By Will Martin
Some riddles in life are rhetorical. Some questions are to never be answered, only accepted as fact or reality whether you like it or not. Some constants may serve as an irritant while others bring a residual that feeds the curiosity of the masses. Even now some 35 years later since the term ‘America’s team’ was given to the Dallas Cowboys by head of NFL Films’ Ed Sabol the Silver And Blue are a brand that the world wants to see!
Three straight 8-8 records will not change that perception. Not with a polarizing owner for 25 years preceded by the coach with the fedora who epitomized (for old timers) the essence of what was great about the Silver and Blue before the Jerry Jones era. Tough to go up against 29 years of history, winning, discipline, and tradition.
To non-Texans reading this a declaration must be made here and now. Yes, in two weeks there will be another NFL Draft and you will see and hear a lot of hemming and hawing as to whom gets drafted. Make no mistake: Football in Texas from pre-school to the pros is huge.
As for the followers of the Dallas Cowboys you have a cult-like following of loyalty passed down from generation to generation that borders on fanatical religion, nearing the level of insane zealotry. Many have wondered when this insane phenomenon first commenced, no one really knows except to say that when the NFL schedules gets released one constant remains.
Despise Jerry Jones? Think Tony Romo is weak? Miles Austin is overrated? Jason Witten too easy going? Jason Garrett not coach-worthy? Orlando Scandrick is overpaid? Mo Claiborne has yet to prove himself? DeMarco Murray can’t last a whole season? Miss Texas Stadium? Can’t stand the cheerleaders? Hate all the history heaped upon you each game they play? Love to see them lose? Feel there’s a bias with Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, even Jimmy Johnson when providing commentary?
Isn’t that why you watch?
April 24th was the annual release date of the NFL schedule of the upcoming season. To the credit of the NFL the timing of this shows the world just how dependent we are on pro football. In so doing this the NFL provides a quick fix in addiction vernacular to whet the appetite of the fans to plan ahead for which games they’ll want to see their team play, home or away.
Fantasy football fans will begin to comb through the trade and waiver wires to see which players are unclaimed and available. We’ll see which teams play are on Thursday night for 16 weeks. Marvel at the number of playoff rematches and smirk to see which teams have an easy schedule and which teams can look ahead to a #1 Draft Pick.
Then the bitching will begin with that familiar war cry of, ‘Them Damn Cowboys are going to rule the prime time airwaves. How can that be?”
That’s simple. Because we care. Care enough to love or hate the Dallas Cowboys. Enough to want to watch. Now don’t get me wrong here. Without question an argument can be made that the Pittsburgh Steelers or Green Bay Packers could carry the mantle of ‘America’s Team’ for all the successes enjoyed over the years. Statistically the networks and the fans beckon to watch the Silver and Blue in Prime Time. More than any other team.
That’s just a fact. To the non-Texans that is a way of life. Just like that small town in the Lone Star state that shuts down its doors for Friday Night Football you’ll see TV ratings go through the roof when the Dallas Cowboys have a game going on. I might add that with season ticket holders in all fifty states and around the world, ‘America’s Team’ manages to get the worlds attention.
In the fall of 2014 the Dallas Cowboys will play in five Prime Time matchups with another brutal December finish. Since 1997 it has been pretty well chronicled how the Cowboys are a .500 team.
Still we watch…for every time something good happens we will hearken back to a day when something similar and exciting happened. Like that Walt Garrison game in 1973 on Monday Night to beat the Redskins. Or when something bad happens we’ll flash back to an event that rang similar years prior like the day the Bears manhandled Mike Ditka’s former team 44-0 in 1985.
The Dallas factor, that J.R. character, the whole JFK tragedy, those cheerleaders, Tex Schramm and all the innovations, the craze for pro football, the wow factor of AT&T Stadium, the NFC East, and all that love and hate. Seeing Tomy Romo come up big in a defining moment or lose it in the end.
Still we watch in amazement. Having seen the schedule for the 2014 Dallas Cowboys it will not be an easy year for Team Garrett with the perpetual 8-8 mark. With the start of the exhibition season August 7th you play at San Diego, then the Ravens here on August 16th, August 23rd you go to Miami before finishing up with the Broncos on August 28th. Very little starting time except for the Dolphins game.
September 7th your season begins with the 49ers at home. Ah yes the memories of Dwight Clark and ‘The Catch’ at Candlestick Park and those great playoff wars in the mid 90’s. That will probably amount to a loss to a team led by Jim Harbaugh.
September 14th on the road to Titan country and the chance at a huge letdown game with the Niners taking all the zap out of you and a noon start time for added boredom.
September 21st you’re in St. Louis and the memories of some great playoff games in 1973, 1975, 1976, 1978, 1979, 1986, and of course the DeMarco Murray rookie game in October 2011. This is a game Dallas should find a way to win.
Prime Time Game #1. September 28th “The WhoDat” matchup. Since 1998 the Saints have had the Cowboys number having won something to the amount of eight out of nine meetings. In Arlington just know that the Who Dats travel really well. We could never call the Saints ‘America’s Team’ but rather the Voodoo Vixens. The return of Rob Ryan and Dallas loses a high scoring affair on NBC.
October 5th the Texans make a visit to Arlington for a nooner game. This is also a game Dallas should on paper win but a possible trap game when you see what’s ahead.
That’s right October 12th the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks host the Silver and Blue. Still fresh in the memory of Cowboys fans was that 27-7 thumping suffered in September 2012. No reason to expect any differently this time around. Russell Wilson and that defense with the Shermanator…look out~
One week later on the 19th the Giants come to Arlington with more questions than answers followed by a Monday Night matchup with the Redskins on the 27th. Also the 12 year anniversary of seeing Emmitt Smith become the rushing leader.
Onto November 2nd for a noon home game with the Cardinals before a grueling road trip to London November 9th with the Jacksonville Jaguars and-I am guessing-Johnny Football Manziel to fight off. Finally a much needed Bye week.
Sunday before the Thanksgiving there’s a road game with the Giants on NBC and on the 27th of November the first visit by the Eagles since the Bounty Bowl game back in 1989 when Dallas went 1-15 losing 11/23/89 by a 23-0 count in Jimmy Johnson’s first year.
No ten day break either. The following Thursday it’s a return trip to Chicago to play the Bears to welcome December on the 4th and then Philadelphia on the 14th on the road. Always a tough time. The only and final home game will be on the 21st with the Indianapolis Colts and then the season ends in Washington DC on December 28th. Any of the games after Week 9 can be flexed into Prime Time.
Five on the docket to start. For the moment this score chart reads L-W-L-L-W-L-L-W-W-L-L-L-L-L-W-L
By my count a 5 win season. Alas its only April and many crazy things can happen. Despite over 40 years of allegiance to the Minnesota Vikings following the exploits of the Dallas Cowboys may be many things, but not boring.
Let the trash talking begin. Bring on the NFC East haters and know-it-alls with their bile and lack of style. For in the end come summers bend you and I are going to watch. On that you can depend.
America’s Team and the Jerry Jones marketing machine. Need I say more?
Back at you on May 8th for the NFL Draft from Valley Ranch.
2014 Preseason Schedule
8/7 @Chargers 9:00 p.m.
8/16 vs Ravens 6:00 p.m.
8/23 @Dolphins 6:00 p.m.
8/28 vs Broncos 7:00 p.m.
2014 Regular Season
9/7 vs 49ers 3:25 p.m.
9/14 @Titans 12:00 p.m.
9/21 @Rams 12:00 p.m.
9/28 vs Saints 7:30 p.m.
10/5 vs Texans 12:00 p.m.
10/12 @Seahawks 3:25 p.m.
10/19 vs Giants 3:25 p.m.
10/27 vs Redskins 7:30 p.m.
11/2 vs Cardinals 12:00 p.m.
11/9 @Jaguars 12:00 p.m.
11/23 @Giants 7:30 p.m.
11/27 vs Eagles 3:30 p.m.
12/4 @Bears 7:25 p.m.
12/14 @Eagles 7:30 p.m.
12/21 vs Colts 3:25 p.m.
12/28 @Redskins 12:00 p.m.