Being a member of America’s Team has it perks, fun stuff like hanging out with WWE Superstars and Divas at community events. That’s how new defensive lineman Cedric Thornton spent his time during his first appearance as a Dallas Cowboy.
Thornton and teammates Terrell McClain and Lance Dunbar were joined by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and WWE Superstars & Divas at an ice cream social for the kids and families who are current guests at The Ronald McDonald House of Dallas.
The WWE superstars included Mark Henry, Goldust, Jack Swagger, Darren Young, and WWE diva Eva Marie. The event was part of the buildup to WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 3rd.
“This is my first event as a Cowboy and if they are all going to be like this, I’m definitely going to enjoy it,” said Thornton. “It’s great to be around the kids and be around the WWE Superstars and the Divas. I’ve always been a fan and I’m glad to see how they’re supporting the kids. Mark Henry is making our jobs a lot easier because he has a great personality and character. All the rest of the guys are really cool, too.
“I was involved in events in Philadelphia but I prefer to do it without the cameras around because I do it from the heart, not for publicity. I do a lot of events for my school, the University of Southern Arkansas. I thank God for the ability to not only play football, but to inspire people to excel in everything they do.”
Thornton is happy to have signed a four year deal with the Cowboys and to make North Texas his new home. While fans may think it’s tough to leave one division rival to play for another, Thornton says the transition from the Eagles to the Cowboys has been made easy by his new teammates.
“It’s not a big difference,” he insists. “I know these guys, I played against these guys. Doug Free, Jason Witten, Zack Martin, Travis Frederick, La’el Collins…all those guys. I played against them for years. They’ve accepted me in and I’m happy to be here. I’ve been working out with these guys for three weeks and they treat me pretty good.”
Thornton even got positive feedback from his former Eagles teammates.
“They were kind of excited for me, believe it or not. They congratulated me a lot. They told me that this will be your opportunity to shine, so I got a lot of encouraging words.”
But what kind of reaction did he receive from Eagles fans?
“All the people that understand that this is a professional business, they know that I did the best thing for my family,” Thornton explains. “The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia rivalry still exists, I’m just on the other side. I’m going to wreak havoc on this side and we’re going to make sure that we win the division and they don’t. So whatever I can do to bring the ability to this team on the defensive line, they already treat me like a brother. Jason Witten and all the guys treat me like a brother, so I’m excited.”
With the Eagles, Thornton played mainly defensive end. But he is a versatile player who can also move inside to play defensive tackle. He says his role with the Cowboys has not yet been defined, but he’s willing to do whatever the coaches ask of him.
“I don’t think anyone has a given position yet. I’m just here to make a difference. We’ll see. My role, as to whether I start or not, we’ll see. That’s all dictated by training camp. It’s determined by my health and productivity. But I’m putting in the work in the offseason.
“I’ve played nose tackle before. We’ll see at OTAs and training camp. I played defensive end the last three years, I played inside some the last three years. It’s all about defeating the man in front of you in the trenches. I think wherever they line me up, I’ll be effective. I think they know what they’re doing, so I’m just going to go with whatever they’re doing.”
Thornton was wearing a brand new Cowboys jersey with the number 75. He wore 72 on his Eagles uniform. So there were a couple of times he mistakenly wrote “#72” while signing autographs for the kids and their families. Hey, old habits are hard to break.
“I don’t know if #75 is the number that I’m going to be, but I feel like the star is a spot where I want to be,” he said with a good-natured laugh. “I’m happy to be here. I loved playing in Philly, but I know that here I’m going to do very good things. I’m not pinching myself, this is reality. I know I’m not dreaming. That’s why I have to take advantage of every opportunity I get to make a difference.”