Saturday, January 06, 2007

A perfect ending, was it not?

Just 5 weeks ago, the Cowboys were christened "THE" team to beat in the NFC. And for good reason, to boot. They were coming off a decisive win against Tampa Bay, they had the second-best record in the conference and clearly were the hot hand. On top of that, they had a very favorable schedule ahead, with three games at home over the final 4 weeks. Two of those games against teams that after 12 games, were not even blips on the playoff map and thee other two considered more pretenders than contenders.

But as we clear the rubble of what has been one of the most disappointing seasons in the 46-year history of this most storied franchise, I'm left scratching my head at what was clearly a dream - or a nightmare, if you will. What transpired in the last few minutes of the Cowboy's season was a true lesson of comeuppance. For how many times in years past have we seen these metallic-blue and silver-stared helmeted bunch win on just the same kind of fluke that the we witnessed in Seattle tonight?

Never mind the horrible call against Terrance Newman, or the fact that in all my years watching football, I have never seen an impossibly-conclusive call on the goal-line be determined as conclusive enough to overturn. Never mind that 99.9% of the time, when the receiver puts the ball on the ground before he he's taken a step that the ref will call the pass incomplete. Never mind that Tony Romo, the man who single-handily brought our heroes to the dance, only to be struck by disbelief at his inability to gain an additional inch.

Never mind any of that. What happened here, in the glitter and glow of a beautiful Seattle evening was tha after all these years, we have finally witnessed the end of the Dallas Cowboy's mystique. After all of the Hail-Mary's, all of the Captain Comebacks, all of the Triplets and 99-yard records that will never be broken - after all of the Roger Staubach's and Herschel Walkers and finding the hidden gems in the drafts - all of the White House and all of the Eat, Drink and Have Mary years, all of the South America's teams and all of the Rentzels and Septiens and, especially all of the Irvin's, World's Fastest Humans and TO's - and after all of the stories of hole's in the roof, so G-d could watch his favorite team plays and after North Dallas Forty, Debbie Does Dallas and the Dallas Cowboy's Cheerleaders, the run is finally over.

Some will say it ended in January 1982 in the east end-zone of Candlestick Park, along with the famous "Catch". But like the true magicians the Cowboys were, they were only biding their time until a later miracle had arrived - one simply known as Herschel. Once they parlayed the luck of the draw in drafting him, waiting for him, signing him and eventually trading him for all the gold in Minnesota, it was once again business as usual in the friendly confines of Tex's Stadium.

And again, the cracks began to show and again, the team began to falter. But who should ride to the rescue? Who would turn this incredibly fortunate franchise around once more? Well, none other than the living-legend himself, Bill Parcells. When every team in the league tried to get his services, only the Dallas Cowboys - G-d's team - was able to bring the Tuna to Texas. Cowboy magic and mystique strikes again.

And it was under the tutelage of the great Parcells that a team, coming off of three consecutive 11-loss seasons, with a quarterback had a hard time distinguishing the difference between a chalk-line and a line of cocaine, was able to return the 'Boys to their proper place in the order of the World.

And even after going 6-10 the next year, you knew it was only timer before Big Bill was able to create the same kind of monster that he had in New York and Boston. Even the next year, when every Cowboy fan in the world knew that their team was better than any of the other teams that actually went to the playoffs, we knew that the football gods would shine once more on our beloved boys.

They were 8-4, with one of the losses being caused by a fluke play in Washington. They were two games ahead of the reeling Giants and also the seemingly inept Philadelphia Eagles. They were poised to regain their rightful place that G-d himself had proven for many years to want.

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good. But the Cowboys never needed to worry. They were good at times - very good, in fact. But first and foremost, they were always lucky.

And now it's over. Perhaps it ended in New Orleans last month. Perhaps it ended many years earlier. But it's certainly over now. If you believe that one should quit when ones ahead, then perhaps as the Cowboys enter the 2009 season, in just 2 short years, in the further-removed suburb of Arlington, they should change their name as well (perhaps to the Texas Cowboys). Maybe they should consider changing their colors as well. While yellow would be appropriate considering how cowardly the team played today, it wouldn't really matter.

RIP, America's Team. It's been a hell of a run.

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