The League

Michael Kun
Author

Michael Kun

Co-author of The Football Uncyclopedia. He is also the author of six other books and is a practicing attorney.

Love 'em or hate 'em, it's all about Big D

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If there is another team in professional sports that fans feel as passionately about as the Dallas Cowboys, it's hard to identify it.

The Yankees come close. And the USC Trojans aren't a professional team, technically speaking.

With the Cowboys, you either love them or you hate them. Few football fans have neutral feelings about the Cowboys. There's simply no middle ground with them.

You either love the Cowboys and want them to win, or you are rooting for whatever team is playing them to crush them into powder.

It's not difficult to pinpoint where this phenomenon comes from. It started with the "America's Team" nonsense in the 1970s, it continued with the arrogance of the teams in the 80s and 90s, and it's been perpetuated by everything associated with Jerry Jones' ownership of the club, from dumping Tom Landry unceremoniously to the $1 billion monument to all things Cowboys -- a stadium that is so over-the-top that it's a mild surprise to learn that the men's room urinals are not filled with champagne.

Whatever the Cowboys do or don't do, it's bound to get more media attention than what the Falcons do or don't do. Or the Raiders, or Bears, or whatever your favorite team may be. It's just the nature of the Cowboys.

Tony Romo wouldn't be "Tony Romo" if he played for the Kansas City Chiefs. He'd just be another slightly above-average quarterback with a messy postseason record. And he wouldn't be dating as many celebrities, either.

The same is true for many of the Cowboys past and present. They became household names not necessarily because they were better than players on the other teams, but because of the attention they got simply because they wore a star on their helmet.

Think Michael Irvin was a better receiver than Chris Carter or Herman Moore? Think again. If Carter or Moore had played in Dallas, they'd be the ones in the Hall of Fame.

Everything the Cowboys do is larger than what other teams have done because of the strong feelings virtually everyone has for the team. Everything is magnified.

So when the Cowboys look good, they're bound to be overrated.

Which is what happened this year.

The last we saw of the Cowboys last season, they were being crushed by the Vikings in the playoffs. The final score was something like 144-9. At least it felt that way.

They made a few tweaks here and there during the off-season, like every team did.

But, unlike virtually every team, those tweaks led a good percentage of the press to predict that the Cowboys would be playing in this season's Super Bowl in their $1 billion monument. If I had a dollar for every magazine or website that predicted a Cowboys-Jets Super Bowl, well, I'd have at least 20 bucks.

Somehow adding Dez Bryant turned the Cowboys from playoff flame-outs to Super Bowl contenders in the eyes of media and fans for no other reason that that they want the Cowboys to succeed or fail on a grand scale.

You didn't need to see Sunday's lackluster, mistake-filled, penalty-fest against the Redskins to know that the Cowboys were more than a bit overrated.

Sure, it was just one game and they may still make it to the Super Bowl this season. But you could say the same about more than half of the league.

Heck, you could say that about the entire NFC East.

Anyone could win the NFC East this season. And, yes, that includes the Redskins. There isn't a single dominant team in the division this year. It's going to come down to schedules, and hot streaks, and teams clicking at the right time, and maybe a little luck. (Like, say, a fumble recovery for a touchdown at the end of the first half on a meaningless play, or a holding penalty that nullifies a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds. Yes, Redskins fans, there was more than a little luck involved in Sunday's victory over the Cowboys. Don't deny it. Just be glad the luck went your way this time.)

Tony Romo and the Cowboys really shouldn't scare many teams this year. Nor should Donovan McNabb and the Redskins, Kevin Kolb (or Michael Vick) and the Eagles, or Eli Manning and the Giants.

They are all good, but not great, teams at this point. (Key phrase: "at this point.")

That may change as the season wears on, but after Sunday's games, they look more closely matched than they have in a while. In fact, they could all end up 8-8 and it shouldn't surprise us.

But if they did all end up 8-8, we wouldn't hear about how the Eagles had a disappointing season or the Redskins had a stronger-than-expected one. No, all we would hear about is how disappointing the Cowboys were.

By Michael Kun  |  September 14, 2010; 9:57 AM ET  | Category:  Dallas Cowboys , Michael Vick , New York Giants , Philadelphia Eagles , Washington Redskins Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Dallas sucks...........
HTTR

Posted by: cowbell | September 14, 2010 11:40 AM

Saying that Dallas is relevant no matter what their record is speaks to the resolve of their fan base and I for one applaud them. There is nothing worse than a fair-weather fan.

Having said that, Dallas is the Notre Dame of pro football. All Hope and hype and no real chance of winning a national title.

PS. Give Michael Irvin his due. Don't throw him under the bus. He made mince meat of our beloved Darrell Green when he (Irvin) was at his peak with his patented "push off".

Posted by: ProfessorWrightBSU | September 14, 2010 12:06 PM

I would disagree on only one point: Romo would be Romo on any decent team. Since he started, there are only one or two QB's who have better numbers and he just wins, his record as a starter is great. Yes, the team has trouble with the post-season. The same was true of Peyton for years. Do we go back and say he was just "middling" until he won all the big games? No, he was great then as well.

Posted by: Vance14 | September 14, 2010 1:40 PM

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