Sunday, January 13, 2019
As published in The County Times (countytimes.somd.com)
By Ronald N. Guy Jr.
The Nationals, with Bryce Harper on the open market, are staring down an uncertain future. Washington’s football team, with a broken quarterback and a declining defense, is falling apart…again. The Wizards are an embarrassing combination of long-term, nine-figure contracts and spectacular dysfunction. So much for the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win being contagious; everything is back to the suffering norm for D.C. sports fans.
But hoisting the Stanley Cup did sugar the bitterness. It took the edge off and created a different perspective on the world of sports. Back in September, the Stanley Cup afterglow had me, a proud and passionate long-term D.C. sports fan, expressing genuine happiness for Philadelphia Eagles fans – D.C.’s most hated mob of rival fans - and their overdue Super Bowl title. I did this previously unthinkable thing in this column. In print…forever.
It felt good. Appropriate. And here we are again, at yet another bizarre moment when adoration will be heaped on perhaps D.C. sports’ greatest enemy. Why not? ‘Tis the holiday season…
For nearly 30 years, I have cussed and mocked Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. I loathed his resuscitation of “America’s Team” and Dallas’s three Super Bowl championships in the 1990s. I celebrated his ego-driven divorce from head coach Jimmy Johnson and the destruction of one of the NFL’s greatest dynasties. I have enjoyed his often misguided impulsiveness, the jettisoned coaches – Johnson, Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcels and Wade Phillips – and high-profile acquisitions gone awry – Keyshawn Johnson, Joey Galloway, Terrell Owens, Greg Hardy, Ryan Leaf, and Roy Williams (to name a few). I relished in the fatally flawed Tony Romo era and have found comfort in an unrestrained Jones habitually being his own worst enemy.
It’s different now. I’m older…and a little less chippy. What I feel most for Jones these days is appreciation. No, no, not for his fabulous defects. I appreciate Jones’s passion, commitment and fearlessness. He absolutely loves being the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, isn’t afraid to take big risks and is impervious to criticism. His best friend is his gut instinct and he’ll keep betting on it until he gets it right. The proof? For nearly every one of Jones’s personnel swings and misses, he’s hit a homerun. Take the recent acquisition of WR Amari Cooper. Jones was criticized heavily for shipping a first round pick to Oakland for the receiver. But it was Cooper, Jones’s latest gamble, who ran wild through the ‘Skins’ secondary on Thanksgiving to the tune of 180 yards and two touchdowns.
Loving what you do and having the courage to do it your way – may we all be so fortunate. But that’s only part of Jones’s appeal. What I like the most about the man I shouldn’t like at all is that he makes football fun. I often disagree with his opinions on the league and social issues, and I root passionately against his team every week, but the dude puts smiles on faces. To steal a phrase from Reggie Jackson, Jones is one of the straws that stirs the NFL’s drink.
Confession: The Caps aren’t completely to blame for this Cowboys love; a cab driver was a co-conspirator. Two days before Jones’s Cowboys whipped the ‘Skins on Thanksgiving, a family had booked an early morning boat excursion and was frantically searching for the appropriate dock. A cabbie driving through the area noticed the group, guessed (correctly) that they were looking for a particular boat and knew they were off-track. He slowed, wound down his window and casually offered a welcomed re-direction.
It was nothing. It was everything. I’m indebted to a stranger.
Kindness: We seek it, we endeavor to spread it. Every day is a test, but especially this time of year. Are we still capable of going over-and-above, doing the right thing, making another human feel good or simply helping them through their day (even one with vastly different sports affiliations)? When no one is watching? When there is no possibility of personal gain?
That cabbie passed the test. He sprinkled a little kindness on me. Cowboys fans, I just sprinkled some on you. Pass it on.