Photo: Jason Janik/Special Contributor
ARLINGTON — How long has Cleburne’s Rick Springer been a Cowboys fan? Since, oh, about 10 or 11 U.S. presidents ago.
And with five Super Bowl titles and the legends of quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Troy Aikman bejeweling his memories, you could say Springer’s expectations — and those of other longtime Dallas fans — are a little high.
“I want to see them in the Super Bowl,” said Springer, a retired supermarket manager who was at Sunday’s game with son Brian and grandson Cameron of Fort Worth. “They’ve been gone too long.”
Those dreams will live on for at least another week after the Cowboys beat the Detroit Lions in a hard-fought wild-card playoff game at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.
With 2:32 left in the game, the Cowboys completed a slow but steady comeback with an 8-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tony Romo to receiver Terrance Williams, and the stands erupted in a roiling sea of white towels.
“It’s about time!” said Amy Lopez, who along with husband Rolando made the 10-hour drive from Edinburg to see the game. “We’re gonna be in Arizona!”
The fervor had been building for days and came to a simmer outside the stadium where kids tossed footballs and tailgating fans traded high-fives, undeterred by the frigid 34-degree temperatures.
“Y’all goin’ down!” a man in a Jason Witten jersey yelled at a Lions fan, who simply shrugged.
Others weren’t so sure. “God, I hope the Cowboys pull this off,” one fan said to his companion.
When the doors finally opened, the whooping and hollering crowds rushed in as if it were a Black Friday sale, hungry for the post-season experience that had eluded the team since 2009.
“It’s awesome, bro,” said Roy Lopez of Houston, who runs a bus service to Cowboys games and transported 52 fans to Sunday’s matchup. “It’s actually very emotional for a die-hard fan.”
Among those fans was Galveston DJ Roland Martinez, whose cellphone home screen features a glossy image of a Cowboys cheerleader. He’d worn a team poncho to the game.
“I’ve been a fan since before they were 1-15,” he said, referring to the Cowboys’ dreadful 1989 season.
Many fans see in this year’s team a return of the magic that defined America’s Team in the 1990s, and in Romo, running back DeMarco Murray and receiver Dez Bryant a mirror image of the legendary Cowboys trio of Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin.
“This is getting to be at the same level,” said Homero Ramirez Sr., who along with son Homero Jr. had made the journey to the game from Zapata, nearly 500 miles south. “It’s back again.”
Troy Butler, who runs barber shops in Lewisville and Denton, was also ready to draw comparisons.
“I never thought I’d see the triplets reincarnated this soon,” he said.
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