Birthday Musings

I’ve got an amazing family and I thank God all the time for them. Another birthday comes and goes, with thoughtful gestures and presents from my beautiful bride Elke and both kids. I would be happy just with their wishes and thoughts, because that’s what matters. But they got me some great gifts that were inexpensive — just the way I like it. How did David and Donna know I would like little buckets of microwave pork rinds and a framed Roger Staubach card from 7-11? That’s fantastic. They couldn’t have spent ten times as much and made me any happier, because it truly is the thought that counts. The best part is that I’m living with three people who are generous of heart and time — far more important than money or material goods.

Really, there’s only so many things you can buy for a dad who doesn’t care much for “stuff” and who is about as anti-materialistic as it gets in modern America. What do most folks get for dads… High-end electronics? Don’t need them. Ties? Don’t own or want any, unless one is strong enough to double as a tow rope. Tools? Got all I need, most for free or at great discount. Fishing gear? I’ve got what I need for a good while. Storm chase gizmos? Nahh…that stuff usually ends up being frustrating and failure-prone out of proportion to usefulness, with just a very few exceptions. I’ve heard I’m pretty damned hard to buy for, so most of my friends simply don’t. And you know what? I’m absolutely cool with that. Good wishes and good times are OK with me. I don’t think anybody ever will go wrong with giving me Dallas Cowboys stuff, though. 😉

Speaking of the Cowboys, I got another birthday gift yesterday, this one from the sports pages. Marion Barber and Terence Newman each inked long term deals that ensures two more members of the Boys’ young offensive and defensive nuclei remain in place. It wasn’t cheap, but who expected it to be with either of these guys?

The risk with Barber in particular is that his confrontational and relentless running style — which I admire, actually — will wear him down prematurely. Given that, the length of the deal is just about right, perhaps a year long since The Barbarian will turn 31 before contract expiration. [This signing actually makes me all the more glad for drafting both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice.] Terence Newman already is one of the top corners in the NFL, so his deal was on par with market value. That may be overinflated for all players, but Jerry has to deal the deck he’s given.

I like the idea of reshuffling the balance sheets on Tony Romo’s contract to accommodate this, such that he actually gets more up-front money in the form of a signing bonus and counts far less against the upcoming seasons’ cap. I’ve had problems with the way Jerry has handled the salary cap in the past, especially when he overpaid the back end of veteran contracts in the 90s (a boneheaded strategy that ended up imploding the Greatest Team Ever). By contrast, this and several other deals the past 2-3 years provide considerable confidence that he not only has figured it out, but mastered the shell game. Jerry has led Cowboys fans to the height of elation (3 Super Bowl crowns in 4 years) and frustration (the idiotic ways he fired both Tom Landry and Jimmy Johnson, and his egomaniacal mismanagement of the team in the mid-late 90s). Let’s hope these maneuvers keep things on the upswing this time.

Now the attention turns to some of the other core players, like Chris Canty, Ken Hamlin, Terrell Owens and especially DeMarcus Ware. I don’t care if Jerry has to wear pink leotards and bend over backward into a barrel of Hawaiian Punch while donning snorkeling gear and waving a copy of the VHS tape of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. DeMarcus Ware must be signed, priority one! He is an absolute terror for opposing offenses, one of the top two or three defensive players in the league at any position, and indispensable to the teams’ hope of winning another Super Bowl. Pay him top dollar. Others will restructure to accommodate Ware because everyone and their mom knows he’s the best player on that or just about any defense.

Owens? Well, I went on record before he came as being against his presence, but I will admit that (so far!) T.O. has proved me wrong. I hope he continues to, because the Cowboys’ lack of depth at wideout has made them far too dependent on him. So get him signed. The guy is a workout warrior and will keep his body in amazing shape for even an NFL player, and wants to bask in the brilliant glory of JerryWorld when that facility opens, but at some point he will lose a step. At least he finally seems to have a quarterback he respects and likes, professionally as well as personally. He’s saying all the right things so far also, unlike in his contract years in his previous stations. I say, a 3 year deal with incentives out to 5 is good for his situation.

Canty? Underrated and improving, a surefire Pro Bowler in the future. He can rush from the end or collapse the pocket, blocks passes, and is getting better versus the run every year. He’s far better than Marcus Spears, but gives out vibes of wanting to test the market. Ken Hamlin? Another top-5 position player (safety) in the NFL, now that he’s healthy again. He is another must-sign. Fortunately he seems to want to stay in Dallas.

Pac-Man? Don’t get me started. I trust this guy way less even than T.O., for reasons that are well publicized. He’s been an irresponsible, reckless punk and thug, a seeping lesion on the face of society, and I do not expect this leopard to shed his spots. But we’ve got him, like it or not. Get what we can out of his amazing on-field talents before he starts hitting any of the thousands of strip joints in the Metroplex and gets hauled off to the can again. But don’t get dependent on him, because that’s exactly when he’ll get busted for the last time as an NFL player. At least he comes cheap, with lots to prove, and one last chance.

Geez, I went on another Cowboys tangent. It’s why I don’t BLOG about them that much. There’s way too much to cover about your five-time Super Bowl champions and too little time for it all.

Weatherwise, there won’t be any tornadoes for my birthday. It falls on a bizarre and inexplicable climatological minimum in nationwide tornadoes for the month of May (As Doswell 2007 illustrated in his Fig. 3, green line). I’ll be on evening and nights shifts through early June, but maybe I can treat Elke to another birthday tornado for her, this year on the day our chase vacation begins. It’s the least I could do, atmosphere willing. That amazing woman puts up with me all the time, which surely qualifies her for sainthood.



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