27 October, 2010


Greetings, Fanz -

It's certainly a different vibe I'm feeling as at last I return to the keyboard to post a rant chronicaling a major milestone, not only in my life, but that of your Miss December PantherFanz -

As most of you know, Lauren has just turned 21. As a lifelong sportsfan and shadow of her extroverted pops, her fondest wish for her threshold into adulthood was to spend the day (and night) in the town hosting Monday Night Football. As fortune would have it, it wound up being in Dallas, TX, where some of our very oldest and dearest friends from the halcyon days of living at the Lake Adult Apartments in the early 80's are now residing. So, with tickets to Jerry World procured, and airline tickets secured, the adventure for Little Princess was set.

As most of you already know, we begin this adventure in the PantherFanz party lot, complete with our Canadian Den, and lots and lots of 'shine for Lauren to toast on. Also, for the first time EVER, the whole Seer's family was present for the festivities. A decidedly positive vibe swept through the party, as Dano led us in the proper usage of the now famous "CLAW". Another first found me LEAVING the stadium site after the pre-game party, on my way to conclude Lauren's dearest birthday wish.

After a non-eventful flight, where the attendant informed me they didn't have Dewars, just White Label, (!) (I ordered a double anyway -) we came to Big D looking for a big buzz - and we found it the next day at the sports megasite in Arlington where the game would be played. It doesn't take long to find the opulent Jerry World from anywhere there - a circling of a half-dozen airplanes carrying banners guide you into the Dallas Cowboys Experience. A cooler full of beer, a bag full of Spring Creek Texas barbecue,(OUTSTANDING local 'cue) and our tailgate-virginal hosts quickly elevated our spirits in anticipation of the evening's contest, as an unusually WARM and STRONG wind began to blow in from the west, making keeping your 'cue on your lap a challenge.

Now, you've all seen Cowboys Stadium on TV, some of you may have actually been there, but for the majority of you who've not, nor may never be there, there is no substitue for being there. It positively DWARFS our own BOA, and unlike the Panther's den, it is surrounded on at least 50% of it's outside area by SEAS of parking lots that hold tens of thousands of vehicles, full of tailgaters. After we had finished our 'cue and beer, we ventured out to knock elbows with the largest collection of Dallas Cowboy fans anywhere in the universe. The fact that Lauren and I were in our specially made Panthers jerseys with NEJBERGER on the back made instant and friendly conversation with the jazzed but polite Cowboy fans (hers was 21, obviously, and mine was 50). An off-duty cop libated Lauren with an ice-cold Corona as we approached the maw of this amazing structure. Jerry World, quite unlike BOA, has at least a dozen spectator entrances, making the now mandantory trip through security a breeze, and now, we are drinking in the opulence that is without question the finest structure ever built for any kind of spectator sport, and that includes the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, Lambeau Field, even Turner Field.

Jerry Jones makes sure you know where you are when you are in his palace. Navy and silver dominate the aqutriments, along with the ubiquitious star. Ghosts of Cowboy past also dominate the place as well. The steely glint of Tom Landry can be seen anywhere and everywhere inside, which is weird considering the miserable way JJ disposed of the iconic coach. The faces of Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett can also be seen in many decorations. And the place is IMMACULATE. AND EXPENSIVE. $17.00 buys you a pair of Miller Lites (you can't find a BUD here)and you should tip your beer man as well, so 200.00 bucks doesn't last you long when you're picking up the tab for yourself, Little Princess, and your good buddies who sprang a small fortune for four tickets on Level 2. Thank goodness Lauren doesn't need much to get zippy.

So into the seats we materialize, and I'm in complete awe of this place, the largest indoor facility I've ever seen. I KNOW you could fit BOA in here with room to fly a couple of Blackhawks safely around it. OH - AND THAT MONSTROUS TV - seeing it on your small, or even large screen at home cannot in any way even remotely convey the MASSIVE size of it. The picture is photo-clear, and unobstructed by ANYTHING in that stadium, and then, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders come out to dance. Nothing can prepare you, if you're a red-blooded testosterone poisoned organism, for the absoulte sex-dripping beauty that is the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. They are without a doubt, the finest, the hottest, the sexiest collection of young women I have ever seen. They are a brand unto themselves, FanZ, and they CAN dance - I imagine there's the Cleveland Browns cheerleaders, The Raiderettes, every one else's cheer squad, and in a seperate galaxy, are these girls. The Top Cats get an honorable mention for Tampa bathroom stall sexcapades, but cannot compare to this group.

And I begin to contemplate this place, this city, this team, that is both equally loathed and loved from Moscow, Idaho, to Moscow Russia, from ChristChurch, New Zealand to Iceland. And I begin to understand it all. Let me digress from my travelogue for a moment -

The year was 1968. I was a lonely boy who'd just arrived in Huntsville, Alabama from Fayetteville Tennessee, and I met a husky boy who for all the world resembled a miniature HR PUFFNSTUFF, Ricky Elliott, who, along with his love for fossils and paleoentology, loved football and The Dallas Cowboys. He became my best friend and taught me how to box, hunt fossils, and play football. So naturally, the team with the star was my first NFL love. My heroes were Roger Staubach, Don Meridith, Bob Hayes, Randy White, and so many others that populated Tom Landry's elite team. I dreamed for years about coming to the stadium with the hole in the roof before Jerry Jones gutted the team of my youth, driving me to the fleur-di-lis adorned team to the east. I will admit being a little sad at never having done so when the dynamite leveled the hallowed Texas Stadium. So, there's a little childhood memory escaping the dungeons of my mind as the game begins -

And I now return to my tale.

This place gets LOUD. I saw a FEW, and I mean A FEW Noo Yawk G'ints fans in the place. It's nothing like going to a Panthers game, where you can find at LEAST 20% of the other teams colours there, more if it's these Cowboys. Of course, there's a smattering of Rangers garb, because they're in the World Series, and the Cowboys are 1-4 at gametime and in peril of dropping out of the playoff chase. But these fans are confident at the beginning of the night. And they're loud. And when the Dallas Defense forces three, yes, THREE turnovers to start the game, it looks like they will EMPHATICALLY crush the losing streak they're on! The mountain-sized TV emplores the 100,000 Cowboy fans to make noise, and they oblige. It feels like a religious experience that I simply did not expect. Even Lauren fell under the spell of the Cowboy mystique which is frequently wrote about, and ridiculed about, but not always experienced by those leagues of sports fans who truly hate this overexposed franchise. After Hakeem Nicks ensures victory for The Mighty Nimrods, my fantasy team, I find myself CHEERING, yes, actually CHEERING for the Cowboys, in full throat, for the first time since 1985! Lauren makes an analogy that she's Dorothy in the Emerald City of Oz, and if you're any kind of a football fan, an evening in Jerry World is just like it, even to those jaded like me that have been in many NFL stadiums. But when Tony Romo is smeared into the Field Turf, the energy quickly ebbs. The defense vanishes, the offense under Jon Kitna turns into the Panthers, the cheering stops, the fans leave. For all of the glitter, the opulence, the atmosphere seen nowhere else in the world, Dallas Cowboys fans act just like the rest of us when we are disgusted with their team. They pour out of there well before the fourth quarter is halfway old. And before Dez Bryant adds a bit of shine to the star, we join the exodus. I have a mixture of odd feelings, a bit of joy that our lowly, sucky, dregs of the NFL Panthers have the same record as the preseason darling of the league almost EVERYONE expected to be first team EVER to play the Super Bowl in their home town. But I feel sad for Mike and Mary, our hosts, because my very good friends are LIFELONG Cowboy fans, and they, just like everyone else who ADORES this team, drank DEEPLY of the preseason Kool-Aid, and at 1-5, with Romo out for what could likely be the season, it looks like it's over for any of this superfoulous playoff talk.

That warm wind blowing during tailgate time had turned into a gale, making it impossible to re-fire my traditional gametime stogie for that depressing walk to the car. Lauren, however, flitted around like a happy butterfly, welcoming the exiting Cowboy fans to the league of suckiness. Most took her good-naturedly. What else could they do?

And I began to line up the ironies and similarities like metaphysical dominoes while the Nejbergers and Ozments continued our buzz into the bedroom community of Mansfield.

Jerry Jones is good pals with another Jerry - THE BIG CAT. They are among the top of the lists of respected and git-er-done owners. But JR has taken quite a different method to stocking his NFL team than his friend JJ. The Cowboys have the HIGHEST payroll in the NFL this season, the Panthers the lowest. And what does that equal?



A mountain of pre-season hype crushed. A malestrom of pre-season anxiety confirmed. Huge fan bases now enraged about ticket prices and the prospect of half-empty stadiums and TV blackouts. The talk of fired coaches and draft choices. Fan ambivilance that turns into finding something else to do on Sunday afternoons. And media talk shows that daily crucify the guilty and innocent alike.

But there's a big difference in our two cities. Dallas is the home of one of sports most recognized global brands. The Star. The legends. The Man in The Hat. The Rings. The nations of fans, both boorish and educated, ignorant and elegant. The Panthers, a local microbrew by comparision. The media will pick at this Cowboy carcass for the whole season, while OUR Panthers quietly lick their wounds and find out who among these young "Cowboys" I wrote about a few weeks ago can actually play.

And sure enough, a couple of stars began to ingnite and glow for both of our teams this weekend. Dez Bryant, a top draft choice at wideout, was a monstrous impact for Dallas, and will likely supplant Roy Williams or even Miles Austin. And David Gettis, that 6th round pick out of Bayor, that world-renowned hotbed of recievers, eclipsed his idol, Steve Smith on this day. And Brandon LaFell began to catch balls, energizing this lifeless offense, and applying the miracle deodarant to the team, the town, and all of it's fans.

A victory.

A game to put to end, albeit for the short term, talk of wretched play, overrated and overpaid non-stars, and fired coaches. A game to make you interested in what happens next week, and God forbid it, a possibility, no matter how remote, of a ten-game winning streak.

And having been so well hosted and treated by Cowboy Nation as a Panther Fan in the center of their Emerald City, I hope they get the same experience sometime soon.

And for the first time, I really, sincerely mean it.

Go Rangers!

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