FISH: Allow Me to Introduce Myself

"Fish, you must be a Cowboy hater sent here by the enemy. Fish, you must be on the Cowboys payroll, Jerry Jones' back-pocket boy.''

Over the course of 15 years covering the Cowboys, I've frequently been demonized for being "anti-Cowboy'' – and, fascinatingly, frequently demonized too for being "pro-Cowboy.''

So amid a flood of correspondence from you motivated by my first month as a columnist for The Ranch Report, allow me to introduce myself.

I'm Fish. And I'm a Cowboy-aholic.

I come by my Cowboy-aholism honestly, if not naturally. I grew up in Minnesota, and was/am a Vikings guy. (I have teased Staubach and Pearson many times, to their faces, about the fateful day when they cheated their way to a playoff win at the Met, thus robbing me and the Vikes of a chance to lose yet another Super Bowl.)

But starting in 1990, my all-consuming job (and eventually, passion) has been covering the Cowboys. I'd covered Super Bowl teams in Denver and in San Francisco before coming to Texas (by 1992, I came to realize I'm a rabbit's foot with a press pass), but nothing could prepare for the wild ride that was about to explode from the chute. I was a beat writer and then columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, chronicling the early-decade building of the club, the brilliance of the Super Bowl years, and the slow but inevitable decline of the end of the decade.

And now, hopefully, a return to the top of the mountain.

Meanwhile, starting in 1995, I moonlighted as a daily talk-show host on 570 KLIF, a legendary talk station in Dallas/Fort Worth that featured Norm Hitzges in the mornings, The Sports Brothers in the evenings and my "Fish for Lunch'' from noon-to-3.

During this period, I also authored two books on the Cowboys, regional best-sellers "Stars and Strife'' and "The Boys Are Back.'' (Both are now available to buy on line for, like, a buck-and-a-half. Or for free, if you're willing to scrounge around in my attic.)

The work done during that decade – and the bigger-than-life stories provided my by the Cowboys – has propelled me into a wealth of life experiences and opportunities. Tokyo! Mexico City! Honolulu! London! The White House! (No, not that one.) Cincinnati!

Wherever the Cowboys have been, I've been. Whomever I and my kids have looked up to as athletes, in most any sport, I've had the privilege of meeting, often even befriending. I mention with all due humility that I've tried to absorb something from encountering people as varied as Muhammad Ali and Tom Landry, Bill Clinton and Jim Brown, Bart Starr and Jerry Jones, Dennis Rodman and Joe Montana. (And do I have to include Roger and Drew again? Dang ‘em!)

Basically, I feel like I'm Forrest Gump – minus the ping-pong and the shrimp.

And the opportunities continue to position themselves in a way that I can stumble into them. "Fish for Lunch'' lives, on 990am in Dallas (and at www.990TexasTalkRadio.com). I've branched out into Dallas Mavericks coverage at www.DallasBasketball.com, now the most popular independent NBA site in the world. And good fortune steered me to Roy Philpott and Scout.com and The Ranch Report.

Now, as to the way I'll conduct my business here:

Will every column be pro-Cowboys? Absolutely – if everything about the Cowboys goes just right. Seriously, if Dallas goes 16-0, I won't have much criticism to offer. If Dallas goes 8-8? It's a good bet the praise and the criticism will be .500, too.

When I was writing volumes of positive things about Dallas circa 1993, there was a rumor going around town that Jerry Jones had bought me a company car. (In fact, I was driving my mom's old Mustang; nice of Mama Fish and Mr. Jones to conspire together so.)

At about the same time, Jimmy Johnson once screamed at me, "I ain't askin' you to help row my boat, but I wish you'd quit pokin' holes in it!'' I responded by saying my job wasn't to poke the holes myself, but that I was my job to count the holes, to describe the holes, and to try to find out how to fix them.

So I was indeed "for'' the Cowboys and "against'' the Cowboys all at the same time. "For'' the Cowboys when they did well, and recognized by Jerry and Aikman and Irvin and Emmitt and countless other players as being "fair.'' And "against'' the Cowboys in tougher times, much to the chagrin of Jimmy and a few other overly sensitive types.

I'll try to continue to do the boat-in-the-hole thing here – while also celebrating all the non-holes in the boat. Will I be a provocateur? Yeah, it's my nature. But I will never provoke just for the sport of it; even the most wrong-headed things I've ever said and written, the most dunderheaded takes I've ever issued, have come from the right place: My research, my interviews, my experience, my head, my heart.

A lot of silly, stupid, wrong stuff over the years. But never silly, stupid and wrong on purpose.

I'll also attempt to make certain to provide as much exclusive insight as possible – while also reminding that your feedback, your questions, your insight, can be the fuel we use to make this space more insightful and more entertaining and more worthy of your valuable time and money.

Please don't hesitate, therefore, to share your views with me, by email (fish@dallasbasketball.com) and/or on the discussion boards. Good or bad, I can take it. (I've been divorced; YOU can't hurt my feelings.) Help me build this column into a reflection of what we both want it to be: A place where Cowboy-aholics get their fix.

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