Everybody Loves An Underdog
Hey America! Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Your beloved Cowboys lost another heart-breaker this past week. And guess who was sitting atop the steaming pile of blame? That’s right, Tony Romo.
The quarterback that burst onto the scene in 2006 and led “America’s Team” to the playoffs three times in four years, giving hope that the turn of the century and retirement of Troy Aikman wasn’t the end of the world for one of the NFL’s most storied franchises. But now eight years into Tony Romo’s starting career, it has become painfully obvious that as much hype as the Cowboys inherently receive they should not be considered a sure-fire contender in the NFL. They are the UNDERDOG!
And just like the title graphic of this post was inspired by Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, I found myself wishing there were two comedic commentators announcing the Cowboys game as Romo, almost predictably, threw an interception in the final minutes of the game instead of leading his team down the field for a game-winning score.
Unfortunately for Romo, it didn’t pay off well as the Broncos kicked the game winning field goal shortly thereafter.
What’s the matter with Romo? Why does he continue to subject himself to public ridicule with mistake after mistake? Why can’t he handle the pressure of do or die situations?
Surely you’ve had this debate with your friends time and time again, so I doubt I can add anything new to the conversation.
My point rather, as mentioned above, is that Cowboys fans, and haters alike, need to stop thinking of “America’s Team” as a powerhouse in the NFL that should win. They may have an ostentatious owner who boasts a win at all costs attitude, not unlike the late great George Steinbrenner of the New York Yankees, but in no way are the Cowboys the Yankees. First of all the salary cap in the NFL sort of nips that in the bud. And for what it’s worth, the Cowboys rank 21st in total team salary this year according to theguardian.com. They also haven’t made the postseason since 2009, or been to the super bowl since they won it in 1995 with Troy Aikman under center.
Yet, because of Cowboys lore passed along from generation to generation, and I imagine largely due to the reputation of Cowboys cheerleaders, young boys and girls continue to make Dallas the most popular team in America. Well, at least according to all-knowing Facebook. They have the most “likes” of any other franchise page. But guess what guys, every team has hot cheerleaders these days, and the new personnel does not nearly match the greats of yesteryear in Dallas. I realize many may be lost already, but in case you haven’t chosen your allegiance yet, do not get sucked into the sexy silver star, unless you’re a fan of disappointment.
Deadspin actually provided a very interesting breakdown of the popularity of NFL teams throughout the country. It shows that while the Cowboys have more fans due to the size of their state and national presence, teams like the Saints and Packers have stronger local followings per capita in their smaller markets.
National popularity, as proven in baseball, doesn’t always correlate to front runner status. Can this once dominant franchise transition into a loveable loser like Major League Baseball’s “Cubbies,” rather than a revered evil empire like the “Yanks?” I for one am on board.
So please take this final thought into account. As the most popular team in the country, I imagine all of you know a Cowboy fan. I know it’s going to be hard not to tear them down this week as you have time and time again over recent years, but remember it’s not like the Death Star just got blown up thanks to an improbable shot. It’s more like Wile E. Coyote just dropped another anvil on his own head. Try to look upon your silver and blue friends with the same quiet (somewhat) condescending gaze you’d give a six-year-old watching Looney Tunes on Sunday morning rooting for the coyote to finally catch the roadrunner.
Just like the clip shows, the capability seems to be there, but it’s all about execution.