- Associated Press - Monday, June 2, 2014

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - When George Strait wraps up his farewell tour here Saturday, the country music superstar won’t leave the stage alone.

The Dallas Morning News (http://bit.ly/1hrDwUO ) reports another Texas legend - also a Cowboy - will ease into retirement after decades as an entertainment industry icon.

Bruce Hardy, a Dallas Cowboys executive and longtime Texas Stadium general manager, is stepping down after 30 years and more than 1,200 games and events.

The 67-year-old turned Texas Stadium into a concert venue for music’s biggest stars and also helped make it an attainable dream for a generation of high school football players. A friend of Strait’s since the early 1990s, Hardy decided the Cowboy Rides Away tour at AT&T; Stadium was the perfect moment for him to also ride away from his backstage corner of team history.

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world,” Hardy said, not once but countless times. “I’ve had the greatest life of all: entertainment and what I’ve done with young people.”

A little unsteady due to multiple sclerosis, Hardy will leave AT&T; Stadium this summer with a career full of memories and stories that could be mistaken for scenes from a movie script or excerpts from a Rolling Stone article.

There’s a late night with Axl Rose, New Year’s Eve with Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, hugs from Taylor Swift, a stage collapse, a fire, as well as moments that seem at home in a Disney-produced inspirational sports movie.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said Hardy’s sharp wit, creativity and resourcefulness made him an important part of the team. And his Rolodex and relationships were so deep, Jones said, that top entertainers were attracted as much to Hardy as to the team’s stadium in Irving.

“His fingerprints are all over the success we’ve had,” Jones said.

Garth Brooks, who sold out three record-setting shows at Texas Stadium in 1993, counts Hardy as one of his dearest friends.

“He disarms you with his honesty,” Brooks said. “From Day One, I don’t have to figure him out. This guy is just honest and loves people.”

Hardy was hired by the Cowboys in 1984, but his history with the franchise dates to its beginnings.

He grew up in Highland Park playing with the children of Bedford Wynne, who was part of the Cowboys’ first ownership team. In those days, the teenage Hardy hung around the Wynnes and often gave them rides.

That turned into a job chauffeuring Pat Summerall and Chris Schenkel when they came to town to broadcast Cowboys games. Hardy is certain he didn’t even have a driver’s license, but no one bothered to ask.

That was just fun and games for Hardy. It would take another couple of decades before the Cowboys were a living rather than a sideline.

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