Former Mayor Jeff Williams started almost every speech he ever gave with a joyous refrain, “It’s a great day in Arlington.” Most often he was right.
But some days are greater than others. Logic suggests that if there are great days and greater days there must also be greatest days. For me the greatest days have been those that included significant sporting events.
Like October 22, 2010 – the night the Rangers first qualified for the World Series. They beat the Yankees and punched their ticket to the fall classic. Spoiler alert, that was #1 on most lists of the top 50 moments in the first 50 years of Texas Rangers baseball.
Unfortunately, the Cowboys have not given us that moment yet. Not since they moved to Arlington anyway. It was Winston Churchill who said, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Not quite as upbeat as Mayor Williams’ line, but easily as profound.
This business of repeating history can be complicated. After all, in some cases you want a repeat of history, in others you don’t. Who among us would not take a repeat of the ‘90s? Or the ‘70s. America’s Team played in five Super Bowls in the ‘70s, winning two of them. The Cowboys were three for three in the ‘90s.
Five of the eight Super Bowl runs included playing at home in the NFC Championship Game. This is where Arlington and AT&T Stadium come in. As a guy who covered all of those ‘90s Cowboys teams, I contend that the most exciting games of the year were those Conference Championship games. On that Sunday it is all or nothing, do or die. And, unlike the Super Bowl, that game will always be played in front of one team’s home fans.
So the next “greatest day” in Arlington could be the Cowboys playing in a conference title game for the first time since 1995 and for the first time ever in Arlington. But how do we get there? How do we find a way to repeat those two decades of success instead of being doomed to repeat the past two and a half decades of frustration?
Here’s the thing: Building a Championship team is an art, not a science, so we can’t just follow the instruction manual and put it all together.
The key word from Churchill’s quote may be “learn.” What did we learn from the ‘90s Cowboys? Among other things we learned that a set of triplets is good. Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith were the heart and soul of those teams.
If the current version of triplets – Dak Prescott, Ezekiel Elliot and CeeDee Lamb – can take it to the next level, these Cowboys have a chance to look like those ‘90s teams.
The ‘70s teams were powered by a legendary defense known as “Doomsday.” With Dan Quinn at the helm, Micah Parsons in the middle and Trevon Diggs picking passes, maybe this is a “Doomsday” starter kit.
The atmosphere around AT&T Stadium on game day is always awesome. When I walk from my parking spot to the press box I see so many people who are so glad to be there. For many you can tell that they have been waiting a long time just for the opportunity to see the best stadium in the NFL, to see their favorite team. There is always passion, excitement and undying support for a team that these fans love.
Now picture that crowd when there is something on the line. Picture that crowd when the winner goes to the Super Bowl and the loser goes home. That is a day we would all like to see. That is a day that would prove the Cowboys have learned from their history.
That is a day that would be among the greatest days in Arlington.