A Football Fan’s Life

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The “truth” is I was never a famous football player. 60,000 fans have never cheered me on. I have never scored a touchdown in a real game.  However, I am a part of the Dallas Cowboy’s family.

I was born in an area of the United States where, during the fall months, there was an invisible triangle. Anyone who lived in this area was a Chicago Bears, a Green Bay Packers or a Minnesota Vikings fan.

As a young boy, my father took me to a “pancake breakfast” that was hosted by some legendary Green Bay Packers. I was fortunate enough to meet the likes of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Wilbur Wood and others of that era. I will never forget that moment when I, as a little boy, was in the company of such huge personalities, which included my father.

In 1967, we were having a great feast at my grandparent’s home. I was seven years old. My grandparents were the first people I knew who had a color television. That particular day, on that very television, in the company of family, I watched a new team. The new team that was playing the Green Bay Packers came in as visitors and underdogs, and lost the game, but they gained a new fan, for life. That game was the great “Ice Bowl” game.

I was in love with this team. The good guys with the star on their helmets were now my team. The coach, solid as a rock on the sidelines, sporting that hat, was a man whom others would follow and believe in. Tom Landry was the Field General on the Sunday battlefield.

In my following of the Cowboys, I have witnessed the highs and the lows. The excitement of watching a young Roger Staubach, an All American good guy, come into his own and lead the offense for the ‘70’s.
Watching Tony Dorsett take a handoff and carry the rock for 99 yards against the Minnesota Vikings. I witnessed Danny White make the transformation from punter to starting quarterback. Bob Lilly, Randy White, Ed “too tall” Jones, Harvey Martin, Lee Roy Jordan, Herschel Walker, Drew Pearson, Everson Walls, and Bill Bates were all my Heroes. I know I have left out some great players, but these were my favorites.

Enter Jerry Jones. This was a new owner with his own vision for the future of the Dallas Cowboys. What I had hoped we were getting in our new Owner was a financial genius. We said goodbye to a much-loved Tom Landry and welcomed in a new philosophy with Jimmy Johnson, the former coach of the Miami Hurricanes. In his short time as the leader of the Dallas Cowboys, Jimmy Johnson brought life back to the team.

The first year was not pretty and I must admit, I spent that season telling people, who did not know me, that I was a Minnesota Vikings fan, and I kind of was because they gave us a ton of draft picks for Herschel Walker.

Over the next few seasons, we acquired the services of Michael Irvin, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Charles Haley, Darren Woodson, Deion Sanders, and a whole host of other good players who gave that famous 110%.

Then, Dallas ushered in a whole host of mostly unmemorable quarterbacks. The memories I have of that next group are not pleasant. Drew Bledsoe was really good at one time, but not his time as a Dallas Cowboy. His footwork resembled that of someone stuck in cement. Quincy Carter was one of the biggest mistakes to “ever” be drafted early or to line up behind the center for Dallas. The list of quarterbacks included the likes of Ryan Leaf, Vinny Testaverde, Drew Henson and Chad Hutchinson. A bright spot stood silent for nearly four years. I could see it early with every opportunity he had to compete.

While sitting in the nose bleed section of the Metro Dome in Minneapolis, amongst thousands of Viking fans, I was watching a terrible Dallas Cowboys team get the pants beat off them and I was screaming at the top of my lungs for Parcells to put in that kid from Eastern Illinois. I knew, even if Bill did not believe it, this was our guy for the future.

I knew after seeing him in that Cowboy uniform, the way he played, usually running for his life because the offensive line was porous, making play after play out of what should have been a sack for a loss, that this new kid had something the others lacked.

This kid from Burlington, Wisconsin has something special and it isn‘t only that big smile. He now leads all quarterbacks who have worn that famous star on their helmets in nearly every statistical category. Throw into the mix, DeMarco Murray, Jason Witten and of course Dez Bryant and you really are guaranteed a season full of excitement. Time to give the young man the credit he is due, and it is my belief that all of you haters can go be Giants fans!

The true fans of the White, Blue, Silver and the Star will stand behind their quarterback. This is not just a Tony Romo fan writing, this is also a life long fan. I will be just as dedicated when a new, younger man’s time comes along to take the snaps from under center.

With all the highs and lows, it has been a fulfilling football life and I would not trade the memories for anything!

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