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Weekly Column by Andy Grieser
Column by Andy Grieser

August 23, 2002

There’s been a spring in my step the past couple of weeks. The air is turning crisp for real, which gets my heart pounding. I start humming "doodle-oot doodle-eee, doodle-oot doodle-EEEE…" My co-workers back away because I use "boom!" in every other sentence.

It’s football season.

I grew up in Texas, where football is a religion. I grew up just outside Dallas, Texas, where Dallas Cowboys football is a religion. You know the movie Varsity Blues?Awful, awful film. But it got one thing right: In most parts of the Lone Star State, football really is more important than anything else.

It doesn’t matter that the Cowboys are on one of their down cycles. Football has its fair-weather fans, to be sure, but the Cowboys are one of those teams you either love or hate. For life. No take-backs. Try and jump on the bandwagon only when the ‘Boys are winning, and it’ll be noted and never, ever forgotten. And Heaven forbid you mock the team during their bad years.

This time of year is special. I remember collecting McDonald’s placemats as a kid, the ones with the entire team’s photo. I’m pretty sure those are ancient history — come on, they were free — which is a pity. What easier way could there be to learn the team? Just match the name to the face while watching.

Those were lean years for the ‘Boys, which means they didn’t make it all the way. Really, I’d hate to play for the team, because anything less than winning the Super Bowl is considered a losing season. I look back and am surprised at how well Danny White & Co. really did — they just didn’t make it to the Big Game, and were branded losers.

My parents didn’t help: They’re big Packers fans, having grown up in Wisconsin. They claim to have pictures of me as a toddler in a Packers outfit. I refuse to believe this, and will deny it until I’m shown proof. Then I will destroy the proof and continue to deny, deny, deny.

By the time the Cowboys had returned to Super Bowl form, I was in college. Man, those were fun times. We’d get a keg, invite over friends, play a little Madden (on Super Nintendo) to see how the teams matched up. My roommate at the time loved Sundays — he could roll out of bed just as the pre-game show was starting. I totally concur.

There’s something exciting about seeing the team you’ve followed for decades, stuck with through some pretty low times, become absolutely dominant. Despite the many reasons I hate the NFL’s new trend toward the mediocre… errrr, parity… I do like that more and more fans will see their teams make it to the Super Bowl. More underdogs will make it and win. (Witness last year’s champs, the Patriots.) It’s a vindication: I endured some crappy games, but now it’s come to this.

Of course, parity means fewer teams will stay dominant. Let me rant for a minute here: Looking at Major League Baseball, I can see why the NFL wanted parity. I mean, come on, is it worth watching when you just know the Yankees will win again? The NFL suits didn’t want that lack of interest. But here’s the rub: The nature of football prevents such total domination. Players’ careers are far shorter, which is why we saw a new dynasty every decade — and even then, "dynasty" didn’t prevent other teams from making quick trips to the Super Bowl. In all NFL history, only three teams have won five Super Bowls. That’s over a span of, for the modern incarnation, more than 40 years. Pro football creates its own parity; the NFL has just made it harder to root for a team of players. You never know where a said player will be next season.

Okay, rant over.

So, here we are again. The weather is turning. The preseason is almost over. My Cowboys won’t be dominant this season, but they’ve got a good young team. I’ll be sitting in front of the TV watching the game, a tradition I’ve held for most of my life, cheering the silver and blue and loving America’s new pastime.


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