When two of the NFL's top three most valuable franchises play at Texas Stadium Sunday night, a lot will be riding on the outcome. Like, for example, the season. Only once in the franchise's 46-year history have the Dallas Cowboys started 0-2 and made the playoffs. That was back in 1993 when a future dancing dork named Emmitt Smith missed the first two games in a contract dispute but returned to lead Dallas to Super Bowl XXVIII.
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The Cowboys enter the showdown against the hated Redskins with a quarterback controversy, kicking uncertainty and a Hall-of-Fame coach who got his ample ass kicked by a Jacksonville staff led by Cowboys cast-offs Jack Del Rio, Alfredo Roberts and Dave Campo. Another former Cowboy, in fact, thinks Bill Parcells is doing more harm than good for Dallas. "Bill Parcells needs T.O. more than T.O. needs Bill Parcells," Deion Sanders said last week from his new analyst gig on the NFL Network. "When was the last time Bill Parcells won? When? This league is what have you done lately."
One of the few things Parcells got right in the opener was getting the ball to Terrell Owens early and often. Making a mockery of training camp and proving that his hyperbaric chamber now comes equipped with an alarm clock, Owens caught Drew Bledsoe's first pass of the season and later scored on a 21-yard catch. The guy who caused such a fuss by missing most of preseason wound up playing 56 of Dallas' 57 offensive plays and was clearly the Cowboys' best player on the field. To the disappointment of some fans, he even skipped a gaudy touchdown celebration. So I guess we can stop poking fun at him now. No?
OK, twist my arm, one more time. Courtesy of former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson. Ol' 88 took a not-so-subtle jab at new 81 at the team's kickoff luncheon two weeks ago. When introducing Ed "Too Tall" Jones as winner of the Tom Landry Memorial Legend Award, Pearson praised Jones for never missing a game during a 15-year career. "And guess what else?" said Pearson, cutting his eyes directly at T.O. "He never missed a practice either." Touche.
In other news, Redskins owner Dan Snyder hosted Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in his luxury box at the team's opener. No word yet on whether Jerry Jones has the marbles to lure in Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie Sunday night. --Richie Whitt