Dallas strikes again.

cowboysblechA quick thought.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones decided to add some 15,000 temporary seats to Cowboys Stadium in order to break the Super Bowl attendance mark of 103,667, set in 1980 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

And that idea turned out like this, and this, and this.

But…I’m confused.  Regular seating capacity in Cowboys Stadium is 80,000 with a maximum capacity (including standing-room-only seats) of 110,000.  Cowboys Stadium already holds the NFL attendance record for a regular season game at 105,121, when the Cowboys lost the opening game of the new stadium to the Giants in 2009.

So why, in this brand spanking new stadium designed to hold up to 110,000 in which they have already successfully seated 105,121 did the quest for 103,668 woefully fall more than 400 seats short?  What am I missing here?

It’s not like Roger Goodell woke up Christmas morning and said “By jove, let’s have the Super Bowl in Dallas this year!  Quick, get Jerry on the phone!” and then 1,000 little Texan elves ran around feverishly trying to get things set up in 6 weeks or less.

In addition, word on the street is the Cowboys’ organization knew there would be problems more than a week before the game, but let 1,250 people who had tickets that wouldn’t correspond to actual seats show up anyway.  Worse still…they accommodated about 800 of them and hung the other 400 out to dry.

To quote Tom Hanks in the fine documentary film Big, “I don’t get it.”

But I’ll tell you what…this is the kind of stuff that give me less and less sympathy for the owners in all this labor negotiation talk.

Silver lining:  time and money aside, at least only half of the 400 displaced people are really really furiously angry they missed the game.  The other half are Steelers fans.  And as a Bills fan I can testify:  sometimes it’s just better you don’t watch.

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The Cutler debate RAGES on (while Cutler himself still just looks a tad miffed)

My friend Jessy sent me an excellent article on the Cutler debate, Bears Jay Cutler Was Hurt By Lack of Character.

Aside from the initial few paragraphs the author spends lauding the ’99-’00 Dallas Stars (they STOLE that Stanley Cup from the Sabres!  STOLE it.  NO GOAL! NO GOAL! NO GOAL!) I agree with the premise, especially this paragraph,

“Because nowhere in the symptoms of Grade II MCL tear does it include the inability to high-five a young QB who threw a TD pass to get your team back in the game, looking disinterested or giving off a quit vibe. And I challenge anybody to find an MRI that shows him engaged on that sideline. There is no medical relief from that charge.”

The argument isn’t really whether or not Cutler was hurt, it’s how he handled himself.  Which brings up the interesting point that as fans, we decide whether to cheer or jeer an athlete largely based on his commitment to team.  It’s why we love underdogs, the 6th man, the fake punt (you know…when it works).  We love people who show up every day and do their job every day without the spotlight…and we love when they get their 15 minutes.

Flip that, and it’s why no matter how stellar of a season Brett Favre had, once he left Green Bay he was collectively switched from our “good” lists to our “naughty” ones.  Right or wrong, Favre’s actions scream “Favre,” not “VIKINGS!”  (or “JETS!’ …ha.  remember that season?)

But let’s think for a minute.  Cutler wasn’t playing that well before his injury.  Throughout the year he usually played well enough to win but didn’t exactly have career numbers (23 TDs, but 16 INT and 9 fumbles, sacked 50 some times…)  Which begs the question:  if Cutler had stayed in and played hurt and played terrible football…would he have been in any better position with the fans/media than he is now?  Wouldn’t we be calling for his head for playing poorly while hurt?  Finding grace at the pro level is incredibly difficult when there are 2 to 4 people in the wings waiting to take your job should you fail to perform it well.

So Cutler plays poorly, he get lambasted.  So he leaves injured, he gets lambasted.  He leaves with unknown injury and mysteriously sulks on the sidelines, he gets lambasted.  You only want an injured, struggling Jay Cutler at the helm if he’s an inspiring leader – a guy whose very presence on the field through countless trials rallies his teammates and compels them to win one for the gipper!

But Cutler is not that quarterback.  So why exactly is Chicago so angry?  What did they really want out of all this?

Just a win.

Vindicating Todd Collins. Wait – strike that, reverse it.

Hey-o! How ya been?  Yeah me too.

Just thought I’d throw up my two cents on the Packers’ playoff ouster of the hearty Chicago Bears.  Everyone wants to tan Jay Cutler’s hide but I must say, I think that’s misplaced blame.  For starters, haven’t you been watching this season?  He’s not exactly the Bears’ knight in shining armor.  Yes he’s a fighter, playing with diabetes and all.  And no one’s disputing that he’s got a rocket arm – DeAngelo Hall agreed as he picked off 4 rockets in one game.  It’s accuracy and game smarts that we’re struggling with here, Jay.

I do believe Jay was hurt.  If I find him guilty of anything, it’s callousness and sheer stupidity.  I’m not into faking injuries…so if you are actually hurt, would it kill you to look a little hurt?!  He had to know Chicago was going to crucify him.  For a guy who finds it impossible to smile, would it have been so hard to grimace?  In addition, Charles Barkley is on point (whaaaa?) that it was poor form of Jay not to be giving Caleb Hanie every ounce of advice and encouragement he could between offensive series.

The way I see it, we have 2 problems, and thus 3 problems.

1.  The Packers played well enough to win.  Point blank.  Not amazingly the entire game, but amazingly when it mattered.
2.  Remember that time the Bears put in 39-year old Todd Collins for two series in the middle of the NFC Championship game in 2011?

Let’s examine this.  I was but a pre-teen child 15 years ago when Collins was drafted into the league by none other than my beloved Buffalo Bills.  Granted, as successor to the great Jim Kelly, Collins had very big shoes to fill, but not even once in the year he started for the Bills (1997) was I a fan.  In 15 seasons as a mostly backup quarterback, Collins has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns (24 to 22).  The last time he resurfaced to the general populace was in 2007 when he came in for the Redskins in relief of Jason Campbell to defeat…why, none other than your Chicago Bears!  And I remember sitting at Duffy’s and freaking out, saying things like “Todd COLLINS?!?!  He’s still PLAYING?!?!  How is this possible!??!  Does anyone else think this is ridiculous?!??!”

But no, no one else did.  Because at that point no one in Chicago knew who he was.

But I knew.

Three years later, here we are.  Two previous game appearances for Collins this year resulted in 0 TDs and 5 interceptions.  Shades of Chan Gailey/Trent Edwards…do we really believe that Collins beat out Caleb Hanie for the backup position?  NFL Fact:  “open” competitions for a position are rarely “open.”

So, to sum up.  I don’t blame Cutler.  I don’t even blame Collins.  I blame problem #3, Mike Martz.  This was a disastrous offensive game plan from the start, even before Cutler got hurt, and it got worse before it got better…and even then it never got good enough.  I’m sure Todd Collins is a very nice man (well okay, I’m guessing that he’s probably a decent guy), but he had no business being in that game on Sunday.  And that is Mike Martz’s bad business.  And that’s why the Packers gave the Bears the business.

FAIL in football. (Success in life! Kinda.)

I wasn’t ready for some football.

But I hope you were!  From everything I’ve read today and all the clips I’ve seen online there were some real interesting games played yesterday!  I, however, missed them ALL for 2 reasons:

1.  I don’t have cable or internet.  I just moved into a new apartments and won’t have these amenities up and running until tomorrow.  It is strange to have nothing but the little teeny screen on your smartphone connecting you to the outside world.  I know what you’re thinking – I could have gone to a friend’s place or sat in a bar, right?  Wrong, because

2.  I was sleeping.  I was sleeping and feeling lousy because I had this brilliant plan to run the Chicago Half-Marathon (note: NOT a runner).  I was going to run with friends to raise money for microfinance in Tanzania through the YAO Chicago chapter of Opportunity International.  Due to a long, uninteresting series of events I had no time to train for the race and would have dropped out if not for another long, uninteresting series of events that compelled me to run.  And thanks (but no thanks) to my drive to succeed, instead of stopping after 5 miles as planned, I just went ahead and finished.  Enter fatigue and dehydration…and ultimately I chose not to leave my bed the rest of the day, let alone my apartment.

But congratulations to my amazing friends who ran AND trained (the nerve) – Eva, Anna, and Erin – and my other amazing friends who jumped in to run with me and help me finish – Yvonne, Jean, and Meregrath!  Total champs.

And sorry to the NFL and you reading this that I didn’t watch ANY football on the first Sunday of football, but there are 16 more weeks in the regular season so I think we’ll all live.  As my friend Lyndsay Rush would say, “Sorry I’m not sorry.”

We heart microfinance!

p.s.  Except maybe I’m a little sorry to my body – thanks for holdin’ up.  A race official at the finish line handed me a banana and said “So what do you think?  Want to run the marathon on October 10th?!”  And I said “HECK NO!” and spit at her feet! (Minus the spitting part…but seriously, HECK NO.)

It’s like Where’s Waldo, only you NEVER FIND WALDO.

Let’s play a game.  Go to the person nearest you and stand directly behind him or her, as if you were forming a line, so that you are facing his or her back.  Now instruct that person not to move, and you take 2 steps forward (yep, straight into’em).  Now have someone encircle the two of you with space heaters and throw paper remains from the office shredding machine on you.

Congratulations, you’ve just re-created my Stanley Cup parade experience!

Yes, it was – possibly, hopefully not, but the odds are not with me – a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.  But did you notice what was absent from our little Stanley Cup reenactment?

Did you say the Stanley Cup?  Ding ding ding!  Correct.  I did not see it.  I did not see anything but confetti and people’s heads.

I did not feel the thrill of victory.

I did feel strangers sweating on me.  Gross.

Don’t give me any of that “at least you can say you were there” garbage.  Two million other people were there too and I’ll bet most of them at least got a glimpse.

You know who else got a glimpse on parade weekend?  People who frequent The Pony on Belmont.  (Uh, seriously Blackhawks?)  Also people who hang out on Rush St. Same for people who went to the Cubs v. White Sox game (Sunday night) that was NOT the game I went to (Friday afternoon).  And also people on their way to the airport, and people who work at the Tribune with my roommate. (She texted me a picture.  Middle of a random workday.  Here it is.)

You're darn right I blacked out their eyes! I'm not getting sued over a silly blog post. (And no, it's not easy to black out 11 pairs of eyes using MS Paint.)

I am starting to feel like the Cup can be found where I am not.

The same ESPN article that tells about the airport sighting also says, and I quote,

“If you have not seen, drank from, kissed or at least cuddled the Stanley Cup yet, you’re really not trying.  In fact, so many people [in Chicago] have experienced one of the above, that it is becoming passé.”

WHAT?!  I have been TRYING!  I’m TRYING!

I swear I’ve been trying.

The Cup was at the Pride Parade this weekend, which I planned to go to…

…until I completely forgot.

So I now have one thought and one theory:

Thought:  Take this as a sign.  I am not meant to see the Stanley Cup until it is in the possession of my Buffalo Sabres.

Theory:  If the Stanley Cup is everywhere I am not, and if I fallaciously reason from a part to a whole (yep, I took Intro to Logic in college and I’m patently ignoring it)…well then I am also NOT living in Buffalo right now, nor will I during the coming season, soooo…(gettin’ my drift?)

(Yes it’s a stretch, and granted I am also not in 28 other cities home to NHL teams, but I’ll cling to what I can.)

Summer 2010:  AVOIDING THE CUP.

My inner demons wear Sabres jerseys.

I tried to blog about the Blackhawks winning the Stanley Cup.  I really did.  But my inner demons wouldn’t let me.

I wrote two blogs, one about heading over to the celebrations on Clark St. the night the Hawks won, and one about the celebration parade.  But as I read them over they sounded hollow and inadequate, and my inner demons (the ones in Sabres jerseys) just chanted things like “Your team CHOKED in ’99!!” and “Live it up now eh, because you’ll NEVER see one of THESE in Buffalo!”  (It would appear my inner demons are Canadian.)

So I didn’t post them.

Here’s the deal.  The Sabres lose when it counts.  They are currently in the midst of a 40-year Cup drought (READ: since their inception. Only 3 teams currently have a longer drought.)  Even when they’re a good team they ultimately finish where all the bad teams do (the golf course).

The Hawks, with their 49-year drought and merciless no-TV era, were also perennial losers.  I empathized.  We were comrades.

Then they won.

It’s like Alfalfa getting a girlfriend and expecting the He-Man-Woman-Hater’s Club not to change the password on him.  You’ve changed, Chicago hockey, you with your curvy platinum sidekick.

But secretly…I want in.

Hear me out:  I am not changing my allegiance – Egads man, I would never!  I’m merely adding one…like a step-team.  (Not that kind of step team.)

I  Just.  Love.  Hockey.

I do!  And I hate that my team is only on TV in Chicago once a month, and while I am totally game for internet radio, it’s a bandaid solution at best.  I want to WATCH hockey, and I want to CARE.

Mind you, this only works because the Sabres and Blackhawks are in different conferences and only face off once a year.  (B-t-dubs, I have attended every Sabres @ Blackhawks game since 2004.  There have been 3.  You see my point?)  And when they face off, there is ZERO question who I’m rooting for.  I am Buffalo through and through (Buffalo at heart, if you will), but I want a home team.  I want to follow the Blackhawks religiously enough that I love them too, though secondarily so.

So that in 2 years, when they when the Cup again, I can celebrate as if they were my own.

Which will be even sweeter after the Sabres win it next year.