By Phil Bausk

Most of us start watching sports at a relatively young age. If we were lucky enough, our parents or older siblings took us to games and helped us chose which teams we would spend the rest of our lives rooting for. Bonds are formed between fathers, sons, and brothers, and one of life’s paths is carved out for us to follow diligently and loyally, though we are still in the cocoon stages of fandom before blossoming into a true sports fanatic.

As the years mature so do we, both physically (wink, wink) and mentally. We start to figure out what the important things in life are. Clearly, certain things are more important to us at different points in our lives. The opposite sex doesn’t even become a factor till the end of Jr. High School, though in today’s blow-first ask questions later society, I think the 8 and 9 year olds are getting in on the action as well.

While sex becomes more important as time goes on, I found that school became less important as I got older. Teachers didn’t care for what I had to say and that immediately would turn me away from any class. School was just something that had to be done, not something that I cared about. One Bachelors degree later, I am where most people are, at a 9-5 job, staring aimlessly at a computer screen while trying to save some ESPN.com articles for when I have to make a bathroom run.

So where do sports come into all of this? I have found in my conversations with other people in life, that sports are not restricted to one time period in someone’s life. Some people have had more intense sports experiences as a child, while others didn’t get into sports until college or later. Whether its your group of friends growing up, or perhaps parents who were more involved in culturally sophisticated endeavors, a child is really only going to get into sports from an outside influence.

For me, sports were a big part of my family’s dynamic. My father taught me about the Red Sox and Celtics, my brother was, and unfortunately still is, a Mets fan, and my mother would just yell at me whenever the Yankees beat the Red Sox. There was one sport, however, that while I loved to play, I never had a favorite team to root for, and that was today’s most popular sport, football. Being that I copied whatever my father did, I was going to listen to him about which team to root for when it came to the National Football League. However, my father wasn’t really into any specific football team. He would leisurely root for the Jets and the Colts, but he was more concerned about the advancements and regressions in the sport, such as how there were no more puddles on the field, or how television announcers had become to bad over time.

My brother grew up a NY Giants fan, though he never attempted to persuade me to root for them. I think he knew that since I was always trying to beat him in sports or video games, that I would never agree to root for the Giants if he was rooting for them as well. Me and my brother are very close, and have been since I was born. I know that growing up, he let me win a lot of games we played, and allowed me to hang out with his friends, even though he is 10 years older than I am. While we did all of these things together, there is still that sibling rivalry in most families that I believe is instilled in children at birth. I could never find myself rooting for the Giants, especially as I was already geared to hate New York teams with my affinity for the Boston Red Sox.

One Sunday afternoon, I turned on the TV to see what games were on, or if  there was a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episode on. I saw this marvelous stadium, with fireworks shooting as the players left a giant helmet with a big blue star on the side. I could feel the energy coming from the TV, as both teams got ready for the kickoff. One of the teams was the NY Giants that I had already loathed for no real good reason. The other was a team decked out in all white, and had a swagger (A word that didn’t exist yet) about them that i was immediately drawn to. That team was the Dallas Cowboys.

Growing up, the Cowboys won 3 Super Bowls, and while I was happy that they had won, admittedly, I was too young to truly appreciate the feat that they had accomplished during that era. For me, sports, especially football, took on a whole new meaning once I reached high school. I was playing sports at a much more competitive level and I had somewhat of an idea of how these legends of the gridiron prepared for games. Unfortunately at this time, the Dallas Cowboys had become one of  the most mediocre teams in the NFL, and I was stuck praying for some sort of reversal of fortune in my pathetic sports world (Thank you 2004 NY Yankees). At this point in my life, I was on the edge of my seat for every Pedro Martinez pitch, for every Paul Pierce step back jumper, and every Drew Bledsoe incomplete pass. This meant that sports were slowly taking over my life.

After the Red Sox won the World Series, my sports world turned upside-down. The Red Sox went on to win another championship in 2007, and the Celtics won for the first time in over 20 years, with a title of their own in 2008. Even the Chicago Blackhawks, the team I admittedly care about the least, were able to pull off a Stanley Cup victory in the prime of my sports life. While these events have helped me through certain points in my life, there is still one thing I would like to see before I hit the “Stephon Marbury” years of my career as a sports fanatic.

For the last few seasons, the Dallas Cowboys have been one of the preseason favorites to make it to the Super Bowl, or at least contend for a Super Bowl, but as the saying goes, championships aren’t won in September. Much like the rest of the Dallas media, I had fallen in love in those last few seasons with a man named Tony Romo…

Undrafted out of Eastern Illinois University, Romo subbed in for starter Drew Bledsoe during the first half of the 2006-07 season. After some early struggles, he settled down and helped lead the Cowboys to the playoffs. And then it happened…. the moment that has defined Romo’s career even to this day.

After driving his team the length of the field, Romo was in to hold the snap for game winning field goal. He fumbled the snap, scrambled towards the end-zone, and was tackled at the 1 yard-line, ending the Cowboys season. The image of Romo hunched over, grabbing his face mask resonates in the mind of Cowboys fans everywhere. As the seasons went on, so did the playoff disappointments. A disastrous 2nd half against my brother’s giants, along with a horrendous 3 quarters against the Minnesota Vikings helped strengthen the case against Romo ever becoming a Super Bowl winning quarterback.

It is easy to pin everything on the celebrity QB who dated a knockout, then a blonde sex symbol, and then dumped a fat chick, with two of those being the same person. However, Romo has done a solid job as the starting QB and I feel comfortable with him at the helm, even in games past December 1st.

The team has had a lot of questions over the last few years, such as its secondary, and how it is inexcusable to have Dave Campo as the cornerbacks coach when he hasn’t done anything positive in his entire career as a professional coach. The linebackers starting alongside All-World LB Demarcus Ware have been over-hyped since day 1 with the exception of Bradie James. Greg Ellis was over the hill, Anthony Spencer looks lost, Bobby Carpenter looked like a mentally slow Clay Matthews, and Keith Brooking needs to start taking some form of medication (Though this clip is awesome). Others have come and failed, and it leaves us all wishing Dat Nguyen would suit up and come out of retirement for just one magical season.

On offense, the skill positions have been tended to relatively well, but the big contracts doled out to offensive lineman have worked only in spurts. Leonard Davis isn’t worth the money he is making now, and some of it should be given to Doug Free. Marc Columbo hasn’t played a good game of football in about 18 months and his career looks to be over. Kyle Kosier was an injury prone starter for the Detroit Lions…enough said.

Something has to be done with personnel selections by this team’s front office and that means that Jerry Jones has to give some leeway to Jason Garrett and his coaching staff about what players he wants to put on the field. While Jones has said he would not tinker with Garrett’s roster decisions, it is more than likely Jones’ two cents will be heard come draft day.

But again, here were are with another off-season to tease my generation, the generation that really hasn’t seen a very good Dallas Cowboys team. My generation should not be allowed to fall back on the dynasty of the 1990’s, we were too young to appreciate everything that was going on during that time. Cowboys fans, when was the last time you can remember celebrating so ferociously that you let out curse words you only use during sex or when you stub your toe? If you cheered that way during the Eagles playoff game last year, that shows how much the Cowboys have fallen since its glory days.

Now here in 2011, we sit, patiently waiting to see what Jerry Jones and Co. will do to improve next year’s team that can be anywhere from a 6 win team to the division champ. We wonder if he will go with a need at the draft, or take another game-breaker like Dez Bryant.

(Quick thought here, how awesome does Dez Bryant look? Forget about his overconfidence and his inability to respect other people, he looks like the Akron Scammer in a football jersey. He runs faster than everyone, he jumps higher than everyone, and he catches anything that his his massive banana hands. I get why some teams passed on him in the draft, but still, plenty of teams could have used a number 1 WR , I’m looking at you  San Diego and Jacksonville. Regardless of his attitude, the guy clearly had enough talent to be selected in the top 20, and I can’t remember a number 1 WR coming out of college besides Andre Johnson or Larry Fitzgerald who didn’t have some sort of swagger problem.)

My father always told me that when you win, you act like a gentleman. You go out there, shake your opponents hands with sincerity, and then go and celebrate with your teammates. I watched the 2004 World Series with my father, and we watched something he thought he would never see in his lifetime, a Red Sox championship. We hugged, kissed, and even shared some tears with one another, but that was it. There was the excusable scream when Keith Foulke nabbed that Edgar Renteria grounder but that was it.

In 2007, there was the mandatory scream when Jonathan Papelbon struck out Seth Smith to win the ’07 series. My father called me, we exchanged pleasantries for about an hour and that was it. After the Celtics derailed the Lakers in 2008, I drove home, gave my father a kiss when he was asleep, and we spoke about it the next day in great detail. While I am from the generation of baggy shorts, coarse language, and mainstream rap music, I have managed to gain some sense of humility through my father, compared with a lot of people in our generation.

I have been blessed in the past decade in my world of sports, perhaps the most important decade of sports in my entire life. I would say I am right in the middle of my “Kevin Durant” years of liking sports, as I am hitting my prime and still have a good amount of time left before a family, a real job, and responsibility drag me away from some of the things I love. Before I fade into the abyss known as adulthood, I would like to celebrate a Cowboys Super Bowl, not for gloating or for superficial reasons, but rather so that when I watch with my kids, they can see me get emotional and I can try and teach them how to win, something that the Dallas Cowboys should be trying to learn this off-season.

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Comments
  1. Micah says:

    Incredible…

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