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An old-school Cowboys rival brings to mind the ups-and-downs of NFL teams as they chase a Lombardi

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The number 49 plays a big role in today’s look at the Super Bowl chase and NFL fandom.

Classic NFL Photo by Icon Sportswire

Today, I turn 49 years old, which means I’m in the final year before hitting the half-century mark. That mean’s I’ve been through over four decades of Cowboys football, which is just young enough to miss out on Roger Staubach, but old enough to witness the Jerry Jones era in it’s entirety. Coincidentally, I’ve just recently reached 4,900 followers on Twitter.

Maybe 49 is a lucky number? Come to think of it, I want no part of it because when I compile a list of NFL teams I loathe, the San Francisco 49ers sit right near the top of that list. That may just come with the territory of being a long time Cowboys fan as these two teams have quite a history together. For me personally, it goes a bit deeper.

You see, I grew up in California and my fandom was instilled in me at a young age. Where those loyalties lie were mostly determined by geography, but the media had a little to do with it as well. My favorite NBA and MLB teams are the Los Angeles Lakers and San Francisco Giants respectively. The Lakers were on the rise back then as the Magic and Kareem era had begun, but the Giants were terrible. It didn’t matter though as those were the teams that were on television the most so that is what I was exposed to.

Fortunately, the 49ers ‘80s dynasty had not started yet so they didn’t get much air time on Sundays. Instead, it was the team everyone wanted to watch, the Dallas Cowboys, who were always on the TV set. “America’s Team” had just become a thing and I was hooked from the moment I saw that glorious star on their helmets. Sign me up! Had I been just a couple years younger, I would’ve most definitely been a 49ers fan, so I really dodged a bullet on that one.

Still, being raised in California meant I had to live through the all the locals who jumped right on that 49ers bandwagon. To this day, I have friends and family everywhere who love to taunt me whenever San Francisco has a better season than the Cowboys. And it just so happens that this past season was one of those years as the 49ers played their way into the Super Bowl.

What adds to the frustration is that San Francisco was just 4-12 the previous season. This is the third time I can remember that San Francisco came out of nowhere to rise to the top quickly. Not only that, but in each of those moments it looked like the Cowboys were on the cusp of something special, yet somehow they flamed out and those pesky 49ers jumped them and earned their way to the Super Bowl. Take a look at these three years, which just so happen to be the year some notable quarterbacks entered the league, and look how the Cowboys were close to greatness near each of those years. However, in each of those cases, it was the 49ers that somehow got their act together and reached the Super Bowl before the Cowboys did.

Looking back on this, do you think it’s more enjoyable as a fan to go through these significant ups and downs? Clearly, the end game is to win a Super Bowl, and while it’s been longer since the 49ers last Super Bowl win than it has for the Cowboys (by just one year), they have at least made it to the Super Bowl twice since each of these teams big run in the ‘90s. They made it there with Jim Harbaugh and Colin Kaepernick in 2012 and then again with Kyle Shanahan and Jimmy Garoppola in 2019. Meanwhile, the Cowboys were right on par with a mediocre 8-8 season in both those years.

Since 2003, the 49ers have had 11 losing seasons in that 17 year span. Yikes. That’s a lot of unsatisfying seasons of football for their fans. However, in that same time frame, they’ve made it to the Conference Championship game four times, with two Super Bowl appearances.

In those same 17 years, the Cowboys have only had three losing seasons. They’ve made it to the playoffs seven times (compared to San Francisco’s four), yet none of those instances resulted in getting past the divisional round.

So which sequence of events would you prefer to experience as a fan? Keep in mind, neither of these teams have won a Super Bowl in those 17 years. Hoisting the Lombardi would make that an easier decision.


Which type of fan experience do you prefer?

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    Roller coaster of the 49ers
    (126 votes)
  • 66%
    Consistency of the Cowboys
    (246 votes)
372 votes total Vote Now