Loathsome Cowboys


You have to wear a 10-gallon hat and spurs when rooting for the Dallas Cowboys to think Terrell Owens isn’t a jerk. Truly a talent, TO’s tantrums and self-indulgence make it tough to give the man his due as a member of pro pigskin’s on-field pantheon.

But, in this instance, I’m here to praise not bury the Dallas wideout.

How many Dallas detesters wouldn’t want to emulate what the Terrible One did when, as a member of the San Francisco 49ers on Sept. 24, 2000, he celebrated a pair of TDs by running to midfield and stomping on the ‘Boys famed star logo at Texas Stadium. Okay, we could live without George Teague’s hit on the second.

Yes, barring some very unforeseen circumstances, Dec. 20 will mark the last game ever at the place where God peers through the hole in the roof to watch his and America’s Team play.

To give a proper six-gun salute, NFL Network will dedicate most of its Saturday schedule to the ‘Boys, starting with look backs at Dallas’ five Super Bowl championship seasons, beginning at 6 a.m. After running its Playbook series examining the AFC and NFC at 11 a.m. and noon, respectively, the network will serve up the 1995 NFC title game, featuring a 14-point, fourth-quarter comeback over Brett Favre’s Green Bay Packers. Film Session: Super Bowl XXX, dissecting Dallas’ last big-game win over the Pittsburgh Steelers airs at 4 p.m., followed by NFL Films Presents: Barry Switzer, the coach of that group.

Great moments all for Cowboys fans, who have supported their team big time this season. Led by the 25.7 million on Fox who watched QB Tony Romo cough it up late against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on Dec. 7, six of the top 15 shows in the 2008-09 TV season to date, including the top two for both Rupert Murdoch’s network and NBC, showcased America’s Team. Dallas’ 41-38 Monday Night Football triumph over Philly on Sept. 15 is the second most-watched show ever on cable.  

Me? I’ve never rooted for the ‘Boys (Okay, I was in their corner when they got thumped by New England’s Tom Brady and the Bully in the Hoody last season.) I’d rather revel in past glories like Tom Landry rotation of QBs Roger Staubach and Craig Morton on alternate plays; the 1-15 1989 team; Leon Lett’s various levels of stupidity; Romo dropping the game-tying extra point snap against Seattle in the 2006 playoffs; and R.W. McQuarters’ game-ending end-zone interception for the G-men in the divisional round last season.

But since my cable operator Cablevision doesn’t have a contract with NFL Network, there will be no temptation to indulge any of the aforementioned Cowboy highpoints even for a moment.

That’s not to say, I won’t be at my football tavern at 8 p.m. to see if another one of my favorites, Ray Lewis and his Baltimore Ravens, can lower the boom on Romo’s injured lower back in a game full of NFC and AFC playoff ramifications.

Playoffs? That’s something that doesn’t compute with the college bowl season, which ESPN and ESPN2 kick off with four games on Saturday, including the Pioneer Las Vegas matchup between Arizona and Brigham Young at 8 p.m. (ET)

But the question remains, how will that meaningless affair, available to 98 million homes on the total sports network, perform helmet-to-helmet against  ’Boys-Ravens in the Nielsen ratings because NFL Network – in what should be by far the biggest of its eight-game 2008 primetime slate — only counts some 43 million subs?  

Not coming out on top would be a shame, even for the team America loves to hate.