Opinion: Cowboys are Texas' -- and America's -- team...just deal with it

Opinion: Cowboys are Texas' -- and America's -- team...just deal with it

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

Dallas Cowboys running back Felix Jones (28) is tackled by New York Giants cornerback Corey Webster during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Jan. 1, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants defeated the Cowboys 31-14.(AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)

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by Eliott C. McLaughlin / CNN

kens5.com

Posted on January 6, 2012 at 7:37 PM

Editor's note: Eliott McLaughlin is a writer-producer for CNN.com and a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan. He says the Cowboys are still Texas' team despite not making this year's playoffs. For a rival view, read Houston Texans fan Roland Martin's counterpoint.

(CNN) -- Let me begin by saying that if Mr. Martin so much as breathes a word about George Blanda, Earl Campbell or Warren Moon, I win this debate.

Seriously, they are Tennessee Titans (aka ex-Houston Oilers) and, thus, completely off limits when speaking of the Houston Texans.

You may be thinking, "That's an unsporting way to begin an argument."

Well, I'm in a pretty unsporting mood after my Cowboys -- again -- choked down the backstretch, looking more like a team playing Five-Mississippi Rush than one of the greatest sports franchises on Earth.

But they are still Texas' team. Hell, they're America's team. Don't let anyone tell you differently.

Since the glorious days (and hair) of Jimmy Johnson, when Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin owned the NFL -- tallying three Super Bowl victories in the '90s -- the headline has been the same: "Playoff victory escapes Cowboys."

There are two unremarkable exceptions, of course, one being when we pounded Philly by 20 in a 2010 NFC Wild Card bout. That's irrelevant to this conversation, but I wanted to take a shot at those ornery Eagles fans so they'll write hyperbolically nasty things about me below. It's how they roll.

Back to the conversation at hand ... Mr. Martin argues from a relative vantage point. The Cowboys, quite simply, suck lately.

The running backs are like delicate, porcelain dolls. The secondary and o-line look like sieves. Dez Bryant thinks wide receivers get new contracts for spending everything from their first one. Our quarterback ticked off some voodoo priest who now spends his Decembers stabbing the daylights out of his Tony Romo doll.

And the team is owned by a megalomaniac who believes prowess as a college football player and oilman qualify him to be the only NFL owner with a general manager title. This, after two playoff wins in 15 years.

Yet all this negativity does nothing to tilt the Cowboys' crown. It doesn't even scuff the throne. The Cowboys rule Texas, and no 2002 upstarts from Houston enjoying their first playoffs can take that away.

That doesn't mean the Texans haven't done something impressive. Most fans (especially I) would be thrilled to see their team lose its top quarterback, running back, wide receiver, linebacker and cornerback for various stints yet still make the postseason.

It's commendable, but I'm afraid it will come to a Cowboys-esque ending Saturday versus the Bengals. I could be wrong, but Las Vegas isn't exactly inspired when you're favored by three at home.

Win or lose, Houston has a long road to rival the Cowboys, whose eight Super Bowl appearances are tied for most ever. Our five Super Bowl wins are second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers (hurt to write that).

Did I mention Saturday will mark the Texans' first playoff game? Ever? The franchise isn't old enough to have a Hall of Famer.

Our Ring of Honor -- What? No Ring of Honor in Houston? -- is rife with legends. In addition to the aforementioned Triplets of the 1990s, there's Landry, Schramm, Lilly, Renfro, Dorsett, Hayes, Staubach and White.

Those are just the HOFers. I'm not counting Larry Allen, Drew Pearson, Chuck Haley, Cliff Harris, Don Perkins or Don Meredith (and if anyone has a clue how Ed "Too Tall" Jones isn't in the Ring, let me know.)

Though down now, the 'Boys used to be mainstays in the playoffs. In the '70s, it was more common to see them in the NFC Championship than not.

That's when they became America's Team. I know the moniker riles folks up, and it should. If you aren't a Cowboys fan, then your squad isn't America's Team. I'd be sad and envious, too.

Before Packers and Steelers fans start squawking about merchandise sales or some poll their pal e-mailed to them, let me assure you that none other than NFL Films christened us America's Team.

Because the Cowboys had so many fans in every city, narrator Bob Ryan was compelled to say during a 1978 highlight film, "They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, America's Team."

Ryan said later he thought it was a "catchy highlight title" that would never stick. But it did, and that's what we call Dallas now. Get your own nickname.

It will take decades or longer before Mr. Martin and I can seriously discuss whether the Texans rival the Cowboys in the Lone Star State (which, to be sure, is a reference to the state flag and not the Cowboys' helmet).

Maybe if Houston had bought the Oilers that ill-advised stadium Bud Adams wouldn't have shipped Mr. Martin's boys off to Nashville. Say what you will about our megalomaniac oilman owner, but at least he'd never leave Big D.

That's because the Cowboys are part of an elite class of franchise whose brethren include the Yankees and Celtics. No matter how much hatred they inspire, there will be millions who love them. They're in Dallas, New York and Boston to stay.

Can you imagine Jerry Jones threatening to move his team to Tennessee and change their name to the Memphis Cowboys?

Yeah, me neither.

 

 
 
 

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