Things Aren't Good, But Don't Have To Be Bad

something else, because the original plan will fail.

That's not to say the Cowboys can't, but they haven't the last four weeks. So, as Nick wrote yesterday, they're not what we expected.

Nor are they what the media expected, and here's the next part of the problem. This is the game. We, the media, make our pronouncements. If you make us look bad, we will make you pay. We will pick at you and beat on you and take you to task and poke and probe and make your life miserable because we want you to suffer for making us look bad. Media will deny it, but that doesn't make it less true.

Whether Wade Phillips is a good head coach or not, that segment of the media that has decided he is part of the problem won't let him up the rest of the way, no matter what happens. This is a bad game, one with no winners, and it is a game that is being played right now.

So now let's get to you and me. I am not going to tell you not to get mad. I'm a fan like you, before I start doing my job. When I got home Sunday night from St. Louis, I surprised myself at how angry I was for much of the evening.

The sports business exists because you care, because you feel so dadgum good when the Cowboys come home from Green Bay 3-0, and because you are so apoplectic when they play as they have the last three weeks in particular and turn that 3-0 into 4-3. Hey, gang, I'm a Cubs fan. I went to Missouri and I'm a Tigers fan. When my teams disappoint me, I can be in a funk.

Here's what the players and coaches will never understand, because they're too close to it to see the forest: some of us are just coping. For some of us, the absolute high point of the week is a Dallas Cowboys game. It's where we turn for some solace. If they win we're happy. If they stink we're upset.

But the very worst thing they can do is tell us they're going to be all that and then stink. Don't raise my hopes. If you're average, I don't have to like it. But I won't be as mad when my team lets me down.

When everyone - coach, players, local and national media - tells me my team is going to be excellent and they are not excellent, in fact they are embarrassing, then I am steamed and I want some stinkin' answers and I want them NOW!!

Reality is, though, sometimes there aren't answers now. Some things are a work in progress, and a football team and a football season are among them.  So what's next is up to us.

Here's what I think: I think you need to evaluate how much general enjoyment you get from being a fan of your team. Experiencing the highs and the lows is a little slice of life. In fact, it helps remind you that you are alive.

An underachieving football team is a big, big problem for the owner and the coach and the players and even for its corporate partners. But we're not better human beings when they win. We're not better sons and daughters and parents and partners.

So we are not personally diminished when they let us down. We're not worse people. And neither are they. They're just good people not doing a very good job.

What they have to do is fix it. They have to play better and coach better. What we have to do is not make the result of a football game be the central defining thing in our lives.

But I sure hope they win the damn game Sunday.

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