Monday, October 29, 2012

The perception about Cowboys Stadium

Cowboys Stadium a paradise for opponents
There are many perceptions about the polarizing Dallas Cowboys.  They don't get it done when it countsThey are an accident waiting to happenThey always collapse down the stretch.  These perceptions may be true, but all perceptions about this franchise aren't true.  The one I want to bring to light is this perception that the Dallas Cowboys don't have a home field advantage.  As if it's the fault of the fans.  As if it's because Dallas is filled with so many fairweather and entitled fans that they don't have a home field advantage.

I couldn't disagree with that more.  If you are a diehard Cowboy fan like I am, you love this team and you cheer them on no matter what.  Even at the lowest of lows.  I mean, if you've been a fan in just the last 15 years like I have, you know this franchise is at its lowest.  Which makes it harder to cheer for them, yet we do so anyway.  The problem I have with it all is this false misconception about home field advantage and the fans are somehow at fault.  Troy Aikman had some interested comments about this:
Comparing the old stadium with road games in the NFC East, he said, “When we would play in Philadelphia, New York, and walk out of the tunnel, I would have to be yelling at the top of my lungs for the guys to hear me. …
“There was no way you could go down there near the goal line and use a hard count in an opposing stadium. And yet in Texas Stadium, teams did it all the time.”
Now I love Troy Aikman, and completely respect anything he says, but I completely disagree with the point he's trying to make.  He does bring up some intriguing points and a strong argument.  He certainly knows more about the home fans than I do and he was actually on the field and should know what it was like.  Here's my problem with those comments:  The fans cheered loudly when the Cowboys needed it in those days.  In regular season games and mostly in playoff games, they could get crazy.  I went to multiple Cowboy games as a kid in the 90s when they were successful, and I left with hurt eardrums.  Remember the reception the Eagles got the next time they played in Texas Stadium after Philly's notorious cheering of Michael Irvin's injury?  The Cowboys won that game convincingly 20-10.  They could get crazy when needed.

I don't simply buy that Cowboy fans were that bad when I've witnessed some great showings myself back in the good ole days when they were a winning franchise.  From what I've seen over the years, when the Cowboys give the fans a reason to cheer loudly, they cheer.  Since the unveiling of Cowboys Stadium, how many good memories have they been left with?  Okay, one playoff win, and other than that, nothing but bad memories.  Hell, there are still lasting awful memories from the twilight years of Texas Stadium let alone Cowboys Stadium.  How could Aikman have the audacity to defend the Cowboys when they embarrassed him, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin when they were all inducted to the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor on Monday Night Football?  Remember that game?  Dallas led practically all game and then choked a double digit lead in dramatic fashion late in the 4th quarter.  Aikman is defending this team?  He of all people should understand why the fans don't provide them with a fearful home field advantage.  How about the way they lost so hilariously to the Baltimore Ravens to close Texas Stadium when they gave up two long rushing TDs on back-to-back possessions when they were trying to make a comeback?  No, this wasn't freaking Ray Rice bursting away for two 75+ yard TD runs, this was slow and burly, La'Ron McClain, and Willis McGahee doing it.  Fans are supposed to be giddy about that?  Very hard to cheer for a team when you know they are an accident waiting to happen.  Hard to cheer for a team when you see them give the opposing team interceptions for TDs or make other key mistakes that have a negative effect on them.

Chicago Bears players say it felt like a home game to them.  Let me see, Romo threw five interceptions largely aided by wide receiver mistakes, and two of those were returned for touchdowns.  Also, Bears fans have been known to travel well.  So when you add all that up, gee no wonder it felt like a home game to them.  The Cowboys essentially handed them the game on a silver platter and the only fans in the stadium who had a reason to cheer were Bear fans.

Like that Bears game, Cowboy fans just haven't had a reason to cheer for much.  The fans may not have been always all that and a bag of chips in Aikman's day even when they were dominating the league, but it's a different time now.  Who knows how great the home field advantage could have been in this millennium if the Cowboys were putting out a winning product year in and year out like the Pats, the Steelers, the Ravens, and so forth.  The fact of the matter is the Cowboys have put out an atrocious product for the last 16 years.  One playoff win in that span says it all.  Since that playpen paradise was opened, the Cowboys are 14-13 in that billion dollar garbage.

I'm guessing that this new stadium can hold something like 90K people.  If the Cowboys would simply play better at home, you would see a better home field advantage.  Maybe it's just me, but it's hard to get excited and cheer raucously for a team that constantly gets down early in ball games.  I've endured this entire one playoff win in 16 years as a fan and in those years, I've felt like Dallas gets down early in almost every home game.  Maybe an exaggeration to a degree, but what I'm saying does hold some sort of weight.  Just this season in three games, they've gotten down early in all of them.  Against Tampa Bay, down 7-0 right off the bat after an interception on the first possession by Romo.  Down 3-0 to Chicago, and then 10-0 after a pick six just before half.  Yesterday, starts off the game and gives up a 56-yard play to set up a FG.  Down 3-0 right after the first possession of the game.  We know what would later happen as they would dig a 23-0 hole.

So again I say, this team gives the fans nothing to cheer for.  The Cowboys have all these stupid false start penalties that have absolutely no business happening in home games. The worst of all is these back-breaking turnovers that put them in deep holes or in last year's game against the Detroit Lions, brings the opponent all the way back into the game.  When you are at home, you are supposed to feel comfortable.  Everything is supposed to go right because you know you have the crowd behind you.  You should be a lot more relaxed and feel as if nothing can go wrong in your residence.

With these Cowboys, it's completely different.  They don't play relaxed, they have stupid penalties, they don't relish in the fact that they are playing at home.  They play way too tense as if they are on the road.  They make key mistakes that you just shouldn't make at home.  You are supposed to let the other team make mistakes in your building, not you.  That's what has been wrong with the Cowboys in Cowboys Stadium and in Texas Stadium the past 16 years.  The poor home field advantage has been the fault of the team, not the fans.  You can't blame these fans for not being intimidating when they are just waiting for an accident to happen almost every single time they take the field.

Be honest, when they came all the way back to take the lead yesterday, did you expect them to win the game?  I sure as hell didn't.  Especially when the Giants took the lead back.  I knew when they took the lead back, no way would Dallas find a way to win that game.  And when it looked like they just might complete the dramatic comeback, Dez's TD catch was overturned and that was it.  A couple of more plays of not doing anything, and it was a wrap.  No doubt were the Cowboys losing that game.  Absolutely none.  What you see is what you get with these Cowboys.  Nothing has changed.

Just ask yourself, do you expect fans to give a home field advantage to a team that doesn't deserve it?  Sure, you want the fans cheering for them every week, and they do that before kickoff.  But seriously, what is there to cheer for these days when shortly after kickoff they get down early in seemingly every game, have game-changing turnovers in spectacular and laughable fashion, and lose almost every big game?  I wouldn't.  Before you criticize the fan base for the lack of noise, criticize the team for the way they come out flat and play like a mid-major college football team.

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