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16 Reasons Why The Dallas Cowboys Are America’s Team

16 Reasons Why The Dallas Cowboys Are America’s Team

by Chris DavisJanuary 2, 2015
How ‘bout them Cowboys!

Dear NFL fans, the Dallas Cowboys are America’s Team.

Deal with it.

Yes, the phrase is contentious. It’s egotistical. At times, it’s been undeserved. But nonetheless, it’s an incontrovertible truth — and in a moment we’ll explain why.

But before we move on, let’s keep this debate in perspective. We’re not discussing cancer, politics, or anything in relation to your mother. We’re talkin’ sports, which — at the end of the day — is just a game. So everyone take a deep breath, and r-e-l-a-x (am I right, Aaron Rodgers?).

1. NFL Films

NFL Films cameraman setting up at Dallas Cowboys' stadium.

Contrary to popular believe, “America’s Team” was not a self-proclaimed moniker. Truth be told, Bob Ryan (a longtime NFL Films executive) first coined the phrase in the Cowboys’ 1978 highlight reel. In the film, the narrator John Facenda opens with the following introduction: “They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, ‘America’s Team’.”

Afterwards, during the Cowboys’ first game of 1979, the team was introduced by a CBS announcer as America’s Team on national television.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Of course, Tex Schramm — the Cowboys president and general manager at the time — capitalized on the nickname. And he’d be a fool if he hadn’t. After all, this may come as a surprise to some of you, but most NFL teams are in the business to make money — and lots of it.

As Bob Ryan more recently pointed out (referring to the debate about America’s Team), “There’s never going to be another Galloping Ghost, or another defensive line that’s the Purple People Eaters. You can’t transfer a nickname. It can’t happen.”

Well, that settles it then.

2. Rivals

Rival fans taunting the Dallas Cowboys.

The mere fact that there’s so much hate for the Cowboys is revealing in itself. According to a recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, the Dallas Cowboys come out on top as being the most least-liked. 23 percent of respondents mentioned the Cowboys as their least favorite team, followed by the Chicago Bears at 13 percent.

What is the reasoning behind this dislike? Maybe it originates from the Cowboy’s willingness to use their disputed nickname freely, but I’d be willing to bet that most NFL fans are smart enough to realize that the name is more of a marketing tool than anything else. And the majority of Cowboys fans that use the name are typically speaking tongue-in-cheek. Anyone getting up in arms over the utterance is taking it a bit too serious.

So again, I ask, why do people love to hate the Cowboys? It’s simple, really: egalitarian views, envy, and bandwagonism. Teams want what the Cowboys have. They want to be equals. And if they can’t have that, then they might as well join in on the ridicule.

Sure, opposing teams and their fans are quick to mock the informal title given to the Cowboys, but they’re just as quick to invent their own labels when it’s convenient. A different franchise comes out of the woodwork every year to declare themselves America’s Team. Ben Roethlisberger went so far as to say the Steelers are “The World’s Team.” The Eagles had to deal with the infamous “Dream Team” assertion. And believe it or not, even the Jacksonville Jaguars get mentioned occasionally.

The envy is apparent. And nobody is envious of failure.

Interestingly, the ongoing exploitation of the subject by the media, fans, players, and owners alike, is further cementing the Cowboys status as America’s Team. As William Hazlitt once said, “When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.”

3. Net Worth

Currency strap holding $5,000 in $100 bill denominations.

For the eighth straight year, the Cowboys are the NFL’s most valuable team with an estimated worth of $3.2 billion, according to Forbes. In fact, they’re the second most valuable team in all of sports; behind Real Madrid (soccer) at $3.4 billion.

You might say Jones made out OK, considering he bought the Cowboys in 1989 for just $140 million.

4. Tom Landry

Statue of Tom Landry at Dallas Cowboys' stadium.

Widely considered one of the greatest coaches of all time, Tom Landry was the first head coach of the Cowboys — a position he held for 29 years, which included 20 straight winning seasons.

During his career, the renowned coach amassed 250 regular-season wins, 20 postseason wins, 13 NFC East titles, five NFC titles, and two Super Bowl championships. He is also credited with inventing the now-popular 4–3 defense.

Needless to say, Landry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990 and the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor in 1993.

5. Stadium

A view of AT&T Stadium from a luxury suite.

At a cost of $1.3 billion, Jerry World (a.k.a. AT&T Stadium) features 3 million square feet of space, pillar-less construction, a maximum capacity of over 105,000 people,  a retractable roof and glass end zone walls, field-level luxury suites, museum-quality artwork, one of the world’s largest HDTVs (stretching from the 23 yard lines on each end), a field that sits 50 feet below ground (giving fans a panoramic view as soon as they enter the stadium), and off-field attractions like a Cowboys Hall of Fame. In addition, the stadium recently had a 130-foot LED “fan experience board” installed, which allows fans to interact and unite via the AT&T Stadium app.

The entertainment mecca isn’t just about football, though. It’s also the location of other major events, such as the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, and the upcoming 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship.

6. Brand

Dallas Cowboys star logo printed on equipment.

There’s no denying that the Cowboys uniform has been able to stand the test of time, and become a classic. But it’s the brand’s logo, the lone star (still standing after 50 years), that brings the team’s status to the next level. Its simplicity, versatility, and symbolic elements make it one of the most easily recognizable designs on the planet.

Futuristic identities will come and go, but the iconic Cowboys brand will endure.

7. Thanksgiving Day Games

Thanksgiving decorations and a football.

Thanksgiving Day is associated with gratitude, feasting, late-night shopping, and family reunions. It’s a wonderful American tradition that has become even more significant with the inclusion of three NFL games throughout the day.

And thanks to Tex Schramm, the Dallas Cowboys are only one of two teams (along with the Detroit Lions) who have perpetual contracts with the league, allowing them to take the field every year on Thanksgiving.

8. Jerry Jones

Jerry Jones at the Dallas Cowboys' training camp.

Say what you want about Jones, but if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there’s never a dull moment as a Cowboys fan. Jerry Jones lives by the expression, “Go big or go home,” and that’s something any entrepreneur can appreciate.

Fairweather fans will point to the fact that the Cowboys have been mediocre for far too long (before this season, anyway), but that doesn’t negate the fact that the team still has far more than its fair share of Super Bowl wins.

Jones (working together with Jimmy Johnson) had his hand in the Herschel Walker trade, and that risk is what propelled the Cowboys to become a dynasty yet again.

It’s also worth noting that the Cowboys have remained in the top half of the league (in win percentage) since 1996 — hard to believe based on the disproportionate criticism. Oh, and, let’s not forget that nearly 15% of Jones’ draft picks end up in the Pro Bowl — the best track record among active GMs.

But perhaps most telling is Jerry Jones’ passion for the game, and his strong desire to win (as witnessed by the checks he wrote in the pre-salary cap era).

9. Multiple Championships

Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl Rings

NFL teams don’t get far without a Vince Lombardi Trophy. Fortunately for the Cowboys, they own five.

Indeed, the Boys are one of three teams with at least 5 Super Bowl wins (tied with the 49ers, and one short of the Steelers).  Dallas is also one of two teams to appear in at least 8 Super Bowls (tied with the Steelers).

If that’s not one hell of an achievement, I’d certainly love to find out what is.

10. America’s Sweethearts

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders performing a routine.

NFL Cheerleaders have existed in some form or another since 1954, whether it be singers, marching bands, professional models, or high school students. But it was the Dallas Cowboys who helped redefine and universalize modern cheerleading in football.

To quote the history directly from the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders:

Tex Schramm, the Cowboys general manager at the time, with his extensive background in television, recognized that professional football had become more than sports – it was sports entertainment. He knew that the public liked pretty girls. . . .


Tex talked the idea over with Dee and the decision was made to expand the established football tradition of sideline cheerleaders into a glamorous, choreographed squad of accomplished dancers that would serve as a counterpoint to the game itself.

Since then, NFL Cheerleaders have evolved even further. They’ve become much more than just “eye candy” and another form of entertainment. Today’s franchise cheerleaders serve as ambassadors; helping teams develop a positive public image, working for charities, and traveling overseas in support of the military.

11. Tex Schramm

Tex Schramm sitting at his desk.

We’ve already mentioned Tex Schramm’s influence on the cheerleaders, the Thanksgiving games, and the nickname, so it’d be treason not to include him here.

Schramm was a marketing genius who had clout throughout much of the NFL’s early history. He was known as the league’s most powerful general manager, voting and making many of the decisions for the Cowboys’ owners. In fact, he played a large role in bringing a franchise to Dallas to begin with (having plenty of friends in the league, including NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle). He even started the negotiations that would eventually lead to the AFL-NFL merger.

Schramm was also responsible for the hiring of Tom Landry and chief talent scout Gil Brandt (who was a pioneer in his own right).

12. Popularity

Fans leaning over barrier and screaming.

Whether you’re going off of Twitter data, Facebook data, television ratings, attendance statistics, merchandise sales, or The Nielsen Sports Media Exposure Index, the emerging trend is clear; the Dallas Cowboys are always ranked in the top 5, frequently ranked in the top 2, and mostly ranked 1.

More impressive, however, is that the Cowboys’ relevance has remained consistent for decades, even through adversity (unlike most teams whose popularity tends to rise and fall with their winning percentage).

Every year, the Super Bowl champion will inevitably gain quite a few fans among 13-year-old girls, but eventually those same supporters will move on to next year’s stud.

13. Doomsday Defense

A lithograph of the Doomsday Defense.

There have been plenty of dominating defenses over the years, but few stayed on their game for as long as the Cowboys’ “Doomsday Defense,” which spanned two different generations (1966–1982).

For four consecutive seasons (1966–1969), the Cowboys allowed the fewest rushing yards in the league — a record yet to be broken. In 1966, the Cowboys set another record with 12 sacks in one game (which they accomplished again in 1985). And in 1968, they only gave up two rushing touchdowns all year.

The Dallas Cowboys actually lost Super Bowl V, but still managed to make headlines when Chuck Howley became the very first defensive player to be named Super Bowl MVP. It also happens to be the only time a losing team has ever had a player win the award.

14. Crazy Ray

Wilford "Crazy Ray" Jones entertaining children at a Dallas Cowboys football game.

We can appreciate the Seahawks’ Guinness World Record, and the Packers’ 955-year wait time for season tickets, but Dallas had Wilford “Crazy Ray” Jones — the ultimate NFL fan.

Before his death in 2007, Jones was known as the unofficial mascot of the Dallas Cowboys, missing only three home games in 46 seasons. He would run through the stadium, entertaining fans with magic tricks, balloon toys, a signature whistle, western outfits, and a hobby horse.

To understand just how much he loved the Cowboys (and people), you’d simply need to listen to the man after he had five heart bypasses, multiple strokes, and an amputated right leg. In an interview with Dallas Observer, Jones commented, “My three favorite things have always been my wife, the Cowboys, and making people happy. Ain’t about to change now.”

Wilford Jones is now enshrined in the Visa Hall of Fans Exhibit at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

15. Texas

The Texas State Capitol building in Austin, TX.

It’s only appropriate that America’s Team be located in a state where football is king; and if you ask coaches and scouts, they’ll tell you Texas is where the throne sits.

Whether it be player rankings, team rankings, the football programs themselves, or a $60 million high school stadium, Texas consistently ranks among the top at all levels. Only California and Florida even come close.

There is, after all, a reason why football movies like Varsity Blues and Friday Night Lights are set in Texas.

16. Legendary Players

Larry Allen giving his Hall of Fame speech.

Last, but certainly not least, it’s the players themselves that have placed the Cowboys at the top — many of them deserving of their own spot on this list.

The legion of Hall of Famers who’ve played for the Cowboys is endless: Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, and Larry Allen, among many others.

There’s no shortage of star power here. And that, good citizens, is why the Dallas Cowboys are, always have been, and always will be America’s Team.