For Wade, A Homecoming Is Nothing That It’s Cracked Up To Be
Calling all shrinks. Be on the lookout for a head case, better known locally as a former head coach, last seen heading south out of Valley Ranch some seven years ago. Son of a Bum, he’s bounced around quite a bit since. A honeymoon in Houston. A high moment in Denver. And lately, he’s been having a lark in Los Angeles.
But look sharp now, because this corpulent professor of defense is coming back to Dallas after all these years. Consider him somber and reflective. Consider him moody. Consider him a threat to Sunday’s party at the Big Yard.
Stop and detain him if possible. Lie to him if necessary. Tell him he’s the greatest, greater than Barry, greater than Bill, and light years ahead of his red-headed replacement. Tell him not to worry, that getting fired was just another of Jerry’s reckless mid-season maneuvers. And tell him he’s a great follow on Twitter, too. It will make him feel better.
Here’s a few thoughts:
What if Wade Phillips was actually something more than an ordinary head coach? What if he actually tricked us all those years, and tricked himself too? What if he could a handle a team every bit as good as a defensive unit? What if the Cupcake was a fake? What if we were all wrong about him?
But Wade, you were so quick to embrace any and all positivity surrounding your arrival, going along with the Mr. Fix-It flow like a cagey handyman with something even better up his sleeve.
And so Jerry Jones sends you out of town less than four years later with your once-lovable Cowboys in a fixed tailspin and destined for a lengthy sewer swim with all the force of a magnetic plunger. And you go back to Houston with your tail tucked, a perfect picture of meekness alongside your relieved wife and dabble on social media for a while.
Then another crack at this football thing presents itself in your own backyard. A few years, a couple playoff wins, and it’s on to Denver. There you earn your first Super Bowl ring, allowing yourself to rediscover that old bravado and write a book. Your book. Your story. Wade’s way, and not the highway.
Wade’s way was magical. Wade’s way was right. Even when it appeared to be, oh, so wrong.
But the crusade didn’t stop when his book tour did. Oh no, by no means is this a sweet Cupcake who is returning to Arlington on Sunday as the defensive coordinator of the surprising 2-1 Los Angeles Rams. If I know Wade like Wade knows Wade, he’ll be bent this weekend on sticking a fork into any notion that his was the short-circuiting intellect that buried the 2010 Cowboys team by midseason.
What should we expect from someone who is so obviously in denial?
In his book, Wade effectively blamed Jason Garrett for an opening night gaffe in Washington that resulted in Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall running in for a gift touchdown at the halftime whistle. Instead of a field goal deficit, the Cowboys trailed 10-0 in a game they eventually lost 13-7. Such was the auspicious beginnings of a first-half blowout to that season, as the Cowboys went from Super Bowl favorites to cellar dwellers.
Even after all this time, Wade would still have us all believe that he needed just one more game to remedy the many missteps of that 1-7 start.
Sorry, Wade. But no. You were about as close to turning that mess around as Jerry is to being a bona-fide Football Guy.
Wade could never understand why Jerry was so quick to promote the financial well-being of Garrett. He could never come to grips with the fact that giving the offensive coordinator a higher salary than the head coach was simply Jerry’s way of being Jerry.
For your future reference Wade, Jerry’s way of doing football business has never made sense. Likely, it never will.
There is a vein of thought out there that Phillips, coaching a Rams team entering the game as touchdown underdogs, has nothing to lose on Sunday. If his team loses, well, that was expected. A win, on the other hand, would patch up old wounds while simultaneously boosting that ego.
It is my theory that he, in fact, has nothing to gain. A Los Angeles belly flop would surprise no one. It is, after all, the Rams we’re talking about.
Were Phillips’ defense to stonewall Dak & Co. into submission, it would only serve as another in a long line of triumphs for Wade The Coordinator. Wade, the public will insist upon saying, still would have been better off in Dallas as something other than a head coach.
Which, come to think of it, would be a shame. Not only because it’s true, Wade, but because you persistently insist that it’s not.
Wade, do us all a favor on Sunday. Don’t turn this business of an innocent Week 4 matchup into a personal matter. There’s too many people in Texas – and in the Cowboys’ front office – who still respect you, even though you occasionally provide them reason not to.