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The year Cowboys hatred reached a new level

Click here for excerpts from the book.

The book is 191 pages of unadulterated trash talk.

I Hate the Dallas Cowboys — And Who Elected Them America’s Team Anyway? is out of print and difficult to find. (Sort of like the latter-day Cowboys at playoff time, but that’s another story for another day.)

Bert Sugar’s 1997 compilation of lampoon-style essays — 20 in all — worked a simple premise. It assailed the easiest target in all of sports: a team on top.

The Cowboys had just won three Super Bowls in four years (1992-95). They had star power to match the star on their helmets. They had famous cheerleaders on their sidelines and God in their corner (peering down through the Texas Stadium roof).

And they were "America’s Team" — which raised a fundamental question in Sugar’s mind: "When did that happen? I didn’t get a vote."

Sugar, 71, is a longtime sportswriter and ESPN/HBO boxing guru who has authored or edited more than 70 books. You may know him from his keen wit and omnipresent cigar and fedora.

Just think of I Hate the Dallas Cowboys — AWETATA? as less of a harangue and more of a paperback "roast" printed between silver-and-blue covers.

That’s how Sugar intended it.

During his research, he found that Tom Landry and Tex Schramm never embraced nor totally denied the "America’s Team" concept, which made Sugar doubly sure that this really, really was a book that had to be written.

"It was a fun book to do," Sugar said from his home in Chappaqua, N.Y., where Hillary and Bill Clinton are part of the neighborhood.

"Certainly, the guys who wrote for it had a great time."

His cast of 20 poison-penned contributors ranged from Billy Kilmer, Deacon Jones and Conrad Dobler to Jim Murray, Skip Bayless and Mike Golic.

He sent each a cassette recorder with the instructions: "You talk; you send ... I'll edit."

"Jerry Kramer was the first one back," Sugar recalled. "He wanted to do it so badly. He apparently got a lot of pleasure out of the (1967) Ice Bowl."

Deacon Jones?

"Deacon Jones was great," Sugar cooed. "But Deacon kept calling every five minutes with a new story, even after the book was printed.

"But I think Billy Kilmer got the most pleasure of all out of it."

Sugar, a diehard Redskins fan, was influenced by Douglas Wallop’s The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant, a book written the same year that the Yankees actually did lose the pennant to Cleveland (1954). It later became the play "Damn Yankees".

"It suddenly occurred to me that nobody had ever done something like that in football," Sugar said. "So, I walked around New York with a one-page, typewritten outline in my hand.

"People would slam the door on me — literally."

Finally, St. Martin’s Press bought the idea — which, according to Sugar, was as much to get rid of him as anything else.

"And, by the by, that book ended up with its best sales coming in Dallas," Sugar said. "I don't know if they were buying it because they were transplants who didn’t like the Cowboys or if they were saying, 'Somebody burn these, please.' "

Sugar said he has no plan to re-issue I Hate the Dallas Cowboys — AWETATA?

"The fun isn’t to kick somebody when they’re down," Sugar explained. "This was written when the Cowboys were winning and the coach (Barry Switzer) was trying to sneak guns through airports and Michael Irvin was getting arrested every third day.

"That’s when you can joke about somebody — not now."

Next week: The Cowboys’ first Super Bowl experience was perhaps their weirdest.