A fan is “an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator”. Now, that may be the “actual” definition of the word, but when we are talking about sports fans, or in our case, Dallas Cowboys Fans, it’s not that cut-and-dry. As a die-hard Cowboys fan since 1978 or so, my devotion runs deep. I trace my fascination with the Cowboys back to growing up in Miami, FL with my older brother of 4 years, and his hatred for the Cowboys. He was, and still is a die-hard Steelers fan. But most importantly, this is when I was taught how to be a “Fan”. This is when my brother explained to me that if I say “Dallas is my team”, I BETTER make sure I am ready to defend them against people who don’t like them. We were, after all, in the fish bowl that was Miami Dolphin town, and people were proud to represent their team, especially the Dolphins fans. I had to learn about my team quickly. Stats, names, Playoff wins, Super Bowl wins, etc. all needed to be absorbed and memorized if I wanted to call myself a “Fan”.
Fast forward to the 2016 off-season. At this point, Dallas had lost yet another playoff game to the Packers after an epic season. Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott had taken the league by storm, something NOBODY could have predicted. After years of defending our inability to dominate on the offensive side of the ball, and after years of defending #9, we had finally started getting a small feeling like we did in the 90’s. Except this season had nothing to do with Tony Romo. It was a confusing feeling to say the least. Romo had already been injured on numerous occasions before he took that hit in the Pre-Season which ultimately thrust Prescott into the starting role. This, my friends, is where the foundation started to crack. Should we put Romo back in when he’s healthy? What if Prescott keeps winning? Those questions quickly turned into “I’m Team Romo” and “I’m Team Dak”. We started fighting with each other! We have SO MANY other fans of other teams that constantly spew ignorant hate towards us SOLELY based on the fact that we are Cowboys fans, and now we’re doing it to ourselves?
I was dumbfounded. The few Cowboys groups I was in on social media all had some semblance of this rift, and I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Aren’t we all COWBOYS FANS? What happened?
I’ll tell you what happened. After well over a decade of defending Tony Romo, after every bone he broke for Dallas, after every broken play he turned into a miracle touchdown, and after he had broken almost every Dallas Cowboys Quarterback record, he was no longer the starting QB for the Dallas Cowboys. Not yet “officially”, but we knew it was coming. And on April 4th, 2017, Tony Romo was released by the Dallas Cowboys to pursue a career in broadcasting on CBS. Hey, it’s better than seeing him in another teams uniform right? It was painful nonetheless. Romo was a great quarterback who did great things behind some pretty bad offensive line rotations, and for 14 years. We all wanted to see him hoist that Lombardi so that our fandom could be validated. So that we could say “I told you so”. But it’s not like that in the NFL. When you take the beating he did, for as long as he did, it takes a toll. When it’s time to move on, you move on. When a young rookie takes us to the 2nd round of the playoffs in his 1st season in the NFL, all the while retaining an amazing passer rating and TD/INT ratio, you have to jump on board. Why? Because you are a Cowboys fan! In this day of “Free Agent Frenzy”, how is it a surprise how easy it is for our front office to replace a key player? It is now, more than ever, a business. Tony Romo’s release was a business decision, not a personal decision. As a fan, this is admittedly hard to comprehend because of the emotion and magnitude we put into every training camp, practice and game. And as fans, it is hard to accept the emotion and business at the same time, but that’s why we are fans, not team personnel. We go through our grieving phase when an important player leaves the team, but we HAVE to move forward. We are Dallas Cowboys fans, and now, more than ever, is a great time to be a fan. We aren’t the players making 17 million a year. We are the hard-working, blue collar fans that work hard all week so that we can enjoy watching our favorite TEAM play, hopefully sporting a jersey that you know was expensive, but also knew you had to have. To feel part of the TEAM. To feel the happiness you feel when you see another Cowboys fan at the grocery store. This isn’t about 1 person, it’s an organization. I think it’s time we start treating each other as family again and leave the business up to the Jones’s.
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