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NFL: Are the Cowboys still “America’s Team”?

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 23: Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones signs autographs before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on September 23, 2018 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

OPINION

No matter what your sports affiliation is, the term “America’s Team” has always referred to only one team — the Dallas Cowboys.

But why, and where does it stem from?

The Dallas Cowboys are currently sitting at 2-3 with a fairly mixed schedule in the coming weeks against the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Washington Redskins, but as tensions build between team owner, Jerry Jones, and head coach, Jason Garrett, the season can head into a downward spiral quickly.

Last year, the Cowboys saw short success with the introduction of star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, but he would eventually be suspended for six games following a series of appeals after being investigated for domestic violence allegations raised by Elliott’s former girlfriend.

The team would also end the 2017 season 9-7, narrowly missing the playoffs. This would ultimately be seen as a turning point, though, after recording back-to-back winning records since the 2008 and 2009 seasons, due to the team going 13-3 in the year prior.

But dating back to the 2009 season, the Cowboys were sitting at an average .479 win percentage during the regular season from 2010-2015. So why do they still own the title of America’s Team when they’ve barely been average?

That’s what Scott Mitchell from the Helmet’s Off podcast sought to find out.

Where did the title, “America’s Team” come from?

America's Team

1988: Head coach Tom Landry of the Dallas Cowboys watches from the sideline during a game in the 1988 season. Tom Landry coached the Cowboys from 1960 to 1988, leading them to two Super Bowl victories. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)

“I was always curious about why the Dallas Cowboys are America’s team and I asked my agent this question a long, long, time ago,” Scott Mitchell said on a recent episode of the Helmets Off podcast. “He said, that it refers back to an era when the assassination of the [John F. Kennedy] President happened in Dallas, and Dallas had this bad image and there was this huge strategy to try to improve their image.”

Back in the 1960’s, Dallas was quickly contributing to its infamous label as the “City of Hate” due to a series of political-driven incidents that preceded the assassination of Kennedy, as well as the shooting of Kennedy assassin Lee Harvey Oswald on live television.

Many steps were taken in the following years to rebrand the entire city’s image, but none greater than the gradual success of its own football team.

Queue the Dallas Cowboys.

“It was the 1978 Dallas Cowboys. When they did their highlight film through NFL Films, the famous voice of John Facenda opened the introduction by saying, ‘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,'” Mitchell said.

To see the entire NFL Featurette on “America’s Team”, check out NFL Films on YouTube.

Is it time to crown a new favorite?

America's Team

ARLINGTON, TX – OCTOBER 11: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is congratulated by Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys after the Patriots defeated the Cowboys 30-6 in the NFL game at AT&T Stadium on October 11, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

By the end of the 1970s, the Cowboys were the most popular team in the NFL and were appearing on Monday Night Football more than any other team.

“The Dallas Cowboys were on every week,” Mitchell recalled. “I was a huge Dallas Cowboys fan.”

But the success couldn’t last forever.

The Cowboys would begin to slowly decline into the mid-80s and wouldn’t experience that same level of success until the early 90s as Hall of Famers, Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith, would reach their primes.

Now, some fans have begun questioning whether or not the Cowboys should even remain “America’s Team,” but the quest to find a replacement is not that simple.

Multiple people weighed on the topic on social media, including one fan who brought up the New England Patriots

“I mean, think about it. ‘The [New England] Patriots,’ shouldn’t that be America’s team?” Mitchell quoted a fan from Twitter. “They’ve been the dominant team, [with the] Tom Brady era and Bill Belichick.”

A case can be made for the New England Patriots as they’ve won five Super Bowls under QB Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick, but not without controversy.

Chances are if you know a fan of the Patriots, you know a handful of others who will never be able to back the team, let alone crown them “America’s Team,” due to scandals known popularly as Spygate and Deflategate.

The Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers both have cases when you consider Super Bowl wins, but in the world of football, narrative drives viewership, and at the end of the day, it may just be a numbers game.

“I don’t know that the Dallas Cowboys any longer are ‘America’s Team.’ I’ll just tell you right now, the popular teams end up on television.” Mitchell said. “Whoever ends up on television the most, that is ‘America’s team.'”

More to the story

Listen to the full segment on the Helmet’s Off podcast with Scott Mitchell.