Thursday, September 18, 2008

Football! The Super Bowl! The Dallas Cowboys! Outrageous male behavior!

Jeff Pearlman, a sports journalist, has recently penned a book about the Dallas Cowboys. It is titled: Boys Will be Boys: The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty. (Buy it here.)

It has become a cliche to say that football has displaced baseball as the so-called "national pasttime" -- but cliches are often true, no? So here comes this book on the outrageous antics of "America's Team," aka, the Dallas Cowboys. Maybe the stories contained within it will be legendary in the future, along the lines of Babe Ruth's exploits decades ago.

Either way, love it or hate it, for better or for worse, football -- the way it is produced and packaged by networks and organizations and then presented to and eaten up by engaged fans everywhere -- tells us a lot about who and what America is. If you believe that, you may not want to actually read the book. It ain't the prettiest face in the mirror. Here is a short excerpt, via Deadspin:

When the Cowboys prepared for Super Bowl XXVII three years earlier, they practiced with an intensity that Jimmy Johnson and his crew demanded. This time around members of the team came and went as they pleased, working out with half-hearted determination. In what was undoubtedly a Super Bowl first, Nate Newton, Erik Williams, Leon Lett and Irvin took a stretch Lincoln to and from practices. The players stayed out early into mornings and arrived to work hungover following wild sojourns to clubs like Empire and Jetz & Stixx. "The police came in and gave us a list of places not to go," Newton said. "I wrote 'em all down and went there."

The Cowboy who partied the hardest, the longest, the latest was not Irvin or Sanders or Newton or Lett but Barry Switzer, 58-year-old night owl. The Cowboy coach transformed his two-bedroom suite into a 24-hour rave, with an endless stream of family members, friends, confidants and strangers.

"You have to understand the scene," says Michael Silver, the former Sports Illustrated scribe who spent much of the week alongside Switzer. "Barry basically decided, 'OK, this is the only time I'll ever be at a Super Bowl and I'm going to live it up.' So he called everyone he knew and said, 'C'mon, we're all going to the Super Bowl!'" Along for the ride were—among others—Switzer's three children, his girlfriend Becky Buwick, his ex-wife Kay (the two women shared a room) and a never-ending conga line of former Oklahoma players, coaches and boosters.

The end-of-the-week liquor bill exceeded $100,000.

On the night following the team's arrival in Tempe, Switzer and a slew of assistant coaches and players attended a Super Bowl party beneath an enormous outdoor tent. Switzer and Larry Lacewell, the Cowboys' director of pro and college scouting (and the man whose wife Switzer once slept with), downed shots until both were stumbling around like kangaroos atop surfboards. Silver was minding his own business when he turned and spotted Switzer furiously kicking with his right foot. "What the fuck are you doing?" Silver asked. Upon stepping closer, Silver saw that Switzer was actually booting Lacewell, who was trying to urinate beneath a wood deck. "Barry was getting Larry to piss all over himself," says Silver. "Urine everywhere." Done harassing his friend, Switzer stumbled to the dance floor and began hyperactively shaking his body—a la Pee Wee Herman. Nearby Emmitt Smith was grooving the night away, showing off the moves that, a decade later, would make him a champion on Dancing With the Stars, when he caught a glimpse of Switzer. "Emmitt can't believe what he's seeing," says Silver. "He just stops and stares at Switzer, and his jaw drops. He just gets this look on his face that I can only describe as 'Oh my God, my coach is fucking crazy!'"

Switzer's week was one uproarious blur—a little bit of football (Steelers? What Steelers?) mixed in with a whole lot of debauchery. On the night of Friday, January 26, less than 48 hours before kickoff, Switzer hosted his dream party in Suite 4000 at The Buttes—his suite. With his son Greg, a trained classical pianist, jamming away on the room's black Steinway, Switzer led an obnoxious, infectious, inebriated sing-along of Ray Charles' What'd I Say. Instead of repeating Charles' lyrics, however, Switzer and Co. filled in their own words—praising Jerry Jones, mocking Jimmy Johnson. Tell your mama, tell your pa

I'm gonna send Jimmy back to Arkansas

Oh yes, ma'm, Jimmy don't do right, don't do right

Aw, play it boy

When you see him in misery

Cause Jimmy fuckin' sucks on TV

Now yeah, all right, all right, aw play it, boy

"I didn't know if we'd win or lose the Super Bowl," says Switzer. "But I knew I was gonna have one helluva week. You don't reach the heights and then play it down. You make the moments memorable."

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