If you haven't figured it out by now, the NFL is all about the dollars. Profit is the underlying motivation for just about everything the league does, from how it approaches the dangers of traumatic head injuries to its evolving policy on domestic violence. The league is a business first and a sports enterprise second. When there is a way to put more money on the bottom line, everything else can and often is sacrificed. The fan base for teams is no exception if there is any evidence that there is a way to get one more dollar out of a move.
For years now, since the Los Angeles Raiders returned to their original home in Oakland in 1995, there has been no NFL team calling the City of Angels home. That is two decades without an NFL franchise in one of the richest markets in the league, with only New York, home to both the Giants and Jets, even in the same range. After years of trying to find a way to tap back into that, it looks like the deal is all but done. The owners are expected to finalize a decision that may be finalized by the time this is published. It is believed that the plan that is likely to be approved will see the San Diego Chargers and the St. Louis Rams sharing a stadium, with the Oakland Raiders staying put with a likely infusion of cash from the league to improve their own stadium situation (although that is by no means certain at the time this is being written).
Understandably, that is going to break the hearts of the fans in St. Louis and San Diego, and even though Raiders Nation may breathe a sigh of relief, they have to be somewhat dispirited by the way the ownership of the Raiders pursued relocation as well. The rationale given for the moves is the state of the facilities in the cities that are at jeopardy of losing their franchises, but that is just another way of framing the profitability issue. All the owners involved, meaning that of all 32 of the NFL franchises, want to see the increased income that is expected to follow the relocation of teams to LA.
As fans of the Dallas Cowboys, we have been rather unconcerned by this, for good reason. The Cowboys are the flagship franchise of the NFL. No team draws bigger ratings than they do. Win/loss records don't matter. Viewers tune in to see the Cowboys play. The league is not going to mess with that. And Jerry Jones has invested millions upon millions of his own money in his football and entertainment wonderland in Arlington (along with a healthy chunk of taxpayer money that has turned out to be a good investment for the city). The Cowboys are not going anywhere. Despite being located in a suburb, they are an integral part of the civic identity of Dallas. The soon to be opened team facility in Frisco is just further insurance that they are in Dallas for the long haul.
No matter what you think of Jerry Jones and his performance as general manager of the team, you cannot argue that he is not only a brilliant businessman, but that he has gone all in on Dallas as the home for his team. He enjoys being a very big fish in both the NFL pond and in the sizable one that Dallas is. It is probably the number three market in the league. And his marketing savvy has a lot to do with it being the most valuable franchise in the NFL, and, perhaps, the entire sports world. That is a remarkable achievement for what is the most American of all sports. The Cowboys are also one of the leaders in expanding the popularity of the NFL outside of the United States, with a strong following in Mexico and one of the larger contingents of players with foreign roots on their roster.
The strategy of building in place was one Jones followed from the day he bought the franchise, and that was not a sure thing when he did so. The team was bleeding money when he purchased them.Others might have sought out suitors for a move to improve the bottom line, even if just to use as leverage in the Dallas area. It was Jones that turned things around by committing to Dallas. Yes, he got a huge amount of help from Jimmy Johnson in the rapid turnaround on the field, but Jones was the one who gave Johnson the reins to do so. And Jones was the driving force behind the growth of the Cowboys brand into the marketing juggernaut it has become. He also has played a major role in growing the entire league, which has made him one of the most influential owners, with only Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots and league Sith Lord John Mara of the Giants wielding similar influence. Kraft's power is based on the unnatural and possibly unholy dominance of the Pats under Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, while Mara seems to have an untoward hold over commissioner Roger Goodell. Jones' power stems more from a purely monetary basis, which is the one language that is most clearly understood by the entire league.
We can all rest assured that as long as the NFL continues to generate obscene amounts of income, the Cowboys will remain the Dallas Cowboys and not decamp to some other city. The things we all have come to know and love, such as the Cowboys Cheerleaders, and other aspects that inspire more ambivalent feelings, like the spectacle and excess of Jerryworld, will continue. While the recently concluded disaster of a season was painful to experience, we don't have to suffer the angst that a couple of fan bases are already enduring. It is one more reason to be glad that we have become fans of America's Team.