Audacity. An interesting word. To dare, fearlessly. So imbued with brash, even insolent, temerity it might seem an arrogant impertinence to some, a presumptive affront to others. While, to some, it is nothing more than bold hardiness, a dauntless will to achieve. Nothing less than an intrepid chutzpah in attainment of an objective, a goal, an ultimate end or prize. A Super Bowl. A win.
Hope. As 2010 ran its course, the word was bandied about, just as it was coming into 2011's season. Just as it has been and will be every season, every off-season. Just as it is coming into our beloved Cowboys' first regular season tilt. Coming into that teeter-tottering 60 minutes that hold rapt attention and inspire the debate during and between games and seasons. As it always is when it comes to football, to this sport that gives it and seemingly takes it away. In fingertipped snags and picks. In touchdowns and field goals. In fumbles and recoveries and turnovers and toss-ups. In wins and losses. In points after, both gametime and afterwards, made and missed.
Never in injury.
Where might the Cowboys' audacity reside?
In a fearless, fresh-faced puzzle of a Head Coach, whose past as both player and subordinated coach may hint at some possibilities, yet abounds with questions as to his abilities to handle the responsiblilites? Questions, if you notice, he'll not voice answers to directly, letting actions speak louder than words. In his seemingly diametrically-opposed choice in a defensive coordinator? In his retaining offensive coordinator duties, perhaps indicating his plans have not yet come to fruition in that regard? Is there evidenced in that an unwillingness due his view his task there is not yet completed? That there may yet be an attempt to introduce innovations he sees in no other OC candidate's mindset, at present? Or is it simply in his selection by that once-upon-a-time brash outsider who anted up and staked his future on a team he loved?
In jettisoning big-name, big contract mainstays, supposed core players, whether they be at "skill" positions or not? In slipping 2 rooks and a 1-start 2nd-year vet into a football team's unit stereotypically known for a quiet, unassuming manner in an attention-garnering move (to the dedicated fanbase, that is)? In risking chaos or instability in said unit, one in which stability and internal cohesiveness are essentially dictums of the sport? In throwing a 7th-round rookie into that mix to protect the man who touches the ball most often, the man who's often considered the face of the franchise regardless of team, the man who helms the Cowboys offense on-field? In possibly throwing a monkey-wrench into the concept of a defensive philosophy such that perhaps often neither 3-4 nor even 4-3 may apply? In juggling contracts, awarding numbers to aging players in defiance of some team-constructing strategies? Rewarding? Does it defy team-building or is it another way, another take on it, another perspective? An audacious one?
Maybe it's simply in the fans. As much as the team, the players, coaches, front office, the works. Maybe moreso. Maybe the audacity resides, first and foremost and deepest, within the hearts of the fans. Most dependably there. Right alongside Hope.
Towards the end of last season, while many looked to draft positionings, to next-year country, I'd posted an article, since deleted. It was for die-hards or any interested in those last, faint shreds of playoff-bound possibility. Playoff possibility that did not, in fact, end until game's end, late night on Sunday, December 12, 2010 (Week 14). The Lions had given us a helping hand and it was on us, on our Cowboys, to earn their Star. To pull their own, and our, weight against a division rival and keep the possibility of the crown alive even at that late date in the season. Hope you realize that fact, otherwise you're ignoring them. Selectively perhaps, but still ignorance of reality.
Now, I'll say this, those that used the word hope in reference to calling for losses to bring about a rise in the Cowboys' 2011 draft slotting were mistaken. I understood then and still understand that position. In the light of cold analysis or the heat of the moment, sometimes the immediate gain seems to outweigh the subtler nuances of this game. Even sports. Even Life. Nonetheless, the choice can go either way, better or worse than imagined in making it. Than hoped in making it. That's where the hope comes in, in making the choice, not scheming in some human-conscious, ultimately vain attempt to be in a "better" position to make a decision. Decision's, thus choices, are made in a moment, in a circumstance and relative to the context of their circumstance. Plans are made to perhaps improve those circumstances. So I'll concede the attempted planning, despite seeing erroneous consideration therein. But what's that axiom concerning plans? And men? And mice? Who's to say what choice'd be made, what outcome would come of it, advantageously or not? Plain and simple fact of the matter is "who knows". You don't. And I most certainly don't. Either way, for either side. I hope you can understand why I'll dispute to my dying day the use of the word hope in such a context. It ain't. It's Desire. Or Want. But it ain't Hope.
Back then, I'd said:
This is one bandwagon a Cowboys fan needn't feel shame about jumping on. In fact, it's not a bandwagon at all. It's merely holding to the facts, the Math. Anyone who's read this post, even out of the remotest curiousity, is die-hard. Some fan the spark to keep it alive, some shelter theirs by shifting focus to the off-season improvements, draft talk and all the rest. If you're reading this, no matter how you may have chosen to go with the higher probabilities, no matter how discouraged you are or may have been, you have an ember deep inside you that fires a Cowboys fan. I understand many are so disheartened their outward persona discounts the possibility, they shelter their spark to keep it alive. But it's there.
And the mark of a true Cowboys fan, an in-the-blood, bleeding-blue die-hard is that it will remain alive, regardless of outcome.
If you felt something good inside, had a thought of what-if, if-only or whatever, you don't even have to admit it to anyone but yourself.
So, when the numbers finally say otherwise, when the facts of the matter bring a loss or even Loss into this passion we share, be it football or Life itself, I'll stand by what I'd said when them pesky Eagles took one and maintain it was as much our guys not finding a way to change the conditions of the test, to best circumstance till the lights are turned out that final time. Same way I felt it and believed it one Sunday up in the old Vet, listening to people in the stadium cheer a downed player. Yep, the "Look up, get up and don't ever give up" guy. I'll not call them Eagles fans, nor even football fans, for they were not and are not. I'll not tar even an Eagles fan with that brush, though they've already the feathers, silly birds. Those others, they're sports' equivalent of, well, let's just say extremists, not fanatics, for that implies fans. Don't want to get into it, the images, both ways, are heart-wounds that'll never really heal. Both for having diminished my tenuous-at-times belief in my fellow human beings, one far moreso than the other. Anyways, back on topic...
Same way I felt it one Sunday watching an intro to a certain football game. Same way I felt watching Roger take the field, a score down with under 2 to go. Or Don, Danny, Troy, Tony, or any of 'em. Yes, even him. Same way I feel each and every time this team takes the field, sets for the play, leaves the field to prepare for the next day, the next foe, the next game. The next season. Same way I feel today. Same way I feel after things happen in a New York minute. Or sixty of them. In fact, here, I'll make a prediction. Yep, a guy that makes light of the predictors, jests and tries to make a point that predictions are as uncertain in this sport as they are in Life and therefore not predictive, not certainty. Thank the stars. Here's my prediction: Same way I'll feel tomorrow. Certainty doesn't get any more certain than that.
Regardless of the outcome of this or any other game. Anytime. Regardless of anything, no matter how much I feel I've lost it, no matter how long the feeling lasts, no matter nuthin'. Felt the loss, been through it. Last year. Times in the past before that. Times that made last year a cakewalk in comparison, as bad as it was. And as good. And all those times are in the Past. Yep, gamewise and otherwise. Like I said elsewhere, my eyes are on the horizon we're headed towards, with wistful, sometimes sorrowful or melancholy, sometimes analytical and hopefully learning, glances at the one we've come from. Where we've been makes us who we are. Cowboys. And there ain't nuthin' beats down a cowboy, 'cept maybe a cowgirl. But ya know, when I've met what some would call a cowgirl, they're cowboys, just prettier. Same heart, same attitude, same tenacity.
So what was it I'd said when the numbers dashed that playoff possibility:
Update: Week 14 - Sunday December 12, 2010 (late night)
We just lost the playoffs.
The math now says we are officially eliminated.
I stand by what I said above: You Gotta Believe. In Hope.
For the rest of the season, I'll hope for wins, as always.
For next season, a shot at the big prize, as always.
That ember? It's Hope. And it goes far beyond being a Cowboys fan, a football fan, even a sports fan. Don't believe me? Ask Pandora.
I know, for a fact, others had it and an eye to the numbers (yep, eyeballing you, hookerhome, if you're reading this). As surely as I know some have it this year, have reasoned the audacity to hope, though they too may be a kegful into their cups. Know as surely as I breathe you each have it, else why would you even be a Cowboys fan, care one way or the other, no matter how Jerry-blaming, team-bashing, player-blaming weep-and-wailingly you get or outwardly display. Care for some cheese with that whine? Sounds like a squeaky wheel. No wonder the mouse keeps jumping off.
It's neither blindly gulping kool-aid nor surrendering utterly to cynicism. Neither blamingly bashing nor delusionally deifying. Neither goose-stepping to the strict regimentation of numbers nor flitting about like an emotionally misguided and deranged butterfly. It's Balance.
Anyhow, back when the HC selection talk was going strong, when Garrett was yet-to-be-named, someone suggested they'd hope in the man, in change he might bring. Gave me mind to illustrate it for those that did or yet do. When he was tasked with being the 8th Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys, someone asked about an article (yep, eyeballing you, Rat-Pack, if you caught your words), maybe implying reference to an earlier one, maybe not. I'd said "Mission Accomplished." All in the lighthearted, lightheaded surge of shared Hope that day. I was wrong. Just. Plain. Wrong. Just like another speaker of said words, not to bash, merely to point out that the trial, the test, never ends. The struggle never ends. But, there's that eternal but, remember, in a Cowboy's heart, he knows...
Adversity's a bitterly tenacious foe. But ya know what? That ember, that Hope you have, it's even more so.
Dare to be great. To persevere. Beyond what you feel, what you believe your strength, even your will, is capable of. In those darkest days and hours, when all else has seemingly departed, when you are utterly and most completely destitute, there is... - something.
There is your greatest greatness. Survival. The audacity to overcome Adversity. Perseverance. Tenaciously defiant and ultimately victorious.
Sooo, the Audacity of Hope, eh? What? You expected rashness, presumptuousness, temerity when you read the title and figured on a look-see? Done some of that before this Wild Bunch even had a head honcho. Not as brash as some, but I'm not asking for the moon and stars. Just one. One star, that'll do. A wishing one. The aiming one, there, just to the right about daybreak. Here's about the best I dare do in being audacious, especially on so solemnly honorable an occasion:
So you just believe in Hope, no matter what. I dare ya. No, I double-dawg dare ya. I don't know if ya got it in ya, cowboy. So there.
But I hope you do.