Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

QUICK OUT: Sunday. Bloody Sunday.

Credit: Brad Mills-USA Today Sports

We were all fooled.  With the seemingly miraculous ways that the Cowboys came back and won games in the back half of the season, you just knew that they had one more in them.  When they scored and got the two-point conversion to get to within 3 points of the Redskins at 21-18, it raised just enough hope that this team was going to find a way to do it once again.  But, one more awful decision and awful throw by Tony Romo later on a night full of mistakes, the game was effectively over.  Our season was too.  Another bitterly disappointing 8-8 season without a playoff appearance.  The drought continues.

Gauging the feelings of most Cowboy fans after the disappointing loss, they basically fell into two camps.  One group, the Pollyannas, seemed to say, “Oh well.  Nice try.  No matter what happens, I’m not a bandwagon fan.  I bleed silver and blue and always will”.  They look upon anyone who dares utter a negative word as “not a real fan” and a “hater”.  Essentially, they are saying that their loyalty to “their team” is unwavering.  If the Cowboys were to go winless for 20 seasons in a row and become the absolute laughing stock of the NFL, they would proudly proclaim their allegiance.  I’m guessing these folks still believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy but their loyalty is indeed admirable.

The second group, the Bitters, are filled with such utter disappointment that they hate everyone and everything to do with the Cowboys after a game like this.  The team sucks.  Tony Romo is a scrub and a pretender.  Jason Garrett is probably gay and clubs baby seals in the off season just for fun.  Jerry Jones is nothing but a slick snake oil salesman and is probably a pedophile.  No excuse is valid for not winning the Super Bowl and going undefeated every season.  I’m guessing this group did not experience much disappointment in life or has experienced so much disappointment that their only hope for happiness was a winning Cowboys team.

The truth as it often is in situations such as this lies somewhere in between.  I’m as disappointed as any fan could be with a second straight failure in a “win or go home” season finale.  I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest when they lose like this – getting your hopes up, making you believe that you might actually be able to go to work the next day with your head held high – before folding embarrassingly like a house of cards in front of a national audience.  It sucks.  It hurts.  The viciousness of the Redskin fans before and after the game made it that much worse.  They had a lot of stored up hatred as they’ve been the laughing stock of the division for quite a few years.  It all came pouring out on Sunday.

Take Romo, for example.  He had another abysmal big-game failure in front of millions reinforcing the idea that he is Danny White reincarnated.  But, the truth is that before this game he had a great back half of the season after stinking it up in the first half.  His clutch play was one of the only reasons we were even in a position to play for the division title.  He is a talented athlete without a doubt and at times can be a magician on the football field.  But, true greatness – at least up until now – escapes him.  I could at least see this year that he truly cared.  His “Eh, it’s just football.  There are much bigger things in life” attitude in years past was a little hard to take.

But, I’m also not going to abandon the Cowboys over this game or this season.  I’ve been a Cowboy fan through a lot of great years and I’ve been there through the bad ones.  I’m not going to burn my Romo jersey or sell my Romo helmet.  We’re in a rough patch and looks like we may be stuck here for a few more years at least.  It’s likely to get a lot worse before it gets any better – unless you’re the Colts.  There are lots of valid reasons for another 8-8 season: injuries, poor coaching, poor play calling, etc.  But, anyone that isn’t a casual fan knows that rooting for “America’s Team” can sometimes be a challenge.  What that title really means is we’re the team that most of America either loves with blind abandon or hates with an irrational but white-hot, burning hatred.  Not a lot of NFL fans in between those extremes.

So, the Cowboy’s needs are indeed great.  But, a lot of things will be written about the moves the Cowboys should make, who they should draft, who they should re-sign, who they should cut and burn in effigy.  But, we’ll save the specifics of that for other articles.  Right now, I just need to go back to work after a holiday break, get away from the Cowboys and the NFL for a few days, and re-load my enthusiasm.  It was a very tough year.  Go Cowboys Fans!  (And here’s hoping that Seattle destroys the Redskins on Sunday!  For now at least, they are the team I hate the most!)

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Tony Romo

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