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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

(Thanks)


I have a student who is that unique Philadelphia phenomena - a Dallas Cowboys fan. Philadelphians who are Cowboy fans are often born in adolescence, at a time when they wanted to tell someone important in their lives - a father, an uncle, a friend - or a teacher - to fuck off. What better way than to give the bird to the Birds, their fans, everybody around you.

Philadelphians are dedicated with sincerely formed ambivalence toward the Phillies, the Flyers, the Sixers. Each demographic tends to align itself to one of the teams. When they are playing well, the Sixers attract the majority African-American population, though there are plenty of Cavalier and Laker fans around; the Flyers command the attention of the white Northeastern and South parts of the city. But the Eagles get everyone, and with everyone, the Eagles get all the angst and complicated, layered rage that accompanies all the city's disparate parts. They are the city's common obsession, and like many obsessions, its object never benefits from the attention in the long run.

So when a Philadelphian turns Cowboy, it's a decided reaction against the prevailing wind. It is a desire to draw attention to oneself by loving the hated. This student of mine is an annoying, self-centered, creepy little man who tries to sleep in class all the time; he is the very definition of a Philadelphia Cowboy fan. And on Monday, he is going to love himself all the more. "His boy," as he refers to Terrell Owens, will probably have a lot to celebrate. In their best seasons (like this one), the Dallas Cowboys have always had a cosmic self-assertion on Thanksgiving that seems almost to imply that they invented the holiday for themselves. America's Team. God's team. The mascots of the Southern Baptist Convention. Blech.

The 2-8 New York Jets come to Texas Stadium tomorrow on Thanksgiving. Through history, Dallas has pulverized the Jets - 52-10 in Irvine in 1971; 30-7 in 1978 at Shea; 28-7 in 1993 at the Meadowlands. To my memory, there are two close losses - 31-21 at Shea in 1975 and 38-24 in 1987. And that last one was the strike year. Replacement Cowboys versus Replacement Jets. Even then.

Prepare yourself for the Divine Wind. It is God's team, as assured of salvation as a newly saved parochial Texan who wants to make his momma proud again. My student doesn't know what he's representing in being a Cowboys fan, but if he knew how repugnant I really found it, I suppose he would love it all the more.

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