Tag: Dallas Cowboys

We have a problem with authority

Two Texas high school football players gained infamy recently when they intentionally and brutally hit an official who had ejected two of their teammates. A week later, another Texas player shoved an official.

Let’s simplify this. Everyone comes to a football game to see two teams play; those teams have all of the attention. But the truth is that the officials are in charge. Officials represent the University Interscholastic League, which seeks to promote fair contests of skill and will.

These contests generate a volatile brew of passion, and that passion can lead to anger. Usually it comes out in verbal attacks by fans, parents and coaches – often at officials. But sometimes that passion hovers close to violence.

After a Dallas Cowboys game in the early 1960s, police had to escort officials out of the Cotton Bowl in a squad car. The officials had just given the game to the Cleveland Browns when they ruled that Don Meredith had crossed the line of scrimmage before lofting a long touchdown pass to Tommy McDonald.

The place went crazy, and the craziness continued afterward at the tunnel gate. I was about 8 years old and just looking for autographs near the gate, but it was a wild and chaotic scene I still vividly remember more than 50 years later.

We had come to see the Cowboys play. The officials insisted the Cowboys play by the rules, and we fans didn’t like it. I’m sure the players didn’t like it either, but they were not storming the gate.

Despite all of this passion and anger generated by sports, players generally restrain themselves from violence toward officials. Videos of the two recent incidents would not have gone viral if such incidents were commonplace.

Sports officials do an amazingly good job in the midst of fast-paced games. The two football officials I know personally are solid men with solid judgment – and apparently tough skin. They are not your average Joes; they stand tall as men of integrity.

Despite the good job officials do, we often verbally abuse them and now some have physically attacked them. The truth is, we don’t much like submitting to authority.

Those football players are not the only ones resisting authority. Every time we speed along a highway we are saying, “Those speed limits do not apply to me. I will go as fast as I like when the cops are not watching.”

We resist authority when we seek to hide income from the IRS, when we cheat on a test, when we belittle a president or governor we disagree with and when we undermine a boss at work.

We also do it in our religious life. The people of Christ’s church resist God’s authority when we do not care for the poor and hurting, when we do not introduce others to relationship with Christ, when we ignore standards of personal morality, when we do not fight against injustice; and when we give more allegiance to political entities than to God’s kingdom. And the list could go on.

As we condemn the actions of the football players who attacked the officials, it is good for all of us to evaluate our own attacks upon authority, especially on God’s authority in our lives.

(This post originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)


Violent tendencies

(This article originally appeared on the Texas Baptists web site.)

A violent man is coming to Dallas. He didn’t simply pick North Texas as a good place to live; a wealthy family in the city offered him $11 million to come to town.

Greg Hardy is indeed coming to Big D. Hardy will be the newest pass rushing “savior” of the highest profile American football team, the Dallas Cowboys.

Hardy, however, has a past. Last year, a judge found him guilty of assaulting and threatening to kill his girlfriend. Hardy then requested a jury trial, which never happened because the girlfriend would not cooperate with the prosecution. She, instead, accepted an out-of-court settlement. In my neighborhood, we would say Hardy paid her to keep her mouth shut.

Now Hardy can go back to doing what he does best – rushing quarterbacks, at least after the NFL punishes him in some way for what he did.

Hardy is a violent man in a violent game. But football is no longer just a game; it’s a business where men get paid a fortune to destroy one another.

I love football. I plan my autumn weekends around it. I get emotionally wrapped up in certain teams. There’s just something about American football that is like no other sport.

But I’m not a violent guy. I haven’t been in a fight since grade school, and the last time I physically tried to hurt someone was 35 years ago in a softball game when I threw an elbow to the first baseman’s ribs. Oh, wait, 15 years ago, I intentionally fouled a better soccer player twice before being caught.

Maybe I’m a violent guy after all. It’s lurking beneath the surface of my calm, aging, less-than-hulking exterior.

The Bible chronicles the violence of man in the earliest days of existence. There is something in our makeup, which bends people toward violence – some do their violence physically, others do it emotionally.

Hardy is not alone. There is a violence in all of us that needs to be tamed, and God desires to help us tame it.

Our Christian prayers should be for Greg Hardy as a man. He apparently has done some heinous things. Let’s pray he realizes it’s wrong to strike another person, that is when said person is not on a football field. We can kind of see how a person with a certain disposition and a lack of moral constraint could fail to learn there is a difference.

I am encouraged that there are men playing football who are not violent off the field. I think of the late Reggie White, who played the same position as Hardy, and there are more. For them, football provides an important release for violent impulses. They are taking out their energy and aggression on other people of roughly the equivalent size and strength who have chosen to do the same thing.

Domestic violence is such a cowardly act. Most domestic violence is committed by men. We need to do a better job of helping boys learn early that striking another person, especially a woman, is wrong. And, frankly, this has to start with their dads and other men in their lives.

Men, never strike a woman. But also, women, never strike a man.

If you want to hit something, go outside and play some football with someone of your on size and gender. And, yes, some women can play.

Football emotions run deep

Flashbacks can be scary. Within a 24-hour span, I have gone back in time twice.

Sunday night, I began to care about the Dallas Cowboys again. I started getting actual emotions about it. And then they reminded me of why I had become emotionally detached–they again were Jerry Jones’ Cowboys and not Tom Landry’s and Jimmy Johnson’s Cowboys. But what really scared me was that it made me angry, just like the old days when I wore my Cowboys love on my sleeve. Yes, even the great Cowboys teams lost on occasion. It’s not good to talk to me much when I’m angry.

Then, Monday night, I began to care again about the Texas Longhorns. My orange pride surfaced as the Texas footballers faced what looked like a bunch of pansies with their stylish uniforms. But the Longhorns didn’t play like Texans ought to play their national sport. They were slower than the Ducks, less sophisticated than the Ducks, and out-quarterbacked by the Ducks. Texas high schools produce more top flight quarterbacks than any state and yet our state university didn’t seem to get one. I got football angry for the second time in 24 hours.

I don’t get angry much, so why does the play of some essentially meaningless games get under my skin? Gosh, I hate football.

Oh, but I also love it. I’m not sure completely why, but following the game of football is both the most frivolous thing I do and one of my great passions. Give me talk about religion, politics, and football and I’m a satisfied man.

With my football addiction revealed and my football anger confessed, I do at least take some comfort in my two newly adopted teams–the Baylor Bears and the Green Bay Packers. Green and gold look better and better to me all the time, but I think somewhere deep inside me that Cowboys blue and burnt orange will always have a place. Yuck!

Sex and the Dallas Cowboys

I wonder what Tom Landry would think. The Dallas Cowboys have a new tenant in their stadium–Victoria’s Secret PINK, a shop for young women.

“We think it’s cute as a bug and very in place to show it and sell it out there,” owner Jerry Jones said on KRLD-FM.

The store opened on the Monday night when the Cowboys hosted the Chicago Bears. The ‘Boys got whupped that night, so at least two things are different from the Landry years–the Cowboys are not respected much on the field and women can now buy underwear at the stadium. (PINK has other sports deals, but Cowboys’ Stadium is the first NFL venue to have a store.)

Forgive me, but in this culture when one talks about Victoria’s Secret, they generally are thinking about sex.

A few years ago, Baptist ethicist David Gushee gave a lecture on sex at Missouri Baptist University that was later adapted for the journal Christian Ethics Today. Gushee dealt with current attitudes toward  sex in American culture and, among other things, made the connection to advertisers and businesses.

“And of course there was the discovery of sex by the advertisers and businesses of America, who knew that sex sells. Loosening sexual morals would mean greater tolerance for selling products on the basis of what used to be called sex appeal.”

PINK apparently sells shirts, shorts, and other outer wear, so some may say I’m overreacting to call attention to it. Maybe so, but the reality is that American culture continues to move further away from biblical norms regarding sex. Gushee’s piece in CET does an excellent job of rather quickly stating what has happened in America over recent decades, how it is different from a biblical ethic, and the difference Christ can make in lives.

“On the matter of sexual morality, changing cultural patterns have mainly brought less stable relationships, more sex-related heartbreak, more exploitation of women, more unwanted pregnancy, more abortion, and a weakening of marriage as an institution.

“Christians need to develop a counterculture in which we reinforce biblical values with one another and learn to live differently from the world around us where necessary, as in this case. As we embody—not just talk about, but live out—a different way of life, we bear powerful witness to those around us of the difference that Christ makes.”

In such a counter-cultural world, it is doubtful Victoria’s Secret would have a store at the stadium. Of course, we probably would not even have such an opulent stadium. Two of my daughters would say that the Green Bay Packers are today’s America’s Team and have some of the old values to go with it–as in using local high school cheerleaders not skimpily dress adult ones. Life is complicated.

Riding into the sunset

I used to say my blood runs Cowboy Blue, as in the Dallas Cowboys’ famous star. I have since undergone a transfusion of sorts. I didn’t replace Cowboy Blue with Packer Green as one of my daughters would have me do; I’ve simply switched to Passionless Red. In other words, the professional football passion has gone out of me.

It’s not just that the Cowboys are losing, it’s why they are losing. They are losing because they have become the Dallas Jerry Joneses. They are an extension of a man who has the potential to be a great owner but who is driven by ego and image to the point that there is no place for team and substance.

I started following the Cowboys before they were winners back in the early 1960s. They became America’s Team over the years not just because they won but because of how they won. They were an organization, not a one-man show. There was the invisible Clint Murchison as owner, the marketer Tex Schramm as general manager, the chess master Tom Landry at coach and the find-players-under-a-rock Gil Brandt at player personnel director. And those top people put top players on the field and prepared them to play. Winning followed. The play on the field was exciting, but it was the work behind the scenes that made it possible.

Jerry Jones got lucky in his first few years because he was teamed with Jimmy Johnson and because the Minnesota Vikings were idiots in trading their future for one Cowboy. It’s been mostly a debacle ever since.

I really like many of the current Cowboys players, but they deserve a better organization. Jerry Jones, for all of his talk, cannot give it to them; rather, he will not give it to them. Murchison-Schramm-Landry-Brandt would make the current players Super Bowl champions.

Peter King wrote earlier this year that the Cowboys have always mattered. They really don’t matter any longer. The Patriots are the Cowboys of today because they have organized themselves for success, and they just keep executing it.

I will probably continue to watch Cowboys games, but they just don’t matter much to me anymore. My wife can remember the days when a Cowboys loss would ruin my day. No more. I just don’t want a rich egomaniac to have that kind of power over my life.

So who do I pull for now? There are the nearby Houston Texans. There are the well-coached Tennessee Titans. There are the Colt McCoy-led Cleveland Browns. There is the people’s team, the Green Bay Packers. But I just can’t go with that last one; I still remember the Ice Bowl.