. We would. Yeah, he he was he’s
so savvy, it’s crazy. I tell people, it’s like, he knows he made a mistake. He
knows somebody’s gonna get after because, you know, he kind of take somebody
off in practice. So he kind of like walked away and high for a little bit.
Everything calms down and he comes in, but he’s a smart guy. I wish he would
have won more games too, because I think I’d go back to that year when he he
botched up Phil go. That’s the year that Marcel was coached. Marcel will tell
you that game that they had a chance to even come back. If we stop us. The
running backs. Yeah. Steven Alexander, and make them punt the ball. He’s had a
chance to win that game. But he will tell you that man I wish I would have
pulled the trigger. A little bit sooner on Bledsoe because he had so much
loyalty for Bledsoe. And they he would approve one game sooner that they would
never be in the wildcard and won the Division and played at home. And they were
the hottest team in the National Football League during that time to do the
you don’t anything about strategy. I mean, you know, seemed like a strong point
with you, Dad.
you for sharing those memories. Now. This is the transitional period you can the
transcript it’s over. I mean, that was like five plays. We could talk about
this this stuff for our relationship at time. Yeah.
should tell us what you do now that and with crews because there’s a crew thing
that I’ll get to
I’m now an owner operator of a chick fillet here and what got me pause. So, I
thought about coaching football. When I got done playing. I did a little thing
about coaching the coach three years with the cowboys and two years with
a&m, I think that was gonna be the a&m for the rest of my career as a
coach and Vaughn Miller. We help coach one another. I got I would never think
he turned out to be as good as he is. Because I just came from the Cowboys back
to football. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. The Cowboys and Red Sox last year. That’s a
Chick fil A and I had and I had Demarcus Ware, and have Anthony Spencer two
first rounders. Yeah. Demarcus wrestled with Hall of Famer here soon but I had
both of those guys and then looking at a Vaughn and Vaughn is not really that
same on the defensive end or outside linebackers. You gotta have linked the
call link arm link so you can get those linemen
so little about this game Dad, it just surprises me but Vaughn but volunteering
to be an
unbelievable, he’s got some some, you know, he’s he’s a great ambassador for
the University of Texas a&m. So I’m happy for him and happy as his career.
not gonna coach. I wasn’t a coach.
I wasn’t a coach because it wasn’t fair for my family to move all around the
country. And after a few years, yeah. So I decided, I thought about it my mom
during the restaurant business, and I was like, wow, she impacted so many
people, employees and relatives and I was like, golly, that’s what I want.
Because really coaching football is what you do, right? It gives you about
winning and losing. It’s about giving this opportunity killer Von Miller going
back to his story, Von Miller was kicked off the team, his sophomore year at
Texas a&m, and he packed his bags he moved down 35 North and his dad said
Get your booty back. If not you don’t have a place to stay. He took back he
came back SATA suspension and guess what let his career now Yep, you know me,
but those are the guys who give opportunity to and that’s what I saw. My mom
did that for so many years and I thought about hey, a restaurant business can
treat it just like a football team. And that’s basically why you go to my store
right now you walk in they will tell you did we win this month we didn’t do we
win this day to win that down. You don’t win the evaluate players with my five
star who’s my one star you know me who who’s gonna we would try to water
and yelling inside the restaurant.
but crews you probably have different crews, right like all the time. I’ve
noticed there’s certain crews that the Chick fil A by mine that’s short me fry
or they’re not as large of a fry that they get.
shorts you nugget too. So we do have shifts and that’s part of leadership. So
what I do is that I’m an operator, I take myself as a head coach. And then I
got coordinators, as a team. And the offense is the really offensive really,
the kitchen defense is really the front counter kitchen because the offensive
line or the food the food is the most important thing of the whole business
without the food. That’s the heartbeat, your team, the offensive linemen don’t
get any credit. People in the kitchen don’t get any credit. So it’s kind of
similar in here
does offensive line, not D line.
that’s what I do. And my purpose is all about giving kids an opportunity. I
heard my story. We come from America with nothing living government housing,
and have a chance to fulfill the dream. You know, I mean, I always thought
about growing up watching football when I first got introduced to game of
football I want to be the next Walter Payton. You don’t mean sweet? Yes. And,
and I dreamed about that stuff. So here for me, I just give them a platform.
And again, a just a platform to for them to do what they want to do. And I I
got a lot of you know, I don’t wanna sit here and pat my back. But we have a
lot of testimony about kids and pursuing dreams and, and going to colleges,
which a lot of them didn’t cuz a lot of my kids are from the inner city of Fort
some of the reason you pick Chick fil A because I mean everybody’s kind of
heard about that Chick fil A program is like it’s fun. Did you have to go to
school for like four more year?
no, I didn’t get to but we did it on a quick quick training program. And, and
for all the
athletes get kind of big.
for Mike Genesect. You know, our friend Mike.
Yeah, it’s Mike’s great he’s he’s a pioneer. He’s really the first Dallas Fort
Worth the rest of the Fort Worth area operator and yeah, so he is really I’m
looking forward to meet up with him again soon here because I would like to
catch up some stories because you know, to Kathy passed away the founder of
Chick fil A in 2014, which I didn’t get to meet but but everything I’ve heard
and read and the story in the legend or all the things that you hear about him
now what he did is phenomenal. Giving kids an opportunity in life is just you
know, you want to you want to utilize that as much as you can because for Me,
I’m just thankful every day I wake up and, and I’ll tell I’ll tell people at
times, like I’m very grateful for everything meaning that when I was in
college, I didn’t really have a job and one of the Cowboys didn’t really have a
job and I run a Chick fil A, but I really it’s not a job. I go to work and
really I just hang out with people.
more than anything. But you’re a great mentor.
good for Chick fil A for you.
I can be worse. Right, right. I mean, that’s part of life. And that’s how we
look at scenarios and life and stuff. It’s that Be thankful every day for what
you have. Because you know, you can always be worse. Yeah.
you’re a wonderfully wonderfully inspiring person. You’re a humble guy, which
is awesome. Everybody who knows of you thinks the world of you. Thanks for what
you do for Fort Worth for a&m for the Cowboys, for for people, for people
that emigrated this country. That’s an amazing story, man. So well done. Well
you. So we ended the show, just with a like no family, because that’s just too
easy to go to. But like best day of your life. You talked about a ton in here,
of my life. Yes. Not. You’re just not marriage or kid related.
That’s days. My best day of my life is the day the next day I wake up. Yeah. Do
you have family that we didn’t I got Yeah, my. So my wife and I been 21 years.
So we met at a&m as freshmen, and five kids I got one at Clemson and one is
a junior in high school got a 10 year old and God got a sense of humor. Gave me
twin boys that are six years old.
guys live over on this side of the Metroplex or over so we
in Grapevine? Okay, yeah, very good great. I just given the wife love the
downtown grapevine Yeah, love the area. We so which is everything’s walking
Yeah, we just walk everywhere. Yeah.
great a great story that thank you for the time thank you to Capitec Bank for
sponsoring this and give give me give him a shout out you guys there. Good.
Good place to start. So thanks a ton Dat Nguyen.