Saying Farewell To Texas Stadium

Only Jerry Jones could own and run it now. This stadium became something to say goodbye to because of Roger Staubach and Bob Lilly and the Doomsday Defense, because of Drew and Harvey and Randy and Too Tall, because of Cliff and Charlie, and then TD and Thrill Hill. Because of Jimmy and the Triplets and Woody and Big L-A, even because of Big Bill. Only a team with Romo and T.O. and Ware and Witten could be the descendant of those, and take the show to the New Place.

This old girl told flashy, dramatic, entertaining stories. You know the best ones: the '79 December Washington game. Longley the Mad Bomber. NFC Championships with the old Vikings, the Packers and Favre, the 49ers. The Thanksgiving Ice Game. Jason and the Packers. Emmitt and the record.

The Ring of Honor is unique to Texas Stadium, never mind how many times it's been copied around the NFL. There had to be a Ring of Honor, because there was a Bob Hayes and a Schramm and a Landry. Even because of all the bad boys and bad times. They were part and parcel of the fabric of what still makes the Dallas Cowboys must-see TV.

And that's another reason it's a little difficult to get too nostalgic about this stadium. Some of the team's best and most memorable moments, most of you have watched on television because they happened on the road. All the Super Bowls, another difference from baseball. The Ice Bowl. Hail Mary. The championship game at Candlestick. Dorsett's 99-yard run. Just the way it was.

There's almost a poetic symmetry to the fact that this will be the last game, this Saturday night. If the NFL had had any sense of the dramatic, the last game at Texas Stadium would have been on a Sunday afternoon against Washington, and the TV analyst would be Fox's Troy Aikman, one of the greatest ever to play in the place. Not a Saturday night against a Baltimore Ravens team that has never played a game there, on the NFL Network, which most people around the country won't be able to see.

But that's football, isn't it. It's unpredictable and sometimes unfair and heartbreaking. Better not make plans, unless you're willing to change them. And Texas Stadium, for all the Billy Graham revivals and Garth Brooks concerts and motocrosses, is a football stadium.

If you go Saturday night, please stay all the way to the end. The Cowboys have a post game celebration planned that if you're a Cowboys fan, you will absolutely not want to miss. Most of the greatest players and coaches who made this legend will come out and walk across the Texas Stadium star one final time. And then it will be time to go.

I am reminded of part of the lyrics of a song, "Goodbye Old Girl," from the musical "Damn Yankees." Aging Washington Senators fan Joe Hardy, having sold his soul to the devil so he can play for his beloved Washington Senators and lead them to just one pennant, must leave his sleeping wife in the middle of the night to be transformed into the young player who will lead his team to glory.

On his way out the door, Joe sings goodbye to his old girl. The song ends this way:

We've had squabblin' days when tears were brought about
But in a moment or two we would bill and coo
And never even knew
What we fought about
And now your Joe has to go
But he'll come back to you again
So sleep your sleep, old girl
Our love will keep, old girl, till then
My old girl
Goodbye

I don't remember the first time I went to Texas Stadium. But I will remember the last. Goodbye, old girl.

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