What year is this?
2017 ... right?
Why does it suddenly feel like the 1990s all over again when it comes to the Dallas Cowboys?
They seemingly can’t stay out of the news and away from controversy, either by commission or omission.
The major difference is that those teams of yesteryear had the hardware of three Super Bowl titles to go along with their off-field mess.
This updated version of the Cowboys’ soap opera is filled with drama without the substantive payoff of Super Bowl rings to ease the pain.
Maybe the off-season drama is a precursor for title glory.
Coming off a 13-3 season led by quarterback Dak Prescott, running back Ezekiel Elliott and the league’s best offensive line, the Cowboys have the foundation in place for a Super Bowl run soon, if not this season.
Lord knows they already have the off-field drama oft associated with past Cowboys title teams:
▪ Defensive end David Irving has been suspended for the first four games of 2017 for using a banned supplement.
▪ Cornerback Nolan Carroll was arrested in May on a charge of driving while intoxicated, putting him the cross hairs of a suspension.
▪ Early this month, Prescott was accused, then absolved, of using an autopen machine to sign autographs.
▪ Linebacker Damien Wilson was arrested on charges of felony aggravated assault after allegedly hitting a woman with his car and pulling out a gun in dispute over a parking spot on July Fourth.
Of course, the story that seemingly won’t ever die and the one that could potentially ruin hopes of the Cowboys of making a title run is the NFL’s investigation of Elliott.
He has been in the eye of the storm ever since a former girlfriend accused him of domestic violence in July 2016. Last September, Columbus, Ohio, prosecutors closed the case because of conflicting information and inconsistent evidence.
All along, Elliott has maintained his innocence.
But roughly a year later, he remains under investigation by the NFL.
There are those on the Cowboys who believe the league is trying offset its mishandling of past domestic violence issues by taking a fine-tooth comb to Elliott’s case.
And thus we have Friday’s report of sorts from ESPN that “there is a growing feeling that Elliott could face a short suspension.”
Per the NFL, no decision has been made on Elliott.
If a suspension is handed down, it will likely anger owner Jerry Jones, the newly minted Hall of Famer, who has repeatedly maintained that no new evidence has come to light to warrant an Elliott suspension.
This is what Jones said in October: “People that have a lot more information than I have have given him a total clean bill of health. I do know that all the real information that anybody has is that he doesn’t have an issue.”
This is what he said in January: “I’m very comfortable with where Zeke is with that situation. I would want our fans to know that I’m very aware of all the facts and the details and been aware of it since training camp and not one thing has come up or surfaced that in any way gives me any concern, that I actually to my mind put to bed at training camp.”
And he said this in March: “Absolutely nothing anywhere that indicates anything other than what they told us when we left training camp and that is that they have no cause. There is just nothing. I know I would have heard about it. I would have the information if there were something. I know that.”
Right now, it’s nothing more than gossip and rumor-mongering.
And anything regarding the Cowboys is prime clickbait.
Free agent running back DeAngelo Williams went viral earlier this week for trashing Cowboys fans and saying he had no interest in ever playing for the Cowboys.
For the record, the Cowboys have not expressed interest in signing Williams, but, of course, that fact didn’t matter.
And then former NFL executive Mike Lombardi garnered national attention by ripping coach Jason Garrett in a podcast that no one knew he had.
People know now Lombardi’s show because his comments questioning Garrett’s coaching ability have gone viral.
Never mind that Garrett was named the 2016 NFL Coach of the Year for leading the Cowboys to a 13-3 record and NFC East title with a rookie quarterback, after losing starter Tony Romo in training camp.
So it’s a free-for-all on the Cowboys. With the team headed to training camp in less than a week, more is likely to come.
The drama is here just like yesteryear, though the age of the internet has made it even more intense.
Could you imagine the social media engagements if the 1996 Michael Irvin drug trial happened today?
Of course, that came after three Super Bowl titles, which, for some Cowboys fans, made the situation somewhat palatable.
Well, today’s Cowboys are going through the pain now.
Is a title to follow?