[Ed Note] In an effort to keep BTB on top of its game, we're staffing up for a terrific 2011 season. Hopefully, the Cowboys will comply by also having a great season. Anyway, we've decided to bring on a new writer to the front page. You guys knew him as Pineywoods, author of many excellent FanPosts, which almost always get recommended up to the top. After such a great run of FanPosts, and with a little encouragement from OCC, I've decided to move the writer formerly known as Pineywoods to the front page. He'll now be known by his real name, Tom Ryle. Please read his self-introduction below. Welcome aboard, Tom! [End Note]
No, Pineywoods isn't going anywhere. I'm just coming out of the closet and onto the front page.
I thought about keeping Pineywoods, but the thought of seeing my name on the articles was just too sweet an idea. So, hello to all of you. I'm Tom Ryle, the newest, and ironically the oldest (I think) front page writer on the best blog in the sports world.
And I am so very excited to be here. It is also a bit daunting. The front page writers have established such a tradition of quality and entertainment on this site that the pressure is now on. I hope you enjoy my writing here.
I know I plan to.
Now that I have made it, I am a little stunned. I didn't imagine this happening even three months ago. Oddly enough, you can credit it (or blame it, depending on what you think about me) on the lockout. Which still sucked immensely, but also did get me here.
But before I get that, a little history. I am purely a fan, in that I have always been a spectator, not a player. I always temper my comments with the fact that I get tremendous enjoyment out of watching superb athletes do things I never could.
It started for me about 1965. My dad was watching TV one Sunday afternoon, and I sat down. I saw it was football, something I had paid attention to only because I was at the games. In the band. Now, before you laugh too much, consider one thing: For away games, the football team was on one bus (it was a small school, in the town of Hughes Springs, in East Texas). The cheerleaders and pep squad rode on another bus. And the band, which was about 80% female, rode on the other buses, all together.
That's all I should need to say about that.
Anyway, back to that Sunday afternoon. I started watching. A guy named Don Meredith threw a rainbow of a pass to a human blur named Bob Hayes. And just like that, I was hooked.
Soon came the Staubach era, the glory days under Tom Landry. My love for the Cowboys was cemented through that, and it survived the decline, the sale to Bum Bright, then the sale to Jerry Jones, the advent of Jimmy Johnson, the rise of the Triplets, and then the second decline. Now I am here, still cheering madly for the Blue and Silver, and excited beyond belief about the hints of what is to come as Jason Garrett takes firm control.
Along the way, I went to school at Texas A&M (my second great passion is the Aggies, of course), including four more years in a band that was way more cool than when I was in high school. Then I spent 20 years in the Air Force (which, despite counterarguments from people with Army and Marine Corps time, is a part of the military), and retired a Lt. Colonel. There were fourteen years of largely miserable jobs, and my wife and I moved back to East Texas, where finally I found a great gig working in public service. I won't say too much about that, other than to observe that I work a desk from 2 until 10 pm, deal with the public, and find myself with a lot of time on my hands after 6 pm many days. And I have a computer with an internet connection. So, one day during the 2009 season, I was reading up on the last Cowboys game on Yahoo. I had read everything they had, and I noticed a link to something called Blogging The Boys. I clicked it.
Meredith to Hayes all over again. I. Was. Hooked!
I lurked for a while. Then I signed up and began tentatively commenting. It was fun. In the 2010 preseason I tried a couple of FanPosts, nothing too great, but fun. I did have a hard time during the last part of the Wade Phillips collapse and fall, not even able to read the articles, but I got back into the groove as Jason Garrett took over, and found myself acquiring a taste for Kool Aid.
And then came the advent of the Great Suckitude, known more widely as the NFL Lockout. I kept going to BTB to read anything Cowboys related, but even the great writers here were struggling with the lack of material. So, in June, just to put a little more content on the site, I decided to write a post. Much to my surprise, it got to the Recommended Fanposts section.
That felt good.
So I wrote another. And another. I started cranking out four or five a week. A lot of them were getting rec'd. I got honorable mention in rabblerousr's Fan Post of the Week. Then again. Then, wow, I was the FPOTW winner!
That felt incredible. You see, I have always wanted to be a writer. I had never thought about being a sports writer because, well, I'm just a fan without that much personal knowledge. But if I could do that well with the FanPosts, well, could maybe I possibly aspire to being a front page writer?
A certain cyborg with a supercomputer brain, AKA OCC, offered encouragement. I swallowed hard, kept writing, and then I sent an e-mail to Dave, asking if he might be interested in having me on the front page.
Who says dreams don't come true?
So. Here I am. I will do my best to uphold the standards here, and I hope you like what you read. I write to share this strange love for a team with all of you. Fortunately, along with great writers, this site has some fantastic fans. Let's enjoy ourselves. Oh, and one more thing.