Friday, July 1, 2022 Jul 1, 2022
89° F Dallas, TX

DALLAS EXPLAINED ONCE AND FOR ALL THE COWBOYS In The Beginning, There Was Landry

By MIKE SHROPSHIRE |

Admittedly, that peculiar semi-domed structure on the western outskirts of the city doesn’t look much like what conventionally passes for a shrine. There are Wal-Mart stores that are more architecturally inspired than Texas Stadium, with its pre-fab harshness and silly hole in the roof.

But on autumn Sundays, there is a celestial somethingness that sometimes embraces the principal occupants of Texas Stadium, the Dallas Cowboys. It is believed by their followers that the activities of the Cowboys go far beyond anything as inconsequential as a professional football game.

Cowboy fans watch the games because they have a devout faith in the teachings of the Book of Landry and believe that, according to his word, miracles sometimes happen. Do you scoff, newcomer? Have you lost faith, you jaded Dallasite? I know this to be true because on two occasions, I was an eyewitness to what can only be explained as Cowboy miracles.

The first episode took place Christmas week of 1975, in an apartment at the Maple Terrace. Minnesota was about to eliminate Dallas from the playoffs when the person seated to my immediate left, a Harvard-educated economist named Richard Rhorer Hill, plunged to his knees in front of the television set and prayed to God for a Cowboy comeback.

Until that instant, Hill had been neither a fan of the Cowboys nor of any particular god. And then, on the next play, Roger Staubach heaved his immortal Hail Mary pass to Drew Pearson.

The lives of Staubach and Pearson may or may not have been altered by that event, but from that moment on Richard R. Hill has been a dramatically changed person. In fact, he’s running for the United States presidency in 1988 on a campaign based on his operating premise: “Spiritually, I don’t take a back seat to any world leader.”

Three years later, I was involved in another Cowboy-related event that could only have been swayed by the influence of unworldly external forces. This time. I was the passenger in the back seat of a car en route to Texas Stadium, otherwise known as the Church of the Latter Day Touchdown, for an important game. The driver, a reasonably well-known local artist, was so giddy from the prospect of our 30-yard line tickets that he somehow managed to drop a cigarette into his lap.

Because of that momentary distraction, the artist succeeded in running over an Irving policeman who was directing traffic in front of the stadium. The offending vehicle was immediately surrounded by what can only be described as a breathtaking assembly of law enforcement manpower and equipment. Fortunately, the officer who had been hit was bruised but otherwise unhurt.

And then, rising slowly to his feet, the shaken traffic officer made an astonishing statement to the senior policeman at the scene, “You know, I was getting woozy from all these exhaust fumes out here and I think I just stumbled into the path of that boy’s car,” he said.

So the head cop turned to the driver and said something to the effect of, “Go, and sin no more.” (What he actually said was, “Jist git the hell outta here,” but you get the idea.) Anyway, less than fifteen minutes later, we were all situated in our 30-yard line seats. I’ll trade that miracle for anything the Old Testament has to offer.

Of course, there is a nationwide legion of Cowboy detractors who will gleefully point out that miracles are no longer common in Dallas, which in recent seasons has seen more divine comedy than divine intervention. They have a point. The only miracle is that any Dallas Cowboys quarterback is still alive after the showing of the offensive line over the last three years.

That doesn’t mean that any of the passion and rapture has disappeared from the local faithful, though. Believers are a pretty patient lot. After all, the Red Sea hasn’t parted lately, but plenty of travel agencies are doing all right with their tours of the Holy Land.

Just like your prostatitis and lower back pain, the Cowboys are only in remission. They’ll be back. As we speak, the Prophet Landry is implanting new circuits in his androids. And, on the heels of the team’s first losing season in twenty-three years, the organizational hierarchy has responded by raising ticket prices from $19 to $23. Hungry pilgrims to Texas Stadium this season will also discover that hot dogs are up to $1.60 from the $1.50 of last season.

When it comes to institutional audacity, the Oral Roberts people don’t have any-thing on the Cowboys.