Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Dallas Cowboys are a National Football League team based in Irving, Texas. The team is sometimes referred to colloquially as America's Team due its having a large number of fans who live outside its immediate local area (the term itself is derived from the title of the team's 1979 highlight film).
- Founded: 1960 (expansion NFL franchise)
- Home field: Texas Stadium, Irving, Texas (1971-)
- Previous home field: Cotton Bowl (1960-1970)
- Head coach: Bill Parcells (2003-)
- Uniform colors: White jerseys have royal blue numbers and lettering; colored jerseys feature a darker shade of blue as background (similar to that of the star logo shown to the upper right) with white numbers and lettering. By tradition, the Cowboys normally wear their white jerseys at home (although they may wear their colored jerseys during special occasions such as Thanksgiving).
- Helmet design: Silver background with a blue star
- League championships won: 1971, 1977, 1992, 1993, 1995.
The city of Dallas, Texas was granted an NFL franchise on January 28, 1960. Clint Murchison, Jr. and Bedford Wynne were the team owners and they immediately hired Tex Schramm to be the general manager and Tom Landry to be the head coach. In the Cowboys' first season, they finished winless with a 0-11-1 record. The following year, the Cowboys made their first NFL Draft selection, selecting Bob Lilly with the 13th pick in the draft. The year 1961 also saw the Cowboys' first victory, a 27-24 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 17.
During the 1960s, the Cowboys continued to improve their team. Quarterback Don Meredith and running back Don Perkins joined the team and by 1966, the Cowboys had their first winning season (10-3-1; they would not have another losing season until 1985) and their first playoff appearance: a 34-27 loss to the Green Bay Packers. By this time, the Cowboys had become a powerful force in the NFL, sending eight players to the Pro Bowl including Cowboy legends like Bob Hayes, Chuck Howley, Bob Lilly, Don Meredith, Don Perkins and Mel Renfro.
Similarly, the Cowboys were becoming an important part of the people of Dallas. For their first years, the Cowboys were always playing second fiddle to Lamar Hunt's Dallas Texans of the AFL because the Texans were the more established team and had the better record. But in 1963 when the Texans moved to Kansas City and became the Kansas City Chiefs, the Cowboys became the only professional football draw in town. By 1969, ground was being broken on a new stadium for the Cowboys to replace the Cotton Bowl. Texas Stadium in Irving, a Dallas suburb, would be completed for the 1971 season.
In 1967, the Cowboys finished with a 9-5 record and had their first playoff victory: a 52-14 affair over the Cleveland Browns. They went on to face the Green Bay Packers in the NFL Championship game. The game, which happened on December 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, turned out to be one of the coldest NFL games on record (about -13° F with a -40° wind chill). The Cowboys lost 21-17 on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Packers quarterback Bart Starr. The game would later come to be known as the "Ice Bowl."
In the 1970s, the NFL underwent many changes as it absorbed the AFL and became a unified league, but the Cowboys also underwent many changes. Meredith and Perkins retired in 1969 and the many new players were joining the organization, like Cliff Harris , Lee Roy Jordan, Rayfield Wright , Dan Reeves, Mike Ditka and Roger Staubach. Led by quarterback Craig Morton, the Cowboys made it to their first Super Bowl, a mistake-filled Super Bowl V, where they lost 16-13 to the Baltimore Colts courtesy of a field goal by Colts' kicker Jim O'Brien as time expired. However, the disappointing Super Bowl loss was made up for the next year when the Cowboys, led by Staubach, won their first Super Bowl, Super Bowl VI, a 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
The Cowboys were now beginning to grow in popularity not just in Dallas, but nationwide. Their televised appearances on Thanksgiving Day games beginning in 1966 helped bring the Cowboys to a nationwide audience. Under Tom Landry, the so-called "Doomsday Defense" became a powerful and dominating force in the NFL and their offense was also exciting to watch.
The Cowboys faltered slightly in 1974, missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years. However, the Cowboys drafted well following the season, adding new legends like Randy White and Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson . The fresh influx of talent helped the Cowboys to Super Bowl X, where the Cowboys lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-17. But the Cowboys would again taste Super Bowl victory, defeating the Denver Broncos 27-10 in Super Bowl XII. Bob Ryan, an NFL films editor, would dub the Cowboys "America's Team" following this season, a nickname that stuck through both the good and bad times to come.
The glory days of the Cowboys in the 1970s were coming to an end. They would reach one final Super Bowl, Super Bowl XIII, losing once again at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers, 35-31. Roger Staubach retired following the 1979 season and the Cowboys began declining in the NFL. In the 1981-1982 NFC Championship game, the Cowboys lost to the San Francisco 49ers on a last-second touchdown pass from Joe Montana to Dwight Clark. Clark's famous leap in the end zone would come to be known as "The Catch" and represented a changing of the guard in the NFC from the dominant Cowboys teams of the 1970s to the dominant 49ers teams of the 1980s.
In 1984, H.R. "Bum" Bright purchased the Dallas Cowboys from Murchison, but following seasons that were getting progessively worse (1985: 10-6; 1986: 7-9; 1987: 7-8; 1988: 3-13), Bright sold the Cowboys to Jerry Jones on February 25, 1989. Jones promptly fired the only coach the Cowboys had ever known and replaced him with University of Miami head coach, Jimmy Johnson. With the first pick in the draft, the Cowboys selected quarterback Troy Aikman and traded away veteran running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for five veteran players and eight draft choices. The Cowboys finished the 1989 season with a 1-15 record, the worst record since the team's inception, but the foundations for the Cowboys' return to glory had been set.
In 1990, the Cowboys drafted Emmitt Smith and the trifecta of Aikman, Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin was now set. The Cowboys finished 7-9, but Smith was named NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year and Jimmy Johnson was selected as Coach of the Year. By 1991, the Cowboys finished with an 11-5 record, making the playoffs for the first time in six years.
In 1992, the Cowboys finished 13-3 (second best in the league) and exacted their revenge on the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship Game, 30-20. The Cowboys went on to defeat the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII, 52-17. The following season, the Cowboys went 12-4, again defeating the 49ers in the NFC Championship and again defeating the Buffalo Bills in the Super Bowl, this time 30-13 in Super Bowl XXVIII. The Cowboys sent a record 11 players to the Pro Bowl: Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Thomas Everett , Daryl Johnston , Russell Maryland , Nate Newton, Ken Norton Jr, Jay Novacek, Mark Stepnoski and Erik Williams.
However, Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones had a falling out and Johnson left the organization prior to the 1994 season. Jones hired former University of Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer to be the team's new head coach. The Cowboys would finish 12-4, but lost in the NFC Championship game to the 49ers, 38-28. But another 12-4 season in 1995 got the Cowboys to the playoffs once again where they eventually defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 in Super Bowl XXX.
But the glory days of the Cowboys were again beginning to fade as free agency and injuries began taking their toll. The Cowboys went 6-10 in 1997 and Switzer was let go. Former Steelers offensive coordinator Chan Gailey was hired to take over head coaching duties. Gailey led the team to a 10-6 record in 1998, but was let go after a 8-8 season in 1999. Defensive coordinator Dave Campo was promoted to head coach, but he could only post three consecutive 5-11 seasons. Many fans and media were beginning to blame Jerry Jones for the team's ills, noting that he refused to hire a strong coach, preferring to hire coaches that didn't want to be involved with personnel duties so that Jones himself could manage them.
However, Jones proved them wrong in 2003 by luring Bill Parcells out of retirement to coach the Cowboys. The Cowboys became the surprise team of the 2003 season, posting a 10-6 record with one of the most dominating defenses in the league. However, the 2004 season was one of turmoil. Injuries and persistent penalty problems hobbled the Cowboys, but a preseason quarterback controversy also caused trouble when Quincy Carter was suddenly terminated for drug use in favor of the 40-year-old veteran Vinny Testaverde, brought to the Cowboys from the New York Jets by his former coach in the off-season. The Cowboys started strong, with victories against the Browns and Redskins, but quickly fell off to a 3-5 record by midseason.
In November of 2004, a vote was passed by the City of Arlington, Texas to build a new stadium adjacent to the existing Ameriquest Field in Arlington. The team will begin playing at the new site in 2009 after thirty-eight years in Irving.
Players of note
- Mike Ditka
- Tony Dorsett
- Tom Landry (coach)
- Bob Lilly
- Mel Renfro
- Tex Schramm (executive)
- Roger Staubach
- Randy White
- Larry Allen
- Drew Bledsoe
- Eddie George
- La'Roi Glover
- Keyshawn Johnson
- Julius Jones
- Quincy Morgan
- Terence Newman
- Dat Nguyen
- Bill Parcells (coach)
- Roy Williams (DB)
- Jason Witten
- The Dallas Cowboys do not retire the numbers of past standouts as a matter of policy. Instead, the team has a "Ring of Honor" in which its all-time greats are honored. Members of the Ring of Honor include Bob Lilly, Don Meredith, Don Perkins, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, Roger Staubach, Lee Roy Jordan, coach Tom Landry, Tony Dorsett, Randy White, Bob Hayes, Tex Schramm, Rayfield Wright and Cliff Harris .
Not to be forgotten
- Troy Aikman
- Quincy Carter
- Tony Dorsett
- Joey Galloway
- Peter Gent
- Charles Haley
- Alvin Harper
- Calvin Hill
- Tony Hill
- Michael Irvin
- Darryl Johnston
- Leon Lett
- Bob Lilly
- Robert Newhouse
- Nate Newton
- Jay Novacek
- Drew Pearson
- Deion Sanders
- Emmitt Smith
- Roger Staubach
- Mark Stepnoski
- Herschel Walker
- Randy White
- Erik Williams
- Darren Woodson
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