In Anticipation of Gridiron Glory

Long before I got into the security industry, sports played a central role in my life. In addition to spending nearly all my waking hours playing every imaginable sport as a youth, I also played baseball and football in high school. Later, I studied sports medicine in college (organic chemistry weeded me out) and toiled as a sports editor for several years. As I write this, we have officially begun one of my favorite times of year … when the NFL’s exhibition season gets under way! That means the ultimate team sport is just a few weeks from getting started, with all the excitement and suprises that brings.

Basketball is also enjoyable, especially since I just had my enthusiasm renewed thanks to the Los Angeles Lakers’ title run. Oh yes, those of you who have read my columns in SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION for any length of time ought to know my teams are the Lakers, Pittsburgh Pirates and Dallas Cowboys. Being born and raised in L.A., I do not feel much of a connection to hockey but if I had to name a team I suppose it would be the Los Angles Kings. People always ask me, “Why the Cowboys?” and “For god’s sake, why the Pirates?!” For starters, one of the great, or some might say “flaky,” things about L.A. is there are so many people from all over the country who bring their fandom for their teams of origin with them that it also opens it up for natives to feel free to gravitate toward whatever teams for which they may feel a natural affinity.

Basically, I selected all my favorite teams when I was around nine years old. I really liked the Cowboys name, their uniforms and came to love their players. Also, I attended a Pro Bowl at the L.A. Coliseum (back then they were always there rather than in Hawaii, and now L.A. can’t even get itself a regular NFL team!) and Cowboys DB Mel Renfro picked off two passes and was named game MVP. Guys like Roger Staubach, Calvin Hill, Bob Lilly, Drew Pearson, Charlie Waters, Cliff Harris, Harvey Martin, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Billy Joe DuPree and on and on and on became my heroes. Of course, I cannot forget Tom Landry; what a coach and class act. A few years later the cheerleaders really sweetened the deal for me! Plus, living in Southern California, I used to go out to Thousand Oaks this time of year and see the Cowboys hold their training camp workouts and practices at Cal Lutheran University. What a thrill it was! The most difficult thing for me to overcome in my 30 some-odd years as a fan was not their 1-15 record in 1989 but rather the egregious way Jerry Jones dumped Landry when he acquired the team in the last 1980s

Similar to the Cowboys, to a nine-year-old the Pirates sounded pretty cool. Plus the first baseball game my dad took me to was the L.A. Dodgers hosting the Pirates and don’t you know I took to the visitors as opposed to the home team. With his windmill swing, love for the game and penchant for drilling tape-measure home runs, Willie Stargell became my favorite player. Hard to believe it now, but back then they had a tremendous winning tradition and were known as The Lumber Company for their hitting prowess. I have to say I have never respected fear-weather fans who only pay attention to their supposed favorite team when they are winning or, especially, bandwagoners who change allegiances like Brett Favre “retires.” I have stood by the Bucs even as they have racked up the longest run of futility in pro sports history (yes, even worse than the Los Angeles Clippers!), stringing together what is about to be 17 straight losing campaigns. Due in large part to the econmics of modern-era baseball, what was once a proud franchise has basically become a farm team for the rest of the league. Yet I have stuck by them and hope somehow, some way they will eventually find a way to turn it around.

My fondness for the Lakers allowed me (along with a passing fancy for the Kings) to join Angelinos in unison for at least one pro sports franchise. How could I root for anyone else since when I was a kid they had the likes of Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, etc., and later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, etc.? Plus they had the greatest play-by-play announcer of all-time in Chick Hearn. I also had secondary favorite teams based on being able to root for a club in the other division. So those teams were the Philadelphia 76ers (thanks to Dr. J, Maurice Cheeks, Darryl Dawkins, Bobby Jones, etc.), Baltimore Orioles (loved everyone from Jim Palmer to Brooks Robinson to Eddie Murray and Cal Ripken Jr.) and Kansas City Chiefs (thanks to Len Dawson, Willie Lanier, Otis Taylor, Buck Buchanan, etc.). It made it fun to root for championships featuring my favorite teams, which happened a few times.

So getting back to my original thought, this is a great time of year! Pro hoops has lost some luster for me since the Celtics-Lakers rivalries ended with Larry Bird’s and Magic’s retirements, and major league baseball has become a circus with all the steroid madness. Plus my team perennially sucks. Oh, and don’t even give me any of that collegiate crap. Although I have a certain connection with the Southern California Trojans (which was a real pickle when I attended UCLA!) football program, college sports just do not get me excited. It’s too transitory for one thing. But the NFL, now that remains glorious.

This is the time of year when almost everyone is hopeful—even my esteemed colleague Rodney Bosch, managing editor for SSI, and his hopes of greatness for the Oakland Raiders. As for my Cowboys, who have not won a postseason contest since 1996, I am optimistic that this could be the year they end that drought. Why, when all the experts and naysayers don’t even think the ‘Boys can make it past the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants in their own division? Precisely for that reason, plus the fact they still have as much talent top to bottom as any team in the league.

Finally, with distractions like Terrell Owens, Adam “Pacman” Jones and others dispatched, Dallas can focus on the fundamentals of football and foster better team chemistry rather than be all about the three-ring media circus the team had become. Let the Giants and Eagles deal with the respective fiascos of Plaxico Burress and Michael Vick while the Cowboys generate their attention where it belongs—on the field. In addition, the club suffered a major rash of key injuries last year. Consider: they have one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Tony Romo and one of the best defensive players in Demarcus Ware, plus they have a deep running attack with Marion Barber, Felix Jones and Tashard Choice, one of the league’s best tight ends in Jason Witten, and one of the best coverage men in Terrance Newman. And that’s just the tip of the Dallas icerberg. And don’t forget they will be playing their first season in the confines of a glorious new billion-dollar stadium.

I believe this is the year the Cowboys create chemistry, this is the year they play with fire, this is the year they show heart, this is the year Romo becomes a real leader (he’s certainly on the right track after dumping Jessica Simpson) and this is the year Big D finally gets a big ‘W’ in the postseason. And if they don’t, well there is always next season … you know, the one where it will be former Dallas Cowboys Head Coach Wade Phillips. No matter what happens, the NFC East matchups will be epic, and it’s a fantastically entertaining league no matter who triumphs.

So let’s open it up here. I know more than 90 percent of electronic security industry professionals are avid sports enthusiasts, so tell me who do you like and why? What are the stories behind your favorite teams and players? This is the official industry sports thread, so have at it!

As always, thanks for reading …

Scott Goldfine



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