Why Are the Dallas Cowboys Called ‘America’s Team?’

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Dallas Cowboys

Of all the current NFL teams in existence, perhaps in history, it’s safe to say that no team is scrutinized more than the Dallas Cowboys. Whether they’re playing well or not, the Cowboys always find a way to stay in the conversation. If the team is winning, people talk about it. If they’re losing, people talk about it.

The Cowboys are essentially the NFL’s version of the New York Yankees in that people either love them or truly can’t stand them. They’re truly one of the most polarizing teams of all time. Their fans tune in to see them win and everyone else tunes in to see them lose. There’s really no indifference when it comes to this particular team.

Ask a non-Arizona Cardinals fan (not sure why I picked them) about that team and they’ll likely say that they don’t have a feeling about them one way or the other. Ask a non-Dallas Cowboys fan about the team and you’re likely to get a different answer. No, not everyone actually thinks that way but it’s certainly a safe bet that it’s the vast majority.

One thing that seems to bug a lot of people is the fact that the Dallas Cowboys continue to be called “America’s Team,” which many think is a nickname that the franchise gave itself. But that’s not the case at all.

When did the Dallas Cowboys join the NFL?

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The Dallas Cowboys first joined the NFL as an expansion team in 1960. The city had previously had the Texans to root for but that franchise packed up and moved to Pennsylvania after just eight games in its lone season in 1952.

Wealthy businessman Clint Murchison Jr. was the Cowboys’ first owner but delegated a lot of the responsibility to the franchise’s first general manager, Tex Schramm, and the team’s first head coach, Tom Landry. The team played its first 11 seasons in the Cotton Bowl before moving to Texas Stadium in Irving following the team’s first two homes games of the 1971 season.

In 1984, Murchison sold the Dallas Cowboys to a group led by H.R. “Bum” Bright, who then sold the team to Jerry Jones in 1989, at which point Tex Schramm and Tom Landry were both fired after nearly three decades.

How many Super Bowl wins does the team have?

The Dallas Cowboys have won five Super Bowl titles. The first two were won with Murchison as the owner in the 1970s. Dallas made five Super Bowl appearances in the decade and won two titles, one following the 1971 season and the second six years later.

The Cowboys then won three Super Bowls in four years in the 1990s under Jerry Jones. Jimmy Johnson was the head coach for the first two and Barry Switzer was on the sidelines for the third. Featuring the trio of quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and wide receiver Michael Irvin, the Dallas teams of the ’90s are considered some of the best teams in NFL history.

Why are the Dallas Cowboys called ‘America’s Team?’

Dallas Cowboys
Dallas Cowboys logo | Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

So why are the Dallas Cowboys considered “America’s Team?” Well, that can actually be attributed to NFL Films.

Bob Ryan, the former editor-in-chief who would later become NFL Films’ Vince President, was putting together the Dallas Cowboys’ 1978 season highlight reel and needed to write some copy for the video’s narration. During the editing process, he noticed that, in road games, there were still a lot of people in the stands wearing Cowboys’ hats and jerseys and T-shirts and such. So he decided right then and there to start calling them “America’s Team,” as he later told the NFL Network.

“I saw all these fans in away stadiums. Hey, they’re the most popular team in the country. How can I use that? Why don’t we call them ‘America’s Team?'”

Bob Ryan

Tom Landry was originally against the nickname but grew to love it and it caught on when the CBS broadcast team began using it at the start of the 1979 season.

So there you have it. That’s how the Dallas Cowboys became known as “America’s Team.” Easy enough, right?