It's been a miserable Dallas Cowboys football season, but it's been a Dallas Cowboys football season. Life is better when the Dallas Cowboys are playing football. That sanctuary will be vacated tomorrow, and that makes me miserable.
Football season, even a painful football season, is preferable to the rest of the year. There are few worse feelings than the one we as Cowboy fans will face Monday, knowing there will be no more games to prepare for, no next week nor next opponent until next summer.
And even that would appear to be in jeopardy because of NFL labor unrest.
So forgive me if I can't approach this "meaningless" finale against the Eagles as meaningless. The Dallas Cowboys will play football for the last time this season tomorrow, and that means something to me. If nothing else, I hope tomorrow advances the process of distinguishing those players worthy of wearing the star from those for whom it's just a paycheck.
Trying to break down tomorrow's game into Xs and Os not only appears impossible to me, it also strikes me as pointless. But here's what will never be pointless:
It's the Great Game. And it commands our greatest sporting emotions. The Game is everything. All else is subordinate to The Game. We as players and coaches and fans will pass. The Game is forever.
This has been, by any objective standard, the most forlorn football season of my five and a half decade life. I am a Cowboy fan. I'm a Longhorn fan. I have family and emotional ties to the Rice Owls. As I write, I'm 14-25 with the pro and college teams that own my heart.
I also have had the profound privilege for 12 years of coaching high school varsity football teams, including two state championship game qualifiers. This season, for the first time in my tenure, we whiffed.
It has been, measured solely in victories, a miserable football season. But I refuse to be miserable. It's been a football season, and that could never be meaningless or worthless.
The Game is the thing, and The Game is eternal. I only hope that in my actions as a player, reporter, coach and fan that I will, when it's all over, help pass the game on in better shape than I found it, as my elders did for me.
"Meaningless football game" is an oxymoron.
Could there be a meaningless breath?
This year has hurt, deeply. But like your great love who eventually stomped your heart with a track shoe, at least you knew her. And you were better for it.
We're better for this season. If only because it was Football Season, and that's always better than Not Football Season.
There'll be plenty of opportunities for detailed offseason analysis of personnel and organizational direction, and I'll be a tireless participant, resuming tomorrow.
But tonight, on the eve of my beloved team's final game of this trying season, my thoughts are exclusively directed toward expressing my love and gratitude for The Great Game.
Quoting Billy Joel (for the first and quite possibly only time in my life), "I took the good times. I'll take the bad times."
But I'm committed to, and fully anticipating, a return to good times.
Health, happiness, prosperity and victory to all in our BTB family in 2011.