I’m a pacer.
There’s only two instances where I’m guilty of being such.
- Phone conversations lasting longer than three minutes.
- When the Dallas Cowboys have a lead of 21 points or less in the fourth quarter.
Can you blame me? Especially after 2013?
Remember that Packers game? That Lions game? I do.
When the New Orleans Saints scored two touchdowns in as many drives early in the 4th quarter, making a 31-3 Dallas lead a 31-17 New Orleans deficit with 9:49 remaining, it was familiar territory.
There I was, in a reserved room at Jocks & Jills in Charlotte, North Carolina, pacing, jumping up and down and raking a hand through my hat-matted hair, waiting for what would have been the inevitable just 10 months ago.
But I wasn’t alone.
Thanks to the wonder that is the Internet, I was with people who were in as precarious a state as I was.
If something were to go catastrophically wrong in the next nine minutes and 49 seconds, I would see the same emotions I was experiencing expressed in the faces and words spoken by people I’d never met nor spoken to three hours earlier, but who would probably be as emotionally traumatized as myself.
One was a gray-haired man. His name was Tim. Tim was at least fifty, wore a Jason Witten jersey and became a Dallas fan while living in Houston as a child and where he played on a Pop Warner team blessed with name of the Cowboys.
He sat in the back of the room with his arms draped across his stomach, immobile, but as loud an anyone.
Then there was KayCee. A young black man (but older than me) who paced more in that nine minutes and 49 seconds than I did. He was pacing for the team, both real and fantasy.
He had started out in Alabama but had survived more than a decade in Pittsburgh of all cities.
There was also Miz. The man who organized this little Sunday Night Football support group. He had taken up the title of group leader after the previous title holders left for whatever reason, I didn’t ask.
Miz, in his now outdated Miles Austin jersey, might have been the first person I had met in two months that proclaimed himself of Charlotte, born and raised.
There was also Glen, a gray haired California-native who lived in the Dallas area for more than 10 years working in real estate as Dallas turned into DFW.
Then there was the fan who brought a friend that claimed the Dolphins but was willing to support the Boys for a one night performance.
We high-fived, we fist bumped and we paced. All in the name of the Dallas Cowboys and the fear of 2-2 and Monday morning.
Many left before the pacing began, but those that remained remembered Green Bay and Detroit.
We’ll now remember that fourth quarter, as long as it seemed, touchdowns, fake punts, fumbles and all, one more beautiful than the last.
But we’ll remember the end most of all, 38-17.