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Cowboys PBP Voice Attempt At Balancing Religion and Football

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As part of 'spiritual journey,' Dallas Cowboys play-by-play voice will make mad dash to Monday night game

Brad Sham has an unusual day-night doubleheader planned for Monday.

He'll lead a late afternoon religious service in Dallas, take an airplane to Arlington, be given a police escort to Cowboys Stadium and finally, call the Panthers-Cowboys game for the Cowboys' radio network.

It's just another step in what Sham, 60, refers to as his "spiritual journey."

In part, the six-year-old journey began as a search for altering his own perception of his self-worth and identity. He was tired of not seeing himself beyond being "the voice of the Cowboys."

To that end, Sham became more interested in studying his Jewish roots. He became more devout. He tried to improve his relationship with God. He found Temple Emanu-El the perfect sanctuary to help him fulfill his needs.

Then two years ago, Emanu-El's Senior Rabbi David Stern asked Sham if he would like to deliver to the traditional Yom Kippur afternoon reading from the Book of Jonah to a packed house.

"The greatest honor I have ever had," Sham said about his leading the service on the Day of Atonement, one of the most important days of the Jewish year. "I was absolutely flabbergasted when I was asked. It's overwhelming."

"Overwhelming" for the obvious reason and "overwhelming" because Sham had been called upon to follow in the reading footsteps of the congregation's beloved former leader, Rabbi Gerald Klein, who had passed away earlier in 2007.

"I guess they asked me because I speak for a living," Sham said Friday.

Sham was asked to return to the pulpit for an encore last year, but there was a problem this year. The reading takes place around 4 p.m. He has a Cowboys game to work at 7:15 p.m. Given the newness and uncertainty of driving to Arlington, he has been leaving for Cowboys Stadium at 3 p.m.

Sham told the caller from temple that given his job reading might be impossible.

"What is your job?" the caller asked.

Sham laughed. It was good not to be automatically identified as "the voice of the Cowboys."

When Cowboys public relations director Rich Dalrymple heard Sham's story, he suggest using a radio station's helicopter to help beat the traffic. When that couldn't be arranged, the temple suggested one of Sham's fellow members on its board of directors might give him a ride on his plane.And so Sham again will read the story of Jonah, who unsuccessfully tried to flee from the service of his God. Then he'll drive from Northwest Highway and Hillcrest Road to a Love Field hangar, hop on Scott McCartney's plane, fly to Arlington Municipal Airport, jump into a waiting car and be given a police escort seven miles up Collins Street to Cowboys Stadium. If everything goes according to plan, Sham should be at the game by 6:30 p.m..

By the way, Sham will fast, as is prescribed, until sundown Monday. There was a time he didn't eat until he got hungry.

"I was shortcutting myself and God on the experience of the day," he said.

Sham, who hasn't missed a game in all the years he has done Cowboys play-by-play, said that if a game was scheduled any earlier on a day that coincides with Yom Kippur, he would not work it.

Sham understands some people might think his religious beliefs might better remain private and left unreported. But he hopes there is a message in his sharing.

"I think a lot of people of our faith try to hide what we are," he said. "...Maybe some people who hide what they are won't do that and be proud of what they are. I know I am."

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