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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Tom Landry’s Dallas Cowboys

I had an ulterior motive for yesterday’s poll asking who deserves to be the most beloved coach in Dallas sports history. I figured that Tom Landry, longtime coach of your Dallas Cowboys, would win easily. I left him in, and didn’t just make it a contest to find the second-most beloved coach, because I wanted to gauge just how easily. (Answer: extremely)

I knew I’d be announcing this morning that the latest selection in our 40 Greatest Stories series is Peter Gent’s October 1981 article about Landry and his teams of the 1960s and ’70s. Gent, as many of you know, played for the Cowboys for five seasons and went on to a career as a novelist. His first was a semi-autobiographical effort about his pro football career, called North Dallas Forty, and he penned the screenplay for the 1979 film adaptation as well. He died of complications of a pulmonary disease in 2011, at age 69.

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Poll: The Most Beloved Head Coach in Dallas History?

A recent Grantland piece about the abrupt resignation of Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington referred to him as “the most beloved head coach in the history of North Texas sports not named Tom Landry.” Which got me thinking “Really?” And then “Hey, yeah, I guess so, maybe.”

Followed by, since we’re now 25 years on from Landry’s dismissal by Jerry Jones and that first 1-15 season under Jimmy Johnson, “Does St. Landry still mean much to today’s whippersnappers?”

So let’s take a poll. Nominees are the two most successful coaches in each of Dallas’ pro sports teams’ histories, based on overall record and championships.

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Leading Off (9/12/14)

Planners Back Off Tolling Central. The Regional Transportation Council met Thursday, and its members indicated they’re not moving forward with plans to toll some lanes of U.S. Highway 75. Of course, the move comes only after the Texas Transportation Commission, which is in charge of state-owned highways, said it wouldn’t support tolling. And the RTC didn’t actually take any action Thursday and could still move to toll other highways as a funding mechanism to increase traffic capacity throughout North Texas.

Lawsuit Against Jerry Jones May Be Too Late. The statute of limitations on civil claims of sexual assault is five years. The incident at the center of Jana Weckerly’s suit against the Dallas Cowboys owner, which was filed this week, took place five years and 10 weeks ago. But legal experts say Weckerly’s attorneys could argue that she was of unsound mind for more than 10 weeks of that period, or that Jones was out of the state on business for longer than 10 weeks since the alleged crime occurred. Either finding would make it possible for a judge to decide that the case can proceed.

Mineral Wells is Thirsty. The home of Crazy Water is looking for new water sources, as its primary reservoir (Lake Palo Pinto) has dropped from 28 feet to 14 feet in the last six months. If drought conditions don’t improve, the town could run dry by May of next year.

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SMU Coach June Jones To Resign

I don’t know if SMU would have outright fired June Jones during the season. Maybe they wouldn’t have fired him at all. But it can’t really come as a surprise that Jones is stepping down after two games, because SMU lost those two games by a cumulative score of 88-6. And one of those games was against UNT.

When I talked to Jones a couple of years ago, he said, “My biggest thing when I came here was that I wanted to, just like Hawaii, build it so that it could sustain if I wasn’t here.”

His agent, the once-powerful Leigh Steinberg, apparently standing in a full flight suit on an aircraft carrier, tweeted that “June had felt for some time he had accomplished mission to turn around program and needed a break” and it’s like Steinberg has no idea that you type words into a box, hit “send,” and then people can read those words.

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Can We Please Stop Conflating Michael Sam and Josh Brent?

Josh Brent drove drunk, after a previous conviction for doing just that, and was going between 110 mph and 134 mph in an area with a 45-mph speed limit, when he killed his friend and teammate Jerry Brown.

Michael Sam is the first publicly gay player drafted into the NFL.

Both are defensive lineman who have a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys at some point this season. The comparisons should end there.

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Ron Washington Resigns as Texas Rangers Manager

The Rangers are having a lousy season, but no one really blamed Ron Washington for that. It was the injuries done killed ‘em.

So it comes as a shock today that Wash, who’s managed the club since 2007, has resigned his post in order to address an “off-the-field personal matter.”

His full statement, from the team:

“Today, I have submitted my resignation from the job I love – managing the Rangers – in order to devote my full attention to addressing an off-the-field personal matter.  As painful as it is, stepping away from the game is what’s best for me and my family.

“This is in no way related to the disappointing performance of the team this season. We were already discussing 2015 and looking forward to getting the Rangers back to postseason contention.

“I deeply regret that I’ve let down the Rangers organization and our great fans. Over the past eight seasons, it’s been a privilege to be part of some of the best years in club history and I will always be grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here, and for the great management, players, and coaches who have made our time here a success.  Thank you for respecting my privacy.”

Tim Bogar is the interim manager.  Here is what Mooney wrote about Washington a few years ago.

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A Game-By-Game Guide To How The Cowboys Miss the Playoffs Again

The Dallas Cowboys will obviously again miss the playoffs and more than likely finish 8-8 in doing so. But how? Read this and save yourself a few hours every week.

Week 1: 49ers — WIN
More of a 49ers loss than a Cowboys win, but whatever. You know who doesn’t see it that way? Jerry Jones and every Cowboys fan, all of whom get way, way too excited about the season’s prospects. “Super Bowl” is mentioned with a straight face. Prevailing sentiment in town: OH MY GOD, ARE THEY REALLY GOING TO DO THIS THING?

Week 2: At Titans — LOSS

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D Magazine Intern Lives Out Top Gun Dreams

This Saturday and Sunday, daring aviators from all over the world will perform death-defying maneuvers at the Texas Motor Speedway, the sixth of eight stops in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. Instead of watching race cars whiz around an oval track for hours (kind of boring), the crowd on hand will look skyward as planes weave in and out of large pylons only 50-80 feet above the ground at 200-plus miles per hour.

Back in June, Texas native and world-class pilot Kirby Chambliss took me up to give me a taste of the sort of G-forces he and his competitors on the racing circuit must endure. First, an upright flat spin, where the airplane stalls and then descends down. From inside the steel contraption, I couldn’t tell where we were headed next. Up, down, jab right, then left. Why did I sign up for this? I thought to myself. Next we cartwheeled end over end three times, rolling the plane one-and-a-half times per second and then falling backwards at 90 mph. The cockpit filled with smoke from the tail.

My stomach is still in recovery, but it was worth it for the few minutes of getting to feel like Maverick from Top Gun. Check out the video evidence, and if you’re interested in going this weekend, ticket information is right this way.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Dandy Don

The NFL season kicks off tonight, though your Dallas Cowboys won’t get started until they host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. Most experts aren’t high on the team’s chances to make the playoffs, let alone reach the Super Bowl. ESPN expects them to post their fourth straight 8-8 record. Only one of the outlet’s 16 experts thinks the Cowboys are playoff-bound. Sports Illustrated doesn’t have the Boys in the postseason either. Peter Schrager of Fox Sports is saying 10 wins and a playoff appearance, but he’s also characterized that as a “bold prediction.”

Who will get the credit or the blame for however this shakes out? Most likely, it’ll be Jerry Football or quarterback Tony Romo, who (fairly or not) can’t disprove his reputation for not being able to carry his team to a win in a big game. Romo isn’t the team’s first QB to be saddled with the vitriol of fans despite evidence that other deficiencies may have had more to do with a run of mediocrity.

Before Tony and Troy and Roger, there was Dandy Don.

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That ESPN Profile of Jerry Jones

If you haven’t read Don Van Natta Jr.’s profile of Jerry Jones, you really should. The access Natta had is a writer’s dream. (And possibly an editor’s nightmare.) And you will probably end up liking Jones more by the end of the story.

The access starts with the writer finding Jones alone in a bar outside an owners’ meeting. We see Jones in his suite during the George Strait concert, hear him whispering in his son’s ear in the draft room, and drinking like the guys on Mad Men. He really, really, really wanted to draft Johnny Manziel. He’s apparently a big fan of Johnnie Walker Blue. (In plastic Dallas Cowboys cups.) And even at 71, he is irresistible to certain ladies. Or, as one of his close friends puts it: “Good women won’t leave him alone.”

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Leading Off (8/29/14)

Judge Rules School Finance System Unconstitutional. It’s the second time in 18 months that State District Judge John Dietz of Austin has decided in favor of the 600 local school districts that sued the state. Dietz ruled that, even after increasing school funding by $3.4 billion during the most recent session, the legislature has still left education statewide underfunded. He also cited inequities in the way state funds are distributed. The state (namely attorney general and GOP gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott) will appeal.

Dallas County Not Properly Tracking HIV. A state report found 209 adult cases and 139 pediatric cases went “unreported” by the county health department from 2009 to 2012. That’s the largest number of unreported cases in Texas. Failure to follow up to collect information makes it difficult to determine whether a patient’s contacts may have also been affected and means the department can miss out on federal funding to treat patients.

Cowboys Winless in Preseason. They fell to the Denver Broncos, 27-3, last night. It’s the fifth time in franchise history the team hasn’t bothered to win any of its meaningless practice games.

Bitcoin ATMs Open in Dallas. In case you want to exchange your money that’s backed by the full faith and credit of the United States for a crypto-currency backed by the self-assurance of libertarian utopians worldwide. Right now one Bitcoin will cost you about $507.

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Leading Off (8/22/14)

Another Shooting by a Dallas Cop. It’s the fourth involving the city’s police force in the last two weeks. Dallas officers have shot 10 people so far this year, and seven have died — one of those was unarmed. (Compare that number to 12 in all of 2013.) Thursday night’s incident took place near the Dallas VA Medical Center. The man who was shot reportedly had himself shot a woman in the jaw.

State Allows Waste Control Specialists to Bury More Radioactive Waste. Dallas’ most evil genius may no longer be in charge of the company, but his vision for bringing byproducts of nuclear power plants to a site in West Texas lives on. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality has approved changes that will allow WCS to accept triple the amount they could previously.

TCEQ Cites XTO For Stealing Water. The state agency says the company, which is owned by Exxon Mobil, took almost 1.4 million gallons of water to which it was not entitled, which it used for fracking.

Cowboys Linebacker Suffers Career-Ending Injury. DeVonte Holloman left Saturday’s preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens with a spinal injury, and doctors are advising that he never again play football.

Cowboys to Break Ground on Frisco HQ. Construction will kick off Friday, and the team expects to officially move from Valley Ranch to its new home for the 2016 season.

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D Magazine’s 40 Greatest Stories: Bowling For Dollars

There used to be a TV game show on which people — ordinary human beings like you and me — would hurl balls at pins in the hopes of winning cash. It was called, in the parlance of the day, Bowling For Dollars. Meanwhile, other human beings — also, presumably, like you and me — would have sent in postcards with their names on them in the hopes of sharing in the winnings if some lucky amateur bowler managed two strikes in a row.

I was going to write about the oddity of this format sustaining a daily program, but then I remembered that we live in an age of televised naked daters and naked survivalists, so who are we to judge? (After all, I know what you’re thinking at this moment: Why hasn’t naked bowling reached the airwaves yet?)

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Watch Miss Texas’ Wild-Ass First Pitch

Connoisseurs of horrible first pitches will perhaps argue that Mr. 50 Cent threw out the all-time worst first pitch. But as Deadspin put it, Monique Evans belongs in the conversation. If Evan Grant were inclined to go longform on this, write 3,000 words about how Evans did or did not prepare for the pitch, about the pitch itself (at least 1,000 words on that alone), about the aftermath of the pitch (what was the horse thinking?), then I’d read it. In fact, I may launch a Kickstarter to make that happen. Anyway, watch for yourself:

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