What Do We Love About the Cowboys (Besides Winning)?

I've noticed on BtB a subtle difference. I think it's silly to argue about this difference or to suggest that those who stand on the other side aren't real fans. But it's still worth mentioning.

On one side, we're just talking about winning. Period. How to win. Who to get to win. Who to dump to win.

On the other side, there are some people who, every once in a while, hint at what sorts of players, coaches, and styles are the kinds we like. That we want to root for. That we love watching succeed. That we are willing, even, to watch as they try hard and fail.

As Dirk Gently has mentioned, a win-only mentality is characteristic of a "bandwagon" fan. If you don't like anything about the Cowboys besides wins, these least few years (decades) may seem disappointed. It's reasonable to do the math and figure out why, exactly, we aren't winning. It's reasonable to want to change things about our team--from the QB to the front office--if you think that will help us win.

Here's the thing, though: nothing we write about here really affects whether The Boys win. And whether or not the Boys win doesn't really affect our lives. People don't starve when our Red Zone production goes down. And this made me realize: Why do we care in the first place?

The Giants won the Super Bowl recently. Imagine for a moment that you're granted a time machine and ultimate power over all things football--so you go back to the day before that season started, and switch that Giants team with the Dallas Cowboys. You slap stars on the sides of their helmets and ship them to Dallas. All the players, all the coaches, even the GM. Would those of us on BtB rejoice, seeing the Boys win another Super Bowl? Or would we consider this Super Bowl completely irrelevant to our fanhood and a major disappointment for Cowboys lovers everywhere? Would Eli be any less of a schmuck if we stuck our uniform on him?

Let me confess here, there was a time when the Cowboys were winning and I just didn't care. It was in the last days of Jimmy Johnson. I no longer had the fun of watching the Cowboys build something out of nothing. I no longer had the fun of hearing things like "No Name Defense" or enjoying see some new names play their hearts out to beat the superstars (names like Elway, Sanders, Rice). Instead, I saw a team that acted entitled--Johnson boasting about his misogyny, Irvin looking up from his cocaine to disrespect Jerry Rice, and so on. I noticed a growing arrogance. The sense that rules didn't apply to us. The dirty hits after the whistle. The pouting. It might as well have been Behlicheat or Eli. I stopped watching because, even when we won, I didn't care.

I came back to the Cowboys at a time when we were struggling. There was this new, undrafted guy named Romo who got pulled off the bench and made the Pro Bowl. Part of the excitement was trying to figure out if he was really good, or the sort of guy who could lose a game three times in two plays (throwing, holding, and running the ball). There were character guys who were lights-out at their position, like Witten and Ware. There were people who slowly emerged as pet cats.

And in the last few years there have been transitions that warmed my heart. From the diva TO to the low-round success story Austin, from the donut-munching Wade to the intense, over-earnest rookie JG. I've watched the Cowboys play everyone close, playing with heart. I've watched them drop some balls and have pinkies out of bounds and miss field goals in overtime. It's been heartbreaking but fun.

These guys may go the distance; they may not. But I want them to. I want to see Dez prove that an immature kid can make good. I want to see Austin quietly rack up yards. I want to see Witten retire as the best TE ever. I want to see Ware age gracefully (and get the ring he deserves). I want to see Romo make some magic, and overcome his own turnovers, and prove that we aren't defined by the mistakes we sometimes make. I want to see new names emerge. I want to enjoy the old names.

RKG, for me, isn't just about getting guys who have the passion and character to win. It means getting guys that I care if they win. It means having a team i can love. A coach who, even when he makes a dumb mistake and ices his kicker, inspires some kind of confidence or even affection.

So let's not just talk about how to make the Cowboys better. Let's face it--nobody knows, and the front office isn't listening to us. Let's not just talk about what things contribute the most to a winning season.

Instead, pause and tell me why you care in the first place. What is it about this team that makes you hope we win? What are the players you want to see succeed--the players you want to see try, even if they don't succeed? What about our style, our philosophy, our coaching, inspires you with affection and passion--not just a mathematical prospect of winning more games?

I'm interested in seeing your answers.

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

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