I am not quite sure what the birth rate is for the virtual, pseudo-geographic region known as “Cowboy Nation” — and birth rate, in this case, refers to the newcomers who discover within themselves a burgeoning urge to root for blue and silver. Just the sheer numbers of upcoming generations (now speaking to birth rate in the traditional sense) add to the number of new Dallas fans who plunk down money for game tickets, parking fees, merchandise and premium television programming.
But, in speaking with friends and colleagues, as well as occasionally catching some of our local sports programming between home and the office, there also exists an apparent Cowboy fan-dome fatality rate. I am not (yet) one of those casualties, though I must admit to an ever-increasing urge to plan Sunday afternoon activities during football season, a major departure from what used to be a sure bet for a 3-hour couch reservation.
And the diversions have gotten much easier over the past few seasons. Catching a movie and dinner, cleaning/rearranging the garage or entertaining friends has given way to more mundane tasks like sorting socks and alphabetizing DVDs. I have yet to seek escape via a Sunday afternoon nap, but unless my mind gets right — and soon — it may well come to that.
The indications of the Cowboy-fan casualties pop up in places I hadn’t thought of, as well. In researching season records for the ‘Boys, I came across no less than three “independent” web sites created by individuals (as opposed to sports info conglomerates), who made a good start at chronicling the history of the Cowboys, but who had quit updating the site soon after the turn of the century.
As one who involuntarily crunches numbers (like trying to stop my leg when I hear blues playing), I lingered long enough at a fully-updated site to compute a couple of stats... just long enough to augment my depression. Since the Cowboys last Super Bowl appearance (current high school seniors had not yet impacted the birth rate), Dallas’ compiled record is 138-145 (.487 win percentage, 2-7 in postseason). In the same time span (the prior 18 years), the Cowboys were 169-111 (.603 win percentage, 18-9 in postseason). The further back you go, the better the numbers get — even if you include the six struggling, start-up years of the franchise.
Granted, Jerry Jones was the team owner for seven of those ‘good years,’ but he also had not yet really perfected the art of meddling and had in his employ a really good coach who ran the talent and the coaching show. Two championships and two clashing egos later, the slide began, even though Dallas had two more seasons of elite status, thanks to Jimmy Johnson afterglow.
Since Johnson, six coaches (none the right one, by the way — pretty harsh I know, but while I’m at it), and just one general manager. Therein lies the problem.
Not exactly an epiphany, to be sure, but if enough people say it loud enough and long enough... No? You’re probably right.
Whether the target of long-suffering fan criticism be the Cowboys, the Redskins or the Eagles — well, I’m actually good with Eagles’ fans being long-suffering — most passionate fans have their 10,000-foot view of what has yet again gone wrong, and continues to do so, with the Cowboys.
Bash Romo. Blame the defense. Fire the defensive coordinator (oh yeah, did that). Fire the head coach (stay tuned). Insist it has all gone downhill since John Wayne died. Whatever. Fans have diverse and varying opinions about what needs to be done to fix the ‘Boys so they can prompt a response beyond rolling of the eyes when someone utters “America’s Team.”
Mr. Jones has done some wonderful things in his tenure as the organization’s owner. Jerry-World is a state-of-the-art venue hosting feature college games, bowls and UIL state football playoffs. And there is that huge, high-def TV any couch potato would love after a major remodel of his living room.
But I am resolved — in the future, if Romo throws a pick, I am blaming the general manager. Dez drops a pass, another demerit on the GM’s permanent record. Special teams allows a 105-yard kickoff return, it’s going to be “darn-it, Jerry” (or something in that vein) through clenched teeth.
C’mon, Mr. Jones. Those of us who remember paying a buck for a gallon of milk (and getting some change back) are still not used to .500 ball, and not paying attention to the game at Super Bowl parties any more. And for those who don’t remember, they need that ‘feel-good’ that’s already worn off from the Mavs one-and-done championship... (man, talk about a mood! Sorry, folks).
Get a football guy with an ego that will fit inside Cowboy Stadium. Watch him go to work with the talent (i.e., players) here already and the talent (i.e., players and coaches) he will add. Then sit back and enjoy the kudos you will get for being such a brilliant owner... at long last!