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Just Another Week At The Ranch


  "Chicken Little," Campo said laughing, remembering the way it was when he was here the first time, probably needing no reminder of Aikman's words later in that September week of 1994 following the loss to Detroit when even he, just a sixth-year veteran and owner of two Super Bowl Rings by then, said with the sky falling on The Ranch, "Thankfully, most of us have been in this city long enough to realize the impact a loss has on the fans. We're not that naïve." 

  Neither is this team, especially if the Cowboys are as good as everyone claimed they were just five days and one game ago. Once thought invincible, now if you read enough and listen enough, you are left wondering how they ever will win another game with a quarterback who has become this interception machine, a defense which has grown Swiss and a bunch of nincompoops trying to coach. 

  "We'll keep our eye on the bull's eye," Campo said. 

  There is this sense emanating from the locker room this week of wagons circling, enough seething taking place to suggest some serious concentration and work taking place. Even head coach Wade Phillips said of Wednesday's practice, "Real good practice today as opposed to last Wednesday." 

  Plus, these guys seem to be listening to the head coach, almost as if there are a bunch of parrots out here. Because this week's refrain seems to be, "It's about us . . . it's about us getting better," as Bradie James said. 

  Same thing Davis said. Same thing Tank said. Same thing Romo said. Same thing T.O. said. Even Campo, "We're just talking about getting better." 

  So for those who love drama, those trying to create even more fear by claiming meeting a winless Cincinnati team following such a loss is quite dangerous - Since when is playing any NFL team not dangerous? - wonder if they have heard about the wounded tiger. There are enough clichés to go both ways. 

  Tell you what: Been here, seen this. 

  If you are going to own the Cowboys or coach them or play for them, everything is either the absolute best or the abject worst. No hues around this place. 

  And don't think you're going to get away with whatever you do or say, and worse, you're probably going to be accused of doing or saying some things you never did or said. Just life in the Cowboys lane, something Phillips already has learned. 

  "It's all part of it," Phillips said in the wake of Wednesday's fuss kicking up, "all part of the story. Part of the Cowboys - got to learn to handle that, too." 

  This, too, is a heads up for Sunday. The Cowboys will be plastered all over the pregame shows. There will be those predicting their demise. There will be those insisting Terrell Owens is tearing up this team, too. There will be those insisting Romo is regressing. Nah-na-nah-na-nah. 

  And you watch, there will be those suggesting Boy Genius, Jason Garrett, is far too infatuated with the pass, even if he learned at the knee of Norv Turner, who got Emmitt Smith on his way to becoming the NFL's all-time leading rusher.  

  Just part of life in this fast lane, where the visibility undresses you to your soul. So if you like making $5,000 for an appearance, you had better get used to the world knowing if you happen to glance at an engagement ring in the mall, even if it might not be true. 

  The neon marquee is always lit: C-O-W-B-O-Y-S. 

  "Got to take the good with the bad," Davis said. "But I enjoy it. If you (win) it's the best place in the world, and if you don't, it's the worst place in the world to play. 

  "It's just like Broadway." 

  As always.                                                                                     

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