The Golden Age of Hating The Dallas Cowboys

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Dallas Cowboys

It was a feeling which manifested sometime during the 1970’s. We can put it on the late George Allen, former coach of the Washington Redskins, who was first to voice a total disdain for everything Dallas Cowboys. It raised the level of rancor between the Redskins and Cowboys elevating the rivalry to the national level.

Below the surface the rivalry began to take shape when the Cowboys became the NFL’s southern most team when they began play in 1960. Prior to this, the Redskins of George Preston Marshall were. It’s one of the reasons they sang “Dixie” at their welcome back luncheon when the team reported to camp. Yet this new team came along and began to eat into their fan base.

Keep in mind the Atlanta Flacons and. New Orleans Saints werent founded for another half decade. With the Falcons beginning play in ’66 and the Saints following in ’67. By then the Cowboys were had grown in stature and had taken the Packers for NFL supremacy.

However the disdain Allen felt during the early 1970’s was more palpable. More real.

A growing resentment felt by many teams and fans. The feeling was the late Tom Landry and his Dallas Cowboys were given too much publicity by the networks and the print media. CBS was constantly covering the Cowboys and the level of success they had in the 1970’s, with 5 Super Bowl visits, seeded hatred in their rivals. Especially within their division. Yet none of them were good enough to challenge them in the NFC East.

By the time NFL Films made the 1978 Dallas Cowboys yearbook and labeled it “America’s Team” hatred was at an all time high. Even jealousy if you will. It was the arrogance and air of supremacy the Cowboys organization painted during those CBS days that fueled two schools of fans.

Right down to the cheerleaders.

You had those who thought of themselves as beautiful and carried themselves with a sense of arrogance and identified with the team and their cheerleaders. Then you had the regular meat and potatoes folks who loved when the Pittsburgh Steelers punched them square in the mouth during Super Bowls X and XIII. They were also fans of all other teams. Yet when your team is no longer in it, they cheered for whoever was facing Dallas in the playoffs or Super Bowl.

Ironically, this is where the Steelers gained their nationwide fan base. It had nothing to do with the fact they won 4 Super Bowls in the 1970’s, it was the fact they beat the Cowboys in two of those Super Bowls that made them remain as fans.

As the 1980’s beckoned, many of the teams that Dallas had squashed the last decade began to grow anew. A fresh generation of coaches and players started to internalize the disdain for the bully on the block and began their ascent. It was known that you had to take out Landry’s Cowboys if you really want to be recognized as champions. Although the Redskins were the one with the more acknowledged rivalry, it was the Philadelphia Eagles under Dick Vermeil that got the first crack at the boys from the Lone Star State.

Much of the animosity started at the beginning of the week, when the Eagles were cast as underdogs against Landry’s Cowboys in the 1980 NFC Championship Game. Although they were hosting, the Eagles were made underdogs by Vegas. Right on cue, the Eagles were being treated as bit role players even though they split their games with Dallas that year.

An upset Dick Vermeil made a declaration that ratcheted feelings up when he vowed “Never allow anyone to take you for granted! I get the feeling the Dallas Cowboys are taking us for granted right now. We’re here because we earned the right to be here. If the Dallas Cowboys are going to take us for granted, we’ll whip their ass!”

To further irk Tom Landry, Vermeil opted to play in their white uniforms forcing the Cowboys to play in the blue jerseys, which they felt were jinxed. Dallas complained to the league office yet for once the powers that be didn’t allow Gil Brandt and Tex Schramm to get their way. The crowd at Veteran’s Stadium was unforgiving as the two teams emerged from the tunnel. It was 4* and -17* windchill when on the Eagles second play from scrimmage:

The roar of the crowd during Wilbert Montgomery’s touchdown was the loudest ever at Veteran’s Stadium. Cowboy haters everywhere delighted as the Eagles held the early upper hand on the Cowboys 7-0. As the game wore on and Landry’s charges behind 17-7 late in the fourth quarter, they were able to punt and pin the Eagles to their own 5 yard line. From their own 5 yard line the Eagles ended fading hopes for Dallas when in 3 runs Philadelphia moved the football to the Dallas 25. Montgomery was putting the finishing touches on a signature day when he struck with this 54 yard masterpiece.

The Eagles vanquished the Cowboys 20-7 on their way to Super Bowl XV. Wilbert Montgomery etched his name into Philadelphia lore with a 194 yard performance. They had destroyed the Flex Defence, rushing for 263 yards on 40 carries averaging 6.575 yards a pop!! Cowboy haters everywhere rejoiced in hearing Landry, Danny White and Cowboy apologists have to answer the questions as the defeated football team. In fact many Cowboy haters pulled for the Oakland Raiders in the Super Bowl two weeks later. People weren’t cheering for the Eagles as much as they were for Dallas to lose.

The following year the Cowboys had revamped their secondary & national press covered the exploits of rookies Everson Walls (who should be a Hall of Famer), Michael Downs, and Ron Fellows. Although the publicity was on this group in Big D, they were overshadowing an even greater group in San Francisco. Where Bill Walsh had drafted and started rookie CB Ronnie Lott, CB Eric Wright, and S Carlton Williamson to go along with scrappy veteran S Dwight Hicks. Yet through most of the 1981 season, you didn’t hear about the 49ers. Even after a 45-14 devastation of the Cowboys in week 5 with Ronnie Lott scoring the decisive touchdown.

Did you know the 49ers didn’t make the Monday Night Football highlight package?? Don’t tell our CEO there was no media bias. Nor can you say the coverage of Dallas’ rookie trio of defensive backs didn’t motivate the group by the bay. Was it borne from the Cowboys propaganda and success of the 1970s?? Or was it borne from Tom Landry’s ties to the New York media since his pro coaching career started there??

Did you know the late Pat Summerall who broadcast many of the Cowboys games in that era, was a teammate and friend of Landry back in New York?? So when they didn’t make the ABC Monday Night package it fed into the hating Dallas mantra that much more by the 1981 NFC Championship Game.

There had been a history between the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas. In fact you could say the 49ers were who Dallas had built their reputation on with wins over them in the 1970 and 1971 NFC Championship Games. At that point the Cowboys were called “Next Year’s Champions” for four straight playoff defeats to Vince Lombardi’s Packers and the Cleveland Browns. As a new decade beckoned it was the Niners and the Cowboys who stepped to the fore.

Once Dallas emerged and won Super Bowl VI, their prestige soared where the vanquished 49ers went into a tailspin the rest of the decade. Yet before that happened, there was the 1972 NFC Divisional playoff where a measure of revenge was going to be exacted against Landry’s troops when Roger Staubach led a furious 4th quarter rally. Staubach led Dallas to a 30-28 win after they were behind 28-13 with 5:00 to go in the game. This is when he earned the nickname Captain Comeback.

Fast forward to the 1981 NFC Championship where the resurrected 49er franchise, now under Eddie DeBartolo, were preparing for the game. Still smarting from the lack of respect afforded his group after the 45-14 win and no media coverage, set the tone of a franchise when talking to a reporter. “They ate it once and they can eat it (defeat) again.” Reminiscent of Dick Vermeil the year before, Cowboy haters were all pulling for the 49ers in this game when they took the field.

The final stint came when the Washington Redskins had their turn to climb over Dallas to make it to the summit of pro football. After a strike shortened season where the 8-1 Redskins entered a playoff tournament to make it to Super Bowl XVII, most pundits picked the media darling Cowboys to win the NFC Champoinship citing the Redskins only loss was courtesy of the Cowboys. Our CEO can remember being fired up for the NFC Championship between Washington and Dallas and knew it was going to be a thing of beauty.

It actually started when the Redskins were putting the finishing touches on a 21-7 win over the Vikings to set up the NFC Conference final when the chant “We want Dallas!! We want Dallas!!” resonated from the jam packed crowd at RFK. Just moments before, John Riggins who had rushed for 185 yard was in the midst of a curtain call, turned and gave a bow to the crowd sending them into a frenzy. Those sights and sounds reverberated throughout the stadium and CBS chose instead of showing the final plays of that game, panoramic views of the raucous fans.

As for the rest of the Cowboy haters who gathered to watch this team go down again. Look no further than another bulletin board comment that jump started the festivities. It started with Dexter Manley professing in the paper that he “hated Dallas” that Monday that got the ball rolling. Then back and forth in the newspaper ensued from Danny White of the Cowboys, to Redskin owner Jack Kent Cooke, EVERYONE was stoking the fire. How bad did it get? There was even a heated argument about the game within the House of Representatives the Friday before the game and the late Thomas “Tip” O’Neill adjourned session an hour early. It was on!!!!

Over a football game? Yes over a football game. The hating of Dallas really grew wings in the George Allen era. He preached it, lived it, and over all the treatment America’s Team received as a media darling kept breeding that hatred within rival teams. Real Redskin fans will talk with high regard of the fact that they beat Dallas in the ’72 NFC Championship when the Cowboys were defending champions. So here we were some 10 years later and all that animosity was a thing of the past right? After all new owner, new coach, new quarterback and cast of characters comprised the Redskins roster. Right?

For a more visceral look:

With that we were at an end of an era where other NFL teams were able to get their due as the 1980’s moved on. Media coverage transferred from Dallas to new teams coming from Chicago, the New York Giants, Denver Broncos, of course the 49ers and the Redskins who were dominant the rest of the decade. From this era came the nationwide fan base of the San Francisco 49ers much like the Steelers. The backlash of the “America’s Team” name and over favorable coverage brewed hatred from the majority of NFL fans and players.

Notice in these videos, the look in their eye and the description of elation for vanquishing the Dallas Cowboys of that era. In all three cases before the NFC Championship, where decorum was to be quiet, and not give the Cowboys bulletin board material. Coaches and owners in these instances were doing it let alone players. It set the table for things to come and put their organizations on high alert of what was expected of them.

The hatred for everything Dallas began to dissipate at this time. There was some animosity left when the ’85 Bears bloodied them 44-0 in Texas Stadium after 9 straight losses to them. Yet by the time of Tom Landry’s departure, people felt bad about what happened to the Cowboys and watched the dismantling of a franchise with mixed emotions.

You were almost mad that they were 1-15 in 1989, because the villain from Texas was gone. The Jimmy Johnson Cowboys of the 1990’s were an envied team, not a hated one. To be hated you had to be more than a good football team, and in retrospect that was what made hating the Dallas Cowboys worthwhile.

The way they were marketed, branded, and packaged. The way their coach was treated like a God and their quarterback in Roger Staubach was the idol which gave way to Danny White. Well until these NFC Championship losses tarnished White’s legacy.

Their cheerleaders were even made famous. They had telvision specials and still do to this very day. All of this tapped into the inferiority complex of many players and fans of other teams. When it came time to beat them for a championship or a game of importance, it was the Holy Grail.

One of Taylor Blitz’s finest shrugs it off and has this message “How ’bout them Cowboys?”

Tap pic to link to lovely Cowboys #1 fan Sarah!

Thanks for reading and please share the article.

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16 thoughts on “The Golden Age of Hating The Dallas Cowboys

  1. Becoming a perennial contender starting in ’66 was the first thing. Then moving from the Cotton Bowl to Texas Stadium five years later, and the big PR maneuvering that came with it, changed their identity. To my understanding, the former stadium’s fan-base was more along the lines of true-blue, gritty Lone Star State football-fans. The new Texas Stadium, however, brought in a more cosmopolitan dynamic thus making the ‘Boys ripe for the nationwide hatred outside their fan-base.

    Calling themselves “America’s Team” and having a ‘hole’ in the roof…”so GOD can see HIS team play” intensified it all the more! What put them in the limelight to invite as many nationwide fans (and haters) as possible, was placing them in the same division with the Giants, Eagles, and Washington – three of the biggest markets in the league thus bigger TV exposure. If their divisional foes would have been, say, regional neighbors like New Orleans, Atlanta, and St. Louis (who, yes, were also in the NFC East until 2002), then it would have been a different look.

    And you can’t blame Tom Landry for all that PR-fueled “America’s Team” stuff. Nor Roger Staubach. But Cliff Harris taunting Roy Gerela after missing that FG in SBX (only for #58 JACK LAMBERT to bring him to JUSTICE/FIRE the whole team back up from there), Hollywood Henderson’s talk prior to and during SBXIII (only for Franco to finally take off the kid-gloves in his QB’s defense), simply hearing they and other Dallas teammates give sour-grapes complaints and excuses to this day over never getting past the ‘Burgh, etc. Yes, the rep the Steelers have to this day still hinges on their obvious All-Time-Great ’70s work, but yes more importantly beating DALLAS in BOTH those SBs as well as beating them again in the ’79 regular season, and also in ’77 & ’82 when the Cowboys were actually better both those years.

    Of course I’m aware of San Fran not getting any kudos on MNF after blasting Big D on Wk#6 in ’81! Now they did start off 1980 at 3-0 only to fall-off hard from there. In 1976, they start 6-1 only to fall to 8-6/no playoffs at season’s end. And the defending NFC champ Eagles, now at 6-0 (with everyone else two games, or more, beneath them), looked like the league’s top-dog thus far; wanting to return to the SB with a Vengeance! But at least give San Fran SOME love for not only beating Dallas, but doing so very handily! At least MENTION it! Your reasoning for the snubbing tops the ones I just offered.

    Even right after “the Catch” game the following January, still more Cowboy-arrogance! Don’t know what player it was, but Montana was told by him, “You just beat America’s Team”! Joe Cool’s PERFECT response…(paraphrasing)…”Well in two weeks, you can sit at home with the REST of America and WATCH the Super Bowl!”

    To me, what marked the “last breath” of Landry’s Cowboys being truly considered by everyone as an Elite perennial SB-contender was going into that Week #15 Showdown in ’83! Washington, the defending-Champs, heading into Texas Stadium to avenge the MNF opener in that ‘Battle of 12-2s’!! Though ‘cracks’ were starting to show (their secondary in-particular), Dallas were still overall seen as a Super Bowl team.

    But the visitors left Texas with a 31-10 win! Then Cowboys lose the finale on MNF at San Fran. But it was widely seen as a case of Dallas’s playoff-spot already locked-up. They got ‘little’ 9-7 Rams coming to town for the Wild Card Game, and then they’ll go visit the 10-6 Forty Niners the following week when it actually means something and then…another Dallas/Washington NFC Championship! Right?

    WRONG! Not even a return-trip to Candlestick for the proper “Catch”-rematch! Instead, the 9-7 Rams stop ’em COLD at Texas Stadium thus signaling an end of an Era (Aura)! The ’84 season, and the White/Hogeboom QB-controversy that came with it, underlined all that! They finished at 9-7 as well as not making the playoffs for the first time in 10 years – when they also finished just above-500 at 8-6. But they came right back that following year in ’75, returning to the SB thus continuing their RUN in the following years.

    And maybe in ’85 when they blasted Washington, 44-14, in the opener on MNF, and finally beat the Steelers in Wk#6 to up their record to 5-1, it may have been seen by some as a ‘return’ to championship-caliber football. But five weeks later it was ‘0-44’, and the final of all final reminders were HAMMERED into Texas Stadium for EVERYONE to see!! And not to mention allowing the Bengals to place a 50-burger on them three weeks later at Riverfront.

    Now they were just a…”good” team! But perhaps even-BETTER in ’86 for they acquire Herschel Walker in the off-season! “Now how does DALLAS always get these big breaks??” Randy White, Dorsett, and now THIS! #33 and #34 TOGETHER in the same backfield?? Opening win vs the Giants, also on MNF, Dorsett scores the game’s first TD! And Herschel scores the next one and also the last one, leading his new team to a 31-28 victory over the Champs-to-be! After starting 6-2, they almost beat the Giants AGAIN the following week! But Danny White gets injured, Cowboys lose the game, and from there…they would now be “bad” instead of “good” all of the way until Jerry Jones would enter following their 3-13 bottoming-out ’88 campaign.

    The fans in Big D who, mind you, wanted Landry out the several years leading up, were now mad at the new owner for actually “daring” to fire…”God”. And Dallas-haters like myself also took offense. Our ‘new’ reason for the Hatorade, wanting them to get licked every week, was to get back at Jerry for what he did!

    Hate the team, love the Cheerleaders, but RESPECT the Fedora!

    But I couldn’t really “enjoy” that otherwise 1-15 Thing of Beauty in ’89! Why? Because when news got to me of the Herschel Walker trade, I couldn’t HELP but to know that a coach like Jimmy Johnson was going to have loads of draft picks and talent come in, and he would know exactly what to do (mold) with it! The same as he did at the U! Yes, this was Miami ALL OVER again! Recruits were on the way! Dallas-fans that I knew were already calling them “the team of the ’90s” and I couldn’t help but to believe it! And when the Eagles spanked them on that Turkey Day ‘Bounty Bowl’, 27-0, I believed an angry Jimmy Johnson when he said, (paraphrasing again) “Our day is going to come!” It sent chills through me!

    And I disagree about the ’90s team just being a team to envy, not hate. No, I hated them just as much! Maybe more! Not all the players, but enough of them were cocky as well (former-Hurricane, Irvin, of course). And they were EVEN-BETTER than any of the Landry teams (although ’71, ’77, and even ’78 can present some arguments)! “How about dem Cowboys??” Annoying! JJ allowed his team to talk just like he did at the U. Outstanding and intelligent coach, psychiatrist, and evaluator-of-talent, though!

    And they beat the STEELERS in every meeting that decade! ’90s were practically a negative photo of the ’70s when it came to those two franchises! They beat the Steelers on Turkey Day in ’91 (Jimmy Johnson over Noll in the ‘Emperor’s final year), pummeled them in the ’94 opener at Three Rivers, SBXXX of course (hey, Steelers can’t lose a Super Bowl! especially to…Dallas??), and blew them out again in the ’97 opener, again at Three Rivers (Switzer over Cowher in each of the three), but in this very case the Steelers wound up in the AFC Championship Game for the third time in four years while Big D actually crashed to 6-10!

    And in the 27 seasons, now, since hoisting their last ever Lombardi…they’ve been quite hard for anyone to…”hate” 🙂

    But I ‘miss’ they being a top-dog whom you hated and wanted to see get knocked down a peg, or two, in an important (or unimportant) game! Same with missing the RAIDERS being a contender; that along with – most important – missing the ‘characters’ that the Al Davis franchise always had amongst them during that two-decade run which, basically, extended the same length of time that Dallas was a contender under Landry (late-’60s thru mid-’80s).


  2. Hate All You Want! We’re not America’s Team anymore, WE DEM BOYZ! Landry, Staubach, both class people. Tom built a lot of those teams by developing free agents, He had 20 straight winning seasons. People will talk and discredit, that’s cool, But when they stop talking and discrediting, then it’s time to be concerned. Why? Because you are not worth talking about.

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. I remember with tremendous fondness the 70’s rivalry with the Redskins and hated them with a passion in those days. I always viewed prominent Cowboys like Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas and Jean Fugett as “traitors” for switching sides and putting on a Redskins uniform….of course I was just a kid back then. As I grew up and read autobiographies from former players that were treated like crap and underpaid by Gil Brandt and Tex Schramm? I had to come to the realization that the Cowboys management had the lest of what they claimed to have the most of…which was class. I still hold Landry in high esteem because he really did care for his players but couldn’t let himself get attached to a player because he didn’t want to let that blind him to what was best for the team. After a player left, a player had no better friend than Landry. That was quite a bygone era and it wasn’t easy to come to grips with the fact that Brandt and Schramm made millions while paying chump-change to their players.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love it… the hatred between the Cowboys and the Redskins started when Dallas came into the league as the southern-most NFL team. Wresting that mantle from the Washington Redskins who used to sing “Dixie” at their season kick off luncheon. Sure the fight escalated between the two teams with the fight song. Yet no one in the universe gave two shits because the Redskins weren’t a winner and Dallas was scoffed at as “Next Year’s Champions”. It didn’t hit the national level until nationally televised games during the George Allen years. Yet typical to Texas egos and attitudes, they think the world revolved around them when it clearly didn’t. It grew wings in the Allen era when they challenged for Super Bowls right after Dallas eventually made it once the Green Bay Packers were old. Period….this is the real deal. Not what one Johnny Come Lately tries to label The Chancellor of Football as. LOL


  9. The truth?
    frauds jumped on the Redskins hate for Dallas and from there it became
    a jealousy issue, Washington on the other hand? really had a reason to
    hate us and Dallas had a real reason to hate them
    This was not escalated by Allen as this joker suggests, this was escalated
    by? George Preston Marshall. who was a racist bigot with a ignorant ego
    to match
    he thought he owned the entire world and nobody was gonna take
    away what was his. until Clint Murchinson took the fight song away
    and made Marshall vote in favor of expansion and the new Dallas
    If it was not for these events happening? the teams you see today
    would not exist

    Liked by 1 person

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