In Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays a curmudgeonly weatherman who is forced to relive the same day, over and over again. No matter what he tries - offensive newscasts, kidnapping Punxsutawney Phil, the titular groundhog, even suicide - he awakes each day at 6:00 AM to find that its February 2. Again. Thus far in 2010, Cowboys fans have been trapped in their own version of Groundhog Day, a bad daydream that seems to replay weekly, if not daily. Even in this age of media (and blogospheric) over-saturation, when the same stories are hammered into our consciousness over and over, it is simply extraordinary how the same story keeps repeating itself. Our version of groundhog day looks something like this:
6:07 AM: penalty
7:11 AM: same penalty, different player
8:14 AM: read newspaper over breakfast (but only the good press)
10:32 AM: atrocious special teams play
11:48 AM: defensive lapse
12:07 PM: different penalty, same player
3:17 PM: crushing turnover
4:58 PM: close loss in which the Cowboys outgain the opposition by a sizable margin
This storyline has been documented ad naseum--and that's just by yours truly. I never thought I'd say this, but the crushing similarity of the Cowboys' four losses has me at a loss for words. I want to share a fresh, original take with all of you, but I'm struggling to find something original to say. NFL seasons are notoriously protean - the fortunes of an individual team change many times over the course of seventeen weeks. As a result, there are numerous storylines from game to game, as teams rise from the grave or fall back to the rest of the pack. But not this one. Not thus far.
The narrative record of the Cowboys 2010 season will feature the same chapter four times. Who knows how it will end? Perhaps we are reading an experimental novel that will reveal its deep meaning in the final chapters. From this vantage point, however, it reads more like Sam Beckett's Waiting for Godot: an existential void where a foursome of tramps who, like Phil Conners, Murray's grumpy weatherman, are doomed to repeat themselves endlessly in a search for something--a ring, perhaps?--that lies just outside their grasp or understanding.
But wait, there may be a ray of hope in an otherwise cloudy sky. In Groundhog Day, Phil takes advantage of his freakish situation to better himself. He uses the time to learn, among other things, to play piano, ice sculpt and speak French. Suitably improved, he captures the big prize, in the form of Andie MacDowell. The movie concludes with him waking up in bed with her on February 3.
Is it merely coincidence that early February is also when football's biggest prize is traditionally bestowed? I think not. The Cowboys - from the owner down to the assistant waterboy - have an opportunity to use this nightmare of infinite return to better themselves. I hope they do; Bill Murray is a genius, but rooting for Phil Conners has a limited appeal.
Can the Cowboys break their Groundhog Day curse? Is there a miracle turnaround in our future? What say you BTB community?