Are you ready for some football? When Hank Williams Jr. crooned that phrase for the first time we all answered with a resounding, “Yes!” We are Texans, after all, and we are always ready for football. Besides, it was released on Monday Night Football in 1996. At the time of its release The Cowboys had won three of the previous four Super Bowls. That song became an anthem for football fans, especially Cowboys fans in the glorious 1990s.
So, what would be the anthem for this football season? “Strange Days” by the Doors, perhaps. Maybe, “Isn’t Life Strange” by the Moody Blues. Never has our life been more strange and never have we anticipated a football season with such trepidation. Not just because we have no idea what the Cowboys will be, but because we are not sure if the Cowboys will be.
Obviously, there will still be a franchise, but will there be a season, and, if so, will that season include fans in the stands? It is one thing to have no fans in attendance for baseball or golf; these are sports with tons of quiet time punctuated by moments of tremendous excitement and tremendous noise. Football is different. The football fan is vocal, demonstrative and even angry about supporting a favorite team. That edge that the “12th Man” provides would be greatly missed.
As long as the game is on TV we will be OK, but what can we expect to see from the Cowboys when we tune in? After all, this was a strange offseason long before the Pandemic hit. Remember how long it took the front office to announce the fate of Jason Garrett? Strange! Remember how they did not sign Dak Prescott to a long-term deal even though we thought one was imminent back in September? Strange! Remember how Jerry Jones conducted the draft from international waters aboard the Bravo Eugenia? Strange … cool, but strange!
Back in January we just thought this would be a season of change, not a season of strange. The biggest change, of course, is a new coaching staff. Even a noted Jason Garrett apologist, like yours truly, realized that a change had to be made. This team has too much talent to underachieve as it has.
So bring on Mike McCarthy and his Super Bowl-winning pedigree. He led the Packers to a Super Bowl win in the very stadium his team calls home. He is excited to work with this group because, as he told dallascowboys.com, “This is probably going to be the most experienced team that I’ve coached. So we’ll rely on that. I think if we were going to push one side or the other, we’d definitely push on the side of the volume because of our veteran experience.”
But do you want strange?!? He has never met with his team. The entire offseason has been virtual, including his first team meeting, where he stared into a camera rather than the eyes of his players. All NFL teams are experiencing the same thing, but in the off season of a new coaching staff this is particularly challenging. New policies, new procedures, new plays, new people will all be digested via the computer screen. Training camp will be shorter, too, so there is a lot to learn in a short period of time.
And so we wait. Later this month the Cowboys will get together at the Star and begin training camp with their new head coach. They are not sure what to expect; neither are we. As we have learned to do with so many things during this Pandemic, we hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
We are hoping to hear the theme music at the start of Monday Night Football. The last line of “Are You Ready for Some Football” says, “All my rowdy friends are here on Monday Night.” Even that will be different this year, somehow – “All my rowdy friends are Virtually here or social distancing on Monday Night” just doesn’t have the same ring to it.