There he was, high-pitched drawal and all, younger, heavier, jacked-up teeth, fresh off his unceremonious offing of the most iconic figure this franchise will ever know. Socks and jocks, win is the name of the game, flowing with excitement and arrogance and look-at-me-momma. If he sat any further forward on his chair, he would have fallen off the stage.
That was 25 years ago tomorrow. I was a young, verile, skirt-chasing lad who felt like his grandpa just died. But, I had long known, even hoped silently, that it was coming. This sad eventuality was badly needed. Please don't tell Coach Landry I said so.
Honestly, I paid little mind to Jerry that day, thinking it nothing more than an inaugural and annual annoyance. I focused much harder on helmet-head next to him. I thought Jimmy Johnson looked like winning from the day he arrived, and I knew Landry's way wasn't working, so all in all, I was pretty ok with it all.
It was time.
And lo, the next five years were as fine a vicarious sports life as I've ever known. The star resurged, and once again, regular seasons became formalities like in the 70s, and Super Bowls were logical conclusions. It was 1976 all over again, except now I lived in DFW and had a driver's license, a college degree, and a real job. It let me be a boy again.
Then around 1997 or so, it set in. A slow-growing strand of ineptitude that went untreated and allowed to spread. Futility ensued through season after ugly season, as voodoo cures of every kind were tried against hope with not so much as an inkling of a plan.
Somewhere in there, a man's pride became so damaged, and his stubbornness so deeply rooted, that any and all logic and reason evaporated through his pores. Determined to re-create Thermopylae or die trying, Jerry continues to trudge on, smiling while he says it, and budges to no one.
It didn't have to be this way. It still doesn't. But no one seems able to talk sense to him.
Those of us left held hostage beckon and plead, hoping for a moment of clairvoyance, yet knowing such a moment already long happened only to be ignored. We're left rooting for a man's flawed ways to succeed, knowing it's the long and wrong path likely headed for another abyss.
Those 25 years seem like an eternity. They feel like a deal with the devil, frankly. I keep getting older, and Jerry keeps tucking and stretching, so we'll probably look like contemporaries one day. There's some salt in the wound.
I feel a tinge of apathy starting to creep in. If this doesn't change fairly soon, my attention span may wane elsewhere. The league, it's rules, it's impending changes, it's desire to expand overseas, it's legal troubles....it's headed off track.
The only thing keeping me coming back these days is my boyhood love for this once-charmed franchise run by that God-forsaken man. St. Landry is nowhere to help. Jimmy abandoned ship. Parcells' light dimmed quickly in his advanced age.
Maybe tomorrow will effect Jerry in some way. Perhaps he'll reflect in a different way. Maybe he'll let loose of the reins a bit. Maybe he's just getting tired of it just a tad, the day to day of it all. Hopeful prayers. Futile, perhaps.
So much has happened since the glory days of Jimmy. Got married and had kids, watched the Stars skate the cup and Dirk's entire career, saw the Rangers go the World Series
not once but twice, and watched Texas Stadium implode for a new Death Star.
9-11. Lewinsky. The internet. Y2K. Dot.com. Mass cell phones, Blackberries, smart phones. 8 years of Bush and 6 of Obama.
When does this football nightmare end?
Tomorrow should be a celebration for Jerry. He'll put on a good face, but I can't help but to think it's getting to him. How can it not? The story's been chiseled in granite, and can't be erased now. Anything from here out will be listed under "dumb luck" in his ledger.
And, let's face it, he might be around for 25 more.
My Cowboy friend from dallascowboys.com erod gave permission to use.
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