Monday, January 14, 2008

Dallas Cowboys (the staggered swagger)

The day begins. Candles are lighted and incense is burning. Cold beer at my side. All the media, local and otherwise, spell out the horrid details all about the derailing of the Dallas Cowboys at the merciless hands of the New York Giants.
How could this have happened? Superior talent should trump naïve enthusiasm – right?
Fingers will be pointed in many directions. Patrick Crayton dropped the ball (literally) when trying to live up to his talk. Tony Romo looked oh so so-so under pressure. That leads to the offensive line’s woes. Needless to say, the defense was thinking about resting up in the locker room while Mr. Eli took it to them in the form of a perfect scoring drive just before the half.
How could this have happened? Coach Phillips assured us all that everything was alright. A 13 – 3 season cannot be a lie.
Perplexed, I phoned my poet friend to get his take on the situation. While seemingly a tad irritated by the early morning call and claiming not to be much of a football fan, he did manage to apply some perspective.
“Look. Think in terms of music. Think about live rock’n’roll bands. A good band can put on a decent show in front of two or three hundred people. A really good band can put forth the same energy for a crowd of three people. “
He then excused himself from the phone as he was apparently preparing breakfast tacos for some friends visiting from New York. It had something to do with a bet he had made concerning the game.
Anyway, I considered his comments for the better part of the morning and decided he was right, even if in a round about way. His logic transfers us from the most recent and terrible defeat to a couple of weeks ago.
The Washington Redskins were foe of the day and the talk shows were full of football pundits debating the logic of resting starters for a so-called meaningless game, or going all out for the win. A win would have meant a franchise record in that category.
The Cowboys, we were told by many, had nothing to play for. They had already secured the division title, a bye week and home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Why not take it easy?
Now, the Giants were sort of in the same situation, although not quite as lofty. While they had made the playoffs, their games would be on the road. Still, their final game, against the mighty Patriots no less, did not mean anything as far as their post season aspirations were concerned.
They came out and played every able body as if this were the last game in which they would ever participate. To their credit, so did the Patriots, who were and still are, as of this writing, undefeated. What resulted was an entertaining game within the lexicon of what lesser teams would consider meaningless.
Okay. That brings us right back around to the Cowboys.
They cared not whether or not they won the game against Washington and it showed in an ugly way. Injured players are excused in this instance, but why not treat the game as though it matters. There are fans who pay ridiculous amounts of their earned money to see a contest rather than a yawnfest.
To play a game as though it does not matter is a slap in the face to whatever integrity any sport lays claim. The playoff game loss to the Giants is merely a reflection of what it takes to not be a championship caliber team.
The boys from Dallas were clearly dreaming of next week. Why the sudden conservative play calling? Could it have come from fear of a team that was truly hungry and appropriately aggressive?
Until the Dallas Cowboys learn to treat each game as though it were a championship, next week will always be an ever vanishing mirage.


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