Suddenly, Dallas has become a mediocre sports town. The Dallas Cowboys finished 8-8. The Dallas Mavericks finished 41-41, and the Dallas Stars finished 22-22-4. Luckily, the Texas Rangers finished 93-69, but even their recent success meant last season’s lackluster finish seem mediocre.
Dallas fans are used to winning. We are used to the Mavs winning 50+ games in 11-straight seasons. We are used to watching playoff basketball in May and June, 12 years in a row as a matter of fact.
We are used to seeing the Stars at least contend for a spot in the NHL playoffs. The past five seasons don’t tell the story, but in the early part of this millennium, Stars tickets were impossible to come by.
And we are certainly used to seeing the Cowboys start the season with such high expectations only to falter at the end. We will continue to blame Tony Romo and Jerry Jones. We will continue to say, “Yeah, but we are only a few years removed from winning 3-of-4 Super Bowls.”
Unfortunately the last time the Dallas Cowboys even sniffed a Super Bowl was in 1996. Seems like yesterday that Troy Aikman and the ‘Boys ran all over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX. I can still remember Larry Brown’s interception of Neil O’Donnell, and then another.
Yes, the Mavs won the Larry O’Brien trophy two seasons ago. And of course I remember the Rangers reaching back-to-back World Series. I even remember watching FC Dallas in the Championship game in 2010.
But that just doesn’t do it for me.
What happened to the ‘championship or bust’ attitude this town used to have? What happened to winning is everything, Texas does it better than anyone else?
It is difficult to sit around and watch the Mavs self destruct and dismantle the 2011 team. It is increasingly difficult to watch Jerry Jones struggle to see past his ginormous ego. And I have a hard time believing the ice in Dallas hasn’t melted.
People used to want to come play here. They wanted to be a part of Dallas’ culture and winning spirit. The Cowboys used to be able to lure big-name free agents because, well, we were the Cowboys.
The Mavs used to be able to sign players like Dennis Rodman and Tyson Chandler. They used to be able to convince winning players that our game was superior to the rest of the NBA.
The Stars used to be able to convince players like Eric Lindros and Mike Modano and even Brett Hull to extend their careers just a little longer. Now, their coach is younger than most NHL veterans.
Dallas Sports Ego has gotten bigger than it needed to be. Mavs owner Mark Cuban tried to get Deron Williams in free agency last season. Somehow, Brooklyn was more enticing.
Nolan Ryan and Rangers’ GM Jon Daniels tried to go after Zach Greinke, Justin Upton and Josh Hamilton. The ego got in the way with Upton, then Hamilton and Greinke went to LA. (Luckily neither is having a good start to the season.)
The Cowboys were always a headline story. Valley Ranch always provided some sort of newsworthy attributes. Kids these days don’t even know where Valley Ranch is. They probably haven’t even heard of Troy Aikman or Michael Irvin.
I figured out the problem. Dallas lost its sports icon.
The 90s were full of iconic Dallas figures. Aikman, Modano, Emmitt Smith, Irvin, Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki, Michael Finley, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez.
We backed those players no matter what. If Pudge was having a bad season, “it’s okay, he’ll bounce back. He is that good.”
If Dirk has a rough go, “Yeah, but he’s Mr. Maverick.”
God forbid Modano would have a bad season, but he was hockey in Dallas. No one messed with Mo.
Where are our icons now? Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Nowitzki’s twilight, Jamie Benn, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Dez Bryant.
I just can’t have their backs like we did for their predecessors. If Romo has a bad game, fans jump to, “Trade him! Romo Sucks! Where is Orton?!”
DeMarcus Ware is an unbelievable player, but until he stands up and commands to become an iconic figure, we have no choice but to just watch him silently become one of the best Dallas Cowboys of all time.
Beltre, Kinsler and Andrus have their flaws, but the DFW area is warming up to their abilities. As for the Stars and new Mavs, we don’t even know who they are.
Most people haven’t heard of Jamie Benn or Jae Crowder.
Who’s next? Who is the next Dallas Sports Icon that can help put the city back on top of Sports Mountain.