Monday, January 14, 2008

Warning: Long self-pitying football post that has nothing to do with books...

Dear Football Gods:

What did I do? I keep asking myself this question and all it's many possibilities. I mean, this much is sure: I'm heartbroken. It's like we were dating and I thought this could really go somewhere, but you decided last night it wasn't working out and you wanted to see other people. And now I'm left here wondering why.

It'll take me a few days to get over this breakup, and then hope to get back into your good graces, but in the meantime, I still have to wonder. Because right now I'm floating around aimlessly. You don't understand what it's like to be a New Yorker, bombarded with painful reminders everywhere I turn. The color photographs on the front of every commuter newspaper, every website (I work in a company where we subscribe to EVERY local newspaper, dammit!), the people wearing NY Giants gear on every subway car. It's terrible. So I wonder what I've done to deserve this. I'm going through everything, trying to figure out where I've disappointed you.

See, let's think about back how this began. I'll confess: I didn't grow up watching football. Every once in awhile, my dad would put on the game, but he never bothered to explain to me what was going on, and my brother was more of a hockey fan anyway. I was a nerd, reading my books, so I never really paid attention (though I do remember going to a Jets game when I was in 5th grade, and thinking how green the turf was and how fun games were even though I had no idea what was going on). When I entered college, I started following the NBA, because my boyfriend at the time was into basketball. He bought me a Nets jersey and everything, and I even jumped on that bandwagon when they were doing so well in the Eastern conference.

But I never had a sport that I loved because I loved it.

Then came senior year, and I started dating a new guy, and he was from Dallas, and somehow I got forced to watch all the games of this complicated sport that I knew nothing about and seemed to have way too many rules for me to ever follow or understand. My poor boyfriend had to endure the same questions every week, as I asked him for a refresher: "Wait, so what do they have to do again? What's that orange thing? Wait how many points do they get? Who's that guy? Who's the quarterback? What does he do?" I know, I know. Looking back, I feel like an ignorant fool. But I really didn't understand what was going on.

But I knew enough to know that when Dallas crossed into the endzone, this was a good thing for us. And slowly, what became something I did just because Dallas winning = a happy boyfriend, became something I did because Dallas winning = a surge of excitement in me. I got sucked into the Cowboys world, I'll admit. So then there was the Giants/Cowboys game I managed to get tickets for last minute thanks to an eBay samaritan who sold them to at face value. And it felt strange to be in the state I had grown up in... rooting for the away team. Strange, but good.

So let me just say that I've been struggling to catch up in football. You know, understand what's going on and all of that. Because I wanted to roll with the boys, sound like I knew what I was talking about. So I studied. You may laugh, Football Gods, but I tried hard in the past few years, because the more I learned, the more I realized how much I loved this sport. And so last year I made myself a New Year's Resolution -- next season I would play fantasy to understand the game better than I had before.

And then there was this new kid, Romo, who appeared and did magical things. I wondered what kind of parents would name their kid so close to a ribs joint, but who was I to judge? The kid made me proud to be a Cowboys fan. And since I came along so so late, I'd never known yet what it was like to love a winning team. Of course there were the legendary Staubach days. The Aikman days. But those were days I'd only heard about. So I was excited by Romo and the possibilities that came with him. And then he made the bobble on the snap. But you know, Football Gods, I forgave him for that too.

So this year was the year. I really believed this too. As the season went on I thought for certain we'd at least be NFC Champions. My one moment of doubt came when I didn't pick Romo up in my fantasy draft, something I lived to regret. For wavering because he was #9 pick QB and I thought I'd pick Brees and maybe if I was lucky, get Romo on the way back. I didn't. And maybe this is what you're punishing me for. Lack of faith in the very very beginning.

But I never missed watching a single Cowboys game if I could help it. In fact, when they weren't playing the games on TV over here, I followed via internet radio, streaming from San Antonio. When I was in China, I got up early to catch the game. And when they played the Packers and it was only available on NFL Network, I went into a bar all by myself, surrounded by Packers fans, to ensure the Boys were represented.

I tried for this relationship, Football Gods, I really did.

So are you punishing me because you think I'm jumping on a bandwagon? I swear to you I'm not.

Are you punishing us as a team, because you think we have too much hubris? Because we believed too much this would be our year? But, FB Gods, you've smiled so kindly upon the Patriots! Even despite the Spygate thing. Surely 13-3 couldn't have angered you so. Especially considering the close calls we'd already been forced to take. Remember that Bills game?? I think we know we're not infalliable.

Are you trying to teach Romo a lesson? Okay, maybe I could give you that, if you have a plan in the long run. Maybe -- just maybe -- the plan is to cut him down a few times, make him work for his SB ring. Because you just CAN'T let a first-year starter get a SB ring just like that, right? And the defeat will make him a better QB in the long run. Just like being stuck on the bench for all these years has honed him into what he is today. So maybe this loss will help him mature. Okay, I see that, but did it have to be against the Giants? I'd have been willing to take a loss against the Packers, or the Colts. But the Giants feels the tiniest bit insulting. As if you're not just teaching him a lesson, but hitting where it hurts.

Is it TO? Do you, like so many others, dislike him too? But I really think he's found a place with us here. Did you watch him in tears at the post-game conference? The way he defended Romo warmed my heart. "We lost as a team," he said. "That's my quarterback. That's my team." That doesn't sound like the finger-pointing TO we once knew. So if your plan was to teach him a lesson on being part of a team, okay, you've done it. TO loves his team. This is his home now.

I'm not sure what happened. Why we crumbled like this in one fell swoop, crushed by a Giants team that struggled this season to stay consistent, a team we'd stomped all over, twice. It was too much to ask that we do it a third time, FB Gods. That was unfair.

But somehow the pressure of being #1 seed in the NFC caused a crack in our facade. And we started missing passes we've always caught, and the O-line allowed Romo to get a couple of sacks. And the penalties, always the penalties. When the Giants scored that TD in the last 50 seconds of the 1st half, and then Crayton missed that pass, I still believed. Our team is good under pressure. We've won our way back from the worst game of our season with the Bills. I wasn't about to give up hope that we could pull it off again. Even with that last pass on the 4th down, I still believed, really, truly believed, that the Boys would get it done.

But it was not to be.

I refuse to listen to the finger pointing. The Giants gloating. Sending me Jessica Simpson masks, making fun of TO's tears. Telling me that Romo is a waste of $67 million. And I just want to remind them all of the 13-3 our first year starting QB led us to. Remarkable for a young QB. I have no doubt he'll grow. On my end, I won't blame him. He got frustrated and had to throw the ball away a few times, but he did his best, and amidst all the unfair scrutiny of his personal life too. Everyone could have done better. [Esp the O-line.] But TO's right when he says, "We lost as a team." That's what it is, a team sport.

Win, lose or tie, Cowboys til we die.

So even though, "There's always next year" never seems to make anything feel better, I do hope, Football Gods, that you'll be kinder to us next year. Because this is two years in a row we've suffered from heartbreak, and I hope you see that I'm in this relationship for good. So what do you say, next fall, you and me, we see if we take our love affair to the next level? I'm ready for commitment.


Dear Tony Romo:

Ignore the fools who want to rain on your personal life. You did good this year, just keep on growing. 13-3 is still something to be proud of. I still love you.


p.s. I'm much cuter than Jessica Simpson though. And I sing too. When you're sick of the busty blond, be sure to give me a call.

10 drops:

Ello said...

Poor you. I'm sorry only because you are so very self pitying. But you know, you can always cross over to the right side and end your Cowboys affliction. I mean affection. ;o)

David L. McAfee said...

Man, I am feeling this one.

I have been a Cowboys fan my whole life. My father and I used to watch them play when I was a little kid. I didn't understand the game back then. All I knew then was this: when the star helmet guys cross that line with the ball, it must be a good thing because it sure makes daddy happy.

I was there for the Danny white years. I was there for those Oh-So-Beautiful Aikman years, and I have been there for the very dissapointing years since our last Super Bowl win.

For me, this season...a season that saw Dallas viewed as a legitimate threat for the Super Bowl title for the first time in over a decade, has been a long time coming.

You have it bad, surrounded by Giants fan. I get that.

I am married to a Maine woman. Everyone in her family is a Patriots fan. Everyone.

So I get ya. I do. Not only do I have to watch the 'Boys lose, I have to hear about how the Pats didn't. Constantly. It sucks.

And if the pats win the super bowl this year? I'll get to hear about that a lot, too.


Like you, I really thought this was going to be an NFC championship year for Romo and pals. Well, poop!

David is sad today.

Alas, nothing much more to be said...other than the old "Wait 'till next year" thing, of course. :(

Oh, hey...what year did you start watching the Cowboys, anyway? Just wondering which season. Was it one with the good old druggie Quincy carter as QB?

moonrat said...

I...see you've had an extremely demanding day at work...

angelle said...

ello: don't tell me you're a giants fan!!!! even though i've always tried to remain somewhat gracious and promise to root for the giants whenever they weren't playing against the cowboys (and posed no true threat to us haha), i fear this loss has left a bad taste in my mouth, and i don't know if i'll ever be able to keep my word again.

david: i started following the 2003 season (yeah, it really hasn't been that long. but hey, when lightning strikes...). so i guess that was carter (though to be honest, at that time, i could barely get straight what position was what, much less know their names). it wasn't even worth remembering who the qb's were in those few years, since every year, it was some new guy who was just *eh*.

it is really, really really difficult to be a cowboy in new york today. i can't escape the media, and there is NO ONE to commiserate with me. since anyone who isn't a giants fan is a redskin, or an eagle, they're all happy. i've threatened to unfriend anyone who gives me grief today. i need to mourn in peace.

i hate the patriots man, i really really do. ugh. thats why i hope the packers win. i think they're our best bet at preventing a patriot perfect season. i feel for u. i'd HATE to be surrounded by pats fans. call me silly, but that is the #1 reason i will never move to boston. ideally i'd like to see a chargers/packers SB. with favre for the win.

sigh. i wonder how long it will take for me to get over this. you know what else blows? i'm working on a super bowl program for work right now... and i'll probably be down there in phoenix the week of the game. i was SO excited working on it last week. you know, stars shining in my eyes, thinking about how great it'd be if the boys made it to the SB and i was anywhere NEAR them. alas, it's not to be. but i STILL have to work on this project, and all i can think is, if the giants make the SB and i HAVE to be around all this NFL crap, i might actually PUKE.

yeah, i've moved on from the "denial" stage of mourning to the "anger" stage. i'm bitter already. trying not to be, but it's just so damn hard.

moonie: i DID work. and it sucked. because even without me logging on to espn, i had to be around horrible reminders. it's like if your boyfriend left you for another woman, and that other woman is your boss. yeah. sucks.

David L. McAfee said...

Yeah, I know what you mean. And listening to the radio pundits talk about T.O., T.O., T.O. doesn't help.

Sheesh, so the guy was emotional after a huge loss, give him a break. They put a LOT of work into this season, it's not easy having the rug yanked out from under ya like that. At least he's not pointing fingers and putting blame all over the team.

In any case, I'll be interested to see who the Cowboys draft this year. We have a great QB (Romo), great receivers (T.O. and Glenn), the best tight end in the NFL (Witten), an incredible running back (Barber), and a pretty darn good defense, too. What we need is a stronger O-line. I hope they bolster that area in the 2008 draft (BTW - we have two first round draft picks, too....that oughtta help).

2003, huh? Yeah, that was Carter. The guy couldn't leave the drugs alone, which is why he's not Quarterbacking in the NFL anymore.

angelle said...

david: i don't understand what's up with everyone giving TO grief for being a little emotional. i mean, *I* cried after the game. and he was sticking up for his teammates, not crying angry tears and finger pointing. so i totally agree with you on that. if peyton manning had shed a few tears, no one would have made a big deal. it's just because it's TO, loud mouthed, smack talker TO. well, he's human too. you can hardly fault the guy for being a tad upset.

can't wait for draft, i want to see what we come out with. we're such a strong team already (which is why this loss hurts SO BAD! we're SO GOOD!) but i agree with you on the oline. i'm also concerned about keeping mb3 as a starter if he's going to carry the ball that often. he runs too hard, breaking through too much, to be able to last long without injury. i love him to pieces, but you know... and i'm never sure how i feel about julius jones. i'd like to keep mb3 as a starter, but i think our 2-back system is pretty important and it'd be great to find a complimentary rb.

hahaha, i did hear something about carter being a druggie. and then thats when they brought in old vinny right? the reason i managed to get face value giants/cowboys tickets in 2004 was bc the guy was like, "i'm so disgusted with vinny, i don't care to watch anymore. just take them. i just want to be rid of them." haha.

man, you know, i'd never though i'd say this, because i'm such a staunch patriots hater... but if the giants make it to the super bowl (which they won't because favre will serve their asses to them), i don't think i can root for them. on the one hand, i can't stand the idea that the patriots will have a perfect undefeated season... because we'll never hear the end of it, and i hate them so much. but on the other hand... the idea of living in this city, surrounded by giants fans who will never let me forget how they NOT ONLY BEAT #1 NFC SEED THE DALLAS COWBOYS, they also were the ONLY ones to defeat an UNDEFEATED PATRIOTS TEAM.... something that the Cowboys themselves hoped to have a chance at doing... well... that makes me want to move out of Manhattan forever. I'd never be able to get away from it. So I don't know what's worse. It's really a toss-up. Btw, there's a small chance I might actually go to the big game... with coworkers.. who are giants fans... and I really don't want my coworkers shooting me dirty looks if I have to root against the Giants. But, I never thought I'd say it, but for the first time in my life I might actually root for the Patriots.

David L. McAfee said...

Oh, you'd better believe that, as much as I hate Belichick's juggernaut, I'll be rooting for the Pats if the Giants make it to the Super Bowl.

It's not because I like the Pats better, either. It's just that the Cowboys loss to the Giants is fresher (is that a word?), so it stings more than the loss to Brady & Co. Plus, for all intents and purposes, the Pats/Dallas game didn't hurt Dallas. We still made it to the playoffs, and we still made it as the #1 seed. So, ok, we lost to the Pats. big deal. So did everyone else who played them this year, including the Giants.

But the loss to the Giants, well, that hurt a lot. Kicked us right out of the playoffs and sent us home early for the 2nd year in a row.

Yeah...if it comes to a Pats/Giants Super Bowl (and I don't think it will), I'll be rooting for the Pats all the way.

On the plus side, I'd look for Romo and Co. to be on a serious mission in 2008.

As for MB3, I think Phillips is going to make Barber the starter. Goodness knows he's earned it.

Interesting trivia: MB3 and the Pats' Laurence Maroney both played RB for the University of Michigan, sharing the backfield duties in 2003 and 2004.

angelle said...

Yeah David, I'm still avoiding the media like the plague. Unless I can help it. The idea that the Giants might make it to the SB makes me sick. You're right on. I mean, I really hate the Pats, but I just don't think I can stomach a Giants win. So let's just hope the Lambeau Field gets the better of them. I hear it's going to be 4 degrees there.

I'm going to be upset if Garrett goes for the Ravens job. Though I wouldn't be surprised. Sparano is surely gone. It's just blow after blow for us. I just don't want to hear from the media anymore. I haven't been to ESPN since Sunday happened. I think it'll be awhile until I can.

Sigh. I'm glad I had someone to commiserate with these past couple days. Sad to say, they've been sort of tough. But okay, I have faith that the Boys will be back with a vengeance next year.

Speaking of trivia (I love little things like that), did you read that DWare/Osi article from last week? I wonder how their relationship is faring right now...

cyn said...

not only am i incapable of understanding anything that is said in this post, it also scares me. haha! angelle, did you send off the SL app? karma? no karma?

David L. McAfee said...

DWare/Osi article?

No, I must ahve missed that. Do you have a link?

Cyn - Don't feel bad. There's lots of blog posts I get lost in. ;)

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