"Hi, my name is Brandon and I'm a Dallas Cowboys addict."
Those words have never rung as true as they do now, just a day away from first game of the 2008 season. This is how deep my fandom goes: I am getting married tomorrow and nearly all I can think about is the game on Sunday (don't worry; I am still excited about getting married). I am anxious, a bit nervous and excited as hell for this season to start and it ticks me off that I don't have the power to make time move faster. After watching last nights pseudo-football game between the Giants and Redskins I am itching for some real NFL action to start, and thankfully I only have to wait until mid-afternoon Sunday for the Cowboys to play.
It's tough to say whether this offseason was harder than last year's. After the Seattle game, I don't think I even turned on a sports channel, website or radio station until sometime in June. That 2006 season was one of highs and lows and the way it ended was absolutely gut-wrenching. Yet as we prepared for the 2007 campaign there was a sense of excitement about the team that had not existed in a long time. I remember watching scenes of the pre-training camp pep rally and getting chills. No one knew exactly what kind of team we were going to have last year but somehow we knew it would be special. Boy, was it.
I have watched the playoff game against the Giants a few times in the recent months and it just feels.....surreal. It's as if I'm not even watching the same Cowboys team that dominated the NFC during the regular season. They didn't have that swagger, that confidence that propelled them through a record setting season. Those lasting feelings stuck with us Cowboys fans through the offseason and kept us from remembering just how special 2007 was. That was the main reason I did the top moments of 2007, to remind us all how great this team was (which coincidentally makes that playoff loss even harder to swallow).
And here we are again, on the edge of our seats waiting to see what this team will bring us in 2008. There is no question the Cowboys have the talent and coaching to make it far in the playoffs, but there remains the uncertainty of whether they have the fortitude to make a run for the Super Bowl. We have to remember though, that what happens this Sunday against Cleveland will have almost no bearing on what happens in in December (this is why I completely ignore any and all pre-season "expert" predictions, and you should too). Of course what I would prefer is a good ol' butt whoopin, let's say a win by at least 30.
No matter what trepidation we might have about how last season ended, and whether Romo has what it takes to win in the playoffs or Wade Phillips can keep the team's momentum going through the season, one fact remains: this is a damn good team. Just how good remains to be seen. But how excited are you to see what Felix Jones can do what Jason Garrett unleashes him? I guarantee you will be out of your seat and standing when you see Adam Jones get ready to return a punt. How insanely pumped are you now that the Cowboys finally have a secondary that could be one of the best in the league?
I want to see Marion Barber running linebackers over. I want to see Patrick Crayton prove his naysayers wrong and establish himself as a legit #2 receiver. I can't wait to watch Martellus Bennet catch his first NFL touchdown pass, or Felix Jones turn a 5 yard dump off into an 85 yard score. I want to see Demarcus Ware win defensive player of the year and Zach Thomas prove everyone was wrong about his health. And finally I want to see Tony Romo win his first career playoff game.
The great thing is that all of these wishes have more than a good chance of coming true. Folks, this is the most talented team the Cowboys have had in a very long time. Now we just have to see if they can put it all together. I can't remember a Cowboys team with this much excitement, this much pressure, this much anticipation since the mid-1990's.
Last year we were excited because we didn't know how good they are.
Now we wait to see how great they can become.