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Only Hatred of the Dallas Cowboys Can Unite This Sad, Torn Nation

‘America’s Team? What gave them the right to be America’s Team?’ 

The collective national enmity for the Dallas Cowboys was actually born out of national tragedy. “After John F. Kennedy was assassinated there, Dallas was immediately painted as ‘The City of Hate,’” explains Joe Nick Patoski, a reporter in Texas and author of the book The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America. “And what’s the face of this city in pain? Well, that same year [1963], the Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City, and now the only professional franchise in Dallas was the Cowboys. When they went on the road, the team got booed, and cars with Texas plates in the parking lot would get keyed. They were hated for what had happened.”

Still, JFK’s assassination isn’t the only reason for the mass loathing of Dem Cowboys. Myriad other characters and events helped add layer after layer after layer of enmity, animosity and hostility, which now stretches nearly six decades.  

‘America’s Team? What gave them the right to be America’s Team?’ 

The Cowboys’ first president and general manager, Tex Schramm, is now considered one of the most powerful general managers in NFL history. Largely because, as Patoski explains, “He sees television as the future of the sport and hands out the first league-wide television contract.” Suddenly, the Cowboys were everywhere. And they were good. “The fact that they were competitive and an expansion franchise created a lot of resentment,” Patoski continues. “People were like, ‘Fuck them, why are they doing so good? And why are they on TV all the time?’” 

Plus, he adds, they were ushering in a new era of flashy, pass-heavy football. “It became a matter of deciding which NFL you stood for: the old Vince Lombardi, ‘three yards and a cloud of dust’ grind game, or this shiny, razzle-dazzle long bomb game that just so happened to be perfect for TV,” Patoski says.  

Everything the Cowboys did, it seemed, was made for television just as television was becoming a household staple. “Schramm invented the TV’s first-down marker, he painted the out-of-bound lines white so you could have contrast between green and white. He painted the field green in November, because the Cowboys’ jerseys didn’t pop as much on the yellow grass,” Patoski tells me. “They were even the first team in the NFL to wear visiting whites at home, which people hated, but it looked good on TV.” 

Perhaps the leading example of preferring spectacle over football was in 1970, when Schramm began “sexing up the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.” “Then the cheerleaders become stars in their own right, with their own made-for-TV movie. Other teams had cheerleaders, but they were old-school cheerleaders, not blonde bombshells in hot pants. You can’t underestimate what the cheerleaders did to the team and the sport in general,” Patoski says. “They became another way to market the team.” 

Then, in 1971, the Cowboys built Texas Stadium, with “a giant hole in the ceiling, not for the fans, but so God could look down and watch his favorite team,” Patoski laughs. The stadium was designed for TV as much as for fans, and perhaps most importantly, “ushered in the era of the exclusive skybox.”  

“You see all these fat cats in their skyboxes,” Patoski continues. “Combined with Dallas becoming a hub of tech and business between the coasts,” socioeconomic hatred is added into the brewing cauldron of Cowboy resentment. Which is why Cowboy hatred “is often discussed in envious terms,” Patoski says. “‘These people are so crass. Look at them spending thousands of dollars on Roman columns in their suite, and they’re not even watching the fuckin’ football game!’

Patoski says the hatred probably peaked in 1978, when NFL Films deemed the Cowboys “America’s Team.” “‘America’s team? What gave them the right to be America’s team?’ It was an off-the-cuff call, the two guys putting the films together told me it seemed like there were Cowboy jerseys everywhere on the road, so that’s why they said it. But that was a real big moment for the Cowboys and Cowboys haters.” 

‘Poor boy Eagles fan, counting those dimes.’ 

Destry Pittock has created one of the many anti-Cowboy groups on Facebook. His is named, “I HATE THE COWBOYS AND THEIR FANS SUCK,” and he can pinpoint the exact moment his hatred for the Cowboys turned into action. “It was in December about 10 years ago,” he tells me. “I was in my local grocery store. At the time, I was a low-paid factory worker raising three kids. Since it was the day before payday, I was scraping change for some spaghetti, sauce and maybe a half pound of burger with all my Eagles gear on. The guy behind me wearing a Cowboys hat says, ‘Poor boy Eagles fan, counting those dimes.’

“That pissed me off, so I went and started the group. Now we’re less than 500 members away from 10,000 people. And they all hate the Cowboys just as much as me.” 

‘No franchise continues to offer reality TV drama like the Cowboys.’  

The good news for Cowboy haters? After winning a trio of Super Bowls in the 1990s, the team and its new owner Jerry Jones have slipped into a couple of decades’ worth of mediocrity. However, as Patoski points out, “The one genius of Jerry Jones, who repulses me — he’s an evil lizard and doesn’t know well enough to hire a real professional talent to run his team — is building AT&T Stadium, or ‘Jerry World.’ There are new stadiums everywhere, but there’s no stadium like that stadium. So once again, those arrogant fuckers are standing out, thinking they’re the only shits around.”

Jones has also brought Real Housewives level drama to his team and cathedral — serving as general manager and face of the franchise in addition to his duties as owner (and alienating most everyone else in the league in the process with his decision making and need for the spotlight). “Why is everyone watching them and talking about them instead of, say, the Jacksonville Jaguars? Because the Cowboys are drama,” Patoski explains. “No franchise continues to offer reality TV drama like the Cowboys.”  

For example, Patoski says, shortly after Jones took over, “he invited his friend Donald Trump to witness a game, and did a coin toss with Elizabeth Taylor, whom he brought out on the field despite it being against the rules.” (Recently, too, there was the whole Ellen-George W. Bush incident.) As such, the organization continues “to stretch and break rules just to get the Cowboys more face time.”  

Patoski, too, is convinced we haven’t seen anything yet. So brace yourself, Cowboy haters, the future may be very bleak. “Cowboy arrogance hasn’t gone anywhere, it’s just been bottled up, and they’ve been waiting since 1996 [the team’s last Super Bowl title] to do this all over again. They’ve raised their children and grandchildren to convey that same arrogance,” Patoski warns. “If they go to the Super Bowl and win, all I can do is offer my sympathies in advance to the haters. Because if they think they’ve heard bullshit from Cowboys fans already, oh lord, they’re fixin’ to hear more bullshit than they could ever stand.”