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.