How beautiful a spectacle tonight will be: the New York Giants vs. the Dallas Cowboys to open the NFL season with a flurry of excitement. Two franchises gushing with pride and histories full of Super Bowl victories. What's not to admire about them? They win, baby.
Some forty-two years ago at the age of seven, these two wonderful football teams entered my life. As a Redskin fan, I have always admired how these two teams play, how they conduct themselves, who they are at their cores. Who could forget the macho bickering and bad-mouthing that Jeremy Shockey hurled against his quarterback, Eli Manning, talking his way right off the team that, without him, won a Super Bowl? Too bad for Jerry. Who doesn't remember Tiki Barber saying he didn't want to play football anymore in the middle of the season because he had lined up a lucrative broadcasting career? Haven't seen him lately. Have you? I recall with nostalgia the time when Lawrence Taylor broke the leg of my quarterback, Joe Theismann, ending his career on the spot. That was awesome theatre as has been Taylor's somewhat checkered life.
One of my all-time favorites was Phil McConkey, a punt returner who after running one into the end zone against my team would do a dance somewhat like the Icky Shuffle and Billy "White Shoes" Johnson knee in and out dance. I loved to watch that.
As great as these moments were, nothing stirred my soul quite as much as when Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg and was sent to jail for a few years. I sincerely believe had this not happened the Giants would have won at least one more Super Bowl. This was unfortunate for the franchise.
As for the Cowboys, they have been every bit as heart-warming to me. Clint Longley's touchdown pass in the last minute to beat my Skins on Thanksgiving Day thirty something years ago made for a festive evening around our family table of Redskin fans. I know the Skins had that game won, but you had to appreciate the brilliance of a back-up quarterback performing so brilliantly in the clutch. I know Clint didn't do anything after that in football. But he had that one shining moment and kudos to him.
I remember another Dallas victory in which Cowboy defensive lineman Harvey Martin went out of his way to toss a bouquet of roses into the Redskins locker room as a gesture of kindness. Harvey was one of my all-time favorite Cowboys, so lovable, modest and quiet. Kind of like wide receiver Butch Johnson, who after catching a touchdown pass against the Skins would get up and gesture with both hands as if he was pulling guns out of holsters on his hips and shooting them. How 'bout them Cowboys. Oh, and watching Jimmy Johnson win three Super Bowls was fantastic.
So entering tonight's terrific season opener, I am reminded of all that I like so much about these teams. They are close to my heart and soul. May God bless both franchises tonight and forevermore.