The combatants for Super Bowl XLVIII are now set and the story lines for this year’s match up between the San Francisco Forty Niners and Baltimore Ravens are a sports journalist’s dream. Unfortunately for those of us who bleed blue, all is quiet at The Ranch. No reporters clamoring for a quote from our spotlight loving owner. No flashbulbs following Tony Romo and company as they prepare for the big game. There’s only empty lockers and dead silence in North Texas as the Dallas Cowboys have gone their separate ways for another winter and front office folks turn their attention to preparing for April’s college draft.
The sports media is firmly focused on the battle of the Harbaugh brothers and the last Super Bowl stand of one of the league’s premiere defensive players, Ray Lewis. Meanwhile in Arlington, Jerry Jones is probably dreaming of the next big event he can land for his billion dollar baby. Tony Romo is undoubtedly practicing his golf swing and Jason Garrett could be, although I hope it is premature, celebrating the survival of his play calling duties for next season.
It’s not like this is anything new for the Cowboys faithful. Watching as other teams get ready to step onto football’s biggest stage is a tradition that has worn out its welcome with this Dallas fan. It is made all the more perplexing by the fact that the most recognizable team in the league should be able to field a team that can compete for football’s biggest prize not just this year, but every year. Talent is in abundance on the Cowboys roster of skill position players. Getting that talent to live up to expectations has proven to be quite another matter entirely.
As another off-season rears its ugly head, a leader, whether it be on the coaching staff or among the players, simply has to be found before Dallas can reclaim a spot among the NFL’s elite teams. One need only look as far as this year’s Super Bowl representative from the AFC to see a prime example of what having a leader can do. Since Ray Lewis returned to the Ravens’ lineup from a triceps injury and announced his impending retirement, Baltimore has performed like a team possessed. I’m still not sure what he was doing with his backside in the air after the AFC championship game, but there’s no denying the impact Lewis has on those around him. Bluster and bad dance moves aside, he commands respect and has the ability to motivate his teammates to play up to, and sometimes beyond, their capabilities. While some of Cowboys certainly aren’t lacking in the ham category, no one has stepped up in the rallying department since Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin hung up their cleats. Cowboys Nation has learned that just throwing a fit on the sidelines, as former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was prone to do, doesn’t get the job done. Likewise for wide receiver Dez Bryant; although it has to be noted that playing with a broken finger did seem to elicit some positive response from his teammates.
Priority number one in the off season, besides plugging the holes in our pitiful offensive line, has to be to have Jason Garrett, one of the current Dallas players, or perhaps a new free agent pickup, to step up to the task at hand and make the Cowboys believe they can hoist the Lombardi trophy at the end of the 2013 season. If that doesn’t happen, the Cowboys and their fans will once again be sitting here the same time next year, disgruntled and dejected after another disappointing run.