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Are you ready for some football?

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The time has come to put away childish things. It's serious business now. Cowboys fans everywhere got their jollies out of free agency, we got a temporary jolt from the draft, it was a fun little roller-coaster ride with training camp, preseason and the roster decisions. That's all a by-gone era now, the offseason of 2006 has played itself out.

This week starts the real preparations, the practices are the province of the real players, and the game planning goes from plain vanilla to a red raspberry sherbet.  Looming on the horizon are those loveable kitty-kats living in Jacksonville, and they would like nothing better than to make Meow-Mix out of T.O. and the Cowboys. (Yes, that's how they will announce us in each city we visit).

I ask you, is there anything that compares to the anticipation of the first week of NFL football? If you answered yes, you are now officially an Arizona Cardinals fan. We've got no room for you on the Cowboys Caravan; we only cater to the true believer. And the true believer doesn't cater to dissenting opinions on the importance of this weekend.

What's that you say? You're getting married this weekend? Idiot. Have you ever heard of a little town called Las Vegas, look into it. And you - your kid has a birthday this Sunday? I'm sure there's another one coming up next year, and it falls on a Monday, so you're covered (unless we play on MNF). What's this, another excuse; your wife's having a baby on Sunday? Call an audible, baby delivery is now scheduled for after Monday's press conference.

Now do you understand how serious this is? This is the opening weekend for the Dallas Cowboys. Life is divided into two seasons, the regular season and the offseason. Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn are all frauds. Perpetrators. My next noble cause is to change us from the Gregorian calendar to the Goodell calendar. New NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will have full authority to set the dates of the year in any manner he sees fit. Hopefully he'll cut out the period between early February and early September. Then we could go from the Super Bowl to opening weekend with about a week in between.

Now that I got your attention about the macro, let's talk about the micro. The Cowboys have to go on the road and face a team that went 12-4 last year and has a mean defense. There's nothing cushy about this opening assignment. The Jags will provide a serious measuring stick for this team's capabilities. Even more micro - the Jags front four is as good as anybody's in football and our offensive line has more questions about it than Tom Cruise's mental health. Well, until I see Marco Rivera jumping up and down on a couch professing his love for Kyle Kosier, there may be more questions about Tom Cruise. Wait, I'm losing the plot - got it; if the Cowboys offensive line can go on the road and give Bledsoe enough time to do his work; and open enough holes for Julius and Marion to do their work, then we might just have something.

But don't forget about last year, when Dallas went on the road and came back with a stirring victory over the San Diego Chargers. It all looked so good then, but that was before Jose Cortez and Billy Cundiff. We might not have to wait that long for the "kicker's freak show" to rear its ugly head, Mike Vanderjagt showed last week that it's perfectly within his ability to make Bill Parcells' head explode in week one. And there won't be Larry Allen around to give Vandy a neck adjustment. $7 million dollars be damned, we should've held onto Larry just for that one particular duty.

We'll be talking about the Jaguars and the Cowboys here all week, so tune in daily. There's nothing like NFL football and there's nothing like opening weekend. Dangit. I just checked my day-planner and I have a haircut scheduled for Sunday at 4 PM. Never mind.