The disc jockey smoothly went through the list of football scores, giving each result equal emphasis. Then he paused. "And, in the big one for Cowboy fans, the Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-26. fAwwriight! Let's keep those Steelers out of the Super Bowl."
So they're still worrying about the Steelers here, figuring the 7-1 Eagles will take care of themselves in the NFC East. Or if the Eagles don't take care of themselves, the Cowboys certainly will show them a thing or two before the end of the season.
Howard Cosell and friends spent much of Sunday night telling America that America's team was rebuilding. But look how it's crushing the Chargers, 42-31. Rebuilding? As someone once said of Oklahoma, the Sooners don't rebuild, they reload.
Dallas is 6-2, in the middle of the NFC East race, trailing the Eagles by just one game, and with a crack at the Eagles here, Dec. 21, in a season-ending date usually reserved for you know which team.
"I'm happy with where we are because we had such a long way to go," said Coach Tom Landry after Sunday night's Texas marathon. "I think we're starting to come together. We're getting a little better every week."
Roger Staubach? Did anyone ask for Roger Sunday night?How fast they forget in the NFL. Danny, do you remember Roger? Please, say yes.
"All year long people have been talking about the different personality of this team. I think that's terribly over-exaggerated. Sure, we're different. Roger's gone and I'm the quarterback. There are 10 new players on this team so that's different.
"But Tom Landry is still the hub here. He's still at the center of everything. As long as he's the coach, this team's personality is going to be about the same. Maybe, when he leaves, it'll be completely different. But not until then."
The speaker is Danny White, former question mark who is in the process of quarterbacking the Cowboys to the playoffs for the 14th time in the last 15 seasons. White has been dealing with "How are you different from Roger?" 1questions since the spring.
He is too bright and too nice to snap at people when they continue to ask the same questions at Week 8 as they did in preseason week 1.
"Nothing has surprised me because I did not have any idea what to expect," said White, who leads the conference in passing. "I didn't set any goals personally or for the team because I thought that would be silly. Believe it or not. I've really tried to approach each game individually. Take it from there and see what happens.
"But I'll admit I'm happy with 6-2. I'd rather be 7-1 but 6-2 is okay. Traditionally, this is the time of year when we've had trouble. Then we come on strong at the end. I expect us to do that this year too."
White is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. He is 28 years old and backed up Staubach for four season, earning most of his pay by punting. He was always thought of as the quarterback of the future. But nobody thought the future would come so quickly. When it did, many observers predicted a Cowboy fall.
"People forget so easily," said Randy White, the former Maryland star. "They forget that you can take five players, six players and move them out of here and the system is still going to function. We still have great players here. Look at these new guys. Hell, they're good."
People also overlooked something else: Danny White is good.
"Danny is the perfect quarterback for us in a transition year like this," said Charlie Waters, the resident good ol' boy philosopher. "He's cool, he's clever, but most of all he has the killer instinct. You can see it when he plays Ping-Pong, when he plays darts, whatever. He's just got it. Fact is the first four games the offense carried us.That means Danny carried us."
Still, many Cowboys possessed doubts going into the season.
"I don't want to say anything negative, but look, there had to be question marks. We had new players; we had injuries; Roger was gone. I didn't know if my knee (operated on last season and still very sore) would hold up. There were lots of questions in our minds.
"It's what you call fear, the fear of losing. We definitely had that in training camps. That fear is what motivated us. The rookies don't know but the veterans do. This profession is no fun at all unless you win.
"If you don't acknowledge that kind of fear, you're lying to yourself. It has to be there or you aren't going to be worth anything as a pro. There's no question that Landry's the key man around here. Always has been, always will be. But Landry needs the D.D. Lewises, the Larry Coles, the Charlie Waters, the John Fitzgeralds. They help him too because they provide the mix. We're the ones who teach the kids the fear of losing."
Landry sees some similarity between this team and his 1975 team. The previous season was the only one since 1966 that the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs. Wholesale changes were made. The record at midseason was 4-3. The Cowboys made the playoffs as a wild card and ended up losing the Super Bowl to the Steelers, 21-17.
"This is a better team," said Ed (Too Tall) Jones, the former boxer who is back to knocking people flat the easy way -- with his body-- this season. "In '75 we got a lot done with our special teams. This team has a solid offense and the defense is getting better. Each week we're a little tougher, a little more confident."
The same can be said for Jones, who is not quite back to his preboxing level but seems on the way. "All I wanted to do was get better every week of the season," he said. "I think eventually I might be better than I ever was because now I have boxing out of my system. I'm happy playing football." w
"How can you question a team with White at quarterback?" asked Charger Coach Don Coryell. "The guy is just a super player. He's a super athlete. They're a super team."
But the Cowboys don't want that label yet. This is still a team with seven rookies and five second-year men, including Steve Wilson, the cornerback from Howard who has four interceptions and says, "I'm just having fun playing ball."
The team of Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly, Chuck Howley, Cornell Green and Ralph Neeley is now the team of Danny White, Harvey Martin, Randy White, Charlie Waters, Tony Hill and (when healthy) Tony Dorsett. It is also the team of people like Timmy Newsome, James Jones, Dextor Clinkscale, Anthony Dickerson, Bruce Thornton and Wilson.
It was late. The game had been over more than an hour. The tarp was on the Texas Stadium field. The postgame parties were over. Danny White, besieged by press after his three touchdown passes and two scrambles for first downs off fake punts, had explained for the last time that the second fake punt had come off because he was just too tired to kick.
Finally, he started to leave. Waters, knee on ice, spied him. "Look at the guy," he yelled. "He does it all. Another Roger Staubach."
White couldn't resist the needle. He spun around, brown eyes flashing grinned broadly, and said, "Roger who?" Then he jabbed his fist into the air, almost as a silent victory yell.