Joe Nick Patoski wrote a fantastic book called: The Dallas Cowboys – The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Team in America.
It’s an exhaustive record AND an exhilarating read. The story of the Dallas Cowboys is as complex and contradictory as the story of Dallas itself. This is not just a football story. It’s the story of everything that makes Dallas, Dallas: Oil, Real Estate, Politics, Sex, Drugs, Booze and Evangelical Christianity. In Dallas everything’s Big Bidness!
Joe Nick is a great storyteller. And this story (like Patoski’s previous biography of Willie Neslon) is an epic tale.
If I could adapt THE DALLAS COWBOYS for an HBO series I know exactly where I’d start — right in the middle. Patoski paints a great cinematic picture in just a couple of paragraphs covering the 1989 Cotton Bowl. On the field the UCLA Bruins are working their way to a 17 to 3 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Bruins are led by QB Troy Aikman – an Oklahoma transfer and a certain first round pick in the next NFL draft. Watching from the stands that day: Tom Landry – legendary coach of the Dallas Cowboys: Tex Schramm – NFL power broker & Cowboys GM; and a former Razorback player and current natural gas magnate, Jerry Jones. They all have an eye on Aikman as the next star QB for the Dallas Cowboys. Jones is probably the only one who has an inkling of the sea change that’s about to sweep the organization.
That’s where I’d start the TV series – with the Dallas Cowboys’ future and soon-to-be-past all there. On the field, Channing Tatum as Troy Aikman. In the stands, John Goodman as Tex Schramm, Ed Harris as Tom Landry and Woody Harrelson as Jerry Jones. (You know who else would be great as Jerry Jones? Robert Downey Jr. Seriously. But it would add 10mm to the budget and change the whole dynamic of the show.) That’d be a heck of a show but it would probably pale in comparison to the real show that was.
I’m interviewing Joe Nick Patoski this morning for a panel at the Arkansas Literary Festival in Little Rock, AR. The Festival is a great event with a program deep and wide enough for everyone to find something to enjoy. It runs through Sunday.