The debate over who is most at fault for the Cowboys' second-half collapse against the Packers will continue to simmer until Sunday, when fans and the media will presumably have a new debacle to grouse about. On YouTube, at least, the debate has been settled. Judging by the way the No. 9 jersey embraces the flames, its polyester threads just waiting to combust, it's all on Tony Romo. This Brandon Carr jersey, on the other hand, stubbornly refuses to catch fire. While the metaphor is apt, given the Cowboys' defense's stubborn refusal to catch anyone carrying a football, the experience is much less satisfying.
But let's back up for a moment. Is setting things on fire really a good way to adjudicate who's at fault for athletic failure? For that matter, does burning Tony Romo's jersey do any good? Let's review the tape.
A quick search on YouTube yields 541 hits for "tony romo jersey burning," though few of these actually feature footage of a Romo jersey burning, a practice that seems to have taken off three seasons ago.
Here's a clip entitled "Tony Romo Sucks Peepee," which was posted on September 11, 2011, shortly after the Cowboys gave up a fourth-quarter lead to the New York Jets in the season opener:
Three weeks later, after an even more dramatic fourth-quarter collapse against the Detroit Lions, there was a Romo-burning party.
Another three weeks and they got killed by the Eagles:
The pyrotechnics continued the next season after a November 22 loss to the Redskins:
The season-ending loss to the 'skins, a game in which Romo threw three picks, sparked several fires and one explosion:
What can be gleaned from the videos? One is that a proper conflagration is aided by a good soaking in lighter fluid. The other is that burning Tony Romo jerseys, whether as a form of protest or as part of some vaguely voodoo ritual, doesn't work. Romo is still the Cowboys quarterback and will be for the foreseeable future. The Cowboys, meanwhile, have yet to escape mediocrity.
Far as we can tell, that leaves one option for the frustrated, pyromaniacal Cowboys fan: self-immolation. Then, Jerry Jones and/or the football gods will have to take notice.
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.