The NFL is known for its rich tradition and history. A big part of this tradition involves its great franchises, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, and of course, the New England Patriots. Another one of the most famous franchises is the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are colloquially known as “America’s team.” But does this nickname still ring true?
The history of the Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys rose to prominence in the 1970s when they earned the title of “America’s Team,” winning Super Bowls in 1971 and 1977. They were led by head coach Tom Landry and quarterback Roger Staubach. While the team didn’t win a championship in the ’80s, they made many playoff appearances behind running back Tony Dorsett.
The Cowboys reached their low point in the late ’80s. Then, several things happened to turn their fortune around:
- Jerry Jones bought the team in 1989.
- Jones hired Miami Hurricanes head coach Jimmy Johnson.
- The team selected Troy Aikman with the first pick in the 1989 NFL Draft.
- They traded running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for multiple draft picks.
The flurry of picks allowed the Cowboys to restock the roster with talented players like Emmitt Smith. Aikman, Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin created one of the most fearsome trios in NFL history. The Cowboys won three Super Bowls in the 1990s — two back to back over the Buffalo Bills, and one over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
How the Cowboys have fared in recent years
It’s been a while since the Cowboys achieved success like they saw in the ’70s and ’90s. They’ve experienced several winning stretches — head coaches Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips got them to the playoffs during the 2000s — but no championship runs.
In the last decade, head coach Jason Garrett has led the team. While the Cowboys’ run-first philosophy with Ezekiel Elliott has yielded great regular-season success in recent years — they won NFC East division titles in 2016 and 2018 — postseason success eludes them. It’s unclear what they should do differently. They may simply need a change at head coach.
Are the Dallas Cowboys still America’s team?
Since being “America’s Team” is such an ill-defined concept, it’s hard to say whether the Cowboys still, in fact, live up to the moniker. If being “America’s Team” means they’re the most successful, the answer is definitely no. The Cowboys have only had one decade, the ’90s, when they outperformed every team. Other than that run and the 1970s, they’ve had no championship success.
If on-field results are the measuring stick, the only answer to the question is the New England Patriots. They’ve put together a dynastic run in the last two decades, winning six Super Bowls during that time.
If the question is popularity, the answer is closer to yes, though not definite. The Cowboys certainly garner more attention than other teams; they’re the most-searched NFL team by a long shot. They’re also tied for the most primetime TV appearances in 2019. Whether they still have tons of fans nationally, they clearly get a lot of eyeballs on them during the season.
The bottom line is that the question of whether the Cowboys are still America’s Team probably matters little to the front office, coaching staff, and players themselves. The only title they want is “Super Bowl champions.”