It has been a season of discontent for fans of the Dallas Cowboys. As things have unraveled for the team, there has been nothing much to cheer us up. Right now, we are just waiting for the string to play out with only the slimmest of chances for the team to salvage things this year. Let's face it, we could all use something to cheer us up.
The NFL Network may have just the thing for you. They are airing a two-part look back at the rivalry between the Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers. During the 1970s and again during the 1990s, the two teams fought some epic battles for NFL supremacy. Although the recent history of both teams has been rather less than glorious, once they met with regularity to determine who would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
The documentary is presented in two parts, the first aired tonight, December 15th, at 8 pm ET, but you can catch a replay on Friday the 18th at 10 PM. The second will follow the Saturday night game between the Cowboys and the New York Jets. Narrated by Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe) and Sam Elliot (one of the great cowboy actors of all times), it looks at not only the great games, but also the large impact both teams had on their home cities. For both cities, their respective teams did much to erase negative images and became sources of pride at times when they were badly needed.
Featured in the films are a star-studded list of players whose names are etched in NFL history: Roger Staubach, Joe Montana, Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Emmitt Smith, Jerry RIce, Daryl Johnston, Charles Haley, and the owners of the two teams in the latter part of the rivalry, Jerry Jones and Eddie DeBartolo, along with many others. But the real story is how two cities with severe image problems at the time saw perceptions transformed by the unexpected agency of their pro football franchises. It is a study in the positive role a game can play in society. Whether or not you agree with the idea, we often use our identification with a favorite sports team to lift us from our day to day problems and concerns. Escapism is a sometimes vital release from stress and worry. For Dallas and San Francisco, two of the great pro football teams provided just that.
While this season has not done much to instill pride in either fan base, those large and loyal groups are rooted in the glory years. This presentation is a way to relive that, and to perhaps instill a little hope for the future. After all, if the two teams could overcome so much in the past, what is a bad season in the big picture?