The Dallas Cowboys were the talk of the National Football League this season and many have already re-labeled them as America’s Team. This just may be a bit premature and idealistic. The Patriots (4) and Broncos (3) have won as many or more Super Bowls than the Cowboys have won playoff games since 1996 (3). During this same period, the Steelers and the Giants have both won two Super Bowls, while the Seahawks were one play away from winning back-to-back Super Bowls.
Evaluating the league today, I would rather have the current Cowboys roster than have the Patriots, Steelers, Packers or Giants lineups given the youth, salary cap situation and potential for long-term continued success. The Seahawks, Falcons and Giants will be the biggest NFC adversaries for the Cowboys for years to come and they all have their own strengths, particularly the Falcon’s diverse offense, the Seahawks' secondary and the Giants defense.
That all being said, we have not taken back the “America’s Team” crown quite yet because we have yet to win anything. This weekend’s Super Bowl features the Atlanta Falcons (essentially a better version of the Cowboys) and the New England Patriots (a perennial stalwart in February). Unfortunately, the Cowboys will watch from home for the twenty first season in a row.
Sure, the Cowboys are still one of the most popular teams in the NFL. They are also the second-most hated behind the Patriots, if you believe a recent poll. But that is only part of the equation to returning fully to the moniker of America’s Team.
While the meaningful victories have been few and far in between lately, the NFL has clearly benefited from the Cowboys 2016 resurgence as the team played seven prime time games this season. They accounted for six of the eight most viewed games on television this year, including the most viewed Thanksgiving game in history, the most viewed game on Thursday Night Football in Minnesota and the most viewed playoff game this season (including the conference championships). What is even more impressive, the Cowboys participated in the most watched game of the week eight times this season. In addition to TV ratings, merchandise sales have been equally impressive as Ezekiel Elliott and Dak Prescott have the two highest-selling jerseys this season.
This all goes to show that the franchise is booming financially and is the gold standard for business savvy and creativity. If Dallas can start winning meaningful games and the newfound backfield of Dak and Zeke continues to mesmerize defenses, the Cowboys just might become America’s Team again.
The name isn’t the real thing though, what is the real deal is becoming a champion again. The Cowboys aren’t there yet, but they might be getting there. America’s Team will need to win America’s Game. Until then, we’ll just call them the Cowboys.