I was a 10-year-old boy in 1960, when the team joined the NFL as an expansion team, and I watched and yelled over the years as it became one of the most successful teams in the history of the NFL, as well as in any and all American sports teams. I enjoyed watching the team win 20 consecutive years (a record), win the most playoff games (33 of 58), have the most appearances in NFC championship games, and played in eight Super Bowls. I saw them win three super bowls in a four-year period.
I have watched and loved this team since it was Lamar Hunt’s AFL team named the “Texans.” I watched it go through a series of names: Dallas Steers . . . Dallas Rangers . . . and ultimately it became the Dallas Cowboys. I watched on as the original Cowboy owners, Clint and John Murchison, along with a group of minority investors, bought Lamar Hunt out, hired Tex Schramm as the General Manager, Gil Brandt as Player Personnel Director, and Tom Landry as the head coach. I watched on as this trio proved to be the stuff from which legends are made. I watched on over the great years as they built Texas Stadium, installed the Cowboy Cheer leaders, and built the team up to become the highest valued sports franchise in the history of the world . . . and evolved into “America’s Team!” The Cowboy’s were my team . . . Hey, I was a Texan!!
The team’s first stadium was the Cotton Bowl, and that first year they went 0 – 11 – 1. But that was OK, I just knew it would change! Then the next year, they picked up one Bob Lilly from TCU in the draft, and players such as Don Perkins, Don Meredith, Chuck Howley, Lee Roy Jordan, and Mel Renfro were signed and began to make the team competitive. Then these football masterminds added Dan Reeves and Bullet Bob Hayes. My friends and I watched and yelled in ’65 as the team went 500 at 7 & 7, and in again in ’66 as they went 10 – 3 and 1 . . . their first winning season! I proudly watched as they appeared in the NFL Championship game. Then, in ’67, they finished at 9 & 5, and that year met the Packers in Super Bowl II in Green Bay. I, along with my brothers and pals, sat on the floor and watched the game that would become known as “The Ice Bowl.” It was the coldest game in NFL history with a chill factor of something near -40 degrees, and we shivered as we looked on at our heroes. That game forever changed the location of Super Bowl sites. I remember later reading about Jethro Pugh removing his shoes after the game and some of his toes actually breaking off inside the shoes!!
From that time all the way up through the mid to late 1980’s, I, along with every Cowboy fan, always expected our team to make the playoffs. I had a son, Chris, in 1980, and I suspect the only clothes he wore for the first couple of years proudly displayed the Cowboy star! I taught that dude to be a Cowboy fan . . . and for a period of almost 20 years I took him to many games in Texas Stadium to see our team play . . . many of those times I carried him on my shoulder so he could see over the crowd! I loved to hear him “Oooh and Ahh” at the sight of that great stadium with the large hole in the roof. I took him many times when I simply could not afford to do so — but hey, this was my son and Dallas was our team.
I believe it was about ’88 when the Cowboys had a 10-game losing streak, and I along with a bunch of other Texans, suffered great heart-ache . . . which would turn to major heart-burn over the next few years. This would prove to be the beloved Tom Landry’s last year. Soon after, Bum Bright sold the team to a goofy dude from Arkansas, named Jerry Jones, and I was amazed that a danged hillbilly now owned the World Class Dallas Cowboys! I had visions of the Beverly Hillbillies involved with my beloved Cowboys! Jones’ first act as the new owner was to hire University of Miami coach, Jimmy Johnson, and there were some horror stories told about him! Jones’ next act was to fly to Austin, track down Tom Landry on a golf course and publicly fire him! That evil and disrespectful deed brought considerable criticism from all over the Nation. Yet, Johnson drafted Troy Aikman as Quarterback, and then traded the Cowboy’s only legitimate player, Hershel Walker, to the Vikings for five veteran players and eight draft choices. Soon, he added Daryl Johnson (The Moose”), Mark Stepnoski, Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Darren Woodson, and they joined Michael Irvin, Nate Newton, Ken Norton, Jr. and Mark Tuinei, Jay Novacek, and Charles Haley. Then in 1991, the march toward the glory that had faded away began all over again . . . and the Cowboys ended up 11 and 5. The team went on to win the Wild Card game, only to lose to the Lions in the Championship game, but the Cowboys were back in the hunt again!!
Then it happened in a big way in 1992 as they went 13 & 3 and displayed the best defense the NFL had seen in a number of years. This was the year that they beat the 49ers and avenged our ’81 NFC Championship loss to them. We then soundly routed the Bills in the Super Bowl. There were a number of awards and records for and amongst the players, but Jimmy Johnson became the first coach to win both a Super Bowl as an NFL coach and a National Championship as a college coach. Sadly, the great injustice to the once great Tom Landry was overlooked . . . but not totally forgiven. Nonetheless, Cowboy fans were once again happy, satisfied people, and we had a coach who could produce again!
The next season, we went 12 & 4, and again won the Super Bowl! In spite of the great success, two old enemies of success . . . liquor and human pride/foolishness came into play as Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson had a dispute in a bar one evening over who was most for the team’s success. Jerry Jones declared that he “could take Barry Switzer” and match anything Johnson had done!! Johnson retired and exited stage left, and Jones was not able to do as claimed!
Under Switzer (with the same basic team Johnson had built) the teams went 12 & 4 again, and lost to the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. With a number of key injuries, most Cowboy fans knew the hand-writing was on the wall, and the message seemed troubling. In spite of that sense of impending doom, the team managed to go 12 & 4 again, and to once again win the Super Bowl!
Then it began to crumble in ’96 with some career-ending injuries and criminal/drug/assault charges and a series of off-field problems. Hence the old joke, “What do you call a drug ring in Dallas?” . . . the answer: “A huddle.” The next year they would record a poor 6 & 10, and Barry Switzer was arrested in an airport on a weapons charge. The Cowboys collapsed, Switzer resigned, and the future turned sour. A series of poor coaches would follow, including Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, and too-old-and-too-tired: Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips. Every one of them proof-positive that GM Jerry Jones was a nut, knew little about an NFL team, and even less about the game . . . and added to that, he is a difficult and contrary buzzard to work with.
Then with a combination of Jerry Jones, Jason Garrett as head coach, and Tony Romo as QB, the team began a new series of hit and misses. Showing occasional flashes of potential greatness, but only at times . . . and then self-destructing and causing confusion, frustration, and humiliation for me as a fan. Romo would play terrific for 3 and 1/2 quarters, then manage to toss an interception or fumble to lose the game. During this frustrating era, Jerry Jones would construct the amazing new stadium and add to the confusion.
I remained a Cowboy fan . . . but now I had become a fan with an attitude . . . and a strong dislike for the darn Hillbilly, a distrust of any and all things he said and did and, in general, a negative sense about the team. All the while, Chris tugged at me, pulled on me, encouraged me, pleaded with me . . . and finally yelled at me!! He wanted his old Cowboy-loving Dad back . . . and he became super defensive about all things Cowboy. He insisted that the return to glory was forthcoming . . . but I refused to see it!
Chris and I would spend a number of years at odds over the Cowboys . . . me the old fan . . . and him as the new-generation fan. Me, totally disgusted by anything and everything that damaged the Cowboys image and integrity . . . him, simply doing analysis of the current team and its talent and capabilities.
Somehow, things have taken a serious and immediate turn for the better . . . and the Cowboys appear to be on a roll! They opened the season on September 7 by losing to the 49ers, but have since gone 4 & 0, and now stand at 5 & 1, and they honestly looked really strong yesterday as they soundly beat the Super Bowl defending Sea Hawks in Seattle, 30 to 23, and the score lies and suggests the game was closer than it was. The Cowboys out-played them through the entire game . . . and the Hawks failed to make a first down in the 2nd quarter!
The Boys are back . . . and I am back! I still have a strong dislike for the Hillbilly, a number of question marks about Jason Garrett, and some concerns over Romo . . . and I also have a remote control with a mute button, in my hand!
Thanks for putting up with me, Chris, but you need to know that I am an old, proud Cowboy fan . . . who was blessed to live through the glory years . . . and my threshold for toleration of Jerry Jones and his madness is just very low. I am thrilled to be able to share Cowboy things with you again! Just bear in mind, that you will need to be patient with me for a while . . .
“How about them Cowboys?” Is Chris right . . . Is a Super Bowl really possible?
The Cowboys and the Spurs both??????
It sure is great to be a Texan!