God bless America. On this Fourth of July, all Americans should be thankful for the great country of which we are all blessed to be citizens. I intend to celebrate today by enjoying family, food, patriotic movies, and fireworks.
That being said, I want to talk about football as well, specifically about America’s Team. What drives the constant flow of criticism and the absolute demand for perfection? The answer is the legacy of being called America’s team.
How the Dallas Cowboys become America’s team is a story most fans could tell and there are many possible reasons for how the Cowboys have earned such a prestigious badge.
After winning their second super bowl the Cowboys were dubbed “America’s team” by Bob Ryan, now Vice President of NFL films, during the team’s 1978 highlight film.
Ryan opened the film saying, “They appear on television so much that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, ‘America’s Team.’”
So the legacy began. Fans from across the nation flocked to stadiums to root and cheer for the Cowboys making them the most popular team in football. Why did people love the Cowboys?
At the time they had only won two super bowls in 1972 and 1978, yet something about the team was extremely appealing to the American public.
Perhaps it was the stars on the helmets, or the flash and class that the team had on the field. Or maybe it was Tom Landry with his fedora hat and expressionless face.
Or maybe it was due to the fact that the Cowboys were willing to draft Roger Staubach and then wait for him to serve his time in the U.S. military before he even stepped on the field. If you don’t find yourself admiring a man who served his country and then returned to become a Super Bowl quarterback, check your patriotic pulse.
However, I think that it is the story of the Cowboys that attracted the fans. How they started as an expansion team in 1960 with a whole lot of players that nobody else wanted on their team. How they built themselves into a playoff team by 1966.
Led by Tom Landry the team was Super Bowl champions by 1972, and Dallas was quickly on its way to becoming America’s Team.
Players, coaches and owners have changed, but the Cowboys are still the Cowboys and Cowboys Nation stretches from coast to coast. I could travel to any of the cities of this great nation and find Cowboys fans gathering in their living rooms to watch the ‘Boys play on Sunday afternoons.
That is why, as this new season unfolds, this Cowboys team will find itself constantly under the microscopic lens of the NFL media and fan base, because they have a legacy to fulfill and protect.
The players all know that. They all understand the added pressure that the star on the silver helmet brings to a football player. The stars have aligned five times before, and perhaps this is the year that they will again.