Dallas Cowboys 14, New York Giants 31

I don’t remember Eddie LeBaron, the Cowboys’ starting quarterback for whom Don Meredith was a backup. By the time I was able to form lasting memories, Don Meredith was quarterback. I’ve been a Cowboys fan since then.

Back up. I’ve never known much about sports. I peaked in 6th grade. The glorious touch, flag, and sandlot tackle football I knew as a late-blooming, short, skinny elementary school lad morphed into pads and helmets and tedious practice and bizarrely big guys in 7th grade. I chose the number 00 and figured I’d do it barefooted. I played four or five minutes as middle linebacker and my chosen number was prophetic (but always put me at the top of the roster). The game no longer made any sense to me. I sailed through the rest of my life, to this moment, pursuing matters other than sports (but always loving the Dallas Cowboys).

This background is important so that you understand why I say I don’t understand the fuss. My beloved Cowboys entered an appearance at the Meadowlands Sunday night, and they played exactly as I would have played.

First, let’s be clear, not everybody was happy when the league changed from 14 games to 16 games. I understand why the Cowboys would nurse this grievance. It’s cold in December. This whole playing-football thing, outside, in the cold, it’s not everybody’s thing.

Second, it would help if the season didn’t come down to the final game – and the stakes were whether we had to play more football in the cold, or not. What kind of incentive is that?

Third, and I truly do understand this, hurling a large determined man to the ground is overrated. There should be politer ways of signaling displeasure with forward progress.

Fourth, I get the Cowboys’ petulant preference for penalties. Who knows all this stuff? Better to play authentically and lose a turnover than play slavishly by the confounding rules.

Fifth, concerning turnovers, they’re really fundamentally unfair game-changers and shouldn’t be pursued lightly. And if there is an opportunity to toss a frikkin’ recovered fumble back to Eli Manning, who was smoking a cigarette in the backfield at the time, by all means…

Sixth, I personally live to see Tony Romo running for his life. I consider this the apex of the sport. I don’t believe the league adequately rewards this athletic part of the sport.

Seventh, look, it’s hard to get excited about playing the Atlanta Falcons next week. (Boring!) Especially if you don’t have to.

Eighth, 8-8… Call me a symmetry-freak. I just like it. You win some you lose some, carefully calibrating as you go. That’s a neat and tidy season.

Congratulations, I suppose, to all the disproportionately winning teams in the play-offs. Personally, I think you could do with a little Dallas Cowboys Zen, but I know lots of teams and fans are still stuck in the whole playing football well into deep winter thing.



11 Responses to Dallas Cowboys 14, New York Giants 31

  1. lbwoodgate says:

    Technically speaking, they have yet to gel as a team like those earlier teams guided by Troy Aikman, Roger Stauback and Don Meredith. Once their opponents realized their pass defense was weak they only way you couldn’t beat the Cowboys was to have a poor quarterback with receivers who had baloney for hands.

    I knew following the Cowboys loss to the Giants 3 weeks ago that the season was over for them, as I’m sure most avid followers of the Cowboys did. You just knew they weren’t where they needed to be earlier in the season to go all the way to the playoffs.

    Nice write up though Kendrick on a team that I too can’t seem to get pissed off at enough to reject completely.

  2. David says:

    Nice rationalization on the end of the Cowboys’ season. It’s good preparation for when the Saints blow it on the frozen tundra of Green Bay.

    • lobotero says:

      And if anyone can blow a game it is the Saints….I know for sure….a 30 year fan…..

  3. Visiting your blog is always a learning experience for me.

    I’m a college football fan (my daughter is in the school band), however, I have dabbled a bit in the NFL world and now, thanks to your post, I know what Alex Smith was complaining about at the post-game news conference yesterday. He’s tired.

    On a different note, my son lasted three days on the high school football team. He hated it, but was afraid to quit because he felt like he was going to get beat up. He did quit, and if he did get beat up he did not tell us. I feel sorry for boys.

  4. bronxboy55 says:

    I don’t know why, but your post about football reminded me of a baseball story. In 1968, Mickey Mantle came up to hit for the final time in Detroit, and Tiger pitcher Denny McLain intentionally grooved several pitches right over the plate so Mantle could hit a record-breaking home run. I was both stunned and delighted when I heard about this. It proved that even in professional sports, there could be room for beauty, empathy, and justice. I understand that athletes are paid to compete, but there’s wisdom in moderation.

    Great post, Kendrick. Happy New Year!

    • bronxboy55 says:

      Just in case you have a need for even more frustration, I’m sure the New York Mets could use another fan.

      • Oh good heavens, Charles, I can’t transport my Dallas Cowboys anguish into the very odd sport of baseball. And in any event, the only thing that has gotten me interested in baseball lately is the Texas Rangers in back-to-back World Series. So if I’m going to invest any emotional energy in baseball, it’ll be on behalf of the Texas Rangers. (That said, I’ll agree to be happy for the Mets whenever there is a happy event, and to wish the Yankees ill.)

  5. Jeff says:

    We root for the laundry. ( and now we find out that laundry might be made in sweat shops…and Sam Hurd may have had some very close business associates on the Cowboys…it just keeps getting worse…)

    The childmen playing the game for the cowboys – not My Cowboys anymore- bear little semblence to their forebearers. I can tolerate losing or less talent but the stench of a lack of discipline, a lack of understanding that one indiviual great play when hopelessly behind in the game is not cause for grand theatrics and celebration, and the sense that there are only two kinds of people in the organization, the incompetent and the disinterested, leave me worse than sick and disgusted. Don’t look now but add the Bengals, Texans, and 49ers to the growing list of organizations that are much better than ‘Next Year’s Champions’.

    Kendrick, we all go a long way back with this franchise and this is the first time you can count me as a hater but I take great delight that they are the 3rd best franchise in North Texas behind the Mavs and Rangers. The Cowboys are on the verge of being irrelevant and when huge blocks of empty seats start appearing at JerryWorld, this is going to get really interesting, in a train wreck sort of way.

    • Amen. They’re not showing up. It’s weird. Really weird. The Cowboys perfectly orchestrated certain of their losses — like there was a strange choreography designed to hand the game to the other team. That other team had no chance to beat the Cowboys unless the Cowboys conspired ever so carefully to throw the game. They do not wish to win. Winning somehow embarrasses them. They have enormous talent — but heaven forbid that talent closes (hence my tongue-in-cheek post). I still love them, always will, and just hang with them, like a dysfunctional family member.

  6. Jeff says:

    One update here: Having watched the New Orleans vs San Francisco playoff game yesterday, I was reminded of what real football teams and real coaching looks like. I knew Jerry World would signal the real beginning of the end of the franchise. Jerry World hosts U2, and lots of big concerts. Jerry World books lots of games including the Super Bowl, the Cotton Bowl Classic, with more coming, especially as the BCS eyes expanding to a plus one. The fact is, the business has overwhelmed the minor inconvenience of the Cowboy’s losing. At some point, I am reminded of one of my all time favorite movies: Heaven Can Wait. Joe Pendelton, having been prematurly taken by an angel is placed back into the body of the just murdered Leo Farnsworth and buys the Los Angeles Rams in order to regain his starting quarterback job. The former owner stands in the stadium watching the new owner play quarterback, lamenting the loss of his team, with a friend:

    “My team. That son of a bitch got my team.”

    “What kind of pressure did he use, Milt?”

    “Well, I asked for 100 million (it’s an old movie, okay?) and he said OK.”

    “Ruthless bastard.”

    Or, then there is the line from Pete Gent’s “North Dallas 40” when volatile lineman O. W. Meadows confronts the General Manager:

    “Every time I talk about the love of the game, you say it’s a business. Every time I want to talk business, you want to talk about the love of the game!”

    Yes Kendrick, we can live in the fantasy world of our youth or we can even accept the reality of the collectively bargained sports business as entertainment. But the fact is, there is little advantage in winning in a franchise like the Cowboys. The money is the same. The public persona of the franchise is to care passionately but privately, there is absolutely no concern for anything other than making money. We could be overwhelmed by cynicism and still be completely naive as to the depth of the avarice that we fans support.

    • Jeff, fantastic quotes — but I think you’re ladling a complicated anti-business patina on something that (I think) is really a lot simpler. The Cowboys are allergic to winning. It’s a head thing. In the clutch, they lose. And when it really matters, in the clutch, they figure out a way to choreograph a heroic victory for the other team. Jerry Jones may or may not be accountable here — but if he is, it’s not because the sport is about money (which, you’re right, it surely is), but because Jerry Jones has created a culture of losing. And if he has done that, it’s not because the sport is about money (Jerry Jones would love nothing more than a winning Cowboys team, because that would actually be more profitable), but because his management decisions depress the team in insidious ways. Beginning with firing Tom Landry. And then firing the best coach the Cowboys have had in the last 20 years, Jimmy Johnson — and then just to stick it in Jimmy’s eye, hiring the abominable Barry Switzer, who encouraged a culture of swagger and criminality and squandered the abundant talent the Cowboys had then. And down hill from there. Ironically, Jerry’s ego has seriously conflicted with Jerry’s profit motive. His control of the “business” has been profitable, but his “control” of the Cowboys team has been disastrous. And maybe that’s what you’re saying in the end — combining that much “control” in one person cannot possibly conduce to players who are driven to win the game, even when it would be easy for them to do so.

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