While looking for something to get back in the swing of writing, I turned once again to the proverbial conversation around the BTB virtual offices when I posed a simple question to my fellow front page writers. That question was simply "What makes you a fan of the Dallas Cowboys?"
The answers I received back give a look at what motivates a group of individuals from not only across the United States but around the world to devote a significant portion of their free time to make Blogging The Boys the best place on the web for Cowboys news, opinion, and discussion. Before I go in to the answers that my fellow scribes gave, however; I will begin by telling my own story.
As a little girl growing up in Mesquite, Texas I was raised by parents who were separated. A "Daddy's Girl" from the start, I spent as much time as I could with my Dad, who was a history teacher and football coach. As a result I developed a passion for both subjects at an early age. Many times, hanging out with Dad involved standing on the sidelines or sitting in the bleachers while he coached. It did not take long for some of his knowledge to sink in, and more and more I was drawn to the team that he followed on Sunday. Of course, that was the hometown Cowboys.
Soon a ritual began where we watched the games together, and I even got to stay up late on those occasions where the Cowboys played on Monday Night Football. We even tried to attend one game a year, usually the Thanksgiving Day game, at Texas Stadium. When cancer took Dad from me while I was still in high school, my passion for the team he loved became even stronger and I was determined to learn as much as a could about the game. Little did I realize at the time that twenty some years later I would be regularly covering our beloved Dallas Cowboys as a front page writer for Blogging The Boys.
My colleagues also had some interesting stories to share. As he first shared in a comment to a Fanpost written by BTB member 5Blings One Cool Customer has the most fascinating story I have heard. In OCC's words from 2010:
I was born in 1969 on the South Pacific Island of Yap as the first son of two German Missionaries. A couple of times a year my father would fly to regional mission headquarters on Guam, and on his return usually brought back some gifts for his boys, me and my younger brother. Often, these were comics, and with my father being a very devout man, these were usually Christian comics with titles such as ‘The Cross and the Switchblade’, ‘Gods Smuggler’ or any number of ‘Archie’ comics from the now defunct publisher, Spire Christian Comics.
One of these comic books was "Tom Landry and the Dallas Cowboys". I read it almost daily in the late seventies when I was about 7 or 8, and was very impressed with this sport that I had never heard about or seen, and this team of devout gridiron heroes who appealed to an impressionable Sunday Schooler. "Time out has been called. Coach Tom Landry is talking with his quarterback, Roger Staubach…."
In 1980 our family moved to Columbia, South Carolina for a year, where I attended 5th grade in a place called Leaphart Elementary School. On the first day or two of school, some of my classmates decided to investigate this new German kid, and among other things, asked who my favorite football team was. I of course answered "The Cowboys", and in hindsight I believe that was an acceptable answer for the locals and saved me some trouble down the road. To this day I say silent prayers of thanks that we didn’t move to Philadelphia …
In 1981, my parents moved back to Yap, while my brother and I moved to a boarding school in Tokyo for the rest of the eighties, where we were able to follow football and the Cowboys via Far East Network radio broadcasts and the occasional games broadcast on Japanese TV. In the 90s I moved back to Europe but my football exposure was limited to playoff games broadcast on live TV in the middle of the night – though I’m proud to report that I watched most of the Cowboys playoff games in the 90s.
Sometime in 2002 or 2003 I stumbled over internet feeds that were showing live NFL games, my interest in football was rekindled and I started getting back into the game. A couple of years later, here I am, a German national who discovered the Cowboys as a young boy, maintained his interest over three continents and decades, lived in the states for only one year, never played a snap of competitive football in his life and writes for a Cowboys fan blog. How weird is that?
As Rabblerousr quickly pointed out when I broached the subject, it is interesting to note that OCC's age when he was first exposed to the Cowboys gels nicely with a New York Times story that details how a man's sports loyalties are "hooked" at a very young age. As Rabs was quick to point out, the Cowboys endeared themselves to him as a boy of 11. That was during the 1975 NFC Divisional Round. That was the game that became known for its "miracle ending" when Roger Staubach hit Drew Pearson on THE Hail Mary pass to secure a 17-14 win for the Cowboys over the Minnesota Vikings. Its easy to see how a moment like that could draw in a young man's loyalties. Based on my experiences, it's not just the guys who get drawn in.
It seems that some of the other writers share similar experiences as well. For BTB Managing Editor Dave Halprin it was the memory of there being something special about those guys in the white uniforms who wore a star on the sides of there helmet when seeing them for the first time. For the boss, that epiphany came during a great moment in Cowboys history: Super Bowl VI. It was one iconic image from that game that started Dave down a path that would eventually lead him to the helm of our ship; the photo of a fedora-clad gentleman being carried off the field by those victorious men in white. If you look closely at the image (top of article), you can just see the beginning of a smile on Tom Landry's face. Bonus points: The rest of Dave's family were Redskins fans, always the rebel!
Joey Ickes shares a similar story to Dave. For him the Super Bowl memory is from a much later era; Super Bowl XXX. The moment that solidified his status as a Cowboys fan was watching Larry Brown running down the sideline after making one of his two interceptions... well that is one of the things that brought Joey into the family. The other one is a Super Bowl commercial, the one that featured Deion Sanders being chased by Wile E. Coyote. (As an interesting side note, Wile E. soon gave up chasing Prime Time and turned his attention back to the Roadrunner. What does that say about Deion?)
Last but not least, Tom Ryle added in his own thoughts.
I was always a Cowboys fan, from the moment I first began following pro football. I grew up near Dallas, so those were the games I saw on Sunday afternoons, watching them with my parents. The team was fun to watch, in the days of Dandy Don Meredith, Bullet Bob Hayes, Bob Lilly, Lee Roy Jordan and the like.But looming largest of all was the man in the fedora. His face normally composed, his mind brilliant, Tom Landry was the icon of football. The ultimate coach to me, he was the rock of the franchise for so many years. My love of the Cowboys was forged by his teams. No matter how long I will continue to be a fan, his shadow always lies over all.