DALLAS - Amidst the pomp and circumstance of the Dallas Cowboys 2016 home opener, the attention of the nation (and our glorious sun) was transfixed on AT&T Stadium. Among the attendees in the crowd of 92,000+ was the aptly nicknamed "dirtiest player in the game." No not Ndamukong Suh, he was in Seattle taking the air out of Russell Wilson and the 12th man faithful when Wilson went down momentarily with an apparent ankle injury scare. In attendance was none other than the Rolex wearin', wheelin' and dealin' MAN himself, Ric Flair.
Flair, now in his late sixties, is widely considered to be the greatest showman in professional wrestling history and can be considered the godfather of the outlandish outfits seen on players during their strut to and from the stadium.
During the course of his career, Flair was always surrounded by a select group of individuals, collectively known as the "Four Horsemen", united together under four distinct roles, to compete for Championships. Besides the pre-determined outcomes, the gridiron and the squared circle go hand in hand. If Ric Flair has settled on the Cowboys as his new favorite team, there are a few recruits already tailored to style, profile, and Lombardi stockpile.
The Present: Dez Bryant
The focal point of the unit, reserved for the greatest talent. Since coming into the league in 2010, the X factor has carved himself a spot as a consensus Top 5 receiver in the league. Bryant earned First Team All-Pro Honors in 2014, his last full season.
The Future: Ezekiel Elliott
The heir apparent and a 2015 NCAA National Champion, Ezekiel Elliott is tabbed as the flashiest Dallas backfield prospect since the days of Deuce-Deuce. Zeke's already delivered his own Emmitt Smith draft fashion moment, with a crop-top at draft day that has since been retired.
The Enforcer: Jason Witten
Jason Witten has been the backbone of the Dallas Cowboys for over a decade. The Tight End has red and yellow on his mind and it isn't Flair's rival Hulk Hogan, as he continues his hall of fame climb to reach Tony Gonzalez's NFL record for career receiving yards for a Tight End (15,127).
The Worker: Dan Bailey
The embodiment of a workhorse, Dan Bailey is looked upon to get the job done when called upon. He has responded to the tune of the highest career % for Field Goals in league history.
And that makes four, but it isn’t the total package. There was always an inactive member of the group that was around to assist and ensure that things went the Horsemen's way. At one point, fans believed that person to be Dean Blandino, VP of officiating for the league. That all changed with the "Green Bay screwjob" of 2014.
The Mentor: Tony Romo
There is no current comparable to Ric Flair on this team. During the course of his career he amassed 16 World titles while famously wearing "$600 Dollar custom made lizard shoes". Historically, the perfect embodiment of the Nature Boy for the Cowboys (and the reason my first name isn't Noe) would have been "The Playmaker" himself, Michael Irvin.
During a 12 year career, the five-time Pro Bowler and three-time Super Bowl champion played with a swagger that went hand in hand with his tailored suits and his way with words.
Flair transitioned from being "the man" to the role of a mentor, the former Star who guided the next generation of future champions during the course of his career.
Romo is no jabroni. After coming into the league as an undrafted Free Agent in 2003, Tony's ascension to Starting Quarterback in 2006 has led to the third highest passer rating in NFL history. His ability is still World Class, but his availability due to nagging injuries and recurring back problems will remain a concern for the remainder of his career.
Flair himself is the survivor of a 1975 plane crash that resulted in a broken back, an injury so serious that he was told he would never perform again. He retired as an active performer 33 years later…
The true heartbreak lies in the fact that this year's team, like one of Flair's handmade Italian shirts, is custom built for Romo. After the playoff run of 2014, it seemed that Romo would finally have enough around him to truly show his talents. Injuries have postponed the payoff.
The final appearance for Tony and his role going forward on this team has yet to be determined. Will it be as the mentor to his eventual successor Dak Prescott, or does he have enough left in the tank to make one more run at a legacy defining moment?
Give Irvin a hearty WOO! on Twitter @twittirv.
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