“How ’bout them Cowboys!” Jimmy Johnson once exhorted. How ’bout them Cowboys? Just about everywhere you look on NFL national telecasts this season, a former Dallas Cowboy will be the No. 1 analyst.
— Troy Aikman, Fox
— Tony Romo, CBS
— Jason Witten, ESPN
(The only holdout is NBC, whose No. 1 analyst, Cris Collinsworth, was a Cincinnati Bengal, just like longtime CBS “NFL Today” nonentity Norman Esiason.)
None of them has the casual Dean Martin-esque cool of another former Cowboy, Don Meredith, the original No. 1 jock voice on ABC’s “Monday Night Football.”
Aikman ascended to the Fox top spot in his second year out of the NFL, in 2002. Romo and Witten were gifted their lofty status in their first year out of the game.
What does this tell us?
1. Quarterbacks – such as Aikman and Romo – get all the attention pre-NFL, in the NFL and post-NFL.
2. It’s still good to be a white guy in America; NBC, CBS and Fox never have had a black ex-player or ex-coach as its No. 1 NFL analyst.*
3. How ‘bout them Cowboys!
* O.J. Simpson – yes, that O.J. Simpson – is the only black top analyst ever, joining “Monday Night Football” from 1983 to 1985. The ’85 team of Frank Gifford, Joe Namath and Simpson might be the worst prime-time three-man booth in sports history, possibly eclipsed only by Gary Thorne, Norm Hitzges and Mike Lupica on ESPN’s Wednesday night baseball in 1990.
* P.S. Fred Williamson would’ve been the first non-Caucasian in the MNF booth; he was hired to succeed a departing Meredith in 1974, but ABC officials deemed him so atrocious during preseason games, he was replaced by Alex Karras when the regular season began.)
Aikman is palatable, Romo was critically acclaimed in his debut season in 2017 and Witten is expected to shine. But, somewhat incredulously, these guys not only got a broadcasting job with virtually no broadcasting experience, they got the top job.
How is that possible?
(In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that I got the job as ESPN’s top poker analyst in 2003 with virtually no broadcasting experience and virtually no poker experience. They were swayed by my voice, charm and looks; it also helped that no one else wanted the position.)
The fact of the matter is, mamas should let their babies grow up to be Cowboys. They always find work.
Ex-Cowboys are scattered across NFL broadcast studios – Johnson on Fox, Darren Woodson on ESPN, Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders on NFL Network. Then there is abominable Fox game analyst Daryl “Moose” Johnston, who at any given time is still breaking down a third-down play from Week 13 of the 2014 NFL season; this guy could talk the ink out of a squid.
I half-expect Dez Bryant to be hosting “Family Feud” by next spring.
Heck, I might watch “Fox & Friends” if Jerry Jones replaces Steve Doocy.
Then again, the Cowboys always have been an outsized presence in popular culture.
“Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders” and “Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders II” were TV films in 1979 and 1980, the first one starring Jane Seymour.
“North Dallas Forty,” the 1979 film adaptation of ex-Cowboys wide receiver Peter Gent’s sensational novel, was one of the best sports movies of all-time.
Homer Simpson’s dream on “The Simpsons” has been to be the owner of the Cowboys.
“Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making The Team” is in its 13th season on cable network CMT.
And, of course, we will always have “Debbie Does Dallas.”
(This is the second consecutive week the column has ended with an adult-film reference. Couch Slouch might need an intervention.)
Ask The Slouch
Q. How come you are not part of the eclectic panel named to investigate the Maryland football program? (Nicholas A. Cooper; Ann Arbor, Mich.)
A. I was asked, but they are tasked with so much ground to cover, they’ll be working weekends, and nobody messes with my Saturday college football viewing ritual. Roll, Tide!
Q. Right after you excoriated Bob Ley for his beard, he announced he’s taking a six-month sabbatical. Wow. Do you have that much sway over ESPN’s biggest stars? (Eric Green; Spokane, Wash.)
A. My hope is that he shaves on his break, but my fear is that he will grow that baby to David Letterman lengths.
Q. Was a three-game suspension for Urban Meyer a slap on his left wrist or his right wrist? (Jon Freedman; Houston)
A. Meyer does not have any wrists. I also believe he does not have a heart or a head.
Q. If California voters approve a split of the state in November, what part will be your section? (Bob Craig; Fredericksburg, Va.)
A. The part that finally serves Yuengling.
You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!
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