KYDC ’92: America’s Team II

This post is part of the 1992 Season in Review series, marking the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl championship season.

If you wanted an America’s Team t-shirt in 1992, it might look like this one.

The Dallas Cowboys of the 1970s was so popular that sales of Cowboys merchandise represented 25% of all NFL merchandise. The team’s weekly magazine, Dallas Cowboys Weekly, once had more than 100,000 subscribers.

Then the 1980s happened. Between the 1982 playoffs and the 1991 playoffs, Dallas had not won a single playoff game. Everyone one was well aware of the 1-15 season in 1989 and the rows of empty seats at Texas Stadium. Subscriptions to Dallas Cowboys Weekly fell below 30,000.

Even the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders suffered. In the early 1980s, nearly 1,000 women would try out for the squad. By the end of the decade, the team had only about 250 auditioning.

The 1992 Cowboys were, according to some sports books, 4-to-1 favorites to win Super Bowl XXVII. The only team with better odds were the Buffalo Bills, San Francisco 49ers, and Washington Redskins.

So the promise of the return to the good-old-days led Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw on July 5, 1992 to write a column entitled American’s Team II: Cowboys on Track to Regain Popularity of Super Bowl Era. Excerpts are below:

You can see it from the mailboxes in foreign countries to the sports books in Las Vegas to the cheerleader tryouts in Dallas. And you can hear it in NFL offices around the league.

“America’s Team’ is coming back.

To be sure, the Cowboys have not made it all the way back. One playoff victory, even if it was the franchise’s first since the 1982 season, does not equal the five Super Bowl trips the Cowboys made during the 1970s. And off the field, the club is not yet approaching the levels of devotion it attained in its prime.

But there are signs it’s moving back in that direction.

The team has regained its esteem with the television networks, as evidenced by the Monday night opener with Washington and the maximum three Monday Night Football appearances the club will make next season. The pre-season will include a trip to Tokyo to play the Oilers as the league hopes to cash in on the Cowboys’ international appeal.

“When we were down, there weren’t a lot of expectations or commitments,’ said coach Jimmy Johnson. “Without question, everybody’s attitude has made a 180-degree turn. Whereas the first year here (1989), it was almost a feeling of sympathy and the second year it was one of being somewhat skeptical, just hoping for a few wins, now the feeling is one of high expectations. The fans expect us not just to win but win big.’

That fan enthusiasm has translated into attendance records at Texas Stadium. The Cowboys’ average home crowd of 62,738 in 1991 was their largest since 1983. And they enter the 1992 season with a team-record 15-game streak of home crowds in excess of 60,000. During their Super Bowl era, Dallas’ longest streak of 60,000-plus was 11 games.

“That’s made possible by the great fan base we’ve had in the past,’ said owner Jerry Jones. “I think that, combined with the excitement of watching this team being rebuilt, has driven up the attendance. Even our first year, one of the promising things was there was no apathy from the fans. There was criticism, but it was done with interest in the team. And that’s a lot better than apathy.”

“With success in 1992, we can create more interest in our team than we could if it had not had success. The past success of the Dallas Cowboys is going to help us on the field,’ Jones said. “When a player puts on the Cowboys uniform or when you go to work for the organization, you’ve challenged yourself. The expectations automatically are high, and I really think that’s a plus.

“I would rather have people taking shots at me. I’d rather be trying to survive that kind of challenge than trying to prove you’re worthy.”

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