RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – As Nortel plunged toward bankruptcy last fall, company executives drank plenty of Cowboyritas while feasting on Kobe beef sandwiches, apple pie, cognac pumpkin cheesecake, beer and wine while watching Dallas Cowboys football games. Guess who was stuck with the $50,000 tab? Yep, the storied NFL franchise.

Jerry Jones and the Cowboys are listed among the creditors seeking payments on debt in bankruptcy court, where Nortel sought to reorganize as a new year began. The Dallas Morning News and other media outlets are reporting in depth about the Nortel binges. Seems Nortel maintained not one but two suites at Texas Stadium to help support their 3,000-employee operation in nearby Richardson.

According to the Dallas newspaper, which cited court documents as its source for the financial details, Nortel spent up to $4,132.41 per game at one suite for the catered goods. Canada media notes that Nortel used suites 449 and 452 and “rang up bills of more than US$8,000 per game against the Eagles and Bengals.”

So what was on the tasty menu?

“The items included baked beans, Skyy vodka, Fritos and dip, and praline pretzels. A themed Thanksgiving meal featured pomegranate cranberry sauce, cognac pumpkin cheesecake and sugar-glazed ham,” the Dallas Morning News said.

Bear in mind, please, that companies the size of Nortel don’t enter bankruptcy proceedings on a whim. The move was planned for months. And Nortel was shedding workers while execs feasted on perks while watching the Pokes – media shorthand for the Cowboys.

Here’s how the Ottawa Citizen described Nortel’s football festivities:

“They dined on Kobe beef sandwiches, baby back ribs and brisket and washed it down with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, Dos Equis beer and Markham Chardonnay from California’s Napa Valley. If there were any non-drinking vegetarians in the crowd at Texas Stadium, they made do with cranberry juice, fresh-sliced fruits and berries, pretzels and potato salad.

“The apple pie with ice cream (US$70) was also popular.”

Sarcastically, the report noted that the Cowboys failed to make the playoffs “so the bills for ribs and apple pie ended with the NFL’s regular season.”

Tums, anyone? No? How about Zantac?