Having just been to Dallas this past weekend, I can tell you no one, and I mean no one, wants to talk about NFL football down there. They'll talk sports—including the Rangers and college football—but there will be no mention of the Dallas Cowboys, America's Team. On Sunday I visited an old college buddy and his family who live in a Dallas suburb, and not once do I recall seeing a Cowboys flag hanging from a front porch or out of a car window. (My friend sported a Notre Dame sweatshirt and said he couldn't be happier to see his home team losing. Like many, he has an almost visceral hatred toward the owner, Jerry Jones, for reasons too numerous to list in this blog.)
Following the Cowboys' disastrous loss to the Green Bay Packers, 45-7, on Sunday night, a local TV anchor covered his eyes when telling viewers to stay tuned for highlights from the game. On the radio the next morning, a station's sports reporter was begging his colleagues to skip him and move on to traffic and weather. But when forced into a discussion of the massacre at Lambeau Field, radio personalities took turns making fun of the team, referring to the recently fired coach, Wade Phillips, as the Stay-Puft marshmallow man. Also criticized was cornerback Mike Jenkins for not exactly putting his all into stopping a touchdown. One caller said that aside from terrorism, "the thing Mike Jenkins fears the most is the football."
Having spent almost 20 years in Washington, and having suffered at least the last ten as a Redskins fan, I found it rather amusing to witness all the haranguing about another team and its owner—on the television, on the radio, and especially in print. One columnist said the team was simply "unwatchable." Wrote Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News, "No place should be considered a safe haven for viewing a team that has quit so obviously it is embarrassing to all concerned." His colleague Jean-Jacques Taylor bluntly demanded Phillips be fired, "putting the beleaguered coach out of his misery," and adding, "Frankly, keeping Phillips should be considered cruel and unusual punishment."
Although there was some speculation that Jones would keep Phillips until the end of the season—he's never fired a coach midseason and a looming lockout could complicate matters—it finally happened yesterday. Reading Jones's comments following the most recent debacle, however, it seemed clear to me that heads were going to roll:
I think there are a lot of people here that certainly are going to suffer and suffer the consequences.... I'm talking within the team, players, coaches. They've got careers, and this is certainly a setback. I know firsthand what it is to have high expectations. I think that unquestionably our expectations were thinking we were something we weren't.... I think everybody in this country would agree there's a lot wrong with this team. We've got to address them and certainly I'm the one to address them. But I'm gonna wait—after the baptism. I've decided to be godfather to Connie's baby. And then I'll meet with Don Barzini—and Tattaglia—all of the heads of the Five Families...
(Apologies to Godfather aficionados. We all know Jerry Jones is not Michael Corleone. He's more like Don Barzini. And Dan Snyder is Tattaglia.)
So if you're still wondering why on earth Redskins coach Mike Shanahan removed star QB Donovan McNabb with only a few minutes left in the game, sparking a quarterback controversy, remember things could be a lot worse. At least this season.
Update 4:25 p.m.: A colleague points out that, on the contrary, there has been some scoring going on at Texas Stadium—at least by a fan and a girlfriend who provides him an impromptu, Miller-lite inspired, lap dance. It's gone viral, with over 113,000 hits, which can't make Jerry Jones happy. In my home! Where my coach sleeps! Where my players pretend to play football. (WARNING: This link is highly inappropriate for an office environment and has absolutely nothing to do with the 2010 election, the possible repeal of Obamacare, or the prospects of the president's reelection.)