By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
What have we done to deserve this?
I mean, other than subsisting as a shallow, materialistic glob of humanity more obsessed with fake boobs than genuine heart. Other than being soulless, choking off Deep Ellum, tearing down the historic Hard Rock building and orchestrating Trinity River genocide. Other than being a town that loves winners more than sports, a town that shrugs off the departures of teams and super stadiums for the suburbs.
That aside, what have we done to deserve this?
In the last eight months our two marquee sports teams—the Cowboys and Mavericks—have given us the world's worst case of blue balls. Both teams produced record-setting regular seasons, only to implode in the playoffs. Despite similarly sensational 81-percent winning percentages (the Mavs went 67-15; the Cowboys 13-3), neither team won a single playoff round.
Last spring the Mavs, led by Most Valuable Player Dirk Nowitzki, recorded the fifth-best season in NBA history, only to become the first No. 1 seed to lose a seven-game series to a No. 8 seed. And last Sunday the Cowboys, led by 12 Pro Bowlers, redacted their franchise-best regular season by becoming the first NFC No. 1 seed to lose in the Divisional Playoffs via a 21-17 defeat to the New York Giants.
Foreplay. ForePLAY. FOREPLAY. OR...not.
"I don't envy the owners of sports teams around here anymore," says KDFW-Channel 4 sports anchor Mike Doocy. "Because the cumulative effect of all these disappointments is the fans becoming cynical."
Face it, we suck.
Our local teams haven't lifted a trophy this millennium, fostering a generation of fans convinced we've always been losers. The Mavs and Cowboys aren't alone, joined by the Stars, FC Dallas and even the Desperados in a masochistic match of one downsmanship. Delivering additional emotional sucker punches, each also lost its most recent first playoff round.
"It's getting to the point where fans are constantly on disappointment alert," says KTCK-1310 AM radio host Norm Hitzges. "As sports fans you expect to get hurt, but with these types of colossal expectations and monumental failures the pain doesn't go away. It just lingers on."
Our karma is so bad these days even Mack Brown's stepson won't touch it.
Home foreclosures are up. Restaurant profits are down. Reunion Tower is dark.
The Dallas movie is in eternal delay. And DART somehow misplaced $1 billion.
Shit, even Debbie will no longer do us.
"I'm still heart-sick," Cowboys coach Wade Phillips says two days after his team's premature evacuation. "I'm in mourning, and I'll be here a while."
To us life-long die-hards the Cowboys' loss confirms we're doomed to reside in newly christened Choke City, our days spent as zombies trudging through the long, bleak winter inventing new cuss words and our nights about as provocative as Amish porn—no lights, no camera, very little action. In between we all play CSI: Dallas, searching for clues or blame or slivers of silver linings.
We've perfected the agony of defeat. Where's our thrill of victory?
Not the Stars, whose playoff deaths resemble Halloween sequels, each one more violent and less watchable. Our hockey team—Stanley Cup champs back in 1999—hasn't won a post-season series since 2003. The Stars' last three playoff appearances have ended in first-round defeats, in '04 to Colorado, in '07 to Vancouver in a Game 7 and, most excruciating, in '06 to Colorado despite entering as the Western Conference's No. 2 seed after a franchise-record 53 regular-season wins.
Not FC Dallas, which hasn't won a playoff series since it was the Dallas Burn back in 1999. Last summer FCD fell to the Houston Dynamo, continuing a string of frustration that peaked in '05 when it lost in the first round despite the Western Conference's best regular-season record.
Not the Desperados, 28-4 the last two seasons without advancing to the ArenaBowl. Last year the indoor football team breezed to a 15-1 season only to lose its first playoff game to a so-so Columbus Destroyers team it beat twice in the regular season.
Not the Rangers, who have won exactly one playoff game in their 37-year history and haven't been competitive since we had hope for the CueCat and fear of Y2K.
And no, not from the Mavs nor Cowboys, whose latest post-season pratfalls are eerily parallel.
In 2006 each team suffered heart-wrenching jilts. The Mavs, already up 2-0 in the NBA Finals, held a 13-point lead with six minutes remaining in Game 3 against the Miami Heat before Michael Jordan slipped into Dwyane Wade's jersey and swept Dallas into infamy. The Cowboys lined up for a game-winning 19-yard field goal against the Seattle Seahawks, only to watch quarterback Tony Romo botch the snap in a 21-20 loss.
Ostensibly motivated by those almosts, each team constructed the best regular season in franchise history. The Mavs produced three winning streaks of 12-plus games; the Cowboys, who haven't won a playoff game since 1996, started 12-1. Both were so good, in fact, they duplicated a bad mistake. Having clinched home advantage throughout the playoffs, the Mavs and Cowboys coasted down the stretch. And it bit them in the ass.
Sad when your team's best season coincides with its biggest disappointment, but both have rendered their regular seasons meaningless. The only debate is which one fell harder.
"I've heard people say the Cowboys' loss was worse than the Mavs, but that's ridiculous," says Doocy, in his 12th year covering Dallas sports. "The Mavs were the favorites to win the NBA title and they lost an entire series, not just one game on a weird Sunday. Cowboys fans don't want to hear this right now, but there are worse things than going 13-3 and losing your first playoff game. Just ask the Mavs."
Adds the 30-year veteran Hitzges, "The Cowboys are central to this city. It seems to ebb and flow with their wins and losses. This year fans, as they had every right, were expecting to win the NFC and go to Arizona for the Super Bowl. They were the clear favorites, and they lost at home. Any way you slice it that's a devastating loss."
With fans simultaneously spoiled and tortured, the net result of the losses is despair, depression, perhaps surrender. It's no fun living in Loserville. Even the most vibrant and recuperative spirit can only withstand so many confounding collapses.
If they're not careful, our teams will push us away from our cold beer and fanatical tailgating to some warm milk, soft cookies and the Cartoon Network—where we're absolutely sure the Roadrunner wins in the end.
Asked to compare last year's Seattle loss with this year's Giants loss, Romo told us what, painfully, we already knew: "They both suck."
What have we done to deserve this?