Will You Catch The Catch?

Former Dallas Morning News Cowboys beat writer Gary Myers's new book doesn't look like the easiest read for longtime fans of the home team: The Catch: One Play, Two Dynasties, and the Game That Changed the NFL. (And, with a foreword by Joe Montana!) Early word is good: Publishers Weekly calls it "a resonant look back at a defining moment for fans of both teams ('Montana always heard from Cowboys fans how he broke their hearts with that pass'), this is also an involving story of the characters and traditions upon which the NFL is built." And, yes, it's more than 304 pages about what happened at Candlestick Park on January 10, 1982. Still. Perhaps, then, a warm-up with this excerpt from the excerpt:

This was not a true blood-and-guts, down-and-dirty NFL rivalry. The 49ers played in the NFC West, and the Rams were the team they went into overdrive working themselves up to play twice a year. Dallas showed up on their schedule every now and then, but when one team is good and the other is bad, the game doesn't generate much passion. The Cowboys played in the NFC East. They faced snowballs in Philly. In Washington, the two most popular souvenirs were "Fuck Dallas" pins and T-shirts that said, "I Root for Two Teams: the Redskins and Whoever Is Playing Dallas." In New York, the fans would drop an f-bomb or two, but a noticeable chunk of Cowboys fans still managed to scoop up tickets every year when Dallas played at Giants Stadium.

The Cowboys were more insulted than impressed when Montana and the 49ers tarnished the glitzy star on their helmets with a 45-14 beating in the sixth game of the 1981 season. It was 21-0 after the first quarter. The 49ers had 440 yards offense and held the Cowboys to 192. The 49ers ran 80 plays. The Cowboys just 53. It was a complete butt-kicking. That didn't make the Cowboys respect the 49ers or even hate them, which infuriated the Niners. All Dallas did was rationalize the loss by saying the real 'Boys didn't show up. From that point forward, the 49ers had one wish for January: We want Dallas.


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