Dear Dallas Cowboys

John W. Pinkerton

Dear Dallas Cowboys,

It has come to my attention that you fellows aren’t what you once were.  I’m not what I once was either, but, Hell, I’m seventy years old.  You guys are just as young as you ever were. 

Another football season has come and gone again, and once again you didn’t make the playoffs.  What the Hell is going on out there in Arlington?

You’ve won five ding-dang Super Bowls...when I was a pup.  Your Super Bowl record, frankly, is impressive (as ancient history): 1970--lost Super Bowl V to the Colts 16-13; 1971--won Super Bowl VI over the Dolphins 24-3; 1975--lost Super Bowl X to the Steelers 21-17; 1977--won Super Bowl XII over the Broncos 27-10; 1978--lost Super Bowl XIII to the Steelers 35-31; 1992--won Super Bowl XXVII over the Bills 52-17; 1993--won Super Bowl XXVIII over the Steelers 35-31; 1995--won Super Bowl XXX over the Steelers 27-17.  Fellows, it’s been darn near twenty years since the Cowboys appeared at a Super Bowl...other than as folks sitting in the stands.

Losing in the early years was understandable: 1960 (0-11-1), 1961 (4-8-1), 1962 (5-8-1), 1963 (4-10), 1964 (5-8-1).  In 1965, they made a breakthrough to the Playoff Bowl where they lost to the Colts 35-3.  In 1966 they lost the NFL Championship game to the Packers 34-27.  In 1967, they lost the NFL Championship game to the  Packers 21-17.

Since the big Super Bowl win in ‘95, you apparently decided to take a couple of decades off from all of the pressure of success.  What little success you had was pretty weak beer: 1996, lost divisional playoffs to Panthers 26-17; 1998, lost Wild Card Playoffs to Cardinals 20-7; 1999, lost Wild Card Playoffs to Vikings 27-10; 2003, lost Wild Card Playoffs to Panthers 29-10; 2006, lost Wild Card Playoffs to Seahawks 21-20; 2007, lost Divisional Playoffs to Giants 21-17; 2009, lost Divisional Playoffs to Vikings 34-3.

In 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012, nothing, nil, nix, nada, null, cypher, naught, zero, zilch, zip--the kind of record that deserves disdain.

I have to admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the Cowboys in the early years.  In 1960 I was off to LSU and was busy cheering for my college team, a team which, undoubtedly could have easily beaten the early Cowboy teams.  Then I lost a couple of years to the Army.  I had bigger sauerkraut to fry than the Cowboys for those two years.  When I finally got home to Texas, the Cowboys were busy losing to the Green Bay Peckers.  But, they made a darn good effort--damned frozen field.

That’s when I became a Cowboys fan.  They were a classy team with good looking jerseys led by a fellow
one had to admire, Tom Landry.  Thomas Wade Landry played football in the NFL and followed this by spending twenty-nine years as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.  Tom walked the sidelines in a dress suit, tie, and fedora.  He was innovative as a coach (4-3) defense, flex defense, the “Doomsday Defense.”  Tom didn’t care to share his thoughts much, but he demanded everyone’s respect, players and fans and owners.  "Leadership is a matter of having people look at you and gain confidence, seeing how you react. If you're in control, they're in control."  Tom passed away in 2000.  In Texas there are many schools and other institutions named in honor of Landry.  The one I like best is that in the animated sitcom, King of the Hill, the local middle school is named after Tom, and Tom is a personal hero of Hank Hill.  Hank even has a ceramic plate decorated by Tom Landry’s image which Hank turns to in times of need.  “Where did I go wrong, Tom?”

Years ago, Linda’s father, Eddie, nearly died from a burst appendix which went undiagnosed for five days.  We knew he was going to make it when he opened his eyes one Sunday, stared at the TV in his hospital room, and asked, “Is that old Tom?”  It was football season and Tom Landry was walking the sidelines.  We knew then that Eddie was going to recover.

After the new owner Jerry Jones fired Tom, he hired Jimmy Johnson.  Johnson had been a successful college coach winning a national championship at Miami, and he was an old buddy of Jerry’s having played football together at Arkansas.  Jimmy (1989-1993) won two Super Bowls.  After a falling out with Jerry, Jimmy moved on to the broadcast booth, and Jerry hired Barry Switzer (1994-1997).  Barry won one Super Bowl.  Jimmy, once again unhappy, fired Barry and moved on to Chan Gailey (1998-1999), Dave Campo (2000-2002), Bill Parcells (2003-2006), Wade Phillips (2007-2010) and Jason Garrett (2010-present).  Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips were pretty classy guys with good reputations as coaches.  One can’t argue with Jimmy Johnson’s success.  As for Barry Switzer, well, not a classy guy, but he did win a Super Bowl based on what Jimmy Johnson left behind.  I’m pretty sure Tom Landry, if he had died yet, would have turned over in his grave when Jerry hired Barry.  The rest of us just held our noses.

The quarterback is  a pretty important element to the success of an NFL team, and Dallas has had some good ones.  The first Dallas quarterback was Eddie LeBaron (1960-1961).  I never saw Eddie play; I was busy at LSU at the time.  Eddie was followed by my favorite Dallas quarterback, Don Meredith.  Don was a graduate of Mount Vernon High School.  He played football for SMU and signed up with the Dallas Cowboys in 1960 and became their starter in 1962 and continued as the starter through 1969.  In those early days, I
would catch Don and Coach Landry on the Cowboys TV show.  Don often had sprained ankles and a broken nose.  He often made light of his own athletic abilities.  When I watched him on Sundays, I always felt I was in the huddle with “Dandy” Don.  When he was playing in his final All-Star game he was miked.  I’ll never forget that in the huddle near the end of the game, Meredith declared to the huddle, “Boys, we’re going to march the ball down the field and score,”  and they did.  Of course Don, along with Frank Gifford and Howard Cossell, was one of the original broadcasters of Monday Night Football.  He became famous during these broadcasts for his rendition of “Turn out the lights, the party’s over” and picked up an Emmy for his efforts.  Don passed away in 2010.  I miss Don.  You probably remember or have heard of Craig Morton, Danny White, Roger Staubach, and Troy Aikman.  Do you remember Steve Beuerlein, Drew Bledsoe, Glenn Carano, Quincy Carter, Reggie Collier, Randall Cunningham, Don Heinrich, Drew Henson, Gary Hogeboom, Chad Hutchinson, Brad Johnson, Jon Kitna, Bernie Kosar, Babe Laufenberg, Ryan Leaf, Clint Longley, Stephen McGee, Rodney Peete,  Steve Pelluer, John Roach, Jerry Rhome, Clint Stoerner, Kevin Sweeney, Vinny Testaverde, Steve Wals, Wade Wilson, or Anthony Wright?  Each one was the starting quarterback for the Cowboys at least once.  Since 2005, Tony Romo has been the man.  Well, not the “man,” but the starter.  Nice guy.  The most exciting feature of his game is an unerring ability to throw an interception when we least expect it.

The original owner of the Dallas franchise was oilman Clint Murchinson, Jr.  In 1984, H. R. “Bum” Bright purchased the Dallas Cowboys from Murchinson.   Falling on hard financial times, Bright was forced by FSLIC to sell the franchise to Jerry Jones.  The Cowboys themselves had suffered a downturn during Bright’s ownership, but Jones was able to right the ship with some good draft choices and a new head coach, Jimmy Johnson.

Now as for Jerry Jones, I don’t have much to criticize Jones for.  He got off to a terrible start in my eyes when he unceremonially dumped the great Tom Landry.  Landry found out about his firing while he was playing golf.  It took a while for that wound to heal.  Jones has often been criticized for being too hands-on in his relationship to his team.  “His team” are the key words here.  It’s his money and his team.  He can have any relationship he wants.  Jones has built the biggest and best stadium with his money for the Cowboys.  I’ve never been there, but from what I’ve seen on television, it’s a place of which all Texans should be proud.  As for Jones’ facelift, at last it’s beginning to look fairly natural.  His surgeons seem to have gotten the skin a little tight in their enthusiasm for perfection.

The famous Dallas Cowboys’ Ring of Honor include the following: Bob Lilly, Don Meredith, Don Perkins, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, Tom Landry, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Bob Hayes, Tex Schramm, Cliff Harris, Rayfield Wright, Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Larry Allen, Drew Pearson, Charles Haley, and Michael Irvin.  Yeah, yeah, I know Michael had a few problems with drugs, but he’s finally gotten his act together.  Anyone who knows football and who understands character, know that these are folks of which all Texans, Hell, all Americans should be proud.

It’s a real shame: children have been born, entered  kindergarten, gotten their driver’s licenses, had their first kiss, graduated from high school, gone off to college, married, and even had children of their own...all without ever seeing the Cowboys in a Superbowl.  It’s damn near unbearable.

I recall a time when there was nothing better than fall Sundays when the sun was shining, the leaves were rustling, and the Cowboys were America’s Team.  Don’t you fellows think it’s time for the younger folks to enjoy this experience?

Yours sincerely,

John W. Pinkerton


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