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Debauched Dynasty
Mark Bechtel
October 06, 2008
True tales of those naughty '90s Cowboys
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October 06, 2008

Debauched Dynasty

True tales of those naughty '90s Cowboys

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MATT FORTE Bears RB Listening to a lecture Desperate Housewives, to meet Eva Longoria Spiders Third Eye Blind
TERRY COOKE Rapids MF Baseball Entourage Snakes Jamiroquai (left)
SHAUN O'HARA Giants C Baseball Dancing with the Stars Amphibians Mötley Crüe (top)
A.J. HAWK Packers LB Elementary school The Office Snakes Dave Matthews Band

STUDENTS OF Shakespeare know that the Bard upped the shock value in his opening scenes to grab the attention of the rowdy working-class folk in the cheap seats at the Globe. But chanting witches and brawling Veronese have nothing on the opening pages of Boys Will Be Boys, Jeff Pearlman's entertaining look at the Dallas Cowboys dynasty of the 1990s. The year is 1998, and future Hall of Fame wideout Michael Irvin is holding a bloody set of barber's shears in the Cowboys' locker room, having just stabbed a teammate in the neck after arguing over whose turn it was for a haircut. A We Are Family moment it isn't.

The exhaustively reported Boys, which debuted last week at No. 7 on The New York Times best-seller list, won't disappoint those looking for tales—Irvin's appetite for cocaine and hookers, defensive end Charles Haley's public adventures in self-pleasure, receiver Alvin Harper's banishment from a Dallas strip club for having sex in a phone booth—of Jocks Gone Wild. But Pearlman, a former SI senior writer, digs deeper and paints a nuanced portrait of one of the NFL's greatest teams. Irvin, for all his foibles, comes off as a tireless worker and dedicated teammate. Coach Jimmy Johnson, widely credited for rebuilding the franchise with a blockbuster trade that sent Herschel Walker to the Vikings for a slew of draft picks in 1989, had to be talked into using one of those picks on running back Emmitt Smith and only reluctantly named Troy Aikman his quarterback, Pearlman says. Both became Hall of Famers, suggesting Johnson's judgment was far from flawless. It's one of the many myths about the franchise punctured by Pearlman, even while he enhances the popular notion that the 1990s Cowboys were one of the wildest teams in history. How 'bout them Cowboys, indeed.

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