The Redskins are advised not to allow their players to read this column. Or, if they cannot scurry about the globe and buy up all 800,000-plus copies, Joe Gibbs should post the warning:
"What follows could be dangerous to your mental state at Texas Stadium Sunday, for it contains lots of nice things about the Cowboys."
Such as the notion that, for this season, the arrogant gang known as America's Team might more appropriately be called America's Underdogs. And that, far from their image as being hitched to a computer, they have done as much original thinking as anyone in sport.
Any team capable of losing to the Buffalo Bills, and that trusts its offense to two interception machines, suddenly is compellingly human.
If he were not so brilliant, Tony Dorsett would get more concussions than first downs running behind those fence posts that dare call themselves blockers. Anybody seen a Cowboys linebacker make a tackle this decade?
Somehow, Dallas is tied for first in pro football's second toughest division, the NFC East. With the semiconspiracy against excellence afoot in the NFL, it still has taken the New York Giants 21 years to gain a scarcely obvious tie-breaking advantage over the 'Pokes.
The last time the Giants finished ahead of the Cowboys, 1963, George Allen was an obscure assistant with the Chicago Bears, Joe Namath was a junior at Alabama and the Atlanta Falcons, the Great Society and Mary Lou Retton weren't even born.
Logic insists that the Giants, with an easier schedule, should win the NFC East and that the Cowboys should just miss making the playoffs. And how many times do NFL commoners find themselves in that sort of position?
More often than you might imagine.
Nearly every season, in fact. To survive so long at the top has required an inordinate amount of gambling and seat-of-the-pants coaching by the Cowboys, and also a stunning stretch of incompetence by the rest of the league.
The way the NFL is structured, with a draft and heavy compensation for free agents, teams ought to resemble waves in an ocean.
By finishing poorly, teams such as the Giants ought to be able to catch a wave of high draft choices and ride gloriously. Instead, the Giants have finished above .500 just three times since losing to the Bears for the '63 NFL championship.
What's worse, the Giants helped the Cowboys' wave regain momentum when it seemed about to flatten. That was after the 1974 season, when the Cowboys still finished 8-6 but failed to gain the playoffs.
Vulnerable, Cowboy management slickered the Giants into trading the second pick in the '75 draft for an obviously over-the-hill quarterback, Craig Morton.
Guess who that No. 1 fetched?
The year before, the Cowboys had peddled two harmless players (Tody Smith and Billy Parks) to Houston for the first choice in the draft: Too Tall Jones.
Two years after stealing White, the Cowboys swindled the rights to Tony Dorsett from the expansion Seattle Seahawks.
If they had stayed passive, accepted their draft turn because nearly everyone else does, the Cowboys would have wrecked in '75. What they did was make the Super Bowl White's first year and win it when Dorsett was a rookie.
There is not much swagger about these '84 Cowboys. No longer can they win simply by tossing their helmets onto the field. Buffalo may be the mean memory that lingers during a playoff-less Christmas.
Coach Tom Landry very likely would be pleased to make a decision about who should play quarterback regularly, if either Danny White or Gary Hogeboom actually seemed capable of doing it.
Hogeboom played himself out of the position earlier in the season; White would have Sunday against the Eagles, with those four inteceptions, except Landry already had benched the alternative.
Probably, the coach remembered Hogeboom throwing that touchdown pass to Monte Coleman during the Redskins' rout of the Cowboys two months ago in RFK Stadium.
If there were some bright new football vision, say a quarterback-less offense, Landry not only would try it but almost certainly think of it first.
For a team that allegedly has molds for everyone, the Cowboys have employed more free spirits than everyone but the Raiders: Pete Gent and Duane Thomas, who vilified them in their own way.
And the Zero Club, which Blaine Nye, Pat Toomay and Larry Cole formed as their commitment to apathy. The motto: "None for anything; all for naught."
Simply put, the Cowboys over the years have been rigid only in their notion of how to ride a football wave forever, no matter how unconventional that seems.
They have used converted basketball players in the secondary; they have molded former defensive hulks into members of fearsome offensive lines; they extended Landry's contract 10 years before any of his teams won as many games as they lost.
The only time the Cowboys toot a single horn is for the national anthem. Otherwise, their self-congratulation is symphony-strong. But only three teams in the history of pro sports (the 1926-64 Yankees and the 1952-83 Montreal Canadiens) have had more than 18 straight winning seasons.
The Redskins and Giants, Dolphins and Rams ought to deny the Cowboys the playoffs these last two weeks; possibly not. Football age and NFL parity should force mediocrity on them sometime soon; probably not.
If there is not a sucker born every minute in the NFL, enough drop by often enough for the Cowboys to offer a hearty backslap followed by: "Boy, do we have a deal for you . . . "