Sunday, October 11, 2009

No One Knows What It's Like-Behind the Star

By Fidel Martinez * Other Fidel Martinez Posts

I was supposed to be working on something related to the importance of good television, pop culture, The Wire, and something or other. That's how I was supposed to come back to ATC after several independent projects forced me to take a long term hiatus. That was supposed to be my glorious return. Instead what brings me back today, faithful reader, is a beef and a nasty feeling of defeat I can't shake off. Yes, true believers, I make my-not-so-triumphant return by ranting on about the Dallas Cowboys, and I'm not particularly happy about this.

For those of you who have the unfortunate displeasure of knowing me personally, you know what I'm talking about. For those of you who don't, I have a confession to make: I am a Dallas Cowboys fan and have been since I can remember. It's not something that makes you popular outside of Texas. In fact, after college, I moved back to the safe confines of Austin, Texas to avoid persecution not unlike the tribe of Israel's mass exodus out of Egypt to find their own promised land . But back to the subject at hand, it becomes increasingly harder for me to stomach a Cowboys loss. It causes me great pain to watch my team lose, more so than having the nails torn out of my toes. For those of you who do not root for my team, I'm not asking you to feel sorry for me, nor do I expect you to. I really don't. Sure, you might equate my pain to that of the male, middle-class and white protagonist's in the Ben Folds Five song "Rockin' the Suburbs". Here's the thing, though. You all don't know what it's like. My pain is grander than yours. Sorry CL but being an almost dynasty doesn't compare to being a former one. Here's why.

Nothing is harder in sports than rooting for a team that was once great but can now no longer find the shadow of its former self. I feel particularly qualified to speak on this subject because I also grew up a Cubs fan. As someone who knows both kinds of defeat, having won a long time ago and falling from grace is much worse than being the perennial losers. The lovable losers do not know the sweet embrace of being in the promised land, whereas having once been champion, getting back there haunts every one of your dreams. Sure, the Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908, but hardly anyone ever remembers the Cubs as winning. In contrast, the Cowboys haven't won a Superbowl since the 1996 season, much less a playoff game since then. Think about that. I'm 24 now. The last Cowboys playoff victory came 13 years ago when I was a pre-teen.

Ask any true Yankees fan out there what the hardest thing about rooting for their team is and they'll tell you that it's not winning the World Series year after year. Everyone hates the Yankees, and no one knows this better than their fans. They know you hate them, but that doesn't bother them. What hurts a Yankees fan the most is losing. They expect to win year in and year out, and why shouldn't they? Theoretically they have the best overall talent, and the money to pay for that talent. Being a Cowboys fan is the same way. Everyone hates us, but that's okay because fuck those guys, they probably root for someone like the Chiefs. Rooting for a losing team is bad, but when your team is the team of Tom Landry, Roger Staubach, and the Triplets, then each loss is a god damn stomach punch. Hell, I hate the San Fransisco 49ers because of the 1990s rivalry with the Cowboys( see 1995 NFC Championship game), but I feel for them. Their pain is much like my own.

The Steve Bartman debacle is infamous in windy city sports, but if you ask any true Cubs fan out there, they'll tell you that in the back of their heads they knew something like that would end up happening. No doubt the North Siders had brought upon so much bad karma on themselves through the years (see, The Curse of the Billy Goat) that even so close to the World Series, the entire collective unconscious of the Wrigley faithful suspected that something bad was going to happen. Compare that to the 2006 NFC Wild Card Game against the Seattle Seahawks, otherwise known as the Tony Romo botched field goal. If you follow sports, you know exactly what game I'm talking about. It's one of the most gutwrenching Cowboys games in recent memory, and one of the most painful nights in my adult life. After spending the remainder of the 90s in the Dark Ages (see, The Quincy Carter Era, The Vinny Testaverde Era), the Cowboys decided to hand the reigns over to a young gunslinger named Tony Romo after having benched their middle aged quarterback Drew Bledsoe (who had earlier in his career also lost a starting gig to a then unknown Tom "Ow My Knee" Brady). While we went on to lose that game against the hated rival NY Giants, it seemed like we had finally found our savior. With Romo at the helm we made the playoffs in what seemed to be a lost season, and our once lost glory seemed to have been restored. Alas, the rest is history as shown by Youtube below . I remember that night sitting in my car outside of my parents house crying and taking comfort in a bottle of bourbon. No fan of a historically losing fan knows that pain. They expected it all along.

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