Here it is, again.
Gut wrenching loss. Lots of plays in this game, but all anyone will remember is a snap throw on a missed read. No one will remember the blitzer, unblocked, in his face, or the fact that LB Jackson seemed to know the hot route better than Murray (the intended target). No one will remember the unbelievable run it took to get this team here, where the game had meaning. No one will remember that at 3-5, every game from there on became a big game, and that this one was only big because Romo had been playing some of the best football of his career over the 7 games before it.
In fact, that all seems forgotten already. The doubters are out in droves, with pitchforks and torches, screaming for Romo's head, Garrett's head, Ware's head. "Blow it up!". Sadly, they are happier to be "right" than successful. No exaggeration, I saw cowboys fans exulting over that third INT.
But most of us cowboys fans simply hurt right now. Like all of us, I hurt, too. Maybe more so, as Tony's story resonates so powerfully with my personal life. I have spent a lifetime overcoming long odds, being nearly perfect, working miracles, only to have something beyond my control go horribly awry or to make an understandable mistake at a critical juncture where there is no second chance. I have been inches from greatness in the exact same way-- not fame, but definitely fortune and chances to live a dream. I have been brought down by other's failures, as well as my own. I have learned from my mistakes, persevered, planned, built... and every time it seems I'm about to turn a corner it all comes tumbling down again. And, like Tony, there's often my share in the blame, usually one small but critically costly mistake at the end of a long, difficult struggle. Watching it happen to someone else brings it all up for me again, because I know exactly how it feels. More than that-- at my age, it's too late to go back and make those things right so I've invested emotionally in Tony the way some parents do with their kids, believing that their children's success makes up for their own failures in some way.
And while that is misguided on my part -- there's nothing about Romo's success that makes me a more successful person-- that vicariousness is what makes us fans. That's the whole point: we get to share in another person's story. We share their triumphs, we share their defeats. The personal investment we fans make is the whole reason the NFL exists.
I have no regrets, on that count. I am glad and proud to be counted a fan of the 2012 Dallas Cowboys, Jason Garrett, and in particular, Tony Romo. I believe in these guys as much now as I did 24 hours ago. I stand by them and with them. Call them (and me) "loser" or "choker" or whatever other label you want. I'm proud to wear it alongside them and have it known that I believe this team is destined for great things, sooner rather than later. They will go through hell this off season. They will hear about it all next year... and will keep hearing it till the next time they hoist the Lombardi. The owner will come under severe pressure to change his direction, his coaching staff, and his QB. But there is no shame in daring and falling short and there is nothing wrong with this team that continuing on their current course won't fix. I am hurting as much as anyone not actually a part of the team, right now, but I am absolutely, 100% behind their current direction and I am excited for next year. I still believe my heart is in good hands.
...and that's all I have to say about that.