We need to change another nickname: Cowboys.
We change this one based not on decency, but on accuracy.
We cannot continue to let a franchise that goes 132-132 since 1997 strut around with the name "Cowboys." This is fallacious in the presence of actual cowboys. View the video of the incredible J.B. Mauney riding that bull for the world title last Sunday in Las Vegas, and I think you'll agree that J.B. Mauney is not a 132-132 kind of guy. He might stay up there. He might even die. He ain't going 132-132.
For the Dallas Cowboys of this tepid, turgid vintage, we need a name that fits this 132-132 stretch across 16½ interminable seasons and chunks of two centuries. What would be a name for a team that generates an ungodly amount of chatter that turns out to concern nothing? What name would befit a team famous for no apparent reason?
There's no real question, is there?
These have to be, in common parlance, the Dallas Kardashians.
I know that's achingly trite by now, but it happens to fit in several major categories. Both draw good TV ratings for the careful viewing of runaway insignificance. They're both stale, they're both hackneyed, they're both trivial and, crucially, they both have inflicted us with fatigue: Kardashian fatigue, "Cowboys" fatigue. The franchise remains loud even as the loudness means nil. As we have spent the last 16 years talking more and more about sports, and more and more about the NFL, we have spent the last 16 years talking more and more about a team that, in that gaping span, has gone 1-6 in playoff games.
It's unbelievable, all told.
We keep talking, they keep win-lose-win-lose-win-losing, and we keep talking. One way to avoid hearing about them is to move out of the country for six years, which I did. One way to screw up that respite is to move back to the country during the Tony Romo contract year, which I did.
Worse still, their prosaicness fuels the talking. In general, news stories fade with consensus and stay alive with debate. So in addition to the proud Dallas Tom Landry-Jimmy Johnson heritage, and the Dallas fanbase loudness, and the Dallas owner's bigness, and the Dallas stadium's otherworldliness, people still talk Cowboys because every other week, you can say they're on the right track, and every other week, you can say they're on the wrong track. You can say Romo is fabulous. You can say Romo is non-fabulous. You can say the Denver game provided the flawless microcosm, with 506 passing yards (fabulous) and one game-losing clunker of an interception (non-fabulous).
You can say the Dez Bryant sideline show in Detroit signaled intensity, and you can say it signaled dissension, but you can say for sure that after three days you're already sick to pieces of it. It almost certainly will have nothing to do with Dallas reaching the promised land of 8-8 by Dec. 29. Families squabble all the time. It matters, it doesn't matter. It quells the general tedium.
You can say all of it, say and say and say, but over a long and telling period of time, you can say that you might have said the same had you said nothing, just as with the Kardashians. It's a whole lot of talking to have added to the air, and a whole lot of nothing to have added to the culture.
As people are so dog-tired of the Cowboys right alongside Alex Rodriguez and GEICO commercials and strip malls and Tom Cruise and the Kardashians, by now our only path toward any fascination is through perversion.
To weather the continuing storm, we must double down, then, and watch the Dallas Kardashians through the back half of the season by cheering them from 4-4 and 132-132 toward the only place they belong: 8-8 and 136-136. They have home games with Minnesota, Oakland, Green Bay and Philadelphia. Perhaps they could win three of those. They have road games at New Orleans, New York (Giants), Chicago and Washington. Perhaps they could win one of those. If they go 9-7, it will be a bummer. If they go 7-9, it will be a bummer.
The lukewarm intrigue builds. If they lose all four road games, as is plausible, that could throw the whole thing into doubt by necessitating that they win all four at home, which would mean toppling Green Bay. If they slip up and start thinking they're the "Dallas Cowboys" and fail to focus and lose at home to, say, Oakland, that could mandate a win in New Jersey or Chicago or Washington, which also is plausible given their capacity for half-prowess.
Or if they simply discontinue operations out of astonishing averageness, that would be lovely.
Alas, that's implausible.