Mama, Don’t Let Your Puppies Grow Up to be Cowboys

scan0001There were so many topics to choose from this week that it was almost overwhelming to consider. There are the serious considerations of a sport that enables an alcohol/gun toting culture to exist among its players that has had deadly consequences in the last few weeks. There is the complete melt down of the Steelers at home last week and why that might be. And of course, the natural next topic of: do they still have a shot of the playoffs as a result? And the big one for Steeler fans: the 40th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception. However, I am not going down any of those roads because Cowboy Fan Hubby and I are facing the situation that happens to us every four years and in the occasional Super Bowl: our teams are playing one another. It’s like our Olympics. So, my husband wants me to tell the story of how he believes I welched on a bet back in 1996.

So, I will. The week leading up to the Championship games of the ’95 season, I was approached about taking in a dog whose family could no longer keep her. I agreed, and we picked her up on Saturday, a beautiful young Malamute mix named “Precious”. Neither CFH nor I thought such a wimpy name was worthy of such a noble dog, so the debate commenced on what to rename her. Like we had struggled when it came to naming our children, we could not come to an easy agreement. As both our teams won the next day to advance to Super Bowl XXX, the logical way to resolve the impasse seemed to make a wager: the winner would get to pick the new name. Seemed like a safe enough bet. I was supremely confident: we had Coach Cowher; they had Barry Switzer. We had Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene, and Rod Woodson would be back for the game. They had a lot of star power on their roster too, of course, but my bet was hinging on being helmed by the far better coach. But, as CFH said just the other day, what I had failed to take into account was that we also had Neil O’Donnell. Over the ensuing years, I’ve gotten a lot of ribbing about how color blind he was, or that he forgot which team he was playing for. But, in short, a decent quarterback had a bad game, which was aided by the entire team acting like they were star struck the entire first quarter, and not really getting their heads into the game until they were down 13 points. As many will recall, the Steelers made a game of it in the end. The surprise onside kick that the Steelers recovered ended up allowing them to score a touchdown that brought it to within three points, but that as close as the team got that day. And that was as close as I would get to winning the bet on renaming the new dog.

CFH tread softly over the next few days. We hadn’t watched the game together, and he even waited several hours before daring to come home. But eventually he wanted to collect on the bet with names like Prime Time (the frontrunner), Deiondra, and Playmaker. I vetoed them all. Unfortunately, I hadn’t put any provisions on the bet, but I wasn’t about to let a female dog go through life called Prime Time!

Flash forward to a few years ago, standing in line at the concession stand of a Texas movie theater, me wearing my typical evening attire of Steeler shirt and Steeler purse, when the man in front of us looked around to see us. He looked me up and down and then said to CFH in utter sincerity, “You are so lucky to have a wife who likes sports.” CFH responded, “No, I’m not. She welches on her bets.” He related his version of the naming episode, at the end of which the man says, “Oh, you’re right then.” Whatever.

Precious would end up living out the next 15 years with a name befitting a poodle, and CFH has had a lifetime of fun relating the story of how I welch on bets. This year, for the first time in many years, we have a puppy in the house. I once more believe I follow the better team with the better coach, but I’m not making any bets about tomorrow with her name in the balance.

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