The star. You recognize the star.
You may not have understood the old flying Elvis of the Patriots, and the Browns are kind of bland up top, and who knows what that Pittsburgh symbol is. But you know the star of the Dallas Cowboys, and you know the stars who have worn it. Roger Staubach. Tony Dorsett. Bob Lilly. Michael Irvin. Emmitt Smith.
There is indeed an aura to the Cowboys, only part of it self-perpetuated. The Cowboys can be accused of a bit of arrogance when it comes to the “America’s Team” nickname, but in a couple of eras, Dallas has indeed been special. And except for being upset by the Giants last week, it would seem they’re on their way again.
Let by marvelous rookies Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott, the Cowboys have been the turnaround team of the NFL. They were horrible a year ago, but they have been rejuvinated. And now they have to play the Tampa Bay Bucs, themselves a nice comeback story.
For years, the Cowboys led the league in headlines, and they built a fabulous stadium, and they were among the leaders in merchandizing. Jerry Jones was always good for a soundbite in his latest face. But the team didn’t win. They haven’t won a Super Bowl since after the 1995 season. They’ve reached the playoffs in only eight of the last 21 seasons. Isn’t America better than that?
Still, the Cowboys have held onto much of the luster. Winning five Super Bowls will do that.
Maybe that’s why Dallas is a seven-point favorite despite the Bucs’ five-game winning streak.
Oh, there are some similarities at the top of the roster. Jameis Winston and Prescott are both impressive young quarterbacks. Elliott, behind a huge offensive line, is having the season that Doug Martin had a year ago. Both Mike Evans and Dez Bryant can take over games at receiver.
But where the Bucs seem to avoid as much of the spotlight with a go-about-their-business mantra, the Cowboys gravitate toward the brightest lights. Jones loves microphones.
Can Tampa Bay win this game? Sure, but it will take takeaways. The defense has to stand up. The offense has to strike early.
Do that, and the stars might fade.