Cowboys: Viva La Vida
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Everyone loves an underdog, and during the Super Bowl era, that means just about every team other than the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys have won five Super Bowls, made eight appearances in our country's biggest game and have the most playoff wins of any team in league history.
Dallas haters point to the arrogance stemming from that virtually unmatched level of success as to why so many football fans love seeing the Cowboys lose.
In Philadelphia, New York and Washington, you'd probably find as many fans who relish a Dallas loss just as much if not more than a victory by their team. That's probably the case in most NFL cities other than Dallas-Fort Worth and its surroundings.
Ill will toward America's Team starts with the players. As much as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Daryl Johnston and Emmitt Smith exemplified ideals the NFL seeks to promote, many other Dallas greats were known as much for their off-field indiscretions as their fine play on it.
Only in Dallas would a player be known as Hollywood. But Thomas Henderson isn't alone when it comes to player hubris. Michael Irvin was nicknamed The Playmaker, not just for making clutch receptions in the most important games but for letting you know when he did. And of course there was Prime Time. Deion Sanders may be the greatest cover cornerback in NFL history, but he's probably one of the league's most reviled players too.
Then there were the coaches. Many mistook Tom Landry's stoicism for arrogance, and former Redskins coach George Allen fueled the rivalry by using that as motivation. The Redskins embraced the persona of the lunch-pail Over-the-Hill Gang and the Hogs, while the Cowboys were automatons, void of emotion or compassion.
Jimmy Johnson was brash from the moment he took over for Landry. Remember he was the coach who called a Fort Worth radio station in 1994 to guarantee a victory over San Francisco in the the NFC championship game. Dallas won, 38-21, en route to their fourth Super Bowl title.
Then came Barry Switzer, who won three national championships at Oklahoma and gained many critics for what some perceived as an outlaw program. The Cowboys were a traveling rock band under Switzer, and their escapades are well documented. Drugs and women were in heavy supply then, but Dallas still won despite those distractions.
Finally there's Jerry Jones, the owner who turned around the franchise when it had fallen into disrepair in the late 1980s. He's been accused of meddling in football operations, namely hiring and firing coaches with impunity and trading draft picks with little regard for the consequences. Now he's built the largest stadium in the league.
The old saying is: "Everything's bigger in Texas." That's true of the Cowboys on just about every level. That includes the outsized personality of the players, coaches and owner to the size of the stadium to the inflated egos of the Dallas fan base.
The sense of entitlement surrounding the Cowboys makes them easy to hate. Last season with a roster full of Pro Bowl players, they failed to make the playoffs. The Cowboys went into many games as if they expected the opponent to wilt simply because of the star on the side of the Dallas helmets.
The era of opponents fearing the Cowboys, who have not won a playoff game since 1996, is long over. Dallas instead has become the butt of jokes for organizational mismanagement, poor coaching and underachieving players. These days it's just as easy to pity the Cowboys as it is to hate them.
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