Everybody loves a list and I've got one for you: the top ten most colorful characters in Dallas Cowboys history.
Please understand that this is not a list of the team's top players, though some of the best players in team history are on it. It is not a list of the most beloved players in franchise history, though it is dotted with players deep in the heart of the Cowboys fan.
No. This list is about personality. This is the list for the bombastic, the eccentric, the nutty, the hilarious. This is the list for the guy that, when he speaks, people listen, because you never know what he might say or do next.
Rather than making this one long article, I have decided to make it a series (so, stay tuned).
We will start with number ten on my list and work our way up the crazy ladder.
Since lists like this are subjective and fraught with controversy, let's go ahead and get the controversy underway by making the first member of our list a man that was never officially affiliated with the franchise, yet became, in his own way, the face of Texas Stadium and an icon of America's Team.
Number Ten: "Crazy Ray" Jones
Crazy Ray, born Wilford Jones, was not the official mascot of the Dallas Cowboys, but no television production of a Cowboys' home game was complete until he was featured.
Crazy Ray was a vendor. He began selling pennants at Cowboys games at the Cotton Bowl in 1962. His trademark outfit, his stick horse, his loud whistle and his outlandish antics endeared him to more than one generation of Cowboys fan.
The most famous NFL fan of the 1970s (with apologies to Chief Zee of the Redskins, Crazy Ray's pal and "nemesis") was never employed by the Cowboys, but he did get his own parking spot and free pass to the games.
Though I never got closer than a few rows of stadium seats to him, I can still hear him yell, "Cowboys!"
I can still hear that shrill whistle.
I can still see that infectious smile.
And I will always appreciate the man that lived to make people smile, even if it didn't really pay all that well.
In 1997, after a debilitating bout with Diabetes that claimed one of his legs and most of his eyesight, Crazy Ray Jones died. According to reports, he and his wife of more than 60 years had suffered great financial stress due to his long illness. Fans, neighbors and local businesses made contributions and offered help to the aged couple, all of them driven by the memory of a fellow Cowboys fan who felt like an old friend.
Call him crazy for spending his life giving away smiles and dying broke, if you want. I doubt Wilford Jones would mind.
He always liked being called Crazy anyway.
References1http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_Ray 2http://www.dallascowboys.com/news/news.cfm?id=85FA2BAB-D9B3-2CF6-870E073D4BF5002D Click here for reuse options!
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