America’s Team, now and forever - maybe? Other teams have made their claims to the crown, the Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots among them, but when it comes to the metrics of popularity, the Dallas Cowboys always win out.
How did the Cowboys become America's Team? A short history lesson.
The nickname originated with the team’s 1978 highlight film, where the narrator (John Facenda) opens with the following introduction:
They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, “America’s Team”.
Bob Ryan, now Vice President and editor-in-chief of NFL Films, coined this for the Cowboys while preparing and editing the team’s 1978 season highlight film. He was quoted as saying:
I wanted to come up with a different twist on their team highlight film. I noticed then, and had noticed earlier, that wherever the Cowboys played, you saw people in the stands with Cowboys jerseys and hats and pennants. Plus, they were always the national game on television.
Ryan told the NFL Network for their Top Ten Nicknames show:
I saw all these fans in away stadiums. Hey, they’re the most popular team in the country. How can I use that? Why don’t we call them “America’s Team”?
During the Cowboys’ first game of the 1979 season, a nationally televised game against the St. Louis Cardinals (Dallas won 22-21), the television announcer for CBS introduced the Cowboys as America’s Team and the name stuck.
There’s a very interesting video discussing the process of the America’s Team nickname.
The Cowboys manage to keep the crown even though their success from the 90s dynasty has disappeared. In fact, there is this unfortunate stat:
In the past 24 seasons, only Dallas, Detroit and Washington have failed to reach the NFC Championship Game.
That is quite the dry streak for the Cowboys, once fixtures in conference championship games and Super Bowls. Still, the Cowboys fanbase remains as strong as ever.
[The Cowboys] annually have the highest regular-season ratings, which is why the networks fight over them. In 2019, 12 of the 50 most-watched programs on television involved the Cowboys.
That is remarkable. 12 of the top 50 TV programs involve the Cowboys in 2019. That is why this streak, where the Cowboys have five prime time games, continues this season.
Fun fact: the #Cowboys' haul of five prime time games extends their streak of consecutive seasons with five-plus prime time games to 15.— Mark Lane (@therealmarklane) May 8, 2020
No one else in NFL history can claim that. No one.
The Cowboys not only dominate the TV ratings, but they are a financial juggernaut. Last year, they were once again ranked as the most valuable sports franchise in the world at $5 billion, edging out the New York Yankees ($4.6 billion)
But they are one of the few in that top-tier who haven’t won big recently.
As you can see, of the top 10 teams ranked by Forbes, only the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Dodgers are experiencing longer title droughts than the Dallas Cowboys.
We’d all like for the Cowboys to remain popular AND win some championships again. But since they haven’t been doing that, what is the secret to their popularity? Stephen Jones weighs-in.
“Well my hat’s off to the original owners, the Murchisons [and then] the Brights,” Jones said. “My hat’s off to Tex Schramm and Tom Landry. My hat’s off to Roger Staubach and Bob Lilly. I just think they did such a great job early on with those long extended periods of playoff appearances, Super Bowl wins, Super Bowl appearances. Obviously, great personalities. Captain America, who went to the Naval Academy, Roger Staubach, I think his bust is still the most visited bust in the Hall of Fame in terms of what people have interest in. Certainly they set the foundation. Then, of course you know my father Jerry is nothing short of Barnum and Bailey in terms of not wanting to drop the ball and leave the team in a better place. He certainly has really led our organization in terms of really not wanting to drop the ball there whether it’s the coaches; whether it’s the coaching staff; whether it’s the players. Hiring a Deion Sanders. Bringing him in to play for the Cowboys. I just think we do make it interesting.”
What’s your call, BTB? If the Cowboys don’t start winning some championships again in the near future, will their popularity begin to fade?