Every time I hear someone say the Dallas Cowboys are "America's Team", I feel like banging my head through a wall. Literally. What's the basis for this prestigious honor to be bestowed on the Cowboys? Was there a vote? What's the connection? Did their uniforms used to consist of the same colors as Old Glory? Was Uncle Sam their mascot at one point? Maybe there’s something I’m missing, which is completely possible being that I wasn’t born until 1976 and really didn’t start paying attention to football until around age 8. But why America’s team? And why the Cowboys? What makes them so special?
I think the first step in addressing this issue is to first realize that there is a distinct possibility that the Cowboy’s actually aren’t America’s team. I know it may seem to be a foreign concept, but stick with me on this. At some point in time, more than likely before the birth of yours truly, the great fans of the NFL were some how brainwashed into this disillusioned concept that a football franchise from Dallas could bear the weight of our great nation as a sponsor for their existence. How could this have happened? I mean, we as American’s do some pretty stupid things from time to time, but we should know better than to be seduced in this way. Sadly, we swallowed this one, hook, line and sinker.
After a little research, I was able to find the culprit. His name is Bob Ryan, and he is the VP and editor in chief of NFL Films. Now, before we get too carried away here, don’t take me the wrong way. I love NFL Films, and would gladly do nothing for the rest of my life but watch every NFL Film ever made until the good Lord decided my time is up. My intent is not to misrepresent Mr. Ryan, but rather to place some well deserved blame for this err in judgment. According to the story, Mr. Ryan coined this phrase after preparing the Cowboy’s 1978 highlight film. He is quoted as saying “I wanted to come up with a different twist on their team highlight film. 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.”
As I stated earlier, I wasn’t much into the football scene in 1978, but am aware that Dallas won their second Super Bowl in 1978 defeating the Denver Bronco’s. Did this somehow plant a revelation into Mr. Ryan’s brain that since the Cowboy’s now owned two Lombardi Trophies that they were qualified to be labeled in such a distinct and overwhelming fashion? The Packers, Dolphins, and Steelers each had two rings prior to Dallas getting their second. Was this just some sort of weird coincidence? Where would we be if Mr. Ryan would have based his observation in a more concrete view of reality? I think it would have gone something like this: “I wanted to come up with a different twist on their team highlight film. I noticed then, and had noticed earlier that since the Cowboys were pretty successful there were many bandwagon jumping fans in the stands wearing Cowboys gear. But then the next year, I saw a lot of those same fans wearing gear from another team. So I decided to call them “Dallas Cowboys: America’s Bandwagon”.
Just think of the possibilities if Mr. Ryan would have thought this through a little bit more. We certainly wouldn’t be in this predicament, and I wouldn’t be running around trying to reverse this gaff. But the real benefit is that the true ownership of the term “America’s Team” would reside with the only franchise worthy enough to carry it.
And whom, might you ask is the real “America’s team”? The answer is quite simple my friends, The Pittsburgh Steelers. And there is no shortage of justification to prove this point. You can go to any Steelers game, in any part of the country, and Steelers Nation will be there, terrible towel in hand. Chanting “here we go Steelers, here we go.” No team in professional sports has more devoted fans than the Steelers. Not even Dallas. The next time you see the Steelers on TV in another city, pay close attention to the fans. You will see an abundance of black and gold.
I have seen pictures of the terrible towel in just about every city in the US. I’ve seen the terrible towel in just about every country in the world. I’ve seen it draped across the Great Wall of China, on top of the Eiffel Tower, in Rome, at the South Pole, and at the peak of Mount Everest. I have personally flown the terrible towel in Thailand, and Japan.
And I have seen the Dallas Star, well, umm, in Dallas.
The Steelers are a blue collar team, and our great nation was built by the work ethic of blue collar men and women. This country is built upon Pittsburgh Steel.
Now I know that some of you may disagree, and that is fine, this is America and we each have that right. I won’t be able to change your minds overnight, but my commitment to the cause is strong. But until then, I will leave you with some words of wisdom from the great Dan Rooney: “We are Pittsburgh’s team, and we feel strongly about that.”
So do I.
By the way, one thing I forgot to mention. If you are a Steelers fan, and are ever in Dallas, you can stop by the Dallas Black and Gold Brigade on the corner of W. Parker and Independence just off of I-635. And if you are a Dallas fan and you are ever in Pittsburgh……… well, you’re out of luck. Just another indication that Steelers Nation is everywhere, even in the Cowboys backyard.
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