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Heartbreak Hotel: Cowboys Edition

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I can’t remember what game it was.

Or who was playing.

But it was a good analogy.

Doug Collins, a former basketball coach and current announcer, while discussing a crushing defeat by a proud team said, "You have to get your heart broken, before you can become a champion."

If you look at the last three Super Bowl champions this rings true.

In the 2004 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers were a 15-1. They were littered with talent. Ben Roethlisberger. Duce Staley. Jerome Bettis. Hines Ward. Plaxico Burress. James Farrior. Joey Porter and Troy Polamalu. But their season-saving quarterback threw three picks in the AFC Championship and the Steelers lost 41-27. The next year didn’t start off any better, as they stumbled to a 7-5 start.

Heartbreak.

But this would set the stage for an eight-game winning streak that would culminate with a victory in Super Bowl XL.

In the 2005 season, the Indianapolis Colts were the New England Patriots. Literally. They won their first 13 games and the buzz word was "undefeated." This fairy tale of a season would soon come crashing down though. Tony Dungy’s son would commit suicide and just a few weeks later the heavily-favored Colts would lose a nailbiter to the Pittsburg Steelers 21-18.

Heartbreak.

But the Colts rebounded quite nicely. They would defeat the Bears in Super Bowl XLI, Peyton Manning would shed the "Can’t Win the Big One" image and next thing you know Manning is racking up endorsements like nobody’s business.

And we all know about this year’s New York Giants. Started 0-2. Gave up 80 points in their first two games. Lost to us twice. 3-5 at home. But the heartbreak started in 2006. A 6-2 start gave way to an 8-8 swoon. Their season would end against the Eagles 23-20. Tiki left. Coughlin was on the hot seat. And Strahan was close to retirement.

Heartbreak.

They’d rebound though by pulling off arguably the greatest Super Bowl upset in history while giving that smug bunch of Patriots fans the permanent "Manning face!"

Guess my point is, adversity is a key component to success. It must come before the ultimate victory. It hardens the resolve, tests the heart and builds character. Ridicule is the initiation some must endure on the path to greatness.

If this is true, then the Dallas Cowboys might be the team of destiny next year. We’ve had our share of heartbreak. The Seattle Slip. This year’s playoff game. We’ve been laughed at and criticized. A team with 13 Pro Bowlers can’t even win a playoff game, the critics say. Our quarterback has been called Tony Romeo.

We have the requisite heartbreak.

Now maybe we can become champions.