In 2010 I wrote a couple of columns for a now defunct American Football website. I’m resurrecting a couple of the posts.
September 28, 1980 Dallas played the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field; it was also the first football game I saw extended highlights of (well, they seemed extended to me at the age of 7). The Cowboys won and became my team, my elder brother got the Packers. Thus began a thirty year love affair with America’s Team that has seen massive highs and lows. Here are some of the events of the rollercoaster ride I’ve been on following the Cowboys.
I’m long enough in the tooth to remember Tom Landry and Danny White- they seemed to be contenders at the beginning and Landry was the original chosen one as the only Head Coach the team ever had. His mystique was enhanced through the hat that seemed to be a permanent fixture atop his head. But the star began to wane; and the only time I could seem to gloat among my family was when the end zone of Texas Stadium was shown during the opening credits of Dallas. This was a time where Channel 4 seemed to take the sport seriously in it’s weekly highlights show- Nicky Horne talked to you as though you understood the game (and this actually helped) and the amazing Channel 4 graphic of a 4 snorting while wearing a helmet before Bonnie Tyler launched into “Holding out for a hero” made my week complete (I will not even attempt to draw comparisons to Five’s weekly magazine show; or some of their inane weekly presenters I was always told not to say anything if I could not say something nice).
1986 was an amazing year as the Dallas Cowboys travelled to Wembley for the inaugural American Bowl- even though they lost, the knowledge that they were on the same shores as me encouraged me to write to Jim’ll Fix It to train with the Dallas Cowboys- it never happened but my love continued. They got progressively worse and it was not a good time to be a Cowboy’s fan- no one else I knew was which just made it worse. Then in 1989 the unthinkable happened- Tom Landry was fired by an upstart oilman from Arkansas. How could he do this? Well, it soon became apparent how and why he did- it took a couple of years but the Triplets of Aikman, Smith and Irvin slowly were brought together, along with Novacek, Johnston, Norton which made life as a Cowboys fan sweeter than ever. The 1993 Superbowl remains my favourite ever, not least because I was able to laugh as Leon Lett juggled the ball out of the endzone as he began to show off on returning a fumble- Dallas were so far ahead it did not matter!
The next year was great with a repeat… but then the meddling oilman struck… Jimmy Johnson gone- are you mad- this time I think the answer was yes. Okay, Switzer won one in 1995 with the addition of Sanders but he was no Jimmy Johnson. Then the decline continued- Chan Gailey (what on earth); Dave Campo (oh my goodness); the gradual retirements and splitting up of the Superbowl team. It was not nice to be a Cowboy’s fan especially when my brother’s Green Bay team won the big one in 1997!!
The Bill Parcells era began well- I thought he truly understood what it was to be a Cowboy when he made the rookies take the training field with no stars on their helmets- they had to earn them- an amazing piece of psychology; it won me over even though using Testaverde (I just remembered him as Tampa’s atrocious quarterback) made me question his sanity. I should not have worried- he knew what he was doing… right up until the playoffs. But at least my hope and beliefs were restored at the beginning of each season, it had been a while since I’d faced the first game with hopes of the Superbowl. Since the Bill Parcell’s era began that is where I found myself, it was nice for a while, but unfulfilled promise gets a little old after a while.
This past season was the best for a long time; Romo, Austin, Barber, Jones, Crayton, the Offensive Line all worked their magic. We even got a playoff win… dare I begin to hope? Then that dirty old Packer showed up and tore it all away. But I begin the new season with renewed hope- we were so close last year that the addition of Dez Bryant in the draft (hopefully to replace Roy Williams) means that the offense is so potent; the defense is strong as ever (DeMarcus Ware is an absolute star) that just hopefully I can enjoy the entirety of the season again.
As to the oilman who I thought made silly decisions… well, he’s done alright overall. Hindsight’s a great thing.