Posted on: September 22, 2011 4:16 pm

What Jerry Jones DID for Me

I am a big time football fan ..... without a team.

Don't cry for me, Argentina. Although I have to admit that there are times when it kind of stinks not having ONE TEAM to root for above all others, most of the time it's a good thing. The fact that I am not tied to one team frees me to watch whatever game seems to me to be the best game, no matter the teams.

So how did I find myself in this situation and what does it have to do with Jerry Jones?
Well, as a football fan I am the product of three blessings. The first of which is that I was born into a family of sports fans. My father, uncles, grandfather and cousins (both male & female) all love sports. And growing up in 'Steeler Country', football talk was the first speech thaat I learned as a baby ... and that was even before the Steelers achieved any success.
The second blessing is that I grew up in a railroaders neighborhood in which sports were like a second religion. There were many kids older than me, and as they started to REALLY KNOW the game of football, I was whisked right along ... and could keep up due my family background. 
The third blessing is a very high sports IQ, which was apparent by the time I was three years old. Now I'm not going to try to convince you that I KNEW the game at the age of three, but with sports speak all around me I was learning and absorbing everything. By the age of five, I knew as much about football as any adult member of my family and more than any toher kid in my neighborhood. 

Which brings me back to the BEGINNING of how Jerry Jones affected my life. When I was four years old, I was really beginning to 'get it' when it came to the NFL,  but a lot of my knowledge had to with the items written on the back of Topps Football Cards. So the players who I first admired were the ones with the best bios on the backs of their respective cards. Johnny Unitas, Joe Namath, Deacon Jones and, for some reason, a Rams' Wide Receiver named Jack Snow were some of my favorites. I also rooted for the Washington's in San Francisco, Vic and Gene. I think they just LOOKED cool to me. As I have already written, my family was all about the Steelers, however. The variety of teams that my favorites played for combined with my family's die hard love for the Black & Gold did nothing to tie me to any allegience to ONE TEAM.

Then one day, my friend Phillip (who happened to be three years older than me, and much tougher at that time) asked what my favorite team was. I told him that I didn't have a favorite team, news to which he responded by trying to convince to become a Dallas Cowboys fan. My resistence to make such a declaration led to a punch in the stomach, tears, apologies, and finally Phillip begging me not to tell either his mother or mine that he had struck me. He offered me a FULL PLATE of his mother's World Famous Peanut Butter Fudge to seal the deal. I wasn't a rat, so wouldn't have tattled anyway, but I was no fool .... that fudge was AWESOME! But Phil was no dummy either. Before allowing me to consumate our agreement of silence, he held the plate in front of me and tried once again to gain my loyalty to the men with the big star on the side of their helmets. I agreed.

From that moment on, I spent my free time learning everything that I could about the Dallas Cowboys. Before long I not only had a favorite team, but a favorite player as well. Bob Hayes .... the BULLETT .... was a blur running down the field and hauling in long bombs!!! He was truly a sight to see. Every single Wide Receiver since Hayes, who relies on their speed to make their game, owes his living to Bullett Bob. If you have never been witness to his prowess, I suggest that you go on Youtube and look him up, you won't regret it!

As the years passed, more great players came through the Big D. Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas and Walt Garrison were great Running Backs. First Craig Morton and then Roger Staubach led the way at Quarterback. And then there were the defensive players .... Lee Roy Jordan, Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, Herb Addison and Cornell Green were all to be admired. And there were many more, too many to mention them all here.
Later, as Staubach grew into a two-time Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame Quarterback, he led others onto the gridiron. Men such as Tony Dorsett, Drew Pearson, Preston Pearson and Billy Joe Dupree led the offense. And Harvey Martin, Ed Jones and Randy White provided a wall in front of Bob Bruenig, DD Lewis, Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters that led to a Championship in 1977.

The winning continued for many years, even though there was a Super Bowl drought from 1978 until 1992 ... marred only by a few losing seasons. But it was these losing seasons began the process that led to my disillusionment with the team. You must understand that as an intelligent fan, I not only admired the players, but the men who put the teams together. Starting with the ownership of the team by the Murtchison family. As classy and important as the Rooney family is with the Steelers, or the Halas family with the Bears, the Murtchisons led this team from the top by putting the right people in the front office positions. Then there were Tex Schramm and Gil Brandt, two men who worked with the coaching staff to bring the best players into the fold. And the there was the legend .... Coach Tom Landry. Landry epitomized class and work ethic, combined with cutting edge scouting techniques, to lead this team to the title of 'America's Team!' I never met the man, but as a fan from the age of four, I loved him as if he were a long distance uncle, and respected above all others.

Certainly, when Jerry Jones bought the team and made the decision to 'retire' Landry, it was justifiable. But he chose not to allow Landry to keep his dignity. that was strike one, and a BIG one. Although I still loved my Cowboys, I could not stand to watch them that first year after the legend was gone. I didn't miss much, they were terrible. But Jones' replacement for Landry, Jimmy Johnson, began to grow on me, despite the fact that I could not stand the man as a college coach. Perhaps you would be justified to assume that I was on a bandwagon, although I would argue that a loyal, die hard fan of so many years should be excused some dismay when a change that big was made. As the team grew under Johnson with the addition of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin, my joy in the team came back. Winning three Super Bowl titles in four years didn't hurt either. But it was during this run that Jones ran Johnson out of town and brought in Barry Switzer. True blue Cowboys' fans seethed at the audacity. After all, we had witnessed one great coach leading them for 29 seasons. And although his exit was less than what it should have been, Jones had succeeded in bringing in another great coach. But to drive Johnson out of town after a mere five years?  Unacceptable.

The revolving door that has been attached to the Head Coaching job in Dallas has driven many 'old school' fans away from the team, and others underground. The NEW Cowboys' fans have no clue what they are missing. But I feel fortunate not to be counted among them. While there remains a number of classy fans of the team, the majority of the NEW fans have no class whatsoever. They are loud, boreish thugs, and I would be afraid to attend a game for fear of witnessing a robbery or murder in the parking lots. 

A fan without a team. Is this a sad circumstance? At times, yes. But the benefits far outweigh the dross. And I have Jerry Jones to thank. What do ya know? 
Posted on: January 9, 2010 1:26 pm

WEEK 18: Here we go (picks & more)

Every NFL fan, and I mean the TRUE FAN (those of us who can get past whether or not our favorite team made the playoffs), looks forward to Week 18 from the moment the preseason camps begin to open. Some of us get labeled as 'bandwagon' fans because our allegiances seem to change from game to game in the playoffs (again, if our fav is not there), but I disagree with that label. I believe that those fans who are like me just LOVE NFL football and we appreciate great matchups and great games in the playoffs. Let's face it, there are separate rivalries in playoff season that go beyond the regular season, such as the Colts and Patriots , and, from the past, the Steelers and Cowboys . So, in each matchup I find reasons to pull a little more for one team than the other. Perhaps I appreciate one head coach more than the other, admiring the way they hold their team up in a classy way such as Tony Dungy always did. Or perhaps there is a player who is the most intriguing story of the playoffs such as Brett Favre and the possibility that if things fall just right he could be facing the Packers in the NFC Championship game. Regardless, I LOVE THE PLAYOFFS!!!

What follows are my picks for Wild Card Weekend, why, and which team I am pulling for:

Philadelphia @ Dallas
For some, this game is a no brainer and the Cowboys are the choice. There is no question that they have played their best all-around football over the past few weeks. The defense has stepped up big time, throwing two shutouts, Marion Barber seems to have found himself again and Tony Romo has matured into the best version of himself in his career. I believe this has more to do with coaching than anything else. The 'Boys are using Felix Jones and Tashard Choice , along with Barber, in a rotation that is most effective. Barber has not played in this situation since Julius Jones was let go. Barber was the most feared goal line back in the league in those days, and his recent performance shows he is once again benefitting from not being an every down back. As for Romo, he still has that 'goofy little kid' look going on, but I believe that something has clicked inside of his head and perhaps his heart. He looks fearless in the pocket and trusting of his receivers. He finally has a target worthy of taking pressure off of Jason Witten in Miles Austin , and other receivers are actually catching the ball too.
Conversely, the Eagles were the hot team and many people's pick to rise up and make a big run in the playoffs. Then Week 17 happened and everyone jumped off of their wagon. Donovan McNabb can still get the job done, but his line must protect him AND his receivers MUST CATCH THE BALL. Brian Westbrook looked like he was in the second week of the preseason against Dallas and provided little spark. And the defense just isn't the same without Coach Johnson dialing up the blitzes. I am a big Andy Reid fan, and if anyone can turn this around in a week, well he is certainly one who could. But ......
I don't see it. I grew up a Cowboy fan until Mr Jones bought the team (just don't like that guy) and I would tend to lean towards rooting for the Eagles. That being said, momentum is huge, and although the Eagles could grab it away with some stellar early play, I think it's all on Dallas' side.
Cowboys 27 Eagles 24

Green Bay @ Arizona
Here is the 'bandwagon' I am jumping on this week. I love what the Packers have done over the course of the second half of the season. Aaron Rodgers has proven in my eyes that he is a big time quarterback and that maybe the Pack wasn't so dumb letting the 'every year Favre off-season circus' move on. Rodgers has a bevy of receivers to go to in any given situation. In addition, the running game is clicking with Ryan Grant leading the way. The addition of Ahman Green has only helped. Defensively, despite the blip in Pittsburgh a few weeks ago (I was at that game), Green Bay has improved throughout the season. The young linebackers are on the verge of becoming one of the best crews in the NFC, the line works hard and the secondary led by Charles Woodson have made the 'big play' an every game occurrence.
I enjoy watching many of the athletes on the Cardinals roster perform, respect and admire the entire Kurt Warner story and all that he has achieved, and I like Ken Whisenhunt. However, I thought the Cards played over their heads last year (Larry Fitzgerald going all-universe) in the playoffs, and they truly benefit from playing in the weakest division in the NFL. Anytime you can combine Fitz with his receiver mates, Anquan Boldin and Steve Breaston , and have Warner throwing the pigskin around you have a chance to win. And as much as I believe Beanie Wells is a future star, he just cannot hold onto the ball.
In the end, I believe Green Bay is primed for a deep run. Unfortunately for the defending conference champs, they are in the way.
Packers 34 Cardinals 20

NY Jets @ Cincinnati
Rex Ryan made a lot of grandiose statements at the beginning of the season that only increased, both in volume and pompacity, after a very good start by the Jets. Somehow, despite a rollercoaster ride of team performances, the New Yorkers find themselves in the postseason. I love Ryan. I truly believe he is a future Super Bowl Champion coach. Mark Sanchez looks like he will develop into at least a good Qb, if not a very good one. Once Thomas Jones runs out of 'career gas', Shonn Greene will develop into a superstar. And Darrelle Revis already IS a superstar. All of this bodes well for the future, and making the playoffs this season will only accelerate future success. But that's the future, this is now.
The Bengals , on the other hand, are out of gas ..... NOW. Their defense has looked weaker and weaker as the season has progressed. Carson Palmer has proven that he is fully recovered from the knee injury that he suffered a few years ago, and is nice quarterback. But the receivers are old, Ocho is hurting, the running game is (can I repeat myself?) out of gas. Unless Larry Johnson comes off the bench and out of obscurity with a performance of a lifetime, I think the Cats are in trouble.
This might be the least entertaining game of this playoff season.
Jets 17 Bengals 10

Baltimore @ New England
Who doubts 'The Hoodie'? Bill Belichick, like him or not, is a proven winner. Tom Brady already has his bust being molded for when he reaches Canton. And Randy Moss ? Shoot, when Randy decides to play he is one of the best receivers in the history of the game. But this team is a shell of what we are used to seeing out of the Patriots. Moss WILL show up, and probably have a nice game. Although at times Brady played great this season, I don't think he is all the way back from the knee. He'll also play well in this game. But the running game is lacking, the defense is not good and Wes Welker is out. Yikes!!
The Ravens enter this game with a chip on their shoulders after what they feel was a referee influenced loss during the regular season. I still don't see what all the hype is about surrounding Joe Flacco . Sure, he's better than anyone expected coming out of college, but no one expected ANYTHING, so how is that a big deal? He's good, might become real good, but he's not leading ANY team into the Super Bowl this season. Despite aging, the defense is still the story in Baltimore. Ray Lewis is jacked up. Is that a surprise? Ray gets jacked up as soon as he opens his eyes every morning. And he will play his best football of the season during the post season, no matter how long it lasts. The big key to this game is can Ray Rice and Willis McGahee combine to dominate time of possession and get the ball into the endzone without putting it on the ground too often. The smart money says yes.
Now, I for one would not be surprised if 'Hoodie' has kept something up his sleeve. We all know that no one leaks in New England, the Secret Service could take lessons on security from the Chowds. This may or may not be the case, but what if Fred Taylor has been MUCH healthier for WEEKS than the Pats have let on? Maybe Fragile Fred has just been staying healthy, comes out and puts up 200 yards and 3 Tds? If so, Hoodie's legend multiplies by 1,000 and the Patriots win. If not .......
Ravens 23 Patriots 21

Enjoy the games friends and fellow fans!!!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com