A bit of advice kids: never drive and listen to your favorite sports team on the radio.
More importantly, never listen to your favorite team play through the lens of their bitter rival’s radio broadcast. This is only recommended as a last result when all other avenues, such as your local radio and Internet radio apps, have been exhausted and you come to the realization that your franchise of choice likes money.
That’s how I came to listen to the Dallas Cowboys week 16 matchup vs the Washington Redskins via Washington’s radio broadcast on the TuneIn app.
For about four hours last Sunday, I navigated between cars and an endless trail of 18-wheelers on Illinois Highway 57, all while enduring the sounds of ESPN 980 out of Washington D.C. It’s a miracle I’m alive to tell you this story.
At the beginning of those four hours I had sent my obligatory “Go Cowboys” text to my two friends in Arkansas who choose to claim the Redskins as their own. The only response I received was a “probably.” While I know the Redskins were a three-win team at the time (and still are), this is Dallas-Washington. I want to trash talk like there’s no tomorrow (the simple things, right?), and let’s be honest, whichever team loses, its fans will respond accordingly–at least I will.
But there wasn’t any attempt to trash talk, at least not until the Redskins took a 20 – 14 lead in the third quarter. But I did the responsible thing and didn’t respond because I was driving (Hi Mom!).
So while Washington’s team of four broadcasters (four, really?) goaded that Tony Romo would throw another fourth quarter interception, I braved through it and kept my car safely on the pavement toward Jonesboro.
Then in the waning moments of the game, I had to stop for gas. Lucky for me and my fellow travelers.
While my blue Durango filled up, I sat in the driver’s seat head bowed, eyes closed and fingers massaging the bridge of my nose as Tony Romo, with an eventual season ending back injury, led the Cowboys to a league leading 13th game winning drive in three seasons.
When Romo somehow found DeMarco Murray at the goal line for the winning touchdown, I didn’t even bother to soak in the dismay of the Washington announcers. I erupted. I yelled and slammed the steering wheel repeatedly. Though I also did this every time Pierre Garçon caught a pass for Washington.
For the next couple of hours, I was on Cloud Nine.
Dallas had beat Washington. Tony Romo had defied an injury and made the Green Bay game a distant memory. But most importantly, the Cowboys’ playoff chances were still alive.
Then Monday afternoon came.
In a span of just under 24 hours, me and every other Dallas Cowboys fan experienced the ecstasy of a huge win, only to be brought crashing down to Earth thanks to Adam Schefter.
Finding this out was also experienced while I drove, this time from Jonesboro to my home in Springdale. Just outside of Ash Flat, AR I received an update from the ESPN SportsCenter App.
Romo, the backbone of the entire team and the only reason Dallas was still in the fight for the playoffs, was gone for Sunday’s game against the Eagles and the rest season thanks to a fluke back injury.
Kids, denial and Jason Garrett’s intentionally vague press conferences can be powerful agents for the confused and scared Cowboys fan sitting at a Sonic silently eating his popcorn chicken and who just wants the pain to go away.
For the next five days I kept faith alive. I chose to believe that for once Schefter and his endless supply of “sources” were wrong. The experience wasn’t made better by the seemingly endless “Cowboys are better off without Romo” jokes on Twitter.
But then the illusion was shattered. Romo had to go and get surgery.
I’m sure he needed it. I’m sure, despite having seen the play where he was inexplicably injured on repeat all week, Romo was in serious pain and needed the procedure ASAP.
That doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Now the Cowboys playoff hopes rest on Kyle Orton, the former starter for Chicago, Denver, and Kansas City who has taken 15 total pass attempts in the last two seasons. In a worse case scenario the Cowboys would have to give the ball to Jon Kitna, who has been retired for the last two years.
Don’t forget the Cowboys are also fielding historically their worst defense.
For coming off a big win, this sure has been a lousy week. But even through it all, I’ll be watching and cheering Sunday night.
Now I just have to make up my mind on an important life question: to wear my Tony Romo jersey, or not?