Great Expectations

By

Once, when I was six, my dad brought me, my brother, and my sister together and told us that my mom was going to be gone for the night. This meant that we all could stay up past our bedtimes to watch a very, very important game.

We all were thrilled to be breaking the rules without really caring about the reason for it. I remember sitting with the lights off, eyes glued to the television screen, watching one team dressed in blue and silver playing another in black and gold, not really knowing what was going on. What I did know, however, was that the players in blue and silver were the good guys. As my dad told us, they were “America’s team,” and so we cheered for them, taking our cues from Dad. I remember my mom coming in later, smiling at us, saying “Ah, I knew it!” while wagging her finger at us.  We giggled, knowing now that this game really was important if Mom was joining us to watch it instead of putting us to bed. I don’t really remember much else, but as I later found out, “America’s team” had won.

For those of you who don’t know what I am referencing, that first football game that I watched was Super Bowl XXX, when the Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers for their fifth Super Bowl title. Ever since then, I have been a loyal fan of “Los ‘Boys,” as my grandma would say (and any Hispanic in Texas would fondly recognize), growing up watching the trifecta of Michael Irving, Emmitt Smith, and Troy Aikman. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, they haven’t been winning much since. And you know what? It kills me to watch them. They have won only one playoff game since, in the year immediately after their Super Bowl win, and have gone several seasons without even making the playoffs.

With the advent of Tony Romo as the new quarterback (after years and years of quarterback turmoil. Do y’all remember Bledsoe? Let’s just move on), it seemed like everything was going to change during the 2006 season. Everyone was hailing him as the new savior, complimenting his throwing technique, and making comparisons to Brett Favre, and it seemed like everything was clicking into place when the ‘Boys somehow sneaked into the postseason against the Seahawks. Though the game went back and forth, it appeared with little over a minute left, that the Cowboys were going to win it. Down by one, the field goal team trotted on and every watching Cowboys fan knew, that finally, the Cowboys were going to win a playoff game after a decade-long drought. Unfortunately, our dreams didn’t go as planned. Tony Romo, the savior of the Dallas Cowboys, botched the snap and allowed the Seahawks to escape with the win.

Despite the flurry of unprintable words that followed, I still maintained some level of composure. I knew that next year was going to be different. Romo would be starting the season, and surely he would be more mature, and he definitely wasn’t going to be the holder for field goals (it’s such a stupid coincidence that the backup quarterback performs this task).

Expectations were high, and many analysts picked the Cowboys to go all the way to the Super Bowl. The regular season went well as the Cowboys held the top seed in the NFC, and they appeared to be fulfilling those expectations. Then, they faced the Giants in the Divisional playoffs…and won the game at the last second. All right, that last part is extreme denial, but I’d appreciate it if y’all didn’t tell me the truth. Instead, let’s collectively forget that Tony Romo threw an interception on the last play of the game and that the Giants continued on to win the Super Bowl, when it most absolutely should have been the Cowboys. It’ll be better for everyone, I promise.

Well, at least they made the playoffs that year. This past season, the Cowboys were given chance after chance to do so—and they failed to capitalize every single time. Instead, they let the Eagles trounce them 44-6 in the last game of the year, one that would have kept their season alive.

So, that finally brings us to this season. After a fairly shaky start (who needs overtime to beat the Chiefs?), they have posted three impressive wins over the Falcons, Seahawks, and the Eagles, giving them a solid 6-2 record. However, previous experience tells me that as soon as I get my hopes up too high, the Cowboys will disappoint, just as they have every year. It seems like a formula for them: get their fans’ hopes up, then lose as spectacularly as possible.

And yet, this year, something feels different. This is a team with much less hype, no grand expectations, and a cast that is definitely less dramatic (thank goodness we let go T.O.; sorry, Buffalo). I find myself hoping this year that they will continue this good play, that they will not disappoint come playoff time (if they make it), and that Tony Romo will not let his girlfriends distract him (I swear, Romo, if you date another blonde…). So, even though the Cowboys have disappointed for so many years and do not merit any hope whatsoever, I do believe that this year, they will finally win a playoff game.

Alfredo Montelongo ’11 ([email protected]) is living proof that hope never dies.