SportsProf

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Deluded in Dallas

Not.

I was in Dallas the past couple of days and listened to their sports talk radio. On the one hand, they are not as intense as they are in the northeastern U.S. It may be that they're more mellow, it may be that they are not as knowledgeable, and I heard one bit this morning where some red-state (if not redneck) comedian cast aspersions on Terrell Owens in a way that might draw venom if not protests north of the Mason-Dixon line (although Imus sometimes gets away with this stuff).

All that said, when I sorted through it all, there are a few thoughts that are prominent on the minds of most Dallas Cowboys football fans:

1. If anyone can handle T.O., Bill Parcells can. (They cite to Parcells' handling of Keyshawn Johnson as proof that Parcells can have this type of influence).

2. They realize what an oddball T.O. is. The sports talkers do, the columnists do, and the fans do. They're hopeful that he can be a difference maker, but when you ask what will happen when Drew Bledsoe throws to Terry Glenn three times in a row and then overthrows T.O. on a critical down, in unison they realize that they are riding the Mount Vesuvius of playmakers, who, when he erupts, will cover the franchise with sticky, fiery magma the way that old volcano did a number on Naples way back when.

It took that Southern Italian city a little while to recover.

3. Conclusion: they know their football in the Lone Star State, and they know that they have a potentially volatile situation that could backfire on them in a month or so. In England, the oddsmakers would put up odds as to when T.O. has his first flareup with a coach or teammate. I don't think that the oddsmakers in Las Vegas are so bold to do that here, but it would be fun to watch.

Oh, yes, and it was 113 degrees in the car that I was riding in yesterday in Dallas.

Humid, too.

Part of the way I had to listen to a discussion on the sports talk radio station about how unique it is that the Cowboys may be the only team in football (HS, college, pros) to have a star on their helmet. The hosts offered that there have to be plenty of teams with eagles and cardinals on their helmets, but not stars. I don't know what they were getting at other than to point out this relatively worthless fact. The Cowboys do represent the Lone Star State, so there is good reasoning behind the logo, and certainly better than justifications for calling the NBA hoops teams in Utah and Los Angeles the Jazz and the Lakers, where the former is in perhaps the one state most antithetical to the jazz culture and the latter is in a place where there can be prolonged droughts and there aren't any lakes.

Then again, perhaps they were suggesting that it showed moxie, boldness, the Texas way of doing things. Now, I know Louisville is the Cardinals, Stanford is the Cardinals and Boston College is the Eagles, but I am not an expert in helmet design. And I don't read much into the uniforms except that over the years they have stood for excellence (and Cowboy nation, their fans, can go over the top not with the love for their team, but their incessant need to put down fans of Cowboy rivals). As someone who roots for a team in the Cowboys' division that is not the Cowboys, it's always nice to see your team of Eagles, the national bird, by the way, beat the guys wearing the stars on their hats.

There was more talk about the Cowboys than the Rangers, and the talking heads ruminated that if all the Rangers could get from the Yankees for Kevin Mench is Shawn Chacon (who has been bombed about as frequently as Hezbollah outposts in Southern Lebanon), they should keep the outfielder and continue to struggle. Not much energy in Rangers' talk, but lots of it about the Cowboys.

It was hot in Dallas today, but somehow I think it will be hotter when the Eagles and the Cowboys tangle for the first time this season. The team leaders will need to make a statement that they are closing ranks behind Donovan McNabb, who Owens threw under the bus last season. McNabb didn't do anything to Owens, doesn't badmouth his teammates, and I sense that certain key teammates didn't want to get in the middle of it. That resulted in Owens's behaving badly, because had the teammates stood up to him more, the whole set of shenanigans might have stopped. If the Eagles are to rekindle the magic that preceded last season -- and many think that they will (13 starters were on the IL last year) -- the key performers will need to unite behind McNabb, and McNabb will have to lead and unite the key performers.

The NFC East is loaded and, again, should be fun to watch this year.

Drama or no drama.

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