Debauched Dynasty

True tales of those naughty '90s Cowboys
October 05, 2008

STUDENTS OFShakespeare know that the Bard upped the shock value in his opening scenes tograb the attention of the rowdy working-class folk in the cheap seats at theGlobe. But chanting witches and brawling Veronese have nothing on the openingpages of Boys Will Be Boys, Jeff Pearlman's entertaining look at the DallasCowboys dynasty of the 1990s. The year is 1998, and future Hall of Fame wideoutMichael Irvin is holding a bloody set of barber's shears in the Cowboys' lockerroom, having just stabbed a teammate in the neck after arguing over whose turnit was for a haircut. A We Are Family moment it isn't.

The exhaustivelyreported Boys, which debuted last week at No. 7 on The New York Timesbest-seller list, won't disappoint those looking for tales—Irvin's appetite forcocaine and hookers, defensive end Charles Haley's public adventures inself-pleasure, receiver Alvin Harper's banishment from a Dallas strip club forhaving sex in a phone booth—of Jocks Gone Wild. But Pearlman, a former SIsenior writer, digs deeper and paints a nuanced portrait of one of the NFL'sgreatest teams. Irvin, for all his foibles, comes off as a tireless worker anddedicated teammate. Coach Jimmy Johnson, widely credited for rebuilding thefranchise with a blockbuster trade that sent Herschel Walker to the Vikings fora slew of draft picks in 1989, had to be talked into using one of those pickson running back Emmitt Smith and only reluctantly named Troy Aikman hisquarterback, Pearlman says. Both became Hall of Famers, suggesting Johnson'sjudgment was far from flawless. It's one of the many myths about the franchisepunctured by Pearlman, even while he enhances the popular notion that the 1990sCowboys were one of the wildest teams in history. How 'bout them Cowboys,indeed.

The Pop CultureGrid

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A.J. HAWK Packers LB Elementary school The Office Snakes Dave Matthews Band
PHOTODAVID TEUMA/GETTY IMAGES (MÖTLEY CRÜE)BLUE J'S They clashed, but Jones and Johnson won two Super Bowls. PHOTOISSEI KATO/REUTERS (JAMIROQUAI) PHOTOUNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, SANTA BARBARA/AP (FROG) PHOTOJOSE LUIS PELAEZ INC./BLEND IMAGES/GETTY IMAGES (STUDENT) PHOTOGETTY IMAGES (HAWK) PHOTORICH KANE/ICON SMI (O'HARA) PHOTOGARRETT W. ELLWOOD/MLS/GETTY IMAGES (COOKE) PHOTOJONATHAN DANIEL/GETTY IMAGES (FORTE) PHOTOMATHEW IMAGING/WIREIMAGE/GETTY IMAGES (LONGORIA) PHOTOCHARLES KRUPA/AP (JONES & JOHNSON) PHOTO
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