Note from Richie: Like Tony Romo, I've taken every blog snap for The Sportatorium the last two years. As I go on vacation this week, it's great to finally have a backup. Especially an award-winning, in-the-know backup like Mike Fisher. Trust me, he's no Kitna. You've read his scoops over at www.DallasBasketball.com (and can follow him on Twitter at FishSports) and for the remainder of the week you'll get his stuff right here. Fish, take it away. Mi casa es su casa ...
Tony Romo has misplaced his driver.
Soon, it will be time to lose the whole golf bag. Training camp in San Antonio is 11 days away - time for the 'Boys to put away their toys. But not today and not this way: The quarterback suspects he left the stick back in the woods behind the No. 8 tee box at Cowboys Golf Club, a misadventure that began when he leaned toward an interviewer to whisper an excuse-me:
"Hold on,'' he intimated before trotting away. "I gotta pee.''
The interaction came in the middle of a recent event staged by Jerry Jones and the Cowboys themselves. Owner Jones has for years attempted to urge, cajole and even order Romo to lasso his non-football activities ... the starlet-chasing and the "Don't Stop Believin''' Karaoke'ing and yes, the golf pursuit that allows Romo an annual shot at PGA Tour berths.
But this tournament comes with the Jerral Wayne Jones Seal of Approval: It's for the Cowboys sponsors. So Romo shakes wealthy hands and kisses figurative babies and good-naturedly busts some corporate balls ... and launches other balls straight and long and true.
"It's my pleasure to be involved in this,'' Romo says, "because it's a chance to thank and to hang out with so many of the behind-the-scenes people who help make the Cowboys what they are. Plus, hey, it's a chance to play golf!'' Golf is fun and banging pop tarts is fun and being a Celebrity QB is fun (not to mention unavoidable, Parcellsian dictums be damned). Hey, same with controversies about "new'' Cowboys Stadium rule-bending and 13-year playoff-win droughts and the attention-whoring antics of Marty B.
They all have a time and a place - and that time and place should be, like, last year.
*New Cowboys Stadium rule-bending? What Jerry likes to call "The Cowboy Factor'' was very much in play at the offseason NFL owners meeting in Orlando.
There are new rules about assessing a penalty for an at-the-half offense (maybe to be known as "The Flozell Adams Rule'') and there are new rules to cover when a ballcarrier loses his helmet (the play will be called dead, meaning Jason Witten's "headless horseman'' routine is a thing of the past).
The biggest of the rule changes obviously involves overtime. The new rule gives both teams at least one possession unless the first team scores a touchdown -- but only currently applies in the postseason.
But the owners could not convene without discussing Cowboys Stadium ... and they could not meet without addressing the way the stadium is literally altering the way the sport is played. Two examples:
*Teams with huge glass windows in the end zone - like the ones that allow light into Cowboys Stadium -- must decide 90 minutes before the game whether to hang curtains that would block out the sunlight. The Cowboys are not obligated to hang drapes; they simply must lock into a pregame decision and stick with it.
Why? Because of the incident from last October, when Atlanta Falcons head coach Mike Smith complained to the officials (and eventually to the league) about how the windows shot blinding sunlight into the eyes of his players in the second half. *And then there is the hanging videoboard. It has been Jones' view that a punter could conceivably kick a ball that makes contact with the screen ... and that a punter would do so at his own risk. Advantage? Disadvantage? Try it and see!
Jones' position was that the scoreboard is just like a short porch in a baseball park; it's part of the home-field difference that adds charm ... even adventure.
Maybe so. But there wasn't a rule to cover exactly what will happen if it does happen (as we saw when Tennessee tryout punter A.J. Trapasso hit it in a preseason game - ostensibly on purpose).
Now there is: The NFL has addressed the rules for when a ball strikes a hanging videoboard, skycam or wiring. (Amazing, isn't it, that until Cowboys Stadium came along, the NFL lacked the foresight for such rules?) NFL rules now state that the play will be whistled dead and the down will be replayed, with the clock being reset to when the play started.
This year, Cowboys Stadium can be more about football - and, oh yes, about the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders' Naughty Cousins up there high above the field gyrating around their Miller Lite Stripper Poles.
*The 13-year playoff-win drought? Yes, it's a lowered bar, but the Cowboys have understandably selective memories when it comes to what Dallas did to the Eagles (over and over and over again during the course of one season) vs. what the Vikings did to Dallas (over and over and over again during the course of one afternoon).
*The attention-whoring antics of Marty B? The organization might oughta do what parents do with their children when they misbehave; they take away their electronic toys. Short of that, though, Martellus Bennett shouldn't be concerned with finding Osama Bin Laden. Bennett should be concerned with, for the first time in his career, consistently getting open enough so Romo can find him. *The pop tarts? This year it's Miles Austin dating the junk-trunked Kim Kardashian, but such love connections are really nothing new to football and nothing new to Dallas and it's never going to change. Dandy Don was a dandy and Joey Heatherton was a Cowbabe and Rodney Peete married Holly Robinson and do you really think the rule that precludes the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders from dating Cowboys players has ever really been observed?
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Immediately after the Cowboys' 1993 Super Bowl victory, country singer Tanya Tucker was spotted knocking on Troy Aikman's door. He didn't let her in, so she strutted through Steve Beuerlein's propped-open door and playfully jumped up and down on his bed as if it was a trampoline.
"Football? It's always about football, everything we do,'' Romo says. "I don't think people realize that I'll sometimes go months and months without touching a club.'' Before those "months and months,'' though, he's got to find that missing club. ... which he does. Yes, Tony Romo left it back there leaning against a tree at his impromptu urinal.
Now it's time. Stash 'em away. The clubs go in the garage. The electronic gadgets get unplugged. The "newness'' becomes standard.
Time for the 'Boys to put away their toys.