The Conference Championship games approach and once again our beloved Dallas Cowboys are nowhere to be found. Oh, wait, Nick Folk, Flozell Adams, that dude on Green Bay, and probably some other 100th degree of separation player who has Cowboys ties are involved, but the Cowboys, and their fans are shut out. Again.
I am 43 years old. I am too young to remember the Ice Bowl (I was three months old when Bart Starr sneaked into the endzone). I do not remember Super Bowls V or VI and obviously the games that preceeded them. My first real football memories are of SB X. I can even remember Phillis George talking in the pregame. I remember being disappointed when Staubach's last pass was intercepted in the end zone. Bummer.
But along came SB XII, and we all know what happened there. "YIPPEE!" 27-10 win. Awesome. SB XIII? Not so much. The phantom penalty, the dropped TD, etc. But somehow that loss didn't reach deep into my body and crush my soul. Maybe I was still too young.
But then came 1980-1983. Oh. My. God. I believe I fixate on the three lost NFC Championship Games in these years more than the Five Super Bowl titles. No joke.
My #1 stomach punch moment as a Cowboys fan: January 22nd, 1983: The Tip. Not "The Catch?" Nope. That was awful, and I was face first on the living room floor, arms stretched wide trying to figure out what just happened. Maybe it didn't feel as bad because the Cowboys still had a chance to win and even moved the ball to mid-field with time still on the clock. No, for me, the real stomach punch was the play in the NFC Championship Game against the hated Redskinz. I guess it all stems from the fact that I lived (And still do) in Redskinz territory: Fairfax, VA. 99.9% of my friends at the the time were Skinz fans. I was in 10th grade. The situation: Danny White has been knocked from the game, his back up, Gary "Survivor: Guatemala" Hogaboom is now under center, but the game is still within reach. 4th quarter: Dallas Trailing 24-17 - from the Dallas 20-yard line, defensive lineman Dexter Manley tipped a Gary Hogeboom's pass and tackle Darryl Grant picked it off and took it to the house. Game over. OOOF! Right in the gut! The horror! The bile!
I remember getting off the couch and walking out onto the balcony in the freezing cold to stare off into the darkness. I felt so hollow. So miserable. I knew that I would have to face all the Redskinz fans at school. I never talked smack pre-game, but I knew I was in for it. If you live in this area, you know what the local fandom is capable of.
That play hurt me more than "The Catch" or the 60 minute beatdown at the hands of the Eagles in January of 1981. I'm still haunted by it.
Fast forward 10 years and 3 out of 4 years: Super Bowl Champions. They even get to exorcise "The Catch" and one of the Steelers SB losses in the process! Nice!
But I am still horrified by what happened in RFK in 1983. I was in RFK when Dallas beat the 11-0 Skinz in 1991. That was the greatest live sporting event I've ever been to. Pure joy. But... Until Dallas beats the Skinz in an NFC Championship Game and then wins the Bowl, I will still feel that punch in the gut - delivered 28 years ago. Anyone else feel like weighing in? What's your ultimate stomach punch moment as a Cowboys fan?
If you got this far, thanks for reading!