Coach's Corner

by Andy "Coach" Cotton

A Nice Girl and I go out. No chemistry. A few months later, she tells me of a sister. She's wonderful, beautiful, pretty much perfect. My kind of girl. Nice Girl will set up one of those happy hour things. Many close calls but it never happens. One morning, a chance meeting - Nice Girl, sister, and me. It lasts maybe 15 seconds. Later, I call Nice Girl. I inquire about the happy hour. "G'head," (she's from New York), "Call her," she says. "You've met." Nice Girl gives out the phone numbers. Kind of a rejection-proof deal. No? Nice Girl cleared this with sister, right? I remember, vividly, asking a girl out for the first time. I was hanging out at Bob Rudnick's. I was 13. Frozen in terror, Rudnick's hysterical laughter ringing in my ears, I dialed her number, over and over. I hung up, every time, before I finished dialing. Finally, Rudnick grabbed the phone and called while I hid, in terror and embarrassment, under the bed. Pathetic? For sure. What's more pathetic is how little I've changed. I don't think I've ever called a girl the first time without experiencing all those feelings.

But this call, remember, is rejection-proof. My heart is pounding - what would I say? My hands are sweating - would she like the dogs and not want a big wedding? - when the answering machine clicks on. Okay, maybe I'm a little relieved. I do what any insecure guy would do: I hang up and reconsider the whole damn thing. "It's an omen," I say to myself, "not meant to be." An hour later, I call again. Machine. I try to act oh-so-nonchalant, as I leave an oh-so-chirpy message. The feeling conveyed, I hoped, that I'm very cool. I'll call tomorrow.

Next day, I recreate this process. I call at work. This has its own unique terrors. How many people will I have to go through? Please be a direct line. No such luck. Big office. Who am I? What do I want? Will she know who's calling? "I'll see," (Thanks a lot, asshole.) "if she's in." She's not.

More humiliation, but I've come this far. I wait 'til the phone cycles back to the dipshit. He knows, I'm sure, why I'm calling. "Uh, can I leave a message?"

"I guess so," comes the irritated reply.

It's been two days. No reply. Friends offer all kinds of stupid explanations. She's out of town. (Do I really look like Forrest Gump?) She's real, real busy. (Did I sound that stupid?) Maybe she didn't get the message. (I hate my voice!) Given a choice of scenarios, I'll chose, every time, the most barren. This line of thought further depresses me. Eighth grade, sportsfans, is never more than a phone call away.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is facing rejection of another sort, that of his fellow owners. For a long time, I was a rare defender of Jones. I gave him credit for making many unpopular decisions, starting with the firing of Tom Landry and ending with the bloody, public snit with Jimmy Johnson. Maybe the adage "My enemy's enemy is my friend" was at work. Jones was universally vilified by hard-line, barely literate Cowboy fans.

Regardless of the ultimate legal disposition of his quarrels with the NFL, most involving tampering with the all-for-one-one-for-all marketing scheme of the league, it's clear Jonesy is or has already surpassed the most boorish owner in all of sports, King George Steinbrenner. When George first came to N.Y., it's forgotten, he did many positive things with a once-proud, but then quite dead, Yankee franchise. With initial wisdom, he foresaw the Era of the Free Agent. His acquisitions of Catfish Hunter and Reggie Jackson propelled the Yanks to three straight American League pennants in the mid-Seventies.

This initial success, when the counsel of canny baseball guys like Gabe Paul was respected and acted upon, went to his head. Sound familiar? The Yankees became George, George, George. The team became a lurid circus. The antics of Steinbrenner were first and foremost. Dallas is becoming the Bronx, Southwest. Jerry's ego, apparently, is as large as critics predicted.

With the Dallas Cowboys clearly the best team in the NFL, I pen this not as a criticism of Jones, but more as a hopeful thought - a mantra, if you will - to keep me going through all these boring Sunday victories. A time bomb, I fervently hope, is laying at the very zenith of the Cowboy power structure.

In 1990, with Dallas 1-15, I made the terrible mistake of actually feeling sorry for the Cowboys. That's an error I won't repeat. Tick...tick...tick...tick...tick... Gleefully, I anticipate the explosion.

Parting shots: After ban- ning cameras from courtrooms, let's go one step further. Take cameras out of dugouts, where a manager can't even mumble "mother*#@%$!" without enraging the religious right; off with repetitive shots of supportive but cosmetically challenged wives. Ban forever breathless communiques from "sideline reporters" on weather, grass conditions, the coach's suit style and hair gel. Kill the hushed grandstand interviews with friends, celebrities, and dog trainers. These electronic journalists, as useful as a swishy tail on a paper cup, are paid a lot of money for this drivel. Do you really think the athletes are overpaid??? n

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