Dallas Cowboys Football
In polls of NFL fans, the Dallas Cowboys consistently are the NFL’s most loved team. Polls show the Cowboys are also the most hated team in the NFL.
The popularity of the team and its long history as a premier NFL franchise is the reason the Cowboys can claim to be America’s Team. But a team with the arrogance to anoint itself the official team of the U.S.A. explains why fans on 31 other NFL despise the Cowboys.
NFL Dallas Cowboys Achievements
The Dallas Cowboys are the most successful team of the modern era of the NFL. From 1966 until 1985, the Cowboys had 20 straight winning seasons in a row. In that period, the Cowboys were in the NFL Championship Game or equivalent NFC Championship Game 12 times, appearing in that game at one point 12 out ot 17 years. The Cowboys made five trips to the Superbowl in that time, becoming Superbowl Champs twice.
During these years, the Dallas Cowboys management team was remarkably solid. Tom Landry was the Cowboys coach for its first 29 years of existence, while Tex Schramm was the Cowboys GM’s throughout the same years. Gil Brandt, who writes NFL scouting reports and online fantasy football advice columns, was the Director of Scouting for the same length of time. For the first 25 years of the team’s history, Texas oilman Clint Murchison was the Dallas Cowboys owner.
Tom Landry’s coaching staff included future coaching greats like Mike Ditka, Gene Stallings and Dan Reeves. This staff was famed for its innovations, such as the shotgun set on offense and the flex defense. The offense featured Hall-of-Famers like Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett, while the defense boasted even more Hall-of-Fame inductees, such as Bob Lilly, Randy White and Mel Renfro. This was the era of the Doomsday Defense.
During these years, Tex Schramm was considered an innovator in scouting players, as well, generally spending more more on scouting than other teams of the era. Tex also wielded tremendous power at NFL meetings. He was not only one of the few non-owners to represent a team at NFL owners meetings, but he and longtime NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle were old friends from their time in the L.A. Rams organization in the fifties. Schramm is said to have championed the idea of the NFL Scouting Combine which is held in Indianapolis every year.
Schramm was also a marketing genius. He created the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and oversaw their rise to icon status. He volunteered the Cowboys to play in the Eastern Division, where his team would play in the New York, Philadelphia and Washington markets twice a year.
When the NFL wanted to add a second Thanksgiving day game opposite the Detroit Lions, Tex Schramm volunteered the Cowboys for duty on the Thanksgiving Game, when no other owners wanted the trouble. And, of course, Texas Schramm was the mastermind behind the term "America’s Team".
Decline in the 1980′s
From 1986 until 1990, the Cowboys became one of the worst teams in the NFL. Murchison had died, while the game appeared to have passed by Schramm and Landry. Schramm’s drafts were increasingly unproductive, while Tom Landry was losing championship games to coaches with new innovations like Bill Walsh and his West Coast Offense and the huge offensive lines used by Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins. By the late 1980′s, the flex defense was considered an anachronism.
Team of the 1990′s
The Cowboys had a resurgence after Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989 and Jimmy Johnson took over as head coach. The Cowboys became the Team of the Nineties, led by the Hall-of-Fame offensive stars known as the Triplets: Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. The Cowboys’ defense was underrated in these years, as they were consistently in the Top 5 of league defense, even achieving #1 Defense status the year of their first trip to the Super Bowl. This new incarnation of the Cowboys were brash and loud. Fans of other teams always thought the Landry Cowboys were arrogant, but it was a quiet arrogance. Not so in the JJ era.
The 90′s Cowboys won three Superbowls in four years. Stars like Michael Irvin and Erik Williams lived large and made the papers for their run-ins with the law. Jimmy Johnson predicted a defeat of the arch-rival San Francisco 49ers in an upcoming championship game, claiming to the interviewer that "You can put that in three inch headlines." When the NFL Dallas Cowboys blew out the Niners, Jimmy Johnson became a DFW sports legend. It’s a testament to Jimmy’s brief 5-year tenure as Cowboys coach that most new Dallas coaches are compared to Jimmy, not Landry.
How ’bout Them Cowboys?
Unlike Landry’s tenure, though, the run of the Jimmy Johnson Cowboys wouldn’t last long. The NFL instituted free agency and a salary cap in the mid-1990′s. As star players left for bigger money with lesser teams in free agency, the NFL’s youngest-ever dynasty team became a shell of its former self. Jimmy and Jerry had a famous falling out, when Jimmy and his assistant coaches allegedly cold-shouldered Jerry Jones at a banquet and an inebriated Jerry supposedly told Jimmy that 500 coaches could coach his team to a Superbowl win. He said even Barry Switzer could do it.
When Jimmy stepped down as Cowboys’ coach a few weeks later, that’s exactly whom Jerry hired. Jerry made his point two years later when Barry Switzer led the team to its fifth and final Superbowl win, but the magic was gone. The Cowboys slowly lost star players to free agency and retirement, and the Cowboys have won only one playoff game since their win in the 1995 Superbowl.
Tony Romo and Terrell Owens
Ten years is a long time for Cowboys fans to endure futility. So when Tony Romo began to throw touchdowns at a record pace for a Cowboys quarterback, the fandom was ready for new era of greatness.
This wasn’t just local Cowboys fans. These were nationwide NFL Dallas Cowboys fans. For instance, in the 2006-2007 season, of the five networks that showed NFL games (Fox, CBS, NBC, ESPN and NFL Network), a Cowboys game was the highest-rated NFL broadcast of the year on all five networks. This occured in a season when the Cowboys were a solid playoff contender, but not a legitimate Superbowl contender.
That season ended with Tony Romo’s fumble of a snap to ice a playoff game in Seattle. Though the Seahawks would have had the ball and a chance to win with a field goal with a minute left, Cowboys fans quickly seized on the fact that the one play had ended the Cowboys’ chances. Media and fans alike spent the entire offseason wondering how Tony Romo would respond to this crunch-time failure.
Romo responded with a record performance, setting a new Cowboys record for touchdown passes in one season and tying the best regular season record in franchise history at 13-3. Romo’s favorite target was Terrell Owen, though Jason Witten had an All-Pro year after a less productive previous season. The Cowboys secured home-field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs and widely were expected to reach the Superbowl.
The Cowboys lost to the New York Giants in the second round of the playoffs, extending the Cowboys playoff drought to 11 seasons. Most Cowboys fans considered the loss to be a choke job, because the Cowboys had swept the Giants in two regular season matchups. This opinion was only softened a little bit when the Giants also dispatched with the 13-3 Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game and the previously unbeaten 16-0 New England Patriots in the Superbowl.
With a second straight playoff disappointment, the Cowboys will enter the 2008-2009 season with the dubious distinction of being the NFC’s most talented team. Many Cowboys fans view this as the year they finally put it all together, while the anti-Cowboy faction will hope for another Cowboys burnout.