Sunday, January 07, 2007

All That I Can Say

I was raised in Dallas, Texas. Growing up in Dallas in the 1980s and 90s, there was one main thing that binded us all; the Dallas Cowboys. I have watched with great enjoyment, Super Bowl parades and been engulfed by tickertape. I have gone to pep rallys at Texas Stadium before the NFC Championship games and before Super Bowls. I have taken on a hostile group of Cheeseheads with my brother and father at DFW Airport.

Nixon said, in his farewell speech that "greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes when you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be at the highest mountain." In American sport, and in that most American of sports, football, this is so very true. We live and die emotionally by the success of our favorite teams, and I am no different a fan today on January 6, 2007 as I was when I tearfully accepted the fact the Roger Staubach retired or the bitterly cold January 1982 night when Dwight Clark caught 'The Catch' or the 1995 NFC Championship game which put me in a funk for two weeks.

So, with the feeling of the highs and lows, I watched tonight's playoff game of the 2006 version of my city's most favorite sons. And I watched the highs and the exquisitely painful lows of a truly up and down season filled with missed opportunities, inconsistencies, and countless wonder of what could have been. Tonight's game typified the season wherein the lack of concentration cost Dallas ultimately.

One can easily look back at the season and say that Terrell Owens is to blame, but that's too easy and in most cases incorrect. However, had T.O. caught one more pass in Philly, and one more pass at Washington, Dallas would've more than likely been 11-5 instead of 9-7. Had he caught one more pass against the Giants on MNF, the Pokes would've more than likely been 12-4. But, despite all of those drops, and all of the hoopla, the Cowboys were still in the playoffs, and still very much in the game, with their destiny and season firmly in their own hands. And what did they do? They fumbled it.

I can only imagine if Vick or Vince had fumbled that snap how they would be demonized in the national press. But, since it was Romo, it'll probably be pretty light. Somewhere between Brent Buckner, Leon Lett and the cat from Georgetown who threw the ball to the UNC player in the national championship game.

Excuses can and will be made, but he fumbled the ball, and we lost the game. As I get older, the losses are both harder and easier to handle. Harder, because I have a greater respect and understanding for the amazing set of circumstances that one must undertake to be in the position that professional football teams are in when in the playoffs, and yet still lose focus. Easier, because I am always encouraged year. Had Romo been more cognisant of the first down, instead of the touchdown, and had he dove to the goal line, then his six foot frame alone would've gotten him a first down, and the Pokes could've punched it in by handing it to Barber. But, he had his eyes on that endzone, and his focused narrowed, and ultimately cost the Cowboys the season. Once again, I can only wonder what easy fodder this would've proved for commentators nationwide had it been Vick or Vince who fumbled the season away.

Well, this one will hurt for some time, because there was so much promise in the 2006 version of the city's favorite sons. But there is the refreshingly sweet solace that can only be provided by a win over the Spurs on the road on Friday night, and currently a 13 game win streak by the city's favorite kid brothers and its fiery little coach so full of vim, vigor and purpose.