September 9th, 2003


Here’s a topic you won’t see addressed here much: sports. Ready?

I have been a Dallas Cowboys fan for as long as I can remember. I think it had a little to do with their color scheme, a little to do with the fact that one of my pastor’s sons liked them, and a little to do with the fact that the Packers weren’t very good when I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin. Let’s face it, I didn’t know much about football when I was in first grade. Let’s face a little bit more: I didn’t know much about anything in first grade. Truth is, I never learned that much about football, even into high school when I played football. I remember being on the sidelines during one game (I spent a lot of time on the sidelines) when everyone on our side got really upset all at the same time. I missed what happened, so I asked, “What happened?” One of our coaches, Mr. Flaming (pronounced like “flamming”), yelled back at me, “If you’d quit playing video games and study football, maybe you’d know!” Point taken, but I still never figured out what happened.

Ironically, it was that same game where I caught the one and only pass that was thrown to me the whole season. Yes, I was 100% my high school career. Thank you, thank you. Problem was, I had never caught a pass in a game before, so I wasn’t really sure what to do after I caught it. Luckily, the other team knew what to do, and I was tackled shortly thereafter.

Also ironically – and I think even more so – is that later on, when I really did start to understand the ins and outs of football, it was because I started playing some football video games. I’ve always wanted to tell Mr. Flaming that.

Anyway, back to the Cowboys. I’ve been a fan ever since I can remember, which is right around first grade. They’ve been really good and they’ve been really bad since then. Right now they’re on the “really bad” side of things. Since Tom Landry coached them for 25 years, they’ve had, like, 4 coaches. Jimmy Johnson took them to a few Super Bowls that they won rather handily, and since him, they’ve done diddley. One of the regrets of my life is that I never got to see Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith play a game in Texas Stadium. Of course, I’ve never been to Texas, much less Texas Stadium, but I still regret it.

See, those three were called “The Triplets.” Real original name, eh? Troy was a dead-on quarterback, Michael was an incredible receiver (if an arrogant loudmouth), and Emmitt was the best running back in the league (and a nice guy, to boot). These are the three core guys that took the team to 3 Super Bowls in the early 90’s.

Well, one by one they fell. Michael was the first to go, with a career-ending back injury that could have killed him. Troy ended up getting so many concussions (13 or so) that it became unsafe for him to play. And Emmitt? Well, he’s slowed down a bit, but last year he broke Walter Payton’s all-time rushing yardage record. Pretty cool!

So you might expect that he’d get a big pay raise and a hearty slap on the back, right?

Um, no.

He was cut from the Cowboys. Cut! “Not worth the money,” they said. !!! Emmitt played for the Cowboys his whole career. Every yard of that record was earned as a Cowboy. I think maybe, just maybe, he earned the right to stay on the team the rest of his career, however long he decided that would be.

But Jerry Jones wanted to win, and he felt Emmitt was too old to bank on anymore, so Emmitt was cut. And Emmitt was subsequently hired by the Arizona Cardinals.

Mixed feelings I have. Emmitt really wanted to keep playing. And he proved in last year’s Thanksgiving game that he still had what it took (He had one of the best games of his career). Part of me says, “Go get ’em, Emmitt!” But the other part of me says, “Man, I really hate seeing him in a Cards uniform.” And there’s even a part of me that says, “Hey, you broke the record! You don’t need to play anymore!”

See, Jerry Seinfeld said it best when he said “you’re rooting for laundry.” A guy’s on your team, you love him. He gets traded to a different team, you hate him. I guy you hate comes to your team, you love him. You’re rooting for laundry! But not with Emmitt. He’s always impressed me a lot, as a player and as a guy, so I plan to keep following his career. If that means I have to check the Arizona Cardinal’s page, too, then so be it, I guess.

Play safe, Emmitt!

And Cowboys? Please get better. Please?

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