A Dallas Cowboy Fan Behind Enemy Lines (in Arkansas)

As a life-long Dallas Cowboys I’ve made a few mistakes in the many seasons I’ve lived through. Among them:

  • Buying a game shirt for the Cowboys’ Christmas Eve game against the Eagles in 2011. It was my first Dallas game to witness in person despite having lived in North Texas until I was 9 years old. Tony Romo went out with a hand injury early in the first quarter and Dallas never rebounded, losing to Philadelphia and then the Giants the following week to finish the year 8 – 8.

Lesson learned: Never buy event specific merchandise before said event. Every time I have, for either Dallas, the Arkansas Razorbacks or my alma mater Arkansas State, the team has wound up losing. EVERY. TIME.

  • Giving up on the Cowboys when they were down by two scores to Seattle on Monday Night in 2004 with two minutes left. It was the Vinny Testaverde era and at this point in my Cowboys fandom I had come to not expect any miracles from Dallas. I went to bed and prepared myself for endless analysis of the loss in the morning.

Result: Dallas scored twice on a Julius Jones touchdown run (remember when he was the future?) and a Testaverde TD pass to Keyshawn Johnson.

Lesson Learned: Always watch until then end, unless your team is down four touchdowns with a minute left. Then you’re allowed to turn off the TV, go outside and contemplate the deeper meaning of the universe…or stare at the wall until kickoff the following week.

But the most questionable action I’ve probably made in my 22 years of Cowboys fandom and the one that makes me question my sanity sometimes, is being friends with Washington Redskins fans.

For the past few years now, whenever I’ve been back home in Springdale visiting from college, the visit has had the fortune of aligning itself with the NFC East battles between the Cowboys and Red…Washington. For the record these are probably the two dates out of the year that are the most hazardous to my health and the fact I watch these games in a home of Washington fans — willingly — might say something to my mental health.

I was friends with these guys long before I found out they were Redskin  fans of the team representing the District of Columbia. Now it’s almost the only thing we have in common years separated from high school and with two states between us.

Last Sunday night’s game on NBC was the latest get together after we watched Washington clinch the East last December. Then I had to endure the merciless cries of elation as Tony Romo threw three interceptions.

This time I only heard those cries once (on a tipped pass!) as their voices were devoted more to complaining about unfair penalties and biased refs. There were was even more yelling when Bob Costas gave his “Redskins is offensive” monologue at halftime. For being die hard Washington fans (at least their Dad is) they had no idea the team’s nickname was the league’s biggest current controversy, second to concussions.

Luckily our nights of rooting for our respective teams together haven’t come to blows or affected our friendship – though I cringe every time they call Romo by his unfortunate and highly-offensive nickname that starts with ‘H.’ I deplore Romo interceptions because of this more than their impact on the game itself.

These nights aren’t one sided affairs mind you. When plays like Romo’s corner of the end zone pass to Terrance Williams happen you better believe I’m on my feet giving them an earful. After getting swept last year and having to wait 10 months for a rematch, I was ready to unleash my wrath.

When it comes to friendships that involve one of the most bitter rivalries in sports, waiting for the next match-up can be excruciating. While we only have to wait 10 more weeks for round two, whoever’s team loses that game will be on the receiving end of relentless trash talk. Then my only defense will be to invoke our five Super Bowl wins to their two.

Since we don’t play the games we’re really only cheering for one thing: bragging rights.  I’ll take those rights and hold on to them ever so tightly for the next 10 weeks. Then, I’ll put on my Romo jersey and once again venture into enemy territory.

About Daniel McFadin

NASCAR writer for NBCSports.com. Former Sporting News intern. Graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis with a master in sports journalism in 2014 and from Arkansas State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. Originally from Lewisville, Texas, now in Fort Worth. Ask me if I like Star Wars. I dare you.
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