Whitt's End: Cowboys and What's True Or False?

Richie Whitt

Whether you’re at the end of your coffee, your day, your week or even your rope, welcome to Whitt’s End 7.3.20 …

*Real > Fake. The announcement that the NFL is slicing two preseason games makes me again wonder why they play any. Instrasquad scrimmages at training camp? Sure. Bring in other teams to practice? Maybe. But, other than revenue for owners, the need for pretend games is on par with Elvis impersonators, Jaws 2 and Jussie Smollett’s news judgement. Give us authentic, or give us nothing.

Restaurants have soft opens and Broadway holds dress rehearsals. I get it. But this is competitive football. Seems counterproductive to expose anything to future opponents in terms of personnel or plays. If exhibitions are so crucial, how has college football survived all these years without them? 

Two is too many, but some of us are old enough to remember 1972 when the defending Super Bowl champion Dallas Cowboys played seven preseason games, including one against a college All-Star team. Preseasons suck because, like even the best lip-syncers, they’re fraudulent, misrepresentative and zero indicators of future performance. 

The Detroit Lions went 4-0 in the 2008 preseason, then 0-16 in the regular season. In 2014 the Cowboys went 0-4, then 12-4. 

Dallas has played around 250 all-time exhibitions and provided only four vivid memories: In 1960, their inaugural exhibition was in Pendleton, Oregon on a dirt field that the day before had been used for a rodeo. In 1979, three-time Pro Bowl safety Charlie Waters tore his ACL in Seattle. In 1989, Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones went naively skipping up the Texas Stadium tunnel after beating the Houston Oilers on a last-second field goal. And in 2005, rookie defensive end DeMarcus Ware provided a glimpse of his immense talent with three tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles, one recovered fumble, a deflected pass and a diving interception – all in the first quarter. 

By my math, that leaves approximately 246 preseason games that were wholly forgettable. Why add to that total? If COVID-19 comes equipped with a silver lining, it’s the realization that the NFL doesn’t need foreplay.

*Leave it to the Dallas Mavericks’ Luka Doncic to turn over the buffet table and jolt us to being excited about team sports again.

“I never hesitated,” says Luka about heading to Orlando and leading his team into the playoffs. “I always wanted to play. I miss basketball a lot. There was no question about me. I was always going to play.”

*Our signature summer logo will undoubtedly be a mask. Looking more and more like our 2020 sports champions will be accessorized with an asterisk. With healthy players opting out and games played with no fans inside a luxury biosphere, will it be possible to equate this year’s NBA champion with any other? No home-court advantage? No stealing a game on the road? No tangible momentum in series. No Marv Albert? 

Hard to envision whether this will be the most tainted champion in NBA, or merely the most pure. One thing’s for sure: After listening to former Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson brag on the “Batman and Robin” 1-2 punch of Luka-Kristaps Porzingis, I’m excited to find out.

*Among the worst ideas in the history of ever, Vanilla Ice was going to be throwing a Fourth of July party in pandemic hotspot of Austin. His “Throwback Beach Party” is Friday on the shores of Lake Travis, in an area where all bars are closed due to COVID-19. 

“The ’90s were the best,” Ice said via Instagram promo. “We didn’t have coronavirus or cell phones or computers.” 

Um, yeah, we did. I owned a computer. A (rudimentary, but still) cell phone. But, unlike these concertgoers, I did not have coronavirus. And now, wisely, we no longer have this concert. Cancelled.

*Please put on your mask while reading this item because, well as of Thursday afternoon it’s “required” in Texas: It took 92 days to reach 300 COVID-19 cases in Dallas County, and it has taken 22 days since then to reach 700. The definition of spiking.

*If not for you-know-what, the Texas Rangers would have played 42 home games. Thanks to the summer sun, in June’s 11 games the team estimates the Globe Life Field roof would’ve been open exactly zero times. So now you’re missing something you’ve never had – air-conditioned baseball.

*In less than four months, more Americans have died from coronavirus than in the wars of Vietnam, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. Combined.

*In the final analysis, Johnny Manziel was paid more than $1 million per touchdown pass in the NFL. Johnny Goofball, who said this week his football career is “in the past”, started eight games for the Browns, going 2-6 while throwing seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. His total contract: $8.25 million. Need some more digging on this, but off the top of my head only two Heisman Trophy winners have been cut by teams in the CFL: Andre Ware, and Manziel. 

In a related story, thank you Zack Martin.

*When he first ran for President in 2008, Barack Obama was against gay marriage and the legalization of marijuana. Like he did, we can change. We can become evolved versions of ourselves through information and wisdom and a willingness to open our hearts and minds to people who don’t look, talk and think exactly as we do. 

Be woke. Be better.

*Wait and see. That’s the message the Cowboys continue to communicate with their season-ticket holders regarding 2020’s mutated, irregular season. One fan that owns four tickets tells me this week that when he called the team recently to inquire about refunds, etc., he was told “We’re waiting for guidance from the NFL. We’ll know something definitive by the end of July.” 

Herein lies the Rubik’s Cube: While New York’s new mandate will prohibit fans from attending Buffalo Bills’ games, so far Gov. Greg Abbott says Texas stadiums can be at 50-percent capacity. But what if, like the Cowboys, you have a capacity of 100,000 and more than 50,000 season tickets? How do you determine who gets in and who gets left out? Furthermore, within social distancing guidelines, how do safely separate butts in seats? Last time I checked, individual seats were not even close to six feet apart. More like six inches.

*Somehow in the middle of pandemic we’re safer than a year ago. Tornado Alley enjoyed its least active storm season in 50 years this spring. And halfway through the year, Dallas has recorded only 37 murders. In 2019 there were 209.

*Gotta admit, I’m intrigued to see the mishmash mesh point between the bland Patriots coach (Bill Belichick) in the hoodie and the brash Patriots quarterback (Cam Newton) in the babushka. Every highlight you see of Cam with the Panthers, he was celebrating … by himself. Superman-ing. Self-aggrandizing. Cam joins Dak Prescott as an MVP candidate, yes. But ... I can’t imagine how that other stuff plays in team-first New England.

*Hot.

*Not.

*70 days. If my math’s correct that’s how long it’s been since we’ve heard from Jerry Jones. He last talked publicly on April 24 in the wake of nabbing CeeDee Lamb after the first round of the NFL Draft. From his yacht off the coast in Miami, no less. 

Since then, a deafening silence.

Since the day he bought the team in 1989, this has to be his longest swath of silence. No way he’s gone off the grid for three weeks, much less three months. Meanwhile, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross is anything but “quiet”, committing $13 million over the next four years to RISE, his non-profit aimed at fighting systemic racism. 

Said Ross, “Now, more than ever, our mission and the need for this work is clear.”

*This is why I’m not an economist: Why can’t we just all – I mean ALL – reduce our everything 25 percent? Salaries are already cut due to COVID-19, but why not also the costs associated with things like rent and cars and groceries and gas and Netflix and those giant plastic tubs of peanut butter-filled pretzel nubs? If we’re truly “all in this together” in the UNITED States of America, why can’t we all ache together? Equally. I propose a sliding scale of suffering.

*Never understood why fans get all giddy about 40-yard-dash times or 100-mph pitches. These superlatives are traits of a sideshow act that doesn’t necessarily translate into a polished, productive player.

Trust me, I oohed and ahhed at Alexander Wright’s 4.14 40 for the Cowboys at Valley Ranch in 1990, only to be dismayed by his lack of football skill, and desire. 

To that end, I’m a little skeptical at the Rangers’ excitement over pitcher Alex Speas throwing 102. He may have that “easy gas” delivery of a Neftali Feliz, but he’s also only 22, coming off Tommy John surgery in 2018 and is yet to throw a pitch above Class A. Speas will be among the players at Globe Life Field Friday when the Rangers open their summer camp in advance of their 60-game sprint of a season. But even in a weird season, him making the roster – much less an impact – would be among the weirdest twists.

*The far-reaching tentacles of COVID-19 are terrifying. Friend of mine teaches special education at the elementary school level in Collin County. He reminded me this week, “There’s no online teaching for these kids. No way. Gotta be hands-on. And getting sneezed on and cleaning up bodily fluids is part of my accepted responsibilities. Some of us just have to do our jobs and be OK with the risks.”

*The Eagles are playing on ESPN Sunday night at 7. But not the team with Carson Wentz, rather the group led by Don Henley. This is what it’s come to: ESPN airing an Eagles concert. And not even a live event, but a taped show from 2018. The fact that it will be introduced by Chris Berman makes it even less watchable.

*Blackmailed. Blacklisted. Blackballed. Blackout. Black Cloud. Black Sheep. Black Magic. Black Market. … White Privilege.

*For the record, there is no “you media.” As in, “you media all have the same agenda!” I’ve been in the DFW media since 1986. Worked everywhere from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram to Dallas Observer to Sports Illustrated to 105.3 The Fan to NBC 5 and never once received a paycheck from You Media, Inc. 

The overwhelming majority of reporters are individual self-thinkers who report facts first and foremost. I know “fake news” is a catchy dismissal these days, but it’s also preposterously and dangerously lazy. It’s no more fair than if we painted all police or people of color or football players or priests or accountants with a broad brush, pigeon-holing the mission of all based on the missives of one. Reporters are in the same profession, while also competing for information. We share a zest for the truth, but not notes. Much less agendas. Be careful. Sweeping generalities got us here in the first place.

*“For this population of NBA athletes, the medical risk is very low. But they can very well infect others who may be more vulnerable. This is a dangerous virus that can kill. And as long as death is on the table then the stakes (of holding an NBA season) are very high – almost unacceptable in my opinion.” – Dr. T.O. Souryal, long-time Mavs’ team physician and now NBA medical consultant.

*The IRS sent 1.1 million stimulus checks to dead people. Assuming that money will not be sent back by living people.

*We’ve all gone down the rabbit hole. Ya know, you Google this and somehow – after a zillion curious clicks – wind up at that. My journey Thursday led me to the darndest destination: The NFL has played 16,542 games. Only one time has the final score wound up 40-18. Or 36-3. The Cowboys were on the losing end of each unique score, both to the Eagles in 2001. Please don’t ask me to retrace my steps.

*Am I the only one who just realized the T-shirt was named after its look, because it kinda forms the letter “T”? Well then screw me.

*I have 244 reasons why I’m ready for sports to return. And COVID-19 reasons to believe they’re not going to.

teaue flag

*This Weekend? Little tennis. Little golf. Gotta sneak it in now, because I sense another stay-at-home order in the on-deck circle. Oh, and no fireworks this year. Sorry, but our world feels more problematic than patriotic. As always, don’t be a stranger.

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