By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Everyone, including Ron and Ellen, screamed when Reggie White sacked Troy Aikman just a few plays into the game. Afterward, Ron explained the Reggie phenomenon. "Everybody just thinks he's the most respected human being in every way," he said. "We look at the Packers as the people with the nice-guy attitude, especially through Reggie White's influence."
"As a person, he is so great," Ellen said.
"Not saying anything against the other players," Ron quickly added.
"He brings out the best in all the Packers," Ellen continued. "He's made it acceptable to pray and do those kinds of things."
"I think if you polled all the players in the NFL," Ron said, "he might be the most respected player. He's not like Deion Sanders."
Then, changing the subject, Ellen divulged a secret she'd learned in Dallas. "We found a surprising number of people who don't care for Jerry Jones any more than we do," she said, putting that little curl at the end of her voice that indicated she was surprised.
I did my best, in turn, to feign surprise.
Our conversation turned quite naturally from there to the subject of arrogance. "It's hard to say how much of that attitude is Jones and how much is the Cowboys," Ellen said.
"We know about the arrogance of Deion Sanders and Michael Irvin," Ron added. "But the rest of the team doesn't seem to project that negativeness."
Thoughts of The Triplets passed through my mind. There is Irvin, who is not funny. During all those after-the-game television interviews, he's always holding court with several microphones stuck in his face. He talks out of the side of his mouth in a droll voice, and you keep expecting him to say something funny. You know, anyway, that he thinks he's going to say something funny. So you keep waiting for the punch line, waiting for the punch line, peering at those goofy sunglasses he wears that make his eyes look like "two pee-holes in the snow," as my grandma would say. You keep waiting for the punch line, waiting for the punch line...
After a while, the Dallas press corps simply pretends there's a punch line, and you hear titters of obsequious laughter in the background.
Then there's Aikman, the world's most boring interview, determinedly wooden in all situations; and sweet Emmitt Smith, who has become increasingly snippy with fans and the press lately.
Oh, and the others: Barry Switzer, the un-coach; Charles Haley, the big whining baby; and Sanders, of course, dressed like a colorblind Mack Daddy, always blathering nonsense.
Someone please tell Irvin he's not funny, and someone please tell Sanders he's a terrible dancer. I think that's why the other players laugh so much when he does his end-zone thing. He jerks and jigs like a country cracker, kicking his knees up in that bowlegged geek-dance.
"I'll tell you one thing," Ellen said, apropos of nothing, in a sudden, spontaneous outburst of moral indignation. "Green Bay will never have cheerleaders like Dallas."
Just then, Brett Favre completed his first pass, a 73-yarder to Green Bay receiver Brooks, who bounded like a gazelle into our end zone. A skinny guy jumped out of the back row to wave his Green Bay flag, something he did whenever the Packers scored. Each time he'd run by me and hit me.
It wasn't long after that when the Packers' Jurkovic went down. "Did you see that?" Ron said. "He got cut from behind right on the back of the knee [by Erik Williams]. Oh man, this is gonna get brutal before it's over."
We all snickered a few plays later when Emmitt got shoved out of bounds and tangled up in the kicker's practice cage.
"They'll call this a classic some day," Ron said.
Dennis Klarkowski of Green Bay sidled up to me just before halftime. He'd had a lot of beers.
"We're gonna win by more than 10," he said. "See, this is a victory cigar. I'll smoke it halfway through the third quarter. It comes all the way from Tijuana. I only smoke it in championship games--so it's 27 years old, ha ha.
"We're even up with two minutes to go in the first half. Who'd have thought we could be here six weeks ago? Or even three weeks ago?"
Klarkowski pulled out a tiny sketch pad, and presented it to me: a gift. "Our thoughts on the way down," he said. In it were sketches of football helmets, foxes, and Favres, and numerous wordplays on the initials "F.O.X.," for the Fox network.
"Favre orders eXplosion," he'd scribbled.
"Favre opponents eXpire."
Then I found my favorite: "Feed on eXcrement."
Our conversation turned quite naturally from there to the subject of Jerry Jones. During that bizarre halftime show, we pondered the ascent of his 'Boys.
"It's not football," Klarkowski sniffed. "It's not. It's the corporate world of...something," he said, shaking his head in disgust. "It's a world of dollars and cents for the Cowboys. It's not like that for Green Bay. It's fun.
"Professional football has got to go back to football. Packer football is the small-town country spirit, kids looking up to the players--that's what the U.S. sports world should be about."