The Dallas Cowboys are a professional American football team in the Eastern Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). They are based in the Dallas suburb of Arlington, Texas. The team is scheduled to play its home games at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington beginning in the 2009 season. The Cowboys joined the NFL as a 1960 expansion team. The team's national following might best be represented by its NFL record of consecutive games in front of sold-out stadiums. The Cowboys' streak of 160 sold-out regular and post-season games began in 1990, and included 79 straight sellouts at their home, Texas Stadium, and 81 straight sell-outs on the road.
An article from Forbes Magazine, dated September 10, 2008, lists the Cowboys as the most valuable sports franchise in the United States, and second in the world (behind the United Kingdom's Manchester United), with an estimated value of approximately $1.612 billion, ahead of the Washington Redskins ($1.538 billion) and the New England Patriots ($1.324 billion). They are also one of the wealthiest teams in the NFL, generating almost $269 million in annual revenue.
The Cowboys have been one of the most successful teams of the modern era (since 1960). The team has won five Super Bowls and eight conference championships. The Cowboys have more victories (41) on Monday Night Football than any other NFL team; the Miami Dolphins are second with 39 and the San Francisco 49ers are third with 38. They hold NFL records for the most consecutive winning seasons (20, from 1966 to 1985) and most seasons with at least ten wins (25). The team has earned the most post-season appearances (29), a league record of 56 post-season games (winning 32 of them), the most division titles with 20, the most appearances in the NFC Championship Game (14), and the most Super Bowl appearances (8). The Cowboys also played in two NFL championship games before the NFL's 1970 merger with the American Football League. The Cowboys became the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in just four years (a feat that has been matched only once since, by the New England Patriots). They are second only to the Pittsburgh Steelers with most Super Bowl wins (tied with the San Francisco 49ers with five each). The Cowboys' success and popularity has earned them the nickname "America's Team". Before the 2008 season an ESPN's Page 2 statistical comparison of all teams since the AFL-NFL merger had the Cowboys narrowly beat out the Pittsburgh Steelers for the top of its Ultimate Power Ranking.
Main article: History of the Dallas Cowboys
Originally, the formation of an NFL expansion team in Texas was met with strong opposition by Washington Redskins owner George Preston Marshall. This came as little surprise to the would-be Dallas team owners, Clint Murchison, Jr. and Bedford Wynne, for Marshall's Redskins had enjoyed a monopoly as the only NFL team to represent the Southern States of the US for several decades. To ensure the birth of their expansion team, the men bought the rights to the Redskins fight song, "Hail to the Redskins" and threatened to refuse to allow Marshall to play the song at games. Needing the song, which was a staple for his "professional football team of Dixie," Marshall capitulated, and the city of Dallas, Texas, was granted an NFL franchise on January 28, 1960. This early confrontation between the two franchises was an omen of what would become one of the more significant rivalries in the NFL, which continues to this day.
1960s and 1970s
The team was first known as the Dallas Steers, then the Dallas Rangers before settling on the name "Cowboys" for the 1960 season. The new Dallas owners, Murchison and Wynne, subsequently hired Tex Schramm as general manager, Tom Landry as head coach, and Gil Brandt as player personnel director. The team acquired players from existing franchises though in 1960 NFL Expansion Draft. The Cowboys began play in the Cotton Bowl in 1960 and finished winless in their first season with a record of 0–11–1 (with a tie vs the New York Giants). They made their first regular NFL draft selection the following year, choosing Texas Christian University defensive tackle Bob Lilly with the 13th pick in the draft.
During the early and mid 1960s, the Cowboys gradually built a contender. Quarterback Don Meredith was acquired in 1960, running back Don Perkins, linebacker Chuck Howley and Lilly were added in 1961, linebacker Lee Roy Jordan in 1963, cornerback Mel Renfro in 1964, and wide receiver Bob Hayes in 1965. In 1966 the Cowboys posted their first winning record and playoff appearance (10–3–1, beginning an NFL-record 20 consecutive winning seasons), and sent eight players to the Pro Bowl, including Hayes, Howley, Meredith, Perkins, Lilly and Renfro. The 1966 and 1967 seasons ended with dramatic losses of 34–27 and 21–17 respectively to the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship Game, the latter loss referred to as the Ice Bowl game, the coldest weathered professional sports game in US history. The 1966 season would mark the start of an NFL-record-setting eight consecutive postseason appearances (The Cowboys later broke their own record with nine consecutive trips to the playoffs between 1975–1983).
The Cowboys established themselves in the Dallas community. The team competed for the affections of Dallasites with Lamar Hunt's Dallas Texans of the American Football League (AFL). Although the AFL's Texans had a much better record than the NFL's Cowboys, in 1963 Hunt moved the Texans to Kansas City, Missouri, where they became the Chiefs. By 1969, ground was being broken on a new stadium for the Cowboys to replace the Cotton Bowl. Texas Stadium in Irving, a Dallas suburb, was completed during the 1971 season.
Although Meredith and Perkins retired after the 1968 season, important new players joined the organization during the late 1960s and early 1970s, including offensive tackle Rayfield Wright in 1967, quarterback Roger Staubach, tight end Mike Ditka, and running back Calvin Hill in 1969, and cornerback Herb Adderly, and safeties Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters in 1970. Led by quarterback Craig Morton, the Cowboys made it to their first Super Bowl, a mistake-filled Super Bowl V, where they lost 16-13 to the Baltimore Colts on a field goal by Colts' kicker Jim O'Brien with five seconds remaining in the contest. The Cowboys moved from the Cotton Bowl to Texas Stadium in week six of the 1971 season, won their last seven regular season games, and advanced through the playoffs to defeat the upstart Miami Dolphins, 24-3, in Super Bowl VI, which remains the only Super Bowl in which a team held its opponent without a touchdown.
During the rest of the 1970s, the Cowboys grew in popularity, not just in Dallas, but nationwide. The Cowboys also continued to add new talent to their roster, including defensive ends Harvey Martin and Ed "Too Tall" Jones, wide receiver Drew Pearson, and defensive tackle Randy White and running back Tony Dorsett. The fresh influx of talent helped the Cowboys win Super Bowl XII and make appearances in Super Bowls X and XIII. Dallas ended the 1970s as the winningest NFL team of the decade.
1980s and 1990s
Danny White became the Cowboys' starting quarterback in 1980 after quarterback Roger Staubach retired. White led the Cowboys to the playoffs five times and won two Division Championships. However, despite playing in the NFC Championship Game three consecutive years (1980–1982), the Cowboys did not reach the Super Bowl during the 1980s. In 1984, H.R. "Bum" Bright purchased the Dallas Cowboys from Murchison. As the Cowboys suffered through progressively poorer seasons (from 10–6 in 1985 to 7–9 in 1986, 7–8 in 1987, and 3–13 in 1988), Bright became disenchanted with the team. During an embarrassing home loss to Atlanta in 1987, Bright told the media that he was "horrified" at Landry's play calling. Bright sold the Cowboys to Jerry Jones on February 25, 1989.
Jones immediately fired Tom Landry, the only head coach in franchise history, replacing him with University of Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson. With the first pick in the draft, the Cowboys selected UCLA quarterback Troy Aikman. Later that same year, they would trade veteran running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for five veteran players and eight draft choices. Although the Cowboys finished the 1989 season with a 1–15 record, the worst record since the team's inception, "The Trade" later allowed Dallas to draft a number of impact players to rebuild the team.
Johnson quickly returned the Cowboys to the NFL's elite. Skillful drafts added fullback Daryl Johnston and center Mark Stepnoski in 1989, running back Emmitt Smith in 1990, defensive tackle Russell Maryland and offensive tackle Erik Williams in 1991, and safety Darren Woodson in 1992. The young talent joined holdovers from the Landry era such as wide receiver Michael Irvin, guard Nate Newton, linebacker Ken Norton Jr, and offensive lineman Mark Tuinei, and veteran pickups such as tight end Jay Novacek and defensive end Charles Haley. In 1992 Dallas set a team record for regular season wins with a 13–3 mark. In January 1993, only three years after their 1–15 season, the Cowboys earned their first Super Bowl trip in 14 seasons. Dallas crushed the Buffalo Bills 52–17 in Super Bowl XXVII, during which they forced a record nine turnovers. Johnson became the first coach to claim a National Championship in college football and a Super Bowl victory in professional football. The following season, they again defeated the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVIII, 30–13. The Cowboys sent a then-NFL record 11 players to the Pro Bowl in 1993: Aikman, safety Thomas Everett, Irvin, Johnston, Maryland, Newton, Norton, Novacek, Smith, Stepnoski, and Williams.
Only weeks after Super Bowl XXVIII, however, friction between Johnson and Jones culminated in Johnson stunning the football world by announcing his resignation. Jones then hired former University of Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer to replace Johnson. The Cowboys finished 12-4 in 1994, but missed the Super Bowl by losing to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, 38-28. In 1995, Jones lured All-Pro cornerback Deion Sanders away from San Francisco, and Dallas once again posted a 12-4 regular season record. The Cowboys defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 at Sun Devil Stadium in Super Bowl XXX for their fifth world championship. Switzer joined Johnson as the only coaches to win a college football National Championship and a Super Bowl.
Yet the glory days of the Cowboys were again beginning to dim as free agency, age and injuries began taking their toll. The Cowboys went 6-10 in 1997, with discipline and off-field problems becoming major distractions. As a result, Switzer resigned as head coach in January 1998 and former Steelers offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was hired to take his place. Gailey led the team to a 10-6 record in 1998 and an NFC East championship, but was let go after an 8-8 playoff season in 1999, becoming the first Cowboys coach who did not win a Super Bowl. Nonetheless, the Cowboys posted more wins in the 1990s than any other NFL team.
Defensive coordinator Dave Campo was promoted to head coach, but he could only post three consecutive 5-11 seasons. Many fans and media were beginning to blame Jerry Jones for the team's ills, noting that he refused to hire a strong coach or general manager, preferring to hire coaches who did not want to be involved with personnel duties so that Jones himself, as GM, could manage them. Jones then lured Bill Parcells out of retirement to coach the Cowboys. The Cowboys became the surprise team of the 2003 season, posting a 10-6 record and a playoff berth by having the best overall defense in the NFL. However, during the next two seasons, the Parcells-led Cowboys missed the playoffs. The Cowboys then finished an up-and-down 2006 season with a 9-7 record and a playoff appearance, but after a last second loss in the Wild Card Game against the Seattle Seahawks, Parcells retired and was succeeded by Wade Phillips. In his first season as head coach, Phillips and his coaching staff led the franchise to its best seasonal start ever, a conference-best 13-3 record, and the franchise's 16th NFC East championship title, the most of any team in that division. (Washington, New York and Philadelphia are tied for second with seven championships each.) The Cowboys were eliminated by the (eventual Super Bowl Champion) Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs, the first NFC #1 seed to so falter since the 1990 playoff re-alignment.
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