The League

Dave Goldberg
Sports Reporter

Dave Goldberg

Covered the NFL for the AP for 25 years and now is a senior NFL writer for



At this stage of the playoffs, everyone is under pressure, especially teams and players who are supposed to win, like Peyton Manning and the Colts who, for all their regular-season success, have only one Super Bowl victory. .

But the most pressure this weekend?

It has to be in Minneapolis at the Cowboys-Vikings game.

Think of why the Vikings went after Brett Favre: to win NOW. If they lose Sunday, they don't win now and Brett might go back to Mississippi and sit until June or July, while ESPN speculates endlessly about his return and breathlessly reports the departure of every private plane from the Hattiesburg airport.

Then think of the Cowboys, coach Wade Phillips and QB Tony Romo and their oft-stated propensity for "choking" in the playoffs, which ended only temporarily with last Saturday night's win over the Eagles. My view is that the "choking'' label is the product of the same media oversaturation that fixates on Favre -- fans of EVERY team that doesn't win a Super Bowl are left frustrated and most have had a lot less long-term success than Dallas.

Let's look at two people and one institution -- Jerry Jones, Brad Childress and ESPN, which as a corporate entity thinks its mandate is to dictate what sports fans are supposed to be thinking.

In person, Jones is charming and often delightful, even when he talks in circles. He's as desperate to win every season as Daniel Snyder but more successful at it -- although a 49-65 record from 2000-2006 doesn't exactly fill the bill.

He's also made everyone forget that he didn't invent "America's Team.''

He bought the Cowboys in 1989 after Tex Schramm, Tom Landry and Gil Brandt had spent almost 30 years giving the franchise that label, turning it not only into a consistent winner (the Landry-Brandt part) but into a larger-than-life picture of what we were supposed to think of Texas (the Schramm part). "North Dallas Forty'' written by former Cowboy Pete Gent, was a book and movie long before Jerry arrived from Arkansas.

But we have short memories and the Cowboys' three titles in 1992, 1993 and 1995, enhanced the larger-than-life reputation. Especially since the soap opera aspects were enhanced by Jerry's high-profile divorce from Jimmy Johnson, who built that team and coached it through the first two championships.


In his job insecurity, a condition that goes with his profession, he reached for Favre to fill out a highly skilled team that lacked a proven quarterback. So far, it's worked. But if the Vikings lose Saturday, the insecurity returns and maybe he's stuck next year with Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels at the game's most critical position.


It doesn't care.

It can fill the air with speculation on Favre's future. Or Phillips' future. Or Romo's social life. Or ...

Hey, whatever happened to T.O?

By Dave Goldberg  |  January 15, 2010; 11:24 AM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , Minnesota Vikings Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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