Never in my lifetime did I think I would be competing for a trophy in a ballroom-dancing competition. There are a lot of things I imagined myself doing after retiring from football, but I can safely say that this wasn't one of them.
I had been asked before to do the show, but the timing was never right. This season, Season 3, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, and most importantly, my wife, Pat, gave me her blessing to take part. I'm not sure if everyone realizes this, but the time commitment to give this show your all is enormous. In fact, Cheryl Burke had to relocate from Los Angeles and train with me in Dallas for six weeks before the show ever even hit the air. It was our version of training camp, something I understand quite well.
I was a little worried that Pat wouldn't love the idea of me spending so much time away from the family — eight hours a day in the rehearsal studio on top of the hours spent in my Smith/Cypress Partners real-estate-development office. She really has given up a lot and reorganized her priorities in order for me to be able to concentrate on learning those complex paso doble and mambo steps. She flies to Los Angeles each week so that she can watch me and support me in person, and she's the first person to let me know where I can improve and when I've excelled. My wife is a champion in my eyes, and if we end up bringing that trophy home on Wednesday, a large part of why we were able to succeed will be her.
Tuesday night is the finals of Season 3 of Dancing with the Stars, and Cheryl and I are going to be ready. It's been a long and sometimes hard road, but we've traveled it well and are honored and proud to be considered one of the two best teams in this competition. I've sacrificed a lot to get to this point, and the true competitor in me really wants to win it. And I really want to win it for Cheryl so she can be the repeat champion — she deserves it.
I have to say that this is probably the first time in my career that I've outweighed my coach by over 100 lbs, but Coach Cheryl is as fierce and demanding as any other coach I've had in my career. Most people don't realize that Cheryl is only 22 years old and that it's a rare quality when someone so young has the drive and professionalism of a leader. She's a champion builder — first with Drew Lachey last year and hopefully this year with me. We're both Tauruses, so we have that drive and that stubbornness that makes us fighters until the end of the road, and we have that hunger and desire for that championship trophy.
Cheryl understands my strengths as a dancer, and she keeps the routines as fun and upbeat as possible. She encourages me to shimmy and shake my hips like nobody's business, but mostly I think she does that so she can get Carrie Ann to keep calling me Twinkle Toes. Cheryl has adapted each dance so that we can make it our own and give it our own flavor, which is why we have so much fun performing them. I can't help but smile through the whole routine because I really am enjoying myself. I hope the viewers are, too.I already have three championships from my days as a Dallas Cowboy, and on Wednesday, let's hope Cheryl and I get another. The only difference is that this championship has a trophy instead of a ring. But I've already told Cheryl that if we win it, we can get it melted down into championship rings so we can each wear them proudly, as I do the ones I've won for my Super Bowl victories.