For my beloved Dallas Cowboys, the NFL season begins tonight where the last one ended: in the New Meadowlands against the World Champion New York Football Giants. Being the superstitious animal that I am, I went with an ensemble that I felt would best help the Cowboys to victory: navy slacks with white pinstripes, silver shirt and tie. Sadly, I have a faculty meeting after school today which will likely preclude me from watching the better part of the first half. I can only hope that the meeting is both short and sweet, and that the game is still contested when I get home. Of course, I would enjoy it if the Cowboys were blowing the Giants out when I arrived in Mililani, but that doesn’t seem very likely.
Based on everything I’ve read and watched over the past 24 hours, it appears as if our All-Pro tight end Jason Witten will not play tonight. This is not good. Jason Witten is to Tony Romo what Jay Novacek once was to Troy Aikman: a nice, comfortable security blanket, sure to get open some place for a nice 8-yard gain. Jason Witten’s reliability is the antithesis of Dez Bryant’s “we-literally-have-no-idea-what-this-kid-is-going-to-do-from-play-to-play-let-alone-game-to-game” quizzical performance. Similarly, Miles Austin’s hamstrings seem to be made of crystal or lace, and are only reliable in the sense that you can count on him to miss 3-4 games because of them. I don’t think Jay Ratliff is going to play, either. So we got that going for us.
If it seems I am all gloom and doom regarding this first game of the Cowboys season, you are mistaken. I am only 84% gloom and doom. The Cowboys defense features two new starting corner backs who absolutely have to be better than the Newman/Jenkins pairing the team offered up (for slaughter) last year. Brandon Carr and Morris Claiborne (left) should be significant upgrades in that department, kind of like running around as tiny Mario, then finding a fire flower. I’m that excited. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they’re going to be the second coming of Deion Sanders, but considering what I’ve had to watch the last two seasons, it’s hard not to get excited for this. If Peyton Manning’s little brother throws for 124 yards with 0 TDs and 1 INT, I’ll be thrilled.
And then there’s the most compelling story of all: Tony Romo. He’s been maligned about as much as a quarterback not named Michael Vick can be. Statistically, he’s a star. But the actual on-field performance has never seemed to match those wonderful numbers, especially in big spots. But that’s okay, that’s what they said about Peyton Manning, too. And John Elway.
Tony Romo’s story is unusual. He can into the league without any fanfare. He came off the bench to replace Drew Bledsoe (whose legacy will be about the two quarterbacks who succeeded him as much as his own performance) and became a star. I might be in the minority, but I feel like last season was his best: he gave the team the lead in both the Lions and Patriots games and the defense was unable to hold it in both cases. Winning either of those games means the Cowboys make the playoffs.
I think this season is it. We’re going to find out once and for all whether or not Tony’s the man. If he’s not, I hope the ‘boys start thinking about going in another direction. Perhaps not immediately, but start looking into some different things. If he does step up, though, it’s going to be a fun season.
Get ’em, Cowboys!