Cowboys' Bates to speak at YMCA festival Former Pro Bowler ready "to have a good time" By Lance Lahnert firstname.lastname@example.org Coming to Town: Former Dallas Cowboys Pro Bowler Bill Bates will take a break from his coaching duties and football equipment business in Florida on Saturday to visit Amarillo as the keynote speaker for the YMCA All-Star Sports Festival. Although Bill Bates is long removed from the NFL sidelines, the former Dallas Cowboys fan favorite isn't longing for a football fix. These days No. 40 walks the sidelines in Jacksonville, Fla., coaching his two sophomore sons at Nease High School. "When you are able to coach at the youth level and have my kids involved, it's such a joy," Bates said. "And to top it off, we won a state championship.'' Bates will take a break from his coaching duties and football equipment business in Florida this weekend to visit Amarillo on Saturday as the keynote speaker for the YMCA All-Star Sports Festival. Bates said he will sign autographs Saturday and encourages Amarillo-area citizens to attend the YMCA fund raiser "to just come out and have a good time. My talk will be on strength in faith, character, honor and having dreams of yours come true.'' Bates is a model of an underdog overcome the odds to be a 15-year success in the NFL. Although he did enjoy a rarity in college starting all four years for the University of Tennessee as a linebacker/defensive back, Bates was an undrafted free agent when joined the Cowboys in 1983. Undersized at 6-foot and barely 200 pounds, Bates said on the first day of Cowboys practice he felt at home and knew his destiny would be wearing the silver and blue jersey of the Cowboys. "I knew my dream was closer than I ever imagined when I saw my high school uniform hanging in my locker,'' Bates said. "My high school coach was a Tom Landry fan and we patterned our program around his ways. We even changed our uniforms to look like the Cowboys.'' Bates made an immediate impact with Landry and Cowboys fans with his kamikaze coverage on special teams. In fact, NFL officials adopted a special teams position in the Pro Bowl because of the play of Bates. "I always root for underdogs," Bates said. "The underdog factor will always be with me, since I was one. Sometimes people are better than you are, but they might not have the heart. Seeing an underdog pull it off is always exciting.'' Bates, 44, spent 15 seasons in the NFL, all with the Cowboys. Bates did his find his was to the starting lineup for a few of those years and was a member of three Super Bowl championship teams. Although hyper compared to the calm, cool style of Landry, Bates credits Landry with cementing the foundation to his success. "Coach Landry was such a tremendous coach,'' Bates said. "What is so different from the coaches now is so many are so boisterous and outgoing. They show their emotions on the field, yelling, screaming and laughing. Coach Landry definitely wasn't that way. He was a man totally under control. That's the way his teams played. "I was hyper. That's all I ever knew and that was to be excited about what you are doing. Coach Landry respected the way I played. One thing people might not know about Coach Landry is during the week before a game when you got in a meeting, that's when he came alive." Bates said his fondest game memories with the Cowboys was on Super Bowl Sundays, especially in 1992. Although Bates saw his streak of 79 consecutive games played snapped during game five of 1992 and watched from the sidelines as the Cowboys ripped Buffalo 52-17 in Super Bowl XXVII, that first Super Bowl remains his favorite. "They all flash in front of my mind when I get asked about a favorite Super Bowl memory,'' Bates said. "Even though I didn't play in the 1992 Super Bowl because I blew out a knee, I felt a part of that team because I was a coach on the field. When the jets flew over in Pasadena to start that game, you think to yourself, 'Boy, so this is what this game is all about.' "At Super Bowls, the colors are brighter. You pinch yourself to see if you are really there. Then in Super Bowl 1993, when I was playing close to my home in Atlanta, I was already hyperventilating before the kickoff. I had to catch myself and settle down and say, 'Man, I have a football game to still play.' The joys of playing in a Super Bowl are memories that never leave you.'' Throughout Bates' career he was known as a down-to-Earth player who spent many hours helping charities raise money. These actions on a team adored by fans across the U.S., and featuring high-profile, talented, cocky players like Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders. "You can get caught up in all those things,'' Bates said. "I have always tried to treat other people the way I would want to be treated. Try to live the my life the way people would look at me as just another guy who had success at his business. "What helped me was my faith in the Lord and my upbringing by my parents.''