Dallas Cowboys: « America’s Team » indeed, and that’s not good news
Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of the Dallas Cowboys. I have lived in Texas all my life, have coached and played football all my life, my current residence is about 40 minutes from AT&T Stadium of the Arlington Cowboys, and a sinister feeling of joy awakens my senses every time that that team loses. For the better part of two decades (and counting) the Dallas Cowboys football team was a mediocre team at best. The organization had just three playoff victories while loaded with talent each season. And this 2021-2022 season ends with a Cowboys playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card round. So the question we should all be asking is why should it This be « America’s Team »?
The phrase « America’s Team » was first used as the opening line in a Highlight film of 1978 by John Facenda describing how often the team appeared on television. They were one of the first teams to win three Super Bowls in four years, made eight Super Bowl appearances, and have undoubtedly enjoyed historic success. They won more games than any other team from 1963 to 1983, during which time live television entertainment was on the rise, which also helped popularize the team. So it’s understandable that the fan base has spread across North America. Even at the moment, the team never seems to have a real ‘away’ game as their fans turn up in droves wherever they play. Teams too cheerleaders are recognizable icons for the sport of american football.
But with such love spread across the country for the Cowboys, there’s a lot of animosity going around: a lot of people love to hate the Cowboys. Fans who despise Dallas usually have it their reasons, from personal displeasure with the team’s historic success to the overexposure and sense of entitlement associated with the organization. But without any verifiable research, I suspect most fan hatred for the Cowboys has to do with Cowboys fans.
Every year the organization, led by billionaire tycoon Jerry Jones, adds brilliant, gimmicky players and callers, hypnotizing their fans to blindly drink the proverbial Kool-Aid. Disillusioned, Cowboys fans try to convince everyone around them that every year is somehow « their year » to win the Super Bowl. We’re not sure if they’re trying to convince everyone else or themselves of these promises, because the end result is always the same: disappointment, at least for the past two decades.
Calling the Dallas Cowboys « America’s Team » is certainly disrespectful to 31 other NFL organizations across the country, but I think it’s actually the most accurate nickname for this disappointment of a team. The Dallas Cowboys are America’s best representation on the football field for reasons far beyond football.
The United States of America is a beautiful place, filled with a diversity of people, ideas and cultures. But even referring to the United States of America simply as « America » is a not-so-hidden hint of how ethnocentric we can be. this name, marked by a change in imperialist motives, brings a sense of entitlement and grandeur. There are other countries that exist on the « American » continents: Mexico and Canada in North America; Brazil, Belize and Chile in Central and South America. But of course, most people around the world know which « country » you’re referring to when you say « America » (short for United States of America) just like most people understand who you’re referring to when « America’s Team » is mentioned.
But with these names comes an unwritten responsibility to represent all that the name embodies. America must stand for leadership, liberty, freedom and justice for all. « America’s Team » is supposed to embody unparalleled success, consistency and glory. But when a country or team falls short of these standards, it deserves all the associated criticism. If citizens face unnecessary restrictions on voting, economic inequalitiesAND discrimination of various forms, people outside they are right to criticize our hypocrisy. Likewise, if « America’s Team » can’t win more than three playoff games in two decades (and counting), it deserves similar criticism if it chooses to bear the moniker.
The Dallas Cowboys truly are « the American team ». They have all the tools needed to live up to their hype, yet they remain flawed, overrated, and up-and-coming in what they deliver to their fans and the National Football League. And when they don’t get what they want, they gas light, change of blame and assaulting any potential scapegoat with their empty words or beer cans, as evidenced by Cowboys fans threw the garbage at the officials when the game is over and the team has lost. Worse yet, team leader and quarterback Dak Prescott, the person you hope embodies balance even in defeat, praised the fans for doing so, commenting, « Oh, well, credit to them, then. »
America, in all its grandeur and glory, is truly no different. There is much to be thankful for here. We can express our grievances openly without fear of becoming political prisoners. We get protections to practice our religions freely. And we have the security and time to sit in front of our televisions on the weekends enjoying sports entertainment. But many have convinced themselves that it is the absolute purest place on Earth, a covenant gift from God to all Christians, and undeserving of any criticism, past or present. Every two or four years we convince ourselves that the party/president we elect will make or keep America great, but the results remain the same (at best). And when our leaders should be taking responsibility for their debacles, instead they create villains in everything and everyone, from renewable energy AND academic studiesTO immigrants AND « the other side of the nave.”
To be fair, Cowboys fans and American citizens aren’t the only ones guilty of such rude behavior. Other countries AND fans of other teams it can be just as bad or even worse, and can even make comparisons seem trivial. However, even those foreign countries and other teams do not claim such prestigious titles.
So the Dallas Cowboys are unquestionably « America’s Team, » a disastrously underwhelming organization, reluctant to accept the truth about who they really are. And if we are honest with ourselves, we will see that we are really no different. Just be careful next time you tell a story about yourself. We are inclined to make ourselves the hero or the victim of our own stories, and very rarely the villain. It is a Christian practice to view oneself as the chief of sinners (the bad guy) in hopes of relying more on the grace of Jesus rather than any perceived goodness we obtain on our own (1 Timothy 1:15–16).
Perhaps, if we regularly adopted such a practice, we would see more social progress, working to outdo each other in love. This kind of discipline could help our country draw lessons from our flawed history and unlock the unbridled potential of all that the United States can become. Maybe it might even force the Dallas Cowboys to take off their rose-colored star glasses, look in the mirror all together, and be honest with themselves about who they are. Truly they are, “America’s Team”: broken, flawed, selfish, yet always full of wonder and possibility.