Believe it or not, folks, the NFL season is much closer than you can possibly imagine. So close, in fact, that it's today. That's close.
Last year, we asked some of our favorite writers to opine why Their Favorite Team Was Better Than Yours. Ultimately, we found this constrictive, and it also might have killed James Frey. So this time, we've just asked them to just run free, talk about their team, their experience as a fan, their hopes, their dreams, their desires for oral sex. All our teams are now assigned; if you sent us an email and we didn't get back to you, we're sorry, and we accept your scorn. But today: Dallas Cowboys.
Your author is Bryan Curtis, staff writer at Slate and writer for PLAY. His words are after the jump.
A few things you should know about Tony Romo. He is from Eastern Illinois. His favorite actor is Christian Bale [!], and his favorite movie is The Natural. He is good-looking, but not threateningly handsome in an Aikmanesque sort of way. Romo plays a lot of golf. He is the only person on the planet to have drawn the gentle chiding from Bill Parcells ("We've got a ways to go here. So put the anointing oil away, OK?") and the National Enquirer ("Carrie thought that they were moving closer to a more committed relationship") in the same calendar year .
As a Cowboys fan, I'm embarrassed to say that the whole Romo thing caught me off guard. The years of Anthony Wright, Quincy Carter, Chad Hutchinson, Vinny Testaverde and Drew Bledsoe will be, in the proud history of the franchise, an enormous black mark—they made you distrustful of any QB without a sufficient pedigree. Romo—a flat-faced, spiky-haired guy, who you could have no more imagined appearing on "Extra!" than Wade Phillips—seemed like another third-string QB given a charity late-season start. I didn't believe Peter King's ecstatic prediction that Romo would pull a Tom Brady on Drew Bledsoe. And then Romomania broke loose, and, well, here we are.
What really concerns me most about Romo is that this all seems too easy. His short career is based on a set of improbable coincidences—he's Kurt Warner with a slightly better haircut. I am fully prepared to believe that the heretofore anonymous player could become the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys and then, within the week, begin dating starlets. I am prepared to believe that NBC's Sunday Night Football cameras would just happen to catch Romo and one such starlet, Carrie Underwood, having a tender, totally spontaneous conversation before a mid-season game against the Giants last season. I am prepared to believe that their courtship, if it is not an elaborate ruse, could be carried out on such a Brooks & Dunn level of innocence that at this year's Academy of Country Music Awards (which occurred many months after they met), Underwood would blurt out, "We're on a date, sort of."
I am prepared to believe that the Cowboys's grueling search for a QB post-Aikman would finally end not at the top of the first round but with a guy who wasn't even drafted. A guy who became a bit of a post-draft commodity only because (then-Cowboys assistant) Sean Payton and Mike Shanahan both happened to play quarterback at Eastern Illinois, and saw a bit of themselves in Tony Romo. (This is the magic of Romo. Shanahan can look at him and think...that's me.)
I am prepared to believe that Romo's awful blunder in last year's playoff loss to Seattle could go down not as a Jackie Smith Level tragedy but as a charming bit of NFL folklore, which even the goat can talk about with ease. "For me," he has said, "I always knew I would be okay after the loss."
I am prepared to believe any one of these things. But all of them at the same time? Really? The NFC looks like a dreadful collection of Seattles and Philadelphias this season, and yet I can't endorse the Cowboys with any good faith because I just don't believe Romo's run as a good-luck charm can continue.
As the guys at Pro Football Prospectus have noted, Romo's second year figures to be much harder than the first. Plus, Romomania disguises some very big problems in Dallas. Terence Newman's plantar fasciitis. Greg Ellis's hurt feelings. Wade Wilson's HGH order. Wade Phillips. The scary thing is, this team might rely on Romo even more than it did last season. I'm praying this isn't an elaborate prank staged by Aikman and Joe Buck. Until Romo has another good season, let's put away the anointing oil, OK?