Yearning for Old Cowboys

Once again, it’s football season. Mike watches — no matter who’s playing. He especially watches the Cowboys — no matter how they’re doing. He’s a better fan than me.

In the playoffs last January, as we watched an Indianapolis Colts-Kansas City Chiefs game, and saw Dante Hall run a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown, I wanted so badly for it to be the Cowboys who were playing. I wanted that Kansas City stadium, covered with a red blur because of all the red-clad fans who were cheering so wildly for their Chiefs, to be Texas Stadium covered with a blue blur.

I wanted to be excited about the Dallas Cowboys.

But I can’t get excited about them anymore. Is it me because I’m older? Is it because the players’ priorities are not the same? Because so many care more about money and endorsements instead of loyalty to a team or coach? I don’t know the answer. I just remember once upon a time, back in the ’60s and ’70s …

On Sundays, after church, we turned on the TV to see the National Football League films that would come on before a game. The dramatic voice narrated what had gone on in the NFL during the week and we would listen and watch while helping my mother with Sunday dinner. When we sat down to eat, we’d turn the TV down while Daddy said the prayer, then turn it back up so we could hear more of the voice and the music that made NFL news sound every bit as important as the world news.

Then, the Cowboys would come on.

My mother and dad had their chairs, and my next youngest sister, Peggy, and I would take our spots in front of the TV. We watched every play. We knew the ref’s hand signals. We knew each player’s number.

We cheered when they did good and were deflated when they messed up. But even when they did mess up, they were still our champions and we loved them.

That was our football team, like our high school team, but they were grown men. They were our Texas team and we rooted for them and cared for them.

We got to see Bob Lilly in person once, and he signed the collar of my white leather jacket. You would have thought Elvis touched me.

Come game time, I’d be wearing one of my special shirts; a blue and silver velour pullover shirt or a sweatshirt with a little teddy bear holding a Cowboy’s pennant. I’ve still got them after all these years.

Peggy also had a special Cowboy shirt — a T-shirt with a picture of Charlie Waters on front. Charlie and Cliff Harris were two of the best safeties not just in Cowboy history, but in football history. Her shirt’s about 30 years old now, worn and faded.

For Christmas two years ago, Peggy gave her husband a picture with her standing between Charlie and Cliff, while they were out promoting their book, “Tales from the Dallas Cowboys.” She put a note with the picture that said, “My dream finally came true.” It was a joke, sort of.

While she waited in line at the book signing, her daughter ran home and got the T-shirt. Charlie signed it “All my love, Charlie.” Peggy and I had a little crush on him, so he was special, but not much more special than the rest of the Cowboys.

Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Preston Pearson, Billy Joe DuPree, Rayfield Wright, Harvey Martin, Randy White, “Too Tall” Jones, Lee Roy Jordan, Jethro Pugh, Charlie Waters, Cliff Harris, Robert Newhouse, and, of course, Tom Landry — mention any one of those names, or others from that era and I think of those times when I was passionate about football, Dallas Cowboy football.

I just want that back — a team to be passionate about. Passionate in a positive way, in a way that you can watch them and cheer for them. I want the excitement back. I want to be excited about a team that wants to play football. Players who care that they are THE Dallas Cowboys and who care about the team’s heritage. Players who, like it or not, are examples to young boys and girls and act according to that responsibility.

Is that too much to ask? I don’t know anything about agents, contracts, or the wheeling and dealing that goes on. I don’t even know why the Tuna is called the Tuna. All I know is that I want to watch football where the guys playing love their team as much as I used to and want to again.

Jerry, can you hear me?

By Kathy Floyd
First appeared in Sanger Courier, Oct, 2005

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