Fandemonium

He roots for the Dallas Cowboys in Houston: Why fans can't quit their favorite teams

From Emmitt Smith breaking the rushing record, to traditions like watching the Cowboys every Thanksgiving since 1978, I've been with America's Team. Photo by Rick Stewart /Allsport/Getty Images

I was recently back home in Chicago and came across an old family friend. We grew up in the 1970s together, and within a few minutes of seeing each other for the first time in over a decade, he asked, "Are you still a fan of those pathetic Dallas Cowboys?" A smile and an emphatic "Yes!" was my prompt reply.   

During my grade school years my favorite athlete was Tony Dorsett. This was considered blasphemy, as Chicago had adopted the late Walter Payton, known as "Sweetness," as their own son. At the age of 6, I can vividly recall the day when Dorsett set a school record at Pitt Stadium vs. Notre Dame, rushing for 303 yards. That total still stands today as the most yardage that the Irish have ever allowed on the ground to one player.

I just remember how fast Dorsett was with the breakaway speed. Many will automatically jump several years later to the Minneapolis Metrodome and Monday Night Football when Dorsett busted off a 99-yard touchdown run from the goal line vs. the Minnesota Vikings. I fell in love with the speed and his amazing vision.  

In the spring of '77,  the Dallas Cowboys selected Dorsett with the second overall pick (from Seattle), and my fandom of the Cowboys was solidified for life. By the way, in that trade, the Seattle Seahawks wound up with a no-name guard by the name of Steve August from Tulsa. Fast forward to that '77 season when, as a rookie, Dorsett blazed a trail and helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl XII over the Denver Broncos.  

I remember thinking "Wow, before it's all over he'll have five rings!" As it turned out, that rookie year would be the only time Dorsett won a title, and it would also be the last Super Bowl that Tom Landry ever won, despite coaching for 11 additional seasons.  

Of course being a fan also means you have to endure the tough losses. The Dwight Clark catch in 1982 was haunting. (With under a minute to play in the NFC Championship Game against the Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana threw a high pass that was snagged in the back of the end zone by Clark, who caught it with his fingertips.)

The 44-0 loss to my hometown Chicago Bears in the '85 season at Texas Stadium was embarrassing, and, of course, the 34-31 heartbreak loss to the Green Bay Packers in January will probably take me a decade to get over.

Sometimes, you remember the losses and the games you "should have won" rather than the games you did win. Sometimes, you become simply blind in your desire to have players develop. I was the guy 15 years ago who thought Quincy Carter could play — that's pretty sad.  

However, from Emmitt Smith breaking the rushing record to glorious traditions like watching the Cowboys every Thanksgiving Day since 1978, I've been with America's Team, and I'll be with them through all of eternity. 

Ask yourself, "Why are you a fan?" Is it simply civic pride? I adopted the Houston Astros upon relocating here several years ago. I love the stadium and the way that Reid Ryan and management have gone about building a championship-caliber team with a core of young, hungry players. Sometimes you pull for certain stars or a young player who excites. It could be Springer or Correa, as I was hooked in by Dorsett some 40 years ago.

Do you adopt teams because of your older siblings or relatives? Do you simply become a fan to spite your parents? (I've known many to do that.)    

One thing's for sure: The best season on the sports calendar is upon us. Football is the air, with baseball's postseason not far behind. Whoever you root for, enjoy another amazing fall as a fan and never forget how your own personal fandom began with a player, team, or love affair with a city.

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Originally appeared on CultureMap.

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The future is bright for the Astros. Composite image by Jack Brame.

2020 has shown us lots of things. A few of the things it's shown us is that anything is possible, expect the unexpected, and do not be surprised at the outcome. Well, the Astros checked all three of those boxes in this pandemic season and post season. Anything was possible when they finished the 60 game season 29-31 and barely made the playoffs (yes, the new format helped, but they made it). We should've expected the unexpected when they were able to beat the Twins in the first round 2-0 after the A's ran away with the division this season. We for damn sure shouldn't have been surprised at the outcome of their ALCS series when they forced Tampa to a game seven after being down 3-0 because this team is experienced and scrappy. We are talking about the team that's made it to the ALCS four years running and won it all in 2017.

Sure, there are some high dollar guys that mean a lot to this team that they may lose (looking squarely at George Springer and Michael Brantley), but that's the end of it. They'll also be without Justin Verlander after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Some will say coming back from a 3-0 deficit to force a game seven was good enough. They'll tell this team to accept its fate and fall into the background. They replaced their manager and general manager after the cheating scandal, no way they can move forward and succeed right? (insert your favorite GTFOH GIF)

Springer and Brantley could both leave as free agents

This team may not be thought of a contender moving forward, but I have faith in the talent that's still there. I believe Jim Crane knows who and what he can't live without moving forward, so I think he'll shell out the cash necessary to keep guys like Springer and Brantley...as long as it's within reason. Crane won't, and shouldn't, get into a bidding war with another team for either guy, but I think he will make a fair offer to both. Verlander being out in his last season under contract is a big blow. However, I think it can work to the team's advantage.

Let's say they're only able to bring back Springer OR Brantley, but Kyle Tucker takes that next step. Let's say Forrest Whitley, Framber Valdez, and Jose Urquidy all take that next step while Lance McCullers continues his accent. What will the league say when Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman return to their previously dominant forms? All of this speaks to the continued era of the dominant Astros.

Even if they lose Brantley and/or Springer this offseason, I still think they have enough in place to keep the lineup competitive and threatening. The pitching staff has enough firepower to put some fear into opposing lineups. If they continue to make the right moves and develop the talent they have in-house, this team won't fall off or take a dip. Instead, they'll continue to be a force if they hold true to the talent they have, and acquire the complimentary talent they need to accent the players they have now. The pitching staff will be in good hands. McCullers, Framber, and Urquidy are guys I feel that can carry the load. Meanwhile, Forrest Whitley is waiting in the wings. Kyle Tucker is poised for the next step in the lineup, and Captain Correa clearly established himself as a leader this post season.

The future is bright for Astros fans. If ownership and the front office pony up the money to keep some guys, it'll be even better.

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