Sunday, March 1, 2009

D-Day on My B-Day -- Should Have Taken That Bet

In the world of one Jerral "Jerry" Jones, the famed Cowboys owner and GM, nothing seems impossible. I have read many things about Mr. Jones, and his story(ies) always keep me entertained.

The local paper had an entire section dedicated to the day he bought the Cowboys from Bum Bright. The date? February 23, 1989. It was a Thursday and my birthday. I turned 16. They shook hands on the deal that day, but it was not announced to the world until Saturday, February 25, right after he created one of the darkest moments in American sports history, certainly for Cowboys fans.

Jerry flew to Austin, Texas, early that Saturday, where he met and fired Tom Landry at a golf course. Tom Landry was believed to expect the moment, as Tex Schramm had filled him in on the goings-on at Cowboys headquarters. Mr. Landry was due $900,000 for that coming season.

Yeah, so what? That was twenty years ago. THAT'S WHAT! IT'S BEEN 20 YEARS!!!

I was in the second half of the most embarrassing academic year of my life. I had given up honors classes a year before and gave in to the jock, attention-grabbing life instead. I went from honors English, to wood shop -- even contemplated dropping out of school on a scheme one of my best friends and I had for a business: an auto shop, which would serve beer to patrons. Or, was a dry cleaning shop? Naw, we didn't even know what dry cleaning was.

Anyway, academically it was a wasted year. Many of my fellow honors students continued the quest and would later get into prestigious colleges. I shaped up in the Fall of 1989, going into my junior year, playing catch-up and regaining some of those honors courses.

I remember coming in Monday for a workout at the football field house, when the rumors were flying high and mighty about Tom Landry's firing and some rich oilman buying the Cowboys.

In those days, the mighty fad was to dress in Western gear: Resitol straw hats, boots, Wrangler denim and/or polyester (what were we thinking?), and even cow ID tags affixed to our very large key chains, which would hang on our belt loops. Cheros, we were called. We were essentially wanna-be cowboys, tagged with ID numbers meant for cows. The great majority of the Western wearers had never been on a horse, maybe never even seen one.

El Paso has always been a Cowboys town. In fact, fans there are much more loyal than local fans.

Well, the story was not one, especially on this gorgeous day in the Chicken Friend Nation, except as I read all there was to read about this day twenty years ago, I remembered a quote that is truly uncanny.

We had a tough defensive coordinator in high school. He was in his mid-forties, athletic and hot-headed. He chewed enough tobacco to keep Redman in business and screamed during most practices and games. And, he wasn't without bias and/or prejudice, which was ironic for an Anglo to be teaching/coaching in a school with about 98% Mexican-Americans.

Anyhow, I caught up with coach later at track practice, as one of the positives things about that year for me was that I joined said team and "learned" how to run. I mean, I could run, but quickly learned I could much faster with a few techniques. I did, and at one point was the fastest man on campus, including two "brothers," who were lightening bolts.

He said, "Can you believe that s*$&! This redneck oil man has ruined the Cowboys! How can ANYONE fire Coach Landry for some unproven college coach? (see Jimmy Johnson). The Cowboys are ruined. I bet they don't win another Super Bowl in twenty years. It'd be like saying in twenty years we'll have a black President! Any takers on that bet?"

I agreed and just grinned, as I was winded and hurting supporting 425 lbs. on a bar, doing squats.

Twenty years. No Super Bowls. Cowboys ruined. Black President.

Well, Jerry didn't win another Super Bowl with the Cowboys, he has three so far. And, that Jimmy "The Jimnster" Johnson, well, some say the day he quit the Boyz was even black-er than the day Coach Landry was fired, God rest his soul.

Black President.

I should have taken that bet, though I can't imagine collecting on that one.

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