Rough start for ‘love-‘em or hate-‘em Cowboys

They’re known as America’s Team. But only because of the existence of the New York Jets and a couple of other bottom feeders in the National Football League, the Dallas Cowboys have barely been able to escape the moniker “America’s Worst Team.’

The Cowboys are one of those ‘love-’em-or-hate-’em’ franchises. 

Baseball has the Yankees. Golf has Tiger Woods. Hockey has the Leafs. There’s no middle ground when it comes to affection. Fans are either all in, or they can’t stand them.

Fox Sports TV network treats Cowboys’ games like national holidays. The team is always involved in one of the featured games on U.S. Thanksgiving.

 TV directors love showing Jerry Jones in his owner’s box, high-fiving and hugging after good plays, looking despondent and ready to fire somebody after bad ones. 

Two of the major TV analysts, Troy Aikman of Fox (with play-caller Joe Buck) and Tony Romo of CBS (with Jim Nantz) are both former Cowboys QBs and are quick to applaud their former team, or make excuses for ineptitude.

This season has been particularly difficult for the ‘Boys’. 

Longtime coach Jason Garrett was fired after last season and replaced by former Green Bay boss Mike McCarthy, and the early returns have not been pleasant. 

Dallas, which hasn’t been in an NFC championship game since 1995, won two of its first seven games, and only a minor-league-style gaffe by the Atlanta Falcons on an onside-kick play allowed the Cowboys to win one of those games, one they had no business winning.

Through seven games, Dallas had given up the most points in the entire NFL, even more than the winless Jets. 

Rock bottom might have occurred between Weeks 5 – 7, when quarterback Dan Prescott went down with a broken ankle, star running back Ezekiel Elliott fumbled twice in a 38 – 10 Monday night loss to Arizona, a couple of players made ‘anonymous’ comments the next day about the lack of direction they were receiving from McCarthy and his coaching staff, and then the hapless Washington Football Team handed Dallas a 25 – 3 loss.

The only saving grace for Dallas is that they play in the NFC East, which is by far the worst division (7-20-1) in the league. 

The Cowboys’ record of 2-5 through seven games left them only one point behind  first-place Philadelphia. Almost by default, they could win the division and qualify for the playoffs with backup QB Andy Dalton guiding them down the stretch.

If the Dallas season continues to spiral downhill, those who love the ‘Boys’ will still love them. And for the haters, it’ll be another great year — 26 in a row without a Super Bowl.

Slap Shots

• Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Provincial authorities have told the Ontario Hockey League that if it wants to play amid a pandemic this season that it will have to ban bodychecking and fighting. In a related story, Don Cherry’s head just exploded.”

•     RJ Currie of sportsdeke.com: “June Blythe, 65, regained her sense of smell 37 years after losing it. Blythe says she could recall the scent of flowers and that the Toronto Maple Leafs stink.”

•     Currie again: “Biologists claim Washington is one of 24 states with proven cases of the so-called ‘Zombie Virus.’ As good an explanation as any for the Seattle Mariners.”

•     From fark.com: “NFL cancels this season’s Pro Bowl, leaving dozens of fans without a game to watch that day”

•     Michael Farber of si.com, on Twitter: “Watching a parade from the bullpen early in a 1-0 World Series game is as entertaining as watching Bryson DeChambeau check his notes.”

•     Comedy writer Brad Dickson of Omaha, after it took 3:40 to play Game 2 of the World Series: “Hard to believe young people raised on video games aren’t flocking to the sport.”

•     LPGA player Danielle Kang, when asked by moonlighting commissioner/turned-interviewer Mike Whan what she would do first if she became LPGA commissioner: “Hire Mike Whan back.”

•     Jack Finarelli, at sportscurmudgeon.com: “Nebraska was one of the most vocal critics of the Big 10’s decision to cancel football back in the summer.  Now the Huskers get to open on the road at Ohio State. This is almost like a modern version of the old TV show from the 1950s, You Asked For It.” (Editor’s note: Ohio State romped, 52-17).

By Bruce Penton

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