by Elliot Imes
Grantland writer Brian Phillips wrote a piece last week about the New York Knicks where he celebrated their current futility. He poked fun at their fanbase, and I was on board for all of it, until he wrote something that cut particularly deep:
“I can’t imagine a Knicks fan thinking their experience, or their team, is more important than it actually is. That doesn’t sound at all like HAHA I’M BEING SARCASTIC IT TOTALLY DOES SOUND LIKE THEM.”
I have never read anything that more accurately describes how I act as a Cowboys fan.
The total collapse by the Cowboys has already been beaten to death in just four days, as everyone has piled onto various scapegoats:
– Tony Romo threw interceptions on two consecutive drives at the end of the game, perfectly playing into the hands of unimaginative, parroting football fans who long ago bought into the narrative of Romo being “unclutch” and won’t let it go.
– Jason Garrett’s play-calling left a lot to be desired, as it usually does. The media then dropped their laptops in excitement when Garrett appeared to specifically blame Romo for a play going bad.
– Monte Kiffin, 73-year old defensive coordinator, is very old and his defense is an abomination. It doesn’t matter that they’re missing several starters due to injury. No defense should be this horrible. And a 73-year old guy shouldn’t be coaching.
The Cowboys were up 23 points at the half. This shouldn’t have been a game. But this is the Cowboys we’re talking about here. Just two years ago, they blew a 24-point lead to the Lions and lost. That was another one where the blame fell directly on Romo, as he threw two interceptions returned for touchdowns on consecutive drives. One of those was returned by Bobby Carpenter, a guy who just months earlier was a groomsman in Romo’s wedding. Proof that Romo has no one in his life he can trust.
In both that game and in last Sunday’s flaming garbage fire of a game, I viewed the collapses as experiences that no other team has ever put their fans through. I felt as if nothing could be more embarrassing, more depressing, than your team tripping over their own feet in such spectacularly dumb fashion.
As the collapse took true form during the Packers game, I felt myself pulling away from the Cowboys. I was busy making Pigs in a Blanket for a potluck at my friends Mike and Brandon’s house, where we would be watching a WWE pay-per-view. Baking any kind of food, even something as simple as Pigs in a Blanket, is a huge task for me, so it required the utmost of concentration. So even as the Cowboys began giving up a touchdown on EVERY SINGLE DRIVE OF THE SECOND HALF, I had to separate myself from it for the time being and get these damn Pigs in a Blanket rolled up and thrown in the oven. Which, coincidentally, is where I wanted to stick my head after the Cowboys lost.
But you know what, that’s not even true. Because right when that game finished, and I gathered up the results of my baking and put sheets on our bed and took our dog out and then hustled out the door to go watch wrestling, I decided that I was done with the Cowboys.
Honestly, what is the point? Where is the fun in this? It’s likely that this will be the third year in a row that the Cowboys will miss the playoffs and go 8-8, as the purest possible example of mediocrity. They are always good enough to get your hopes up, and then they take those hopes, stomp on them and rub them in your face like shards of glass. I actually envy fans of teams like the Raiders who are never good enough to inspire hope, so you just watch them and take the good times wherever you can get them. They must be having a better time than me, right?
And here was the point where I remembered that line from Brian Phillips: “Thinking their experience, or their team, is more important than it actually is.” This resonates for me because it is quite clear that I do not belong to the most put-upon fanbase in the world. Such a fanbase is almost impossible to definitively find, but it certainly isn’t mine. My team wins games sometimes. They have good players. They seem to know how to play football. Fans of other teams many times cannot say the same.
I get so stuck in my own worldview that I forget other people have it so much rougher than me. This could get into a whole wealth/poverty pothole, but you know the deal with that, so let’s not bother. What does matter is my singular focus that I need to stop. The Cowboys suck, but so do lots of things. They are not special. I am not special.
I stormed out the door, Pigs in a Blanket in hand, vowing to stop caring about the Cowboys, at least for this season. I am sticking to that. If they win, I’ll be fine. If they lose, I’ll be fine. It doesn’t matter.
I drove to Mike and Brandon’s house and watched WWE’s Tables, Ladders and Chairs PPV. Though pro wrestling usually teeters on the brink of mediocrity, just like the Cowboys, it has been a much more constant presence in my life, and has provided much more entertainment free of too much emotional investment.
We saw the incredible Bray Wyatt turn in his best performance yet, stalking Daniel Bryan in the ring, audibly projecting his voice so that everyone in the arena could hear his frazzled, cult leader-like offers of acceptance, which Bryan rejected, causing Wyatt to beat him down with possessed vengeance.
It’s still unclear what exactly the Wyatt Family’s agenda might be, but Wyatt ends many of his speeches by telling us all: “Follow the buzzards.”
Take a look at us Cowboys fans, beaten down and lying by the side of the road. The buzzards will guide you. All roads lead to a wasteland.