A week or so back, Jerry Jones shot off his mouth as usual. This time it was about “Beating the Giants Ass” when the teams face off to open the season in September. This of course set off a round of ESPN/Fox Sports/NFL Network/CNNSI talking heads debating or writing about whether his comments mattered or not. For as much airplay as this latest bout of verbal diarrhea garnered, there seemed to be just a many commenters asking “why in the hell does it matter?” The Boys have not been among the upper echelon of NFL teams since the mid 1990’s. Whether it’s the merry-go-round of coaches, overall mediocre drafting, dubious free agent acquisitions (Joey Galloway, Ryan Leaf, Pacman Jones) and outright terrible trades (Roy “The Legend” Williams, nuff said) there has been much more futility than success. How is it that we pay so much attention to a team that by all accounts should get as much airplay as the Seattle Seahawks, a team with a nearly identical winning percentage since 2000? Because the Dallas Cowboys, Americas Team sets the platinum standard for success and everyone knows it.
In 1979, while trying to come up with a title for an NFL Networks recap of the 1978 Dallas Cowboys, a VP at NFL films thought the phrase “Americas Team” would be catchy so he went with it. Since then, the Cowboys have become the NFL’s signature team. Although established in 1960, well after such founding fathers as the Bears, Packers and Steelers. The Boys captured America first by not only winning (20 consecutive winning seasons from 1966-1985), but winning with a panache that turned fans of the NFL into either supporters or haters. The Cowboys made NFL cheerleaders glamorous; they were the inspiration for the best football movie ever and their home field is worthy of screen time in not one but two television show intros (it’s the same show remade but so what). The Cowboys do everything better than the rest of the NFL. You want icons of morality and faith; they gave you Roger Staubach, Tom Landry and Troy Aikman. You want Innovation? How about the Flex defense, iconic stadiums the marketing of aforementioned cheerleaders and revolutionizing the identification of new revenue streams . And of course the Cowboy do bad better than anyone else. From Hollywood Henderson doing liquid cocaine during games, to Michael Irvin and Primetime doing every woman in sight to a freakin “white house” for recreational activities, nobody parties like the Boys.
Now lest you think I am being facetious with this piece, I am a lifelong fan and the fact is that sustained time in the public eye has made the Cowboys the biggest draw in the juggernaut that is the NFL. I believe it’s a combination of of our fascination with the rich (Dallas is the most valuable sports franchise in the U.S. and second in the world according to Forbes Magazine), our appetite for schadenfreude and our appreciation of sustained excellence (they own the record for most consecutive winning seasons). There are teams that burst onto the scene and catch the national eye for a while (Patriots, Saints, Colts) teams that enjoy radical ups and downs in popularity over decades (Packers, Steelers, Bears) but no team has held the nations interest for as long and consistently as Dallas.
In this summer of concussion lawsuits, bountygate and Robert Kraft, I’m pretty sure Mr. Goddell just wants people to focus on football. The fact is that win or lose, the national media, fanatics and casual fans will continue to tune into the Cowboys. This the type of sustainability the NFL needs and if we happen to get more Tony Romo backwards cap sideline time out of it, then so be it.