America's Ticket

The NFL's most popular team hops in bed with a most peculiar teammate

Where the Mavs, Stars, Rangers and even Byron Nelson's Classic called The Ticket to complain, the Cowboys were calm, cool and, eventually, chuckling cohorts.

"We take it all with a grain of salt," says Jerry Jr. "It's not personal. It's all good-natured."

So the Cowboys promise not to be miffed, and The Ticket promises not to be muzzled. Stay tuned. It's a delicate dance, this building of a loyal following by sticking it to the man, only later to jump in bed with him. The Ticket has pulled Cowboys 180s before, backpedaling from bashing Michael Irvin and Barry Switzer into warm-and-cuddly weekly shows that ultimately made the station better.

But if it wimps out now and offers us anything resembling watered-down criticisms, it'll be the saddest character suicide since Johnny Knoxville sold his Jackasssoul for a big payday forcing guffaws at Willie Nelson's cheesy jokes in Dukes of Hazzard.

Synergy doesn't necessarily come laced with censorship. But if The Ticket suddenly yaps about gays and Cowboys only in the context of Brokeback Mountain, you'll know tongues are being bitten and pillars of once-piercing content are crumbling.

"Wearing two hats is not as easy as it sounds," Hansen says. "When I was on the radio broadcasts, I was told to stop criticizing the team on my TV sportscasts. Like it or not, everything I said went through a filter."

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