*For everybody wondering what the hell this is, please set an hour aside and check out my other FanPost, "Blue Sunset: the Epic Tragedy of the twentyten Dallas Cowboys." For everybody else, this is for yall...go Cowboys!
Offseason Hell. This is the grim and desolate place where any gridiron warrior slain on their pilgrimage to Playoff Mountain must sojourn until the new season. Dank, unforgiving and stifling hot, it was a trying environment for even the bravest of souls...including our own Jasonidas and his Cowboy army, felled in the throes of battle by the dog-king Vixses and his mighty horde. There they stood, amongst the erupting flames and echoing lamentations of the damned, awaiting the full torments of Offseason Hell. Jasonidas led his valorous men into the main hall...the first circle of offseason hell.
The cavernous main hall, mouthlike with stalactites and stalagmites, was home to the Viewing Globe. The Viewing Globe was the first punishment of a stay in Offseason Hell. It displayed a live broadcast from Playoff Mountain. All the members of all 20 armies banished to Offseason Hell watched, transfixed, as the brutal struggle by the surviving armies to scale Playoff Mountain and seize the Lombardi Grail continued. The carnage was unimaginable...those still in the realm of the living fought...steel against flesh, bone against bone, to claim the ultimate prize: the Lombardi Grail, maker of legends.
Although Jasonidas might have observed the progress of all armies involved, his eyes, and the eyes of his Cowboys, were locked on one participant and one alone: the bitterest of his rivals, Vixses and the Phillymortals. He stared intently at the Viewing Globe and witnessed as he and his forces began the assault on Playoff Mountain. There he and his horde stood at the foot of the massive edifice, preparing to climb to the summit. His massive green bandwagon, even larger than before, cast a shadow over his armies as he extended a hand. From beneath his goatee'd Anubis mask came a single command, forceful as it was succinct.
And so, Vixses and his horde began their ascent up Playoff Mountain. His slaves grunted under the weight of the colossal bandwagon as they bore the throne up the mountain path. Vixses had been watching SportsCenter, so he just knew that he and his army would pass unmolested up the trail...victory was inevitable. Finally, his success-thirsty hometown would drink from the Lombardi Grail. Then...a faint rumbling...that got stronger..and stronger...until it became a violent tremor, causing pebbles in the dust to hop and bounce as if alive. Shockwaves shook the mountain as the quaking grew closer...then, around a bend, a tremendous trumpeting sound echoed off the cliffs...the signature call of a deadly creature that sends chills down the spine of even the most valiant of warriors. Vixses regarded the charging beast, aghast.
Vixses: It is...the Pachyderm!
The Pachyderm, an extrordinarily large white elephant, was heading directly for Vixses and his escort. A colossal creature, It stood 20 feet tall with eyes of jade and golden rings adorning its ivory tusks. Vixses saw the Pachyderm hurtling forward like an unstoppable force, and knew the time to act was now.
Vixses: My armies! The Pachyderm bears down upon us. Defend me from this beast! Preserve your dog-king or suffer dire consequence!
At this point, his top advisor, Papyrus Reid, had a suggestion.
Papyrus Reid: Why don't we take a timeout?
Nobody said it was a good one.
Vixses: You incompetent fool! You shall be put to death...or just fired like you should have been after accomplishing nothing of real note in a decade and a half. No matter...we can defeat this foe by pure brawn. My armies! Phillymortals! Attac--wha..?
Vixses had not noticed that his Phillymortals and slaves had deserted his bandwagon, leaving the mobile throne on huge cinder blocks like a stripped car in Southwest Philly. They saw they had very little chance at victory against the Pachyderm, and left Vixses to battle the monster all by himself. Vixses was up to the challenge. He straightened his collar, puffed out his chest, and stood against the full assault of the mighty Pachyderm.
Vixses: Infidel beast! You dare accost the dog-king Vixses? I am elite...an MVP candidate...the pinnacle of my position! We shall see how you fare in the face of an unstoppable--oof!
Vixses was utterly trampled by the Pachyderm in the middle of his dramatic soliloquy. His very body was smashed into the earth's crust as the Pachyderm bulled through him, crushing his bandwagon and continuing on its bloodthirsty rampage. Vixses and his horde...had fallen. Jasonidas saw this on the viewing globe and got an idea.
Jasonidas: Look at this, Wi'ten. If a dog-king can be defeated by such a base tactic, I am sure I could design an attack that would defeat him and any other army that would stand against us in the new season.
Wi'ten: Yes, interim Coach Jasonidas...you are an excellent general and will lead us to war prepared to the fullest in the new season. I know this. You know this. However, it is not either of our favor you must gain...it is that of the Jerrephors. You will have no official command without their consent.
The Jerrephors were priests of a forgotten time. Relics of a bygone era, before the salary cap. More creature than man. They were on TV way more than most in the same position, so their likeness was well known. Their fine tailored suits belied the horror dressed within. They had sallow, surgically ravaged faces. The weight of eons of missed sleep from promoting everything but football hung under their eyes like shadow hammocks. They were anachronisms of a time long past...but even a leader such as Jasonidas must beg and bribe them to curry their favor. This was Cowboy law.
Jasonidas: Then I will gain it. I know where the Jerrephors reside, in a much deeper region of Offseason Hell. The journey is long and arduous...but I will come back to you your premanent coach...or not at all. Wi'ten! I leave you in charge of the Cowboys...I trust that you will guide them well.
Wi'ten: Yes, Interim Coach Jasonidas. Godspeed to you.
Bold Jasonidas set off for his audience with the Jerrephors. As Jasonidas descended the levels, he noticed the temperature declining sharply. The lower he got, the colder it became. By the 5th level down, the powdery snow crunched under Jasonidas' bare feet as the icy razor wind sliced at his flesh and rattled his bones. In his head, he could hear demonic ESPN talking heads droning on with baseless and recycled stories in the faintest whisper. He almost begged for the suffocating heat and relative silence of the lobby of Offseason Hell.
However, he knew he had a mission to complete. Jasonidas ignored all this and marched on, all alone...he had the heart of a true warrior. He remembered the defeat at the hands of Vixses and his forces, and within him a burning desire to coach his Cowboys into a team worthy of any challenge was warmer than the thickest Snuggie. He would return to his troops a head coach...or not at all. He pressed on through the driving blizzard for what seemed like an eternity until he finally reached the owner's box, home of the Jerrephors.
Jasonidas: Jerrephors! I wish for an audience!
The Jerrephors heard Jasonidas request, and materialized in 4 seperate corners of the room. They spoke in unison, their combined voice a gravelly rasp.
Jerrephors: You have traveled a long way, Jasonidas. Why did you not take the elevator?
Jasonidas scanned the room until he saw it: a sign marked "elevator" above a set of doors.
Jerrephors: Yes, elevators...how the hell else do you think we get from here in the owners' box to the sidelines almost instantly? It goes upways and longways and backways...I got the idea from "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory".
Jasonidas: You mean to tell me I came all this way and you had a fuc--never mind. I come to speak to you regarding the Cowboys.
Jerrephors: Ah, ah! What do you offer?
Jasonidas rolled his eyes and cast a small satchel that no one had seen him carrying until he needed it onto the floor in the center of the room. It struck the ground with a noise like wind chimes, and golden Jerry coins scattered everywhere. The Jerrephors smiled, pleased with the offer.
Jerrephors: Your emolument is acceptable. We will hear your words.
Jasonidas: Very well then. I plan to take the franchise in a new direction. We will no longer be a Hollywood spectacle, a collection of top-selling jerseys with no depth or a football novelty act. We will forge our shields from the highest quality alloys to protect my sword, Romomentous IX, and draft these metals expressly for the purpose. We have removed Wadeius from power. We will obtain an elite armor smith so we will be properly defensed. Wave after wave of our opponents' attacks will SMASH against an impregnable Cowboy defense.
Jerrephors: Yes, yes...this sounds good. Let us consult the oracle.
The oracle was lowered from the ceiling in a cage. She was a young girl, shapely. Her almost naked body was partially draped in a diaphanous, almost ethereal fabric as she undulated in her prison. She left a sparking trail behind each of her sweeping, graceful movements, but the sad, pained look in her eye told the whole story...her beauty was a curse in the clutches of the Jerrephors. Misshapen and infirm as they may be, they had needs like any man...needs she must fulfill. By the end of her dance, the Jerrephors had gleaned the information they wanted...somehow. (They never explained how interpretive dance helps one see the future, so why should I?)
Jerrephors: Jasonidas. You will lead the Cowboys. You have our blessing. However, we will still hold strong influence. This is what the gods demand.
Jasonidas: But I require more than that. I want the final say on everything. I want to hold our battle simulation camp in one area, not tour around the country like a gridiron carnival. I must choose my own men. I want the last word on every man in my army. I want veto power over all combat decisions. Only in this way can I improve my team, and we will have Hot Gates.
Jerrephors: Hot Gates?
Jasonidas: Yes, when my team is good, they'll sell out every game. It'll be the hottest ticket in town. Hot Gates. Get it?
Jerrephors: Ah, I see what you did there. Anyway, this is impossible. We will hold influence over the Cowboys.
Jasonidas: For us to be great, I need my team to be MY team. I will show them the Cowboy way.
Jerrephors: We are the Cowboy way.
Jasonidas: The Cowboys will fall! Our legacy will be destroyed, our history will become archaic, and fans of other less successful teams will somehow feel they have the right to talk down on us!
Jerrephors: You will have some power, but we know what is best. Trust us.
Jasonidas: I'd rather trust my 20 years of football experience.
Jerrephors: Jasonidas. Your speech is already rife with blasphemies...don't compound them.
Jasonidas: I see there is nothing to be reasoned with here. Goodbye.
Jasonidas threw on his cloak and stormed toward the elevator in slow motion. The Jerrephors would not concede power to him...diseased old lepers. They knew not what they did...they made their fortune in oil, not football. Fine...if he could not convince the Jerrephors to empower him with his words, perhaps he could...with his deeds. Jasonidas headed back to the first level to rejoin his Cowboys...but this time with a new mission in mind: to use his new power to become ingrained in the Cowboy culture so deeply the Jerrephors would naturally lose power and visibility, leaving Jasonidas as the supreme authority. It would take a series of risky moves...but he would mold the Cowboys...into his Cowboys. He stepped off of the elevator and saw his Cowboys anxiously anticipating his return. He then spoke.
Jasonidas: All right, Cowboys...let's have a great day, because I run this town tonight. If you hear your name, you're cut!
And so, Jasonidas began the long task of reforming his Cowboys...he knew that even in the darkest night...there are still Stars.