The last few years have made life tough for anyone who bleeds silver and blue. The Dallas Cowboys have fallen short of expectations for half a decade now. As I look around for someone, anyone, to blame for the letdown that has been the last five seasons, I wonder if perhaps I am the one to blame for my own torment.
Growing up in Dallas during the 1990’s was I spoiled by the decadence of three Super Bowls and the title of “Team of the Decade”? My demographic is made of fans raised on Super Bowls by a generation of fans who were raised on Super Bowls.
Could it be that I have become that stereotypical Cowboys junkie that every other fanbase in the NFL despises? Am I guilty of having that sense of entitlement that makes every other fanbase in the NFL want to puke?
There are only two possible answers to this question that has me up at nights in the middle of April. A.) This team is not living up to its potential or B.) I am truly guilty of being the NFL version of a Yankees fan.
The last few years have left me with a myriad of postseason emotions, which have gotten progressively worse with each season ending failure.
I was highly disappointed in 2006. The botched hold by Tony Romo that finished the season in the Wild Card round was a Mike Tyson punch to the stomach that I did not see coming. It was that moment when the credits roll and you are left sitting in the dark theatre thinking that you just saw a really great movie with one really lousy ending.
In 2007, I was angry beyond self control. How can so much talent be wasted? How can a team coming off of a 13-3 regular season fail to close the deal in a home playoff game against a team it had already beaten twice? The loss against the Giants would prove to be the last time I stepped foot into Texas Stadium—and with that taste in my mouth, it made it much easier to watch that place get blown to smithereens.
After 2008, much like the old vets that showed up to kiss the old stomping grounds goodbye, I was utterly embarrassed. The Cowboys were humiliated in that week 16 showdown against the Ravens, only to be wiped off the turf of Lincoln Field by the hated Eagles the following Sunday. These losses finished off a peanut-butter-sandwich-with-nothing-to-drink-like choke of a season that will remain in the back of our collective Cowboy loving minds for at least a generation or three.
Following 2009, I was somehow filled with renewed hope. I sat in the Death Star and watched the Cowboys completely dominate Philadelphia to capture their first playoff win since the triplets were around. Sure, Dallas was beaten thoroughly at the hands of the Vikings the following week, but I chalked it up to growing pains. This was part of the progression; it was merely a step on the ladder that leads to an eventual sixth Super Bowl.
So what were the feelings following the debacle of 2010? Numbness. Bewilderment. Absolute and undeniable heartbreak. Last season was like catching your high school sweetheart behind the bleachers with your best friend. It was something so unimaginable that there are just no words—something so tragic that you are left wondering if you will ever recover.
All of a sudden, you look up and five seasons have passed with little to show for it. As Romo lay on the turf of our newly-built stadium with a broken clavicle, I was hit with the realization that perhaps it is never going to happen with this bunch.
I just knew in my heart of hearts that 2010 was the year that everything was finally going to come together. In the back of my mind, I thought that fate had made us all wait for the ultimate coronation and the Cowboys would be the first team in league history to win a Super Bowl in their own back yard.
But that all came crashing down with one missed block, one big hit—and one shoulder smashed firmly onto the 46 yard line of Cowboys Stadium. It was on that unforgettable Monday night that questions and doubt about this team finally came rushing to the forefront of my mind.
Am I guilty of being somewhat delusional? Do I as a fan have that sense of Cowboy entitlement that so many outside of Dallas loathe? Did I allow myself to buy in to the hype that has surrounded this team for the last few years?
I’m not really sure what the answer is to those lingering questions.
But I do know this. This team is talented. This team has the personnel it needs to compete with any other squad in the league. I think that the coaching changes over the last year will definitely improve their chances.
But the window of opportunity closes fast. We are already looking back upon too many years of should-haves, could-haves, but never did. It is time to close the deal.
That, or it is time for me to seek professional help.