Bobby Hawthorne’s book review in Texas School Business

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TSB Oct 2012 GameOn
by  Bobby  Hawthorne
When  we  used  to  Cowboy  up
Do  I  look  like  the  jealous  type?  Well,  I’m  not.   Sure,  I’d  love  to  have  a  sliver  of  Paul  McCart-­ ney’s   talent,   charm   and   boyish   good   looks.   I’d  like  to  have  his  bank  account  too.  But  am   I  jealous  of  Paul  McCartney?  
Not   really.   If   I’m   jealous   of   anyone,   it’s   Maria   Sharapova’s   lingerie   consultant.   At  least  that  was  the  case  until  I  received  an   advance  copy  of  Joe  Nick  Patoski’s  fantastic   book,  “The  Dallas  Cowboys:  The  outrageous   history   of   the   biggest,   loudest,   most   hated,   best   loved   football   team   in   America”   (Little   Brown  &  Co.,  2012).
The   more   I’ve   read,   the   more   envious   I’ve   become.   Envious   and   bitter   and   angry   —  angry  because  it  apparently  wasn’t  enough   for  Joe  Nick  that  I  merely  enjoy  his  book.  No,   I  had  to  love  it.  I  had  to  wish  I’d  written  it.  I   had  to  wish  I  know  what  he  knows,  go  where   he  goes.  And  I  do.
Joe   Nick   has   turned   me   into   a   wet   wad   of  resentment  because  the  book  is  that  good.   Here’s   his   description   of   the   Cowboys’   lat-­ est   digs   in   Arlington:   “The   giant   dome   sat,   bloated   and   squat   like   a   giant   Transformer   bulldog,   in   the   middle   of   a   140-­acre   asphalt parking lot, a long spit from the part of Interstate 30 that’s identified by green signs bearing the profile of a fedora as the Tom Landry  Highway.”
Snarky  and  spot-­on.  Joe  Nick’s  achievement  is  particularly  humbling  because  I  grew   up   in   Longview   while   the   Cowboys   were   morphing  from  doormat  to  doomsday.  I  rode   the  roller  coaster  up  and  down,  up  and  down,   so  I  know  the  story.  I’ve  pretty  much  lived  it.
“The   Cowboys’   problem   is   that   they   can’t  stand  prosperity,”  my  dad  once  told  me,   in  one  of  his  rare  philosophical  moments.  He   was  as  big  a  fan  as  I  was,  maybe  bigger.  After   a   Dallas   loss,   he’d   tromp   out   to   the   garage,   pop  a  Schlitz  and  the  hood  of  the  car  and  pre-­ tend   to   tinker   with   the   engine   until   he   sim-­ mered  down  in  an  hour  or  so.
How  my  mom  put  up  with  this,  I’ll  never   know.   She   tried   her   best   to   maintain   a   strict   Catholic   household,   so   cursing   was,   natural-­ ly,   forbidden.   But   on   Sundays,   all   bets   were   off.  If  Staubach  tossed  an  interception  or  Bob   Hayes   bobbled   a   sure   touchdown   pass,   then   we   could   blurt   “damn,”   and   that   was   OK.   Mom   didn’t   like   it,   but   she   understood.   Ap-­ parently,  God  did  too.
A   loss   ruined   my   day   and   generally   the   day   after   that.   I   watched   the   1966   and   1967   losses  to  Green  Bay,  the  Ice  Bowl  and  Duane   Thomas’   fumble   on   Baltimore’s   goal   line   in   the   Blunder   Bowl.   I   watched   Bradshaw   to   Swann  and  Aikman  to  Irvin.  
I   stopped   watching   —   and   caring   —   when   Jerry   handed   the   car   keys   to   Barry   Switzer,  or  at  least  I  thought  I  had.  Joe  Nick’s   book   has   rekindled   feelings   I   thought   were   long  dead.  Fact  is,  I  miss  the  Cowboys.  I  miss   what   we   had:   heart-­stopping   ecstasy,   gut-­ churning  grief.  It  was  real,  visceral,  atavistic.   I  miss  caring.  When  Dallas  creamed  the  Dol-­ phins   in   Super   Bowl   IV,   I   couldn’t   contain   myself.  I  sprinted  up  and  down  Whatley  Road   until  I  was  exhausted.
Today,  I’m  no  Pollyanna  or  purist  about   professional   sports.   It’s   a   messy   business   comprised   of   some   guys   I   wouldn’t   want   standing  on  my  front  lawn.  If  I  root  for  any-­
one,  it’s  likely  to  be  the  New  York  Giants,  an   organization  that  reminds  me  of  the  old  Cow-­ boys.  The  coach  resembles  a  stern  Irish  priest,   and   the   owner   doesn’t   cast   himself   in   pizza   ads,   shucking   and   jiving   like   he’s   just   rolled   out  of  the  hood  in  a  bulletproof  Benz.
Not   sure   if   you   saw   it,   but   it   makes   me   miss  Tex  Schramm  and  Clint  Murchison  and   Lee  Roy  Jordan.  And  it  makes  me  appreciate   guys  like  Paul  McCartney  even  more.  He  has   talent,   charm,   boyish   good   looks   and   a   bil-­ lion  or  two  in  the  bank,  but  most  of  all,  he  has   class.  I  guess  if  I’m  jealous  of  anything,  that’s   it.   Well,   that   and   Maria   Sharapova’s   lingerie   consultant  and,  of  course,  Joe  Nick  too.

BOBBY   HAWTHORNE   is   the   author   of   “Longhorn  Football”  and  “Home  Field,”  both   published   by   The   University   of   Texas   Press.   In   2005,   he   retired   as   director   of   academics   for  the  University  Interscholastic  League.

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