By: Elliot Imes
I’d like to start by thanking Karissa and Justin for allowing me the opportunity to do this. They are kind people (full disclosure: I’ve never met Justin, but I am assuming he is nice).
And I’d like to thank you if you read this or any of the other pieces I write in the future. I hope it’s worth it.
So, the Dallas Cowboys. They are at once one of the most popular teams in sports, and also one of the most hated and mocked teams in sports. They were great in the 70’s, sucked in the 80’s, ruled in the 90’s, and have pretty much been insignificant ever since. Come to think of it, they have followed the same trajectory as popular rock’n’roll with guitars. And they are both causes that I wholeheartedly support, in the face of extreme opposition.
I swear I’m not an asshole. I just love the Dallas Cowboys. What you read for the next three months will be me convincing myself that I am not an asshole because I love the Dallas Cowboys.
The Cowboys currently stand at 2-2. Most recently, they lost in painful fashion to the Chargers, where they led by 11 points at halftime and then let the game whizz down their legs. But let’s put that game aside for now, as I discuss my trip three weeks ago to Kansas City, where I saw the Cowboys play the Chiefs.
As you drive into Arrowhead Stadium, you are doing it very slowly because the traffic getting there is horrible. The parking lot is enormous, and because most people chose to just follow the line of endless traffic (as we did), everyone just tumbled into the lot and had to make sense of the chaos. We slowly drove past tailgate party after tailgate party, short school buses blasting “Blurred Lines,” red-clad football fans of all ages crowded around grills drinking and doing tailgate-related activities like eating and also vomiting. And all of them possessed with a near-psychotic hatred of the Cowboys and anyone wearing blue.
Joining me on this trip was my stepdad Joe and my sister Sarah. Joe is the reason I am cursed with my Cowboys fandom. When he came into our family, I wanted to like the stuff he liked, and unfortunately this was when the Cowboys were great, so it made sense for Joe and I to root for this team. My sister Sarah isn’t as obsessed as us, but for a career-driven 17-year old who has way more stuff to care about than football, she seems to be pretty invested in the team.
As we walked into Arrowhead, it became apparent that we were not alone. When you root for an obnoxiously omnipresent team like the Cowboys, you are guaranteed to show up at one of their road games and find a whole bunch of kindred spirits. I’d guess that somewhere around 40% of the people in attendance were Cowboys fans (That has to be slightly demoralizing for the people of Kansas City, but hey, times are tough and these tickets are crazy expensive. I can’t get mad at anyone for not wanting to break the bank to see strangers play football). Joe and Sarah wore matching Tony Romo jerseys, while I wore a Cowboys shirt with a very basic design. It is very important to identify yourself in situations like these, so you know who to trust, and who to be wary of.
But like most of my paranoid fears, this one turned out to be fictional. 99% of the Chiefs fans we encountered were kind people: a little battle-scarred from how shitty their team has been, giving us the appropriate amount of shit for being Cowboys fans yet unable to hide the Midwestern hospitality and warmness of spirit that bursts at the seams of their Jamaal Charles jerseys. The tall 30-ish redneck-ish guy that sat to my left derisively called me “Romo,” but also acted as my Arrowhead Sherpa by telling me about the stadium and his team, and by making me feel at ease with great conversation. Our only rough patch happened when a video package played on the big screen of quarterback Alex Smith woodenly reading some kind of ad copy, prompting me to make a joke about their quarterback being super charismatic, to which he replied with a confused silence.
Before the game, WWE Hall of Famer and possibly my favorite pro wrestler of all time, Shawn Michaels, made an appearance on the field and threw out the game ball. I leapt up from my seat in total shock, as the last thing I expected was to see Shawn goddamn Michaels that day. I cheered and screamed at everyone in my section, “That’s Shawn Michaels! He’s right there!” All of this received the same confused silence as my Alex Smith joke. But I didn’t care. I was a few hundred feet away from an absolute saint, and you are supposed to show saints the proper respect by yelling “Holy shit” a whole bunch.
If Shawn Michaels hadn’t inexplicably popped into my life that day, the trip might not have been worth it because the game was pretty lousy. Dez Bryant was a monster in the first half, but because head coach Jason Garrett likes to stop any sign of life his team shows, Dez barely made a peep in the second half. There were no terribly impressive plays. The Chiefs threw a lot of short passes with boring efficiency. The Cowboys kicked a lot of field goals, and like always, kicked a field goal when they should have went for a first down. Their defense then folded on the next drive, and the game went out of reach. Chiefs win, 17-16.
I walked out with Joe and Sarah, again relieved that we had so many fellow Cowboys fans around who could share in our sadness. This is a sadness very familiar to anyone who roots for the Cowboys, as you’ll hear about in the coming weeks. We get excited, then we cry, then we move on.
But again, the Chiefs fans around us were classy as could be. When the game was done, a few people even shook our hands. It’s possible they wouldn’t have done this if the Cowboys had won, especially because I would have been standing on my seat doing crotch chops in their faces, but I’d like to think even then they would have turned the other cheek and smiled. That’s just how people behave in the Midwest. We get too invested in things that shouldn’t matter, but we always come back to Earth and remember how to be a decent person.
Except for the asshole in the parking lot hanging out of a moving car who yelled at me and made fun of me. Fuck that guy. I bet Shawn Michaels would have kicked his ass.