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How the Cowboys got their historic nickname “America’s Team”

You know the slogan. You’ve heard it thousands of times. But how exactly did it come to fruition?

NFL: DEC 22 Cowboys at Eagles Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Love ‘em, or hate ‘em — this team means something to you. There isn’t an NFL franchise that’s stirred up quite the same impact that the Dallas Cowboys have on modern-day America. They’re everywhere you look, from billboards to neighborhood streets, from advertisements to your Thanksgiving Day television screens. You can’t just avoid them (no matter how hard fans tried to wipe the disdainful stain of 2020 from their minds).

Bringing up your Cowboys fandom in conversation with just about anyone who watches football either solidifies a lifelong friendship, or initiates never-ending disapproval, and just about everyone seems to have an opinion on those good ol’ ‘Boys.

After all, they are the richest sports team in the world (yup, worth more than any soccer club). They’ve got the brash and bold owner, the captivating, and sometimes controversial, players, and the billion-dollar stadium. They own a yearly VIP ticket to primetime television slotting. They sport a timeless history of gridiron greats, and ushered in the modern era of the shotgun offense. Heck, they even elevated cheerleaders to prominent national spotlights during the 1960’s.

They’re “America’s team,” and that’s how most of us have known them our entire lives.

But how exactly did Dallas become the team that represented this country we call the United States?

Sure, they share some similarities to the starry red, white and blue flag that symbolizes America, like the star that dons the side of their helmet, or the blue that drapes across their uniforms.

In actuality though, those features have nothing to do with the classic epithet.

We have Bob Ryan, current Vice President and editor-in-chief of NFL Films, to thank for the calling card:

“I wanted to come up with a different twist on their team highlight film,” Ryan said about his intentions for Dallas’ 1978-79 recap tape.

“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.”

Legendary vocal extraordinaire John Facenda first graced the public’s ears with the phrase upon the video’s release. His opening soliloquy, spoken slow in his trademark bass voice, was unforgettable:

“Cowboy goals are lofty: win the National Football Conference title, and then the Super Bowl. This is usually attainable, for as their fans well know, the sum total of their stars make up a galaxy. Their record is envied, and their innovations — copied down to the last glamorous detail.

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.”

The name stuck, and according to Drew Pearson, caught on “like wildfire.”

It even inspired other sports franchises to endow themselves with the label.

But there can only be one originator, one sole first proprietor. And fittingly enough, they're headquartered at a 91-acre mecca called “The Star.”

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