How is a “die-hard” Dallas Cowboys fan born? This remains a question with a variety of answers depending on the fan you ask. Those answers, however, usually stem from small beginnings.
Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys fan Marshall Keisling (age 9) cheers for his team during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Cowboys Stadium. The Cowboys beat the Steelers 27-24 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Back when I was about seven or eight years old, I was engulfed in Major League Baseball and everything to do with Nolan Ryan and Frank Thomas. In the summer of 1992, when I was nine years old, we visited my mother’s family for the weekend in Brenham, Texas.
Both my older cousin Anthony and my Uncle Tony shared their extensive knowledge (and massive football card collection) of the Dallas Cowboys with me and showed me “the light.”
I remember I was simply fascinated by the larger than life players, the elegant uniforms and that beautiful iconic star. My cousin even gave me a letterman style Dallas Cowboys jacket that did not fit him anymore as a parting gift.
Upon returning home, I traded my entire baseball card collection for my friend’s (who saw “the light” on baseball) entire football card collection as well as a small beat up plaque featuring the dynamic duo of Emmitt Smith and Troy Aikman. I also purchased my first pack of football cards which revealed both a Alvin Harper and Troy Aikman card, and also bought myself my very first Dallas Cowboys jersey which I still have today, though it fits a bit tighter these days: Emmitt Smith of course.
I even remember asking a friend at recess one afternoon, “Do the Cowboys EVER lose?” He replied, “Nope, I don’t think so.” Of course for nine year old boys amidst all the winning the Cowboys enjoyed during that 1992 season, in which we finished with a franchise best record of 13-3, our perceptions were not that far from reality.
I went on to watch my new favorite team compile three Super Bowl titles in four years, the last of which, Super Bowl XXX played on January 28th, 1996, I was only 12 years old. I was 16 years old on October 10th, 1999, the last game the unprecedented trio of Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin all played on the same field together.
I was 19 years old when I attended my first Cowboys game at Texas Stadium on Thanksgiving Day in 2002, and of course I still have the game ticket, because as we all know, you never throw out anything donning the star.
Mar 18, 2011; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys former running back Emmitt Smith watches the Dallas Mavericks play against the San Antonio Spurs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
That was the very first and last time I was privileged to witness the greatness that was Emmitt Smith in football pads. He made it worth it too, as he rushed for 144 yards, which was his largest rushing output of his final four years in the league in a 27-20 win vs. the rival Redskins
I have witnessed the extreme highs and the “dig your heart out with a spoon” lows of being a dedicated Dallas Cowboys fanatic. And of course when I was younger, I began to take flak from a few haters at the time, but that did not matter to me, I was determined to be in this for the long hall. As I often tell fans, “If you cannot handle constant hatred as a Dallas Cowboys fan, then go root for another team!”
As I grew older, I just accepted the fact; if you root for the Cowboys, you will inevitably endure a constant stream of blind hatred around every turn. It’s the fans that learn to deal with the barrage that ultimately achieve “die-hard” status. For the record, the term “die-hard” is defined by Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “strongly or fanatically determined or devoted, especially strongly resisting change.”
So, how is a “die-hard” Dallas Cowboys fan born? The correct answer… slowly but surely, and it all started for me in the summer of 1992. That summer, my cousin and uncle created an absolute monster. Over 20 years later, that monster has evolved into one of the biggest Dallas Cowboys junkies you will ever meet. Hello and nice to meet you.