In today’s column I will attempt to avoid using cliches or pat phrases.

There was no snow at last night’s Cowboys-Bears game on Monday Night Football, but you could tell it was colder than a well digger’s…ice chest full of ice in his work truck in Alaska in the winter.

It was 8 degrees at game time but “feels like minus 9 to the bare skin,” a game announcer said, quoting some weatherperson. Then they cut to a sideline reporter who did a breaking report on the fact that water bottles were freezing on the sidelines. Since water freezes at 32 degrees and it was 8 degrees it didn’t seem like much of a scoop.


If you stood outside bareskinned could you even tell the difference between 8 degrees or minus 9? Why do we always say it’s blank degrees but it feels like an even lower amount with the chill factor? We should pick one or the other. I doubt the weatherperson stood bareskinned in the parking lot to test his theory. I, however, will stand buck naked in 8-degree weather and let you know. That’s the kind of intrepid reporter I am.

Ever notice how some adjectives are over-used with certain nouns? Like “shocking conclusion,” “bitter truth,” “buck naked,” etc. Any reporter who uses “intrepid” as an adjective for “reporter” might be intrepid but he isn’t creative. I’m not even sure what intrepid means. I think it means hard working. I’ll look it up and let you know. That’s the kind of intrepid, er, hard-working scribe that I am. (Note: I’m not actually going to look it up.)

Former Cowboys player Mike Ditka was honored at halftime even though the game was played in Chicago. Oh, wait, apparently Ditka played for the Bears too. I prefer to remember Ditka as a Cowboy.

I met Iron Mike many years ago when I was a kid. Ditka was playing a celebrity golf tournament in Arlington, and me and some buddies were asking players for their balls after they finished their round. (Yes, that sounded weird.) Anyway, everyone always smiled and tossed us their golf ball without question. Except Ditka.

My friends were too intimidated to approach him, so I took the bold step.

I’ll never forget our exchange:

“Hi, Mr Ditka, could I have your golf ball please?”

“Why do you want my ball?” he said, displeased by my gall.

“Uh, well, when players finish their game I ask for their ball and they give it to me.”

“I’m not a pro,” Ditka said, eyeing me with disdain before stomping off.

I was about 14 at the time, and I remember thinking, “That doesn’t even make sense. There aren’t any pros playing here. It’s a celebrity tournament to raise money for a charity. Did you not notice that your partner was Charley Pride, not Jack Nicklaus?”

Of course, I didn’t say that to Ditka or I wouldn’t be alive today.

His churlishness caught me off guard but didn’t make me mad. I’d spent too many years watching him play for the Cowboys. Ditka’s mean streak was what made him a badass. I loved the guy.

The Bears retired his jersey last night at halftime, and I salute Iron Mike even though he told Bears fans they are the best in the world, ignoring his days in Dallas. Bears Chairman George McCaskey introduced Ditka and it was so cold his voice came out sounding like Andy Devine. If you watch old Western movies you know who I’m talking about. If you don’t, you should navigate your Tivo more adroitly.

The Cowboys have suffered numerous defeats in Decembers past, one of the main reasons Tony Romo is known as a choker. Well, it’s December, and they suffered another one last night. I forget the score but it was ugly. Still, I like the fight in this team. Sure, the defense got shredded. And our best defensive player and leader Sean Lee got hurt again. And Jerry Jones is still general manager. And we dropped out of first place. What was my point here?

Oh yeah, I like our chances. It was 8 freaking degrees last night and I heard from two different sources that it felt like minus 9. The Boys were just cold. It happens. Hopefully next week they’ll play in Aruba so they won’t suck as bad.

P.S. Ditka was right not to give me his golf ball. I was just going to use it myself (and probably lose it since my game back then was severely hampered by a tendency to slice every shot). I might as well have been walking up to Ditka and saying, “Hey, buddy, can you spare a quarter?”

Then again, it was only a golf ball. And I was just a kid.

Screw Ditka. Now I’m pissed.

I’ll bet Andy Devine would give his ball to a kid, and probably say something funny in his squeaky voice.


  1. What I am wondering after reading this very impressive dissertation is what would happen to Mike Ditka’s balls if he were to stand buck naked in 8-degree weather, and whether Jeff Prince would still want Mike Ditka to give his frozen and shriveled up balls to Mr. Prince for free. And would he be able to tell if those frozen and shriveled balls were Bear or Cowboy old man balls if he were to possess them (what would be the distinguishing characteristics?). Might be enough material for a follow up treatise.