Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys scrambles with the ball within the fourth quarter towards the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 17, 2021 in Foxborough, Massachusetts.
Maddie Meyer | Getty Pictures Sport | Getty Pictures
The Dallas Cowboys have not received a Tremendous Bowl in over 25 years. They’ve hardly even been within the dialog, notching solely 4 playoff victories in that span.
But the Cowboys are the most-valuable NFL franchise, topping the New England Patriots, who’ve received six Tremendous Bowls since Dallas final took residence the Vince Lombardi trophy. Regardless of many years of mediocrity, the Cowboys are all the time within the headlines, because of a model that is nearly universally acknowledged.
“They’ve that slogan that form of sticks,” stated former NFL huge receiver Terrell Owens, who performed for the Cowboys from 2006 to 2008. “They’re America’s Workforce.”
Followers now have a motive to get enthusiastic about what’s taking place on the gridiron. After an injury-riddled season final 12 months that noticed the group end 6-10, the Cowboys are 5-1 within the new marketing campaign, driving a five-game win streak and main the NFC East division by three video games.
America’s group is again.
“Love them, hate them – they’re the largest model within the NFL,” stated Scott Rosner, the director of Columbia College’s sports activities administration program. “They’re related it doesn’t matter what aspect of the query you fall on – whether or not you are on the love aspect or hate aspect.”
Heading into their bye weekend, the Cowboys are the most popular they have been since 2016, quarterback Dak Prescott’s rookie season. By way of six video games Prescott is among the many league leaders in passing, residing as much as his four-year $160 million deal. Prescott’s final season was lower brief after he suffered a compound fracture in his proper ankle in week six towards the New York Giants.
Prescott is getting loads of help from the highest-paid NFL receiver, Amari Cooper, and the costliest working again, Ezekiel Elliott. They make up the Cowboys’ new massive three, spearheading an offense that is second in speeding yards and fifth in passing.
The protection has additionally held up. Regardless of giving up the third-highest variety of yards, the unit leads the NFL in interceptions with 11, together with seven by cornerback Trevon Diggs.
Followers are downright giddy. The jerseys of Cooper and fellow huge receiver CeeDee Lamb are two of the highest sellers throughout the league, in line with the NFL Store. The group leads the NFL in attendance, averaging 93,335 individuals at its three residence video games.
Forbes initiatives the Cowboys are price $6.5 billion, essentially the most precious throughout all U.S. sports activities. Jerry Jones, who bought the group greater than 30 years in the past, has seen his wealth swell to $10.6 billion, Forbes estimates.
“The Cowboys haven’t received since 1995,” stated longtime Cowboys beat reporter Clarence Hill, who writes for The Fort Value Star-Telegram. “Jerry purchased the group in 1989, they usually had been within the tank. He would let you know the group was price 50 cents on a greenback, even with the historical past. Since then, they’ve grown to the richest franchise and nonetheless have not received something” for the reason that ’95-’96 season, Hill stated.
There are nonetheless 11 regular-season video games left, and the final word dedication of success will not come till the playoffs. However Jones has followers believing that greatness lies forward.
Here is what former Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin, who received three Tremendous Bowls with the franchise within the Nineteen Nineties, stated on ESPN’s “First Take” earlier within the week:
“I need all people on the market, Cowboys Nation, I need you to know — Go get your Tremendous Bowl tickets. Get them early. I am attempting that can assist you out proper now.”
Dallas Cowboys cornerback Deion Sanders hoists the Vince Lombardi Tremendous Bowl trophy as he walks off the sphere to the locker room after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 28 January throughout Tremendous Bowl XXX at Solar Satan Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Cowboys received 27-17.
Vince Bucci | AFP | Getty Pictures
Changing into America’s Workforce
The final time the Cowboys made it to the large sport was January 1996. They beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, 27-17. The massive three consisted of quarterback Troy Aikman, working again Emmitt Smith and Irvin. The identical trio led the Cowboys to Tremendous Bowl wins in 1993 and 1994.
Since their final NFL title, the Cowboys are 213-193. The group is 0-10 in playoff elimination video games and has shuffled by means of six head coaches. The final Tremendous Bowl-winning coach was Barry Switzer, who left after the 1997 season.
Jones has confronted hefty criticism from the fan base for the lackluster efficiency and for maintaining such tight management of the group. He stays president and common supervisor. His son, Stephen, is chief working officer and his “right-hand man,” in line with the Cowboys website.
Still, Jones has kept the Cowboys relevant and highly profitable, a rarity in the sports industry, where few teams are able to to make money while consistently losing games.
It’s “because they’re America’s Team and the intentional marketing and power of the NFL,” said Hill of the Star-Telegram. “All that comes together.”
The America’s Team moniker dates back to 1978, when Tex Schramm, the franchise’s original president, coined it in a retrospective on the season. The Cowboys had a record-setting 20 straight winning seasons from 1966 to 1985, and won two of their five Super Bowl appearances during that stretch.
Quarterback Roger Staubach was a superstar, as was running back Tony Dorsett. Head coach Tom Landry, known for his trademark fedora and cool demeanor, established an elite offense.
“He was ahead of the NFL when it came to strategy,” said former linebacker Garry Cobb, who started his career with the Cowboys in 1979 and returned about a decade later.
Cobb, 64, recalled the days before he entered the league when the Cowboys ruled pro football.
“When I was little, the Cowboys were on TV more than anybody else nationally,” said Cobb. “They had a winning record every year. That’s the way they became popular.”
He then got to experience the fame as a player.
“When we went into a hotel, the building was mobbed,” he said. “It was unbelievable. The popularity was already there.”
Hill, who’s covered the team since 1996, said that atmosphere never really faded from the team.
“It’s always a circus,” Hill said. “And coming to the Cowboys as a player or a coach, you must understand that it comes with the dinner. You must be able to navigate that as well as play football.”
Wide receiver Terrell Owens #81 of the Dallas Cowboys celebrates his third touchdown against the Houston Texans on October 15, 2006 at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas. The Cowboys defeated the Texans 34-6.
Ronald Martinez | Getty Images
Terrell Owens relished in the drama, telling fans to “get your popcorn ready.”
“You notice it, and you feel it,” said Owens, who spent three of his 16 NFL seasons with the Cowboys. “You want to play to the standard that everybody there expects you to play at. It’s different when you’re playing in Dallas as opposed to a Cincinnati or Buffalo.”
Owens played for both teams after leaving the Cowboys.
Cowboys leverage state rights
Neal Pilson, former president of CBS Sports, said the network used the America’s Team slogan during its Cowboys telecasts. CBS, which had NFC rights until the early 1990s, constantly featured the Cowboys.
“We helped build that label,” Pilson said. “And it certainly stuck.”
The Cowboys won, but the business still lagged. The league made the big financial decisions, and team owners did little to engage directly with companies and sponsors.
Jones bought the Cowboys for roughly $150 million in 1989, the most ever paid for a team at that time. He warned right away that things would be different.
“I will be part of every decision,” the New York Times quoted Jones as saying in 1989. “I won’t leave anything to the football people.”
Schramm resigned, and Jones made himself the general manager. He hired a college coach, Jimmy Johnson, to replace Landry, the only person to coach the Cowboys in its first 29 years. Jones then took on the NFL’s 75-year business philosophy.
Most NFL teams weren’t profitable and the league controlled the way revenue was generated. Jones found loopholes in NFL deals that allowed him to disrupt the league’s pacts and make money for his team.
In 1995, the Cowboys parted ways with league partner Coca-Cola and signed a deal with Pepsi for “pouring rights” at their home stadium. That agreement was worth a reported $20 million over 10 years, and it undermined Coke’s NFL deal for $250 million.
The NFL sued Jones for $300 million in damages.
Owner Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys welcomes fans to training camp at River Ridge Complex on July 24, 2021 in Oxnard, California.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
“Prior to that deal, you didn’t have teams engaging in real vigorous local business operations,” said Columbia’s Rosner “You were essentially selling tickets and ads but not what it is today. Jerry challenged the system.”
The sides ultimately settled in a manner that let Jones keep his sponsors. Other teams followed suit.
“He was showing them how to make money,” said Cobb. “Now all the teams do it – they have league sponsors and team sponsors.”
In both the 2019 and 2020 NFL seasons, the Cowboys attracted nearly $1 billion in revenue, according to Forbes. Pepsi still has pouring rights. AT&T owns naming rights to the stadium, a billion-dollar-plus building that opened in 2009 and is often referred to as Jerry World. And Ford owns rights to the team’s practice site.
Last September, Fanatics signed a 10-year deal to take over e-commerce for the Cowboys. Merchandise revenue is up 60% this season compared to last, and Fanatics told CNBC that the Cowboys lead all NFL teams in merchandise sales. That’s been the case for five of the previous eight years.
“All of the metrics around the Cowboys are higher than any other team,” Rosner said.
Getting help from the big markets
The Cowboys are also the beneficiary of a geographical quirk. They’re in the NFC East, a division with teams in the big markets of New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C.
None are within 1,300 miles of Dallas.
“You have a team in Texas in the NFC East,” said Ed Schauder, who heads the sports law practice at Phillips Nizer in New York. “It makes no sense, but there are organic national rivalries.”
Playing twice a year against the Eagles, Giants, and Washington Football Team gives Jones outsized access to some of the top TV markets every NFL season. While Jones didn’t play a role in creating the divisional setup, he’s made sure to take advantage of it.
“He probably saw the marketing value of their regular opponents,” Pilson said.” I think he saw that every year, given the NFL structure, he has two games into New York and Philadelphia.”
Fox Sports, which now controls the NFC package, says Cowboys games account for nine of its 10 most-watched NFL contests since the partnership began in 1994. The biggest audience was on Thanksgiving in November 2016, when an average 35.1 million viewers tuned in for the Cowboys game against Washington.
This season’s opener, a Thursday night affair against the Tom Brady-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers, attracted 24.4 million viewers on NBC Sports. It was the most-watched kickoff game since 2015. CBS said the Cowboys contest against Brady’s old team, the New England Patriots, averaged 23.2 million viewers last week, the most-watched national game for the network since 2015.
“If they’re in contention for the division and make the postseason, [the Cowboys will] gather a bigger audience,” said Pilson.
The Cowboys’ star players are cashing in on the exposure.
Prescott took a 20% stake in sports-theme bar and eatery Walk-Ons earlier this year, to go along with $10 million in off-field endorsements, third-highest among NFL players, according to Forbes. He trails only Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Brady ($31 million) and Patrick Mahomes ($22 million) of the Kansas City Chiefs.
Former quarterbacks Aikman and Tony Romo are lead NFL announcers for Fox and CBS, respectively. Irvin works for ESPN. Smith was with the NFL Network and still has deals with companies like Marriott.
“They benefit from that brand,” said Schauder. “Sponsors and endorsers look for players who get the most exposure.”
Then there’s reality TV. The Cowboys were showcased on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” an annual series that follows a team through training camp and the pre-season. Cowboys cheerleaders also have a show on Country Music Television.
“Another team doesn’t get that media deal,” Schauder said, referring to the cheerleaders’ show.
Dallas Cowboys Quarterback Dak Prescott (4) throws a pass during the regular season game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 09, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
Cliff Welch | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images
Are the Cowboys still America’s Team?
On the field, the Cowboys still have everything to prove.
During the team’s 25-year championship drought, Brady led the Patriots to nine Super Bowls and delivered seven championships, including for the Buccaneers last season. The Steelers have won two titles since facing the Cowboys in 1996. The Denver Broncos made four appearances and won three Super Bowls during that span.
The Patriots have appeared in a record 11 Super Bowls, followed by the Cowboys, Steelers and Broncos at eight.
Schauder, who admitted to being a converted Cowboys fan, says there’s still something unique about Dallas.
“It’s an iconic brand,” he said. “They’re still America’s Team because that’s how they were branded. “Other teams have tried to claim it, like the Steelers.”
Following this week’s bye, the Cowboys are back in action next week against the Minnesota Vikings on NBC’s Sunday Night Football. After that, they still have their annual showcase on Thanksgiving and two more night games in December.
Winning sure helps, but no matter what fans across the country tune into watch the Cowboys.
“At the end of the day, Dallas will still get more prime-time spots than any other team,” Schauder said.