The noon game against the Arizona Cardinals promises an exciting return to glory for the Dallas Cowboys, and Off Asides settles into its comfortable couch to root for the hometown heroes playing at Arlington Taxpayers’ Temple (AT&T Stadium). Starting QB Tony Romo is riding the bench because of his bad back, but backup Brandon Weeden looked sharp filling in against the Redskins last week. He should do fine in his first start with Cowboys. After all, announcer Troy Aikman is talking about how Weeden is well-prepared — he had a great training camp, and he has routinely worked out with the first team all season on Wednesdays while Romo rests his back.
Weeden seems like a nice guy. He came to Dallas looking for a fresh start after becoming the Dawg Pound’s favorite punching bag in Cleveland during his first two years in the NFL. It’s like those fans expected a rookie to take them to the Super Bowl or else they’d run him out of town. Everything about Weeden says “class act,” while everything about Cleveland football fans says “class less.”
While in Cleveland, Weeden was to sports bloggers what George W. Bush was to late night talk show hosts. In low-tech days of yore, if people didn’t like a quarterback they’d complain at a bar, or they’d boo him at a game. Now they create Brandon Weeden Sucks websites like this, this, and this.
Or they create a Brandon Weeden Sucks page on Facebook that has 650 likes.
Weeden has red hair, and probably liked his original nickname: The Crimson Cannon. But before long he’d been dubbed The Ginger Cringer.
Weeden spent a few years pursuing professional baseball, which meant he was already 28 at his rookie NFL draft — the oldest guy ever drafted in the first round. People laughed when they discovered his high school in Oklahoma didn’t have computers back when Weeden played, making his high school stats difficult to track. Worse, Weeden’s age (29) was accidentally printed “129” in the team’s programs during his second season. Somebody even went to Yahoo! Answers and asked the question: “Why is Brandon Weeden so old?” and received several serious answers.
This all sniffs of bullying, and that’s not right.
Off Asides vows to create a Brandon Weeden Is A Classy Guy Facebook page as soon as the Cowboys-Cardinals game is over.
The Cowboys get off to a 10-0 start, thanks to an interception returned for a touchdown, but the offense looks sluggish. DeMarco Murray isn’t finding holes like he usually does, and the passing game is off kilter. The Cardinals take a 4-point lead into halftime, and it’s obvious they’ve stacked their defensive line against Murray, and it’s up to Weeden to start passing. The Cowboys receive the second half kickoff, and, sure enough, Weeden is ready to toss the pigskin.
Soon, Cowboys fans are ready to toss their lunches.
Weeden makes two horrible throws on second and third down, forcing the Cowboys to punt. Off Asides considers modifying its planned Facebook page to Brandon Weeden Is A Classy Guy But He Can’t Throw Very Well.
On the next possession, the Cowboys drive down the field but Weeden throws an interception at the goal line.
Next possession, he underthrows Terrance Williams.
I modify my planned Facebook page yet again: Brandon Weeden Is A Classy Guy But Needs To Be Benched And Possibly Strangled.
I also think of a new nickname — The Red Barren.
The game lumbers on. Weeden finally tosses a touchdown to Dez Bryant in the waning minutes of trash time, but it’s like pissing on a bonfire. Cowboys lose 17-28.
I sit on my couch, in shock, silently apologizing to all of the Cleveland Browns fan who were belittled at the beginning of this column.
I say a prayer to modern science (and syringes) for helping Tony Romo overcome his bad back and get back in the starting lineup on Thursday.
I go to Facebook and set up my new page: Brandon Weeden Is A Classy Guy But Like Everyone Says He Sure Does Suck.
I drive to AT&T Stadium, storm up to Weeden in the locker room, and demand answers. He’s too sad to talk, but his red hair did agree to sit down for a quick interview.
OFF ASIDES: How do you feel about your human’s performance today?
WEEDEN’S HAIR: You can’t tell, but I’m blushing.
OA: What happened on all those bad throws?
WH: I’m not sure, I was stuffed inside a helmet and drenched in flop sweat.
OA: What’s the biggest obstacle this team faces?
WH: The head coach’s hair is just so — how do I put it? — over the top and kind of needy.