The Dallas Cowboys Have A Ghost In The Machine


Oct 10, 2010; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo (9) wipes his face while on the bench during the fourth quarter after throwing an interception against the Tennessee Titans at Cowboys Stadium. The Titans beat the Cowboys 34-27. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

There’s a feeling you get sometimes that you just can’t put your finger on.  A sense that something’s different, not quite wrong, but definitely out of place.  Sometimes you experience this at work, sometimes at home, and other times the feeling follows you around.  Not strong enough to make you paranoid, but definitely leaning in that direction.  It’s like, to paraphrase the comedian, Steven Wright, waking up one morning and everything in your house was replaced by an exact replica.

It’s the ghost in the machine.

This has to be what it’s like to be at Valley Ranch.  This is the feeling that everyone in the  Cowboys organization has.  It has to be, because this is what it feels like as a Dallas Cowboys fan if you’ve been one for more than two weeks.

The Cowboys have experienced a lot of success over the years, more-so arguably, than any other team in professional football, except for maybe the Green Bay Packers.  As Cowboys fans, we appreciate that success, to the point of arrogance sometimes.  We are by no means ‘spoiled’ though, as former average Redskins QB, Joe Theismann, claimed we were back in 1989. (more on that idiot later).   No, we aren’t spoiled because we also suffered not being able to get past the Packers in the 1966 NFL Championship game that would have had us in the 1st Super Bowl, losing  the next year as well in the famous ‘Ice Bowl’, the 1967 NFL Championship game.  That loss prompting Cowboys QB Don Meredith to retire.  (Cowboys fans used to boo Meredith, who was a very good QB, even though he made us contenders in the ’60’s, sound familiar?  Do you think he had the feeling something was wrong?).  What about being labelled ‘Next Year’s Champions’ thru the early ’70’s?

Sep 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys recently placed Super Bowl champions banners hang from the rafters at Cowboys Stadium during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

Disappointment and heart ache has been as much a part of being a Cowboys fan as the 8 NFC Championships and 5 Super Bowl wins.  We lost twice to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl X and XIII, that last one the difference in the game was a dropped touchdown late in the game by TE Jackie Smith, who was promptly named ‘The Sickest Man in America’ for it.  Do you think Roger Staubach or Jackie Smith or the Cowboys fans across America had that feeling that day?

The ghost in the machine

What about losing to the LA Rams in the playoffs the year after that Super Bowl loss, prompting QB Roger Staubach to retire.  The next year, Danny White takes over and leads us to three straight NFC Championship games, only to lose all three.  Danny White could never get us over the hump, most people blame him but the reality was the rest of the league had caught up to us… It took them awhile.  The new kids on the block, the San Francisco 49ers and their ‘west coast offense’ swept in and swept us to the curb with ‘The Catch’.  The ’80’s, the dark days of the Cowboys fan (and player, I imagine), ending with the selling of the team and the unceremonious dismissal of legendary coach, the only coach we’ve ever known, Tom Landry.

The ghost in the machine was very active in the ’80’s

The ’90’s were good to the Dallas Cowboys and its fans.  Four NFC Championship games, three wins.  Three Super Bowls, three wins.  That was until 1999 in Philadelphia where Michael Irvin laid on the field with a broken neck as the ever horrible and ugly Eagles fans cheered.  Even before that, with coaching changes and off the field player issues, the Cowboys couldn’t get that Championship formula back.  Do you think Michael Irvin had that something is not quite right feeling?  For the first time, but not the last,  Cowboys owner, Jerry Jones was sensing, I’m guessing, that everything had been replaced by exact replicas.

The nagging ghost in the freakin’ machine again

The ghost had such free reign through the 2000’s that Jerry imploded Texas Stadium and built the new Cowboys stadium just to get rid of it (That is completely untrue, I think).  It hasn’t worked, if that was his plan. The Cowboys lost their inaugural  game in this awesome stadium to a disappointed crowd of 105,000+, of which I was one.  Everyone, and I mean that literally, at the stadium after the game said that we would never go anywhere as long as Tony Romo was our QB.  That same year, 2009, he got us to the playoffs and the first playoff win since, like ’97.   Cowboys fans didn’t mean to throw Romo out with the bathwater, we just were so tired of the Cowboys failing at important times.  Romo is an easy target, but that is partially his own fault.

The ghost in the machine has a firm grip on Tony Romo

When we look back on the career of Tony Romo, he will be considered one of the 2 best undrafted free agents to ever play the game.  The other being Kurt Warner.  Disagree all you want, but the body of work is already there to make the argument and if he gets to and wins a Super Bowl, he will be considered the best.  Does Romo care about that now?  No, and neither does Cowboys Nation.  Right now we are dealing with the ghost in machine, so is Romo, and Jason Garrett and Jason Witten for that matter.  We all feel it.  Everything at Valley Ranch has been replaced with an exact replica.

Points and Observations:

-First and foremost, the elephant in the room.  Joe Theismann said Tony Romo is not and never was a very good QB.  Jealous much?  Hey, Joe,  with the Redskins, you were merely a bus driver on a team way more talented than you.  The exact opposite of what Tony Romo is to the Cowboys.  As an analyst, you are supposed to give a fair analysis, but you can’t do that when it comes to the Cowboys, can you?  You called out Dallas fans as fickle and spoiled in 1989, guessing that Troy Aikman was being drafted merely to sell tickets.  Spoiled?  Really?  had you not watched what the Cowboys fan had to endure the last four years or more prior to 1989?  Oh, by the way, Aikman did sell tickets, and got us back to the Super Bowl.  If you were better at your job maybe you wouldn’t have to bounce around networks while always remaining in the back ground.  Look, I’m all for truth – for example – what Rod Woodson had to say about Romo recently was spot on.  But you?  In my opinion, you just saw an opportunity to try to be relevant again by going to an easy target, but that was your M.O. when you played, throwing to easy targets.  And you haven’t been relevant since the Giant’s Lawrence Taylor… well, let’s not go there.

-I’m gonna get a lot of flak for that.

-That being said, I thought the first four games of last year was Romo’s make or break vision-quest, but it looks like this year he’s gonna go through another one.  The Chicago Bears game was tough, but the next 5 games will be brutal.  For the Cowboys sake, and of course for yours, Tony, I hope you are up to the task.

-Tony Romo, we got your back... For now.

-“Can’t be the same old story”, “We’ll get it turned around” –  Things I’ve heard Jason Witten say for about 6 years now.

-We may have a ghost in the machine (we do), but I’m still glad I’m not a Cleveland Browns fan, they are way past ghosts.

-Who I like this week:  Cowboys win in a squeaker – Dallas 3, Bye week 0

-Artie Cappello