By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Beth Zeise of DePere, Wisconsin, who was sitting in the last row, leaned over and said, "I guess I'm from the old school--not that I was around way back when--but that was when people played the game not for the love of money but for the love of the game. Some of the Green Bay players make the big bucks, but they're all down to earth."
After another round of beers, and after another Robert Brooks touchdown in the third quarter, Klarkowski got excited, though he wasn't quite ready to pull out the cigar.
"We're going to Tampa in two weeks," he hollered.
"No, Tempe," said Bart Finnel, his godson, the guy with the flag.
"Oops. Screwed up again."
I guess we all knew it was over when Larry Brown intercepted a Brett Favre pass early in the fourth quarter, but I'd had a sense of foreboding that things weren't gonna go our way earlier on, especially after the Pack's receivers coach got plowed over and fractured his skull.
"Dallas got 14 men on the field--three of them are in black and white," said a guy in front of me, articulating my own sentiments.
Deion did his herky-jerky geek-dance at one point, and got a lot of boos from the cheesehead section. Leon Lett slugged a Packer in the face and got called for unnecessary roughness.
Then it was over, with three consecutive sacks of Favre in obvious passing situations.
The Packer fans began to straggle out of Texas Stadium, foam-rubber cheeseheads tucked under their arms. Klarkowski handed me the cigar. "Here," he said. "You live in Dallas. It's yours."
On the field, Reggie White gathered for prayer with several Cowboys and Packers, then stomped around in frustration and ranted at a Milwaukee cameraman. I guess he's not ready to be assumed into Heaven just yet.
I'd called my grandma as soon as I got home. She'd taken defeat in stride, and was frying up some Klements Polish sausage for dinner.
"And Diet Coke," she said. "We will never let Pepsi in our house, and Nike shoes will never cross our threshold.
"I got a new title for your article," she added. "'Dallas and the referees beat the Green Bay Packers.' And have you heard anything so ridiculous as calling the Cowboys 'America's Team?'
"Why, the Packers are America's Team."
For a few of us anyway.