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When the news is "bad"

I routinely troll the Internet looking for articles about the Dallas Cowboys, and I post the ones that I think are good, or interesting for some reason. But in this post, I'm highlighting achievements in hackery, the art of writing a bad article.

This first one relies on some warmed-over hash and a lot of wishful thinking.

The inevitable has begun, quicker than even the most cynical observers predicted. You might have figured that maybe by midseason Terrell Owens would become a problem, after Drew Bledsoe wobbled one too many passes off target and coach Bill Parcells called one too many plays for Julius Jones up the middle.

But in the preseason, before a single meaningful game had even taken place? Who imagined Owens would begin dismantling the Dallas Cowboys this soon?

The answer is no one, except for the occasional obsessive, single brain-cell Philadelphia sports writer. Hatred is a nasty emotion that will overrule common sense. The desire to see Owens fail, especially with division-rival Dallas, leads to temporary insanity that is unleashed on innocent, unsuspecting readers. We're being dismantled! And here I am acting like we stand a chance or something this year. Thank goodness someone was around to point that out, or else I might've gone on believing that were building a team, a pretty good one. Not true, Owens is already secretly dismantling the team, and according to author Ashley Fox, it's really no secret.

Next up, small town writer goes national to assess the Terrell Owens situation. An ode to conventional wisdom and every talking-point about Owens that one can think of, here's his one attempt at going deeper than the surface.

So it didn't come as much of a surprise two weeks ago when the Cowboys acquired undistinguised wideout Charlie Adams from the Denver Broncos for an undisclosed draft choice. Even though he appeared in all 16 games for the Broncos, Adams caught just 21 passes for 203 yards in 2005. His most notable statistic: his four fumbles.

It was probably just as well for the Cowboys that Adams failed his physical and had to be returned to Denver, but the fact that the deal was even considered spoke volumes.

He tried to go deeper, unfortunately he drowned. What the deal spoke volumes about was Patrick Crayton's ankle and the lack of depth behind him. At the time of that deal, Hurd and Rector were unknowns, and no one knew how bad Crayton's ankle might be. I'm pretty sure Parcells wasn't thinking, `you know, Terrell may be hurt for a long time, or might explode and we have to send him packing so I better go out and get an this Charlie Adams kid." Yikes.

I love the amount of time the author of this New York Times article about the NFC East put into researching the Cowboys. Plus, we get a swell write-up at the end.

Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, gambled by signing Owens. Even if Owens behaves and contributes, the Cowboys have a suspect offensive line and an inconsistent running attack.

Bill Parcells is a great coach, but the Cowboys have not won a playoff game during his three seasons in Dallas.

In a weaker division, the Cowboys would fare better. But in this division, they could finish in last place.

That was our entire portion of the article; chew on that for a second. Combined research and writing time: 49 seconds. I don't even need to address the finish in last place part, everybody's entitled to a prediction - I predict that the sun won't rise tomorrow, but will instead, give in to overwhelming temptation, and stop by a Starbucks for a double mocha latte. So it's not the fact that he predicts we'll finish last, but the way he just dismisses us at the tail end of the article. You get a few paragraphs on each of the other three teams, filled with offseason moves, breakdowns of the offense and defense, and various other nuggets. The writer must've turned the article in, and the editor wrote at the top "Did you know there are four teams in the NFC East?" and sent it back. Presto, a few lines of garbage about Owens and Parcells, the article is done and the writer is off to the Hamptons for some Labor Day fun.

So ends our little tour through the world of sports writing hackery.

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