Dateline: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas, December 19, 2010
The Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins played two games in one on Sunday. The first was a blowout, with the Cowboys jumping out to a comfortable and commanding 27–7 lead. The second game was a nailbiter that saw the Redskins, still down by 16 going into the fourth quarter, make an improbable comeback to tie the game, 30–30.
The Cowboys ultimately won the two-in-one game, 33–30.
But I am burying the lead here.
The big story of the day is that I attended my first-ever game at the new Cowboys stadium. Well, I was technically in the stadium. My father-in-law and I were in row 11, section 453. We may have been closer to home plate at the nearby Rangers Ballpark than we were to midfield at Cowboys Stadium, but we were in the house, thanks to a wonderful birthday gift from my lovely wife.
Consequently, I am able to file this official bleacher report for the 102nd meeting between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins, one of the NFL's most storied rivalries.
There Is Not a Bad Seat in the House
I had heard people say that, but was skeptical after having toured the complex a couple of times. It is hard to imagine how a place so massive, with so many seats, could possibly afford a decent view of the action for all of its patrons. But they do.
We sat in the northeast corner of the stadium, not far from where a few doves hang out in the rafters. We were not in the nosebleed section. We were in the section above that. Still, we agreed that our vantage point was not bad. We could see the action on the field just fine, plus we sat in such a place that we could see both the end zone-facing video board and the 60-yard monstrosity facing the sideline.
The Game Presentation Is Magnificent
It is sensory overload. The sound system in the stadium is outstanding. As we moved about, exploring, the quality and clarity never altered. The video presentation, as one would expect, is second to none. They keep you engaged even during television downtime.
The Dallas Cowboys Fanbase Has Changed
Back in the 1970s, when the Cowboys were one of the two best teams in the league, there were constant complaints about how stoic the Cowboys fans were. In places like Pittsburgh and Denver, fans were rabid. But in Dallas, they were more "polite." They cheered, but they just didn't want to break a fingernail doing it.
Jerry Jones came along and made the Cowboys more of an "every man's" team. For one thing, he immediately obtained licenses to sell booze at Texas Stadium, a thing they had not been able to do before. Nothing loosens the tongues of fans like getting them good and oiled.
One local radio personality used to say that the Dallas sports fan was the "coke and boob job" crowd. You know, the yuppies. The movers and shakers.
Those folks are still around, sure. But they have had to make room for the redneck factor. The average Cowboys fan today is blue collar, hard working, passionate and ready to get rowdy and loud and poke a finger in the chest of a Redskins fan whenever appropriate.
Moreover, the Dallas Cowboys appear to be the official team of Mexico and all her descendants, and they know a thing or two about being passionate fans.
The Party Pass Is Not a Bad Deal
Jerry Jones' brainchild, the standing-room-only open areas in both end zones, for which fans pay just $29 to be a part of the scene, is a hit. We left our seats just outside the Pearly Gates and descended to earth to watch the final five minutes with the party crowd, just to get a feel for it, and to be near an exit.
It was a hoot.
Costumes abounded. Friendly confrontations between Cowboys fans and Redskins supporters erupted here and there. It is safe to say there are no passive fans in the party crowd.
Dallas Cowboys Fans Have To Deal with Transplants and Carpetbaggers
About 10 percent of the crowd was dressed in Redskins garb and there to cheer the 'Skins and boo the 'Boys. The same thing happens when the Eagles, Giants or Steelers come to town.
Heck, even the Detroit Lions have fans in Dallas.
It isn't that those teams have such a broad fanbase. It isn't that their fans travel well. It is simply that those places are stuck up there in the Northeast, where the cost of living is through the roof, the weather is better suited to penguins, the job market and traffic suck and the skies are all cloudy and gray.
So, they hightail it to Mecca. They pick up and move to Dallas, scoop up our jobs, clog up our roads, take up space in our Tex-Mex joints and boo our team.
In the past 20 years, the Dallas/Fort Worth area has swelled to more than six million people. We may be productive, but we are not that reproductive. Nope. A huge part of the growth is due to transplants and carpetbaggers, who didn't forget to pack their war paint and headdress when they fled the Beltway.
While waiting to be frisked and get into the stadium, I turned to a group of four Redskins fans and said, "So you come down here to get your money, but you keep your loyalty to the place you fled?"
One of them grinned and said, "That is about right."
To him I replied, "Yeah. Sounds about right...for a Redskins fan."