One of my most treasured childhood possessions is a 1977 Dallas Cowboys team poster. Each season the McDonald’s in my Plano neighborhood handed out a new version. I’m not sure how many I collected over the years, but the 1977 edition was special. That was the first season I watched the Cowboys win a Super Bowl, and the photograph includes some of my all-time favorite players: #33 Tony Dorsett, #88 Drew Pearson, #54 Randy White, and, of course, #12 Roger Staubach.
Oh, Roger Staubach! I proudly displayed his action figure on my bookshelf, and I wore his jersey on the playground during pickup games. To the annoyance of my friends, I would shout time and time again, “Staubach scrambles to his right looking for an open receiver!” Then I’d let the ball fly down the field and cry, “HAIL MARY!!!” He has always defined for me what a quarterback—specifically a Dallas Cowboys quarterback—should be.
Needless to say, I was born a Cowboys fan, and I remain one today. That includes reveling in the high points of the nineties (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin!) and suffering through the low points of the past two decades or so (too many disappointing names to mention). Which brings me to Tony Romo, a player with exquisite talent but painful shortcomings, an electrifying quarterback who has rewritten the team’s record books but faltered in the playoffs and suffered a series of devastating injuries. For this month’s cover story, I asked my longtime friend Michael J. Mooney, a former staff writer for D Magazine, to consider Romo from the fan’s perspective and take stock of his achievements (“The Last Best Hope of Tony Romo”). What he chronicles is a fascinating career whose last chapter is waiting to be written as the clock winds down. For Romo and the Cowboys, it’s now or never.
As for my poster, it hung on my bedroom wall from elementary school until high school. At some point I had it laminated, and then it hung in my dorm room, at the University of North Texas, in Denton. Today it has been relegated to the garage, though it lives on as the header photo for my Twitter account. It reminds me of a golden time in football, a time I’d love for Tony Romo and the Cowboys—and all of us—to enjoy once again.