Dallas Cowboys History
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Know Your Dallas Cowboys is nearly ten years old. In light of the forthcoming anniversary, and given that the blog has been on life support this offseason, I figured now would be a decent time to start a new series.
Let’s look back at what was happening a decade ago before I decided the blogosphere needed yet another Dallas Cowboys blog.
On July 23, 2006, the Cowboys were preparing to open their training camp in Oxnard, California. The team planned to move its training camp to San Antonio in 2007, and it was not clear whether the Cowboys would return to California again.
The team was trying to improve on their 9-7 finish from 2005 and hoped that Bill Parcells recreate some of his past success.
What actually happened…The Cowboys alternated between Oxnard and San Antonio for several years. They have held training camp in Oxnard each year since 2012.
(Backup) Quarterback Controversy
Drew Bledsoe entered his second season as the starting quarterback. He threw for more than 3,600 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2005, but not all fans were happy with him. Nevertheless, few thought the team would roll the dice with one of the inexperienced backups.
Regarding the QB race, former Dallas Morning News reporter Todd Archer wrote the following:
The skinny: Bledsoe is the starter, but Parcells has said Romo will get plenty of work in preseason. Bledsoe, 34, is in fine shape, but Parcells doesn’t want to overwork him. Henson was decent in NFL Europe, his first extended game action since 2000, but he’ll need to impress early to push Romo. Jeff Mroz, a free-agent pickup, could be a long-term project.
What actually happened?… Do I really need to tell you that Tony Romo became the starter in 2006?
What about Jeff Mroz?…He never made the team. He signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2007, but also failed to make that team. According to his LinkedIn page, he is the co-founder of a nutrition company.
A Record, Long-Term Deal for Jason Witten
Many fans focused on the offseason signing of Terrell Owens (and we will address him later).
Less memorable is the fact that the Cowboys signed Jason Witten to a long-term deal. The team announced the contract extension on July 23, 2006.
What actually happened?…The Cowboys have never been in danger of losing Witten, and he has remained productive throughout his long career. He made the Pro Bowl in 2006 before having an all-pro season in 2007. His base salary in 2006, after the signing, was $500,000. By comparison, his base salary in 2016 is $6.5 million.
One player had a poor year in 1974 after being named the NFC Defensive Player of the Year in 1973. He said he played with injuries and was almost ready to hang up his cleats. However, he signed a two-year deal and returned in 1975.
The player’s quote appears in the quiz question below.
The “Randy” that appears in the quote above was Randy White, whom the Cowboys had drafted in 1975.
The player quoted above noted the following about White:
“He’s got great quickness and movement. No hangups about moving around in there. And those 250 pounders won’t be knocking him around like they do me.”
White played linebacker before being moved to defensive tackle in 1977. Of course, that was the year he shared co-MVP honors with Harvey Martin after the Cowboys won Super Bowl XII.
Fifty years ago, the Dallas Cowboys were heading into a season trying to improve on a 7-7 record from 1965. Dallas was stacked on both sides of the ball and would finish the 1966 season with a record of 10-3-1.
During the offseason in 1966, the Cowboys announced that one of the defensive players from the previous year was going to move over to the offense. Here is a quote from Tom Landry, with the player’s name removed:
“We can’t hope to have as good a defense without _________. But we think we can offset his absence in several ways. We can improve our pass rush to take some pressure off the secondary, and we can offset it with our own offense. If ________ can bring our offense up from eighth (in the NFL) to about fourth…and he’ll have to bring it up that much to be value received…then we’re a contender.”
(1) Who was the player?
(2) Did this player play offense or defense in 1966?
From the files of “I wasn’t born until 1971, so I would have no memory of this…”
The article that contained the quote above in 1966 also had the cartoon below.
The NFL and AFL had announced the proposed merger of the league on June 8, 1966, and this agreement explains part of this cartoon. What I did not understand was the reference to the United States Football League. After all, the USFL did not exist until 1982, or so I thought.
It turns out that during the summer of 1966, former Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy announced that a group of well-financed businessmen were going to form a 10-team league called the United States Football League. A person who figured prominently in the planning was a Dallas investor named Chester L. Brewer, who was the son of a former head coach at Michigan State.
At the time of the announcement, Leahy said the owners were willing to pay big money for top talent, which could have led to more bidding wars. That was the point of the cartoon.
In August, the league announced that Brewer had been awarded a franchise, but it would be based in New Orleans. Other cities to have franchises would have been Philadelphia, Washington, Los Angeles, Atlana, Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Akron. The league was supposed to announced additional franchises in the fall of 1966, with league play scheduled to begin in the spring of 1967.
The last reference I could find to this league appeared in late August 1966. Leahy had resigned as commissioner, but league sources said the league would still begin in the spring. Obviously, it never happened.
Brewer was later convicted of securities and mail fraud and sentenced to 15 years in federal prison.
The Dallas Cowboys did not participate in the NFL Draft in December 1959. The team instead chose players in an expansion draft that took place later.
The first NFL draft in which the Cowboys participated was the one during the offseason between the 1960 and 1961 seasons. Unlike modern drafts, those old drafts took place earlier in the year.
The 1961 Draft actually took place on December 27 and 28 in 1960. The draft then was not the spectacle it is today, but it did receive news coverage.
Dallas had traded its rights to the second overall pick to Washington in exchange for the rights to Eddie LeBaron. The Cowboys traded back into the first round by sending Paul Dickson and a first-round pick in 1962 to Cleveland in exchange for the 13th overall pick.
With that first-round selection, Dallas took defensive tackle Bob Lilly. In the second round, Dallas took linebacker E.J. Holub.
The Cowboys expected a bidding war with the Dallas Texans to see who would sign Lilly and Holub. The Cowboys, of course, signed Lilly, while Holub became a standout linebacker with the Texans/Chiefs franchise.
The rest of the 1961 draft was not a great one for the Cowboys. Nine of the seventeen players taken never played a down in the NFL. The Cowboys did find a future hall-of-famer in guard Billy Shaw, but he played his entire career in Buffalo of the AFL.
A veteran NFL scout thought the Cowboys had done a good job in the draft, asking “What are you going to do with all those ‘hosses.”
Here’s the subject of today’s trivia question. In addition to Lilly and Holub, to whom was the scout referring in the quote below?
“You’ve got a real good draft there with Lilly, Holub, and __________. I like them.”
Different kind of trivia from the files of “I didn’t know that.”
On the front page of the Dallas Morning News during the draft in December 1960, the front-page headline announced that President-Elect John F. Kennedy had named a Secretary of the Navy.
It was John B. Connally.
About three years later, it was Connally who was riding in the limousine with Kennedy when Kennedy was assassinated in downtown Dallas. By that time, Connally was serving as the Governor of Texas.
The Cowboys have had at least one first-round pick during each of the past six drafts. Between 2000 and 2009, however, Dallas traded away its first-round pick four times (2000, 2001, 2004, and 2009).
Below is a graphic showing the first-round picks since 2000.
The late Pete Gent is well-known for his book, North Dallas Forty. He played for the Cowboys for five seasons between 1964 and 1968.
Although he was never a full-time starter, he had a pretty good season in 1966. He started ten games that season and caught 27 passes for 474 yards and a touchdown. Dallas had its first winning season that year, finishing 10-3-1 before losing to Green Bay in the NFL Championship Game.
Because the Cowboys did so well that year, several publications featured the team. One publication quoted Gent, who was often very quotable.
Below is a quote. Can you fill in the blank?
“What I lack in speed, I make up for in _____________________.”
Here’s a bonus quote trivia item.
The same publication also featured some quotes from placekicker Danny Villanueva.
Calling Villanueva “invaluable” (with a FG% of 54.8% that season!), the publication notes the following:
“[Villanueva] makes a grand showing of avoiding tackling at all costs on the grounds that he is a “______________ _____________.”
Below is a quote from Tex Schramm.
“I’m still not sure if we’re doing the right thing by playing this game.”
During which season did Schramm make this comment, and what was the context?
While you’re pondering that one..
Most know that the Cowboys signed Alfred Morris to a two-year contract worth $3.5 million contract.
In four seasons in Washington, Morris rushed for 4713 yards and 29 touchdowns.
He did especially well against Dallas. In eight games, Morris rushed for a total of 710 yards. This included three games where he rushed for more than 100 yards and one game where he rushed for 200.
The other player signed was defensive end Benson Mayowa, who played in Oakland in 2014 and 2015 after spending one year in Seattle. The Raiders never faced the Cowboys while Mayowa played there. He has recorded a total of two sacks during his NFL career.
Mock drafts have the Cowboys taking any of a number of players at #4. A few names:
Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State (Todd McShay, ESPN, among many others)
Jalen Ramsey, DE, Florida State (Bleacher Report)
Myles Jack, LB, UCLA (Sports Illustrated)
Dallas Cowboys fans are suffering through the team’s longest losing streak since the first year that Jerry Jones owned the team.
Maybe Jerry will sell the team, and these losing streaks can be suitable bookends?
Perhaps the current streak ends against Tampa Bay on Sunday, but now is a good time to compare previous losing streaks with this one.
Then (1960): The Cowboys opened their inaugural season with a ten-game losing streak. That streak ended on December 4 when the Cowboys tied the Giants.
Then (1989): The Cowboys opened the season with an eight-game losing streak and finished with a seven-game losing streak. In between was an unexpected 13-3 win over the Washington Redskins.
Now (2015): Unlike the 1960 and 1989 squads, these Cowboys were expected to contend for the NFC title. Instead, an injury to Tony Romo caused the club to tank. A 2-0 start turned into a 2-6 record at the season’s midway point.
Then (1960): The Cowboys had a future Ring of Honor player in Don Meredith at QB, but veteran Eddie LeBaron was the starter for most of the year.
Then (1960): The Cowboys had future Hall of Fame player Troy Aikman, but he only started 11 games due to injury.
Now: (2015): The Cowboys have a future Ring of Honor player in Tony Romo but have had to start Brandon Weeden and Matt Cassel because of Romo’s broken clavicle.
Then (1960): The team’s leading rusher was a six-year veteran named L.G. Dupre, who was out of the league after 1961.
Then (1989): The team’s leader rusher was three-year veteran Paul Palmer, who was out of the league after 1989.
Now (2015): The team’s leading rusher is Darren McFadden, who may be back next year.
Then (1960): The team ranked dead last in the NFL in turnover ratio. The Cowboys had 50 giveaways compared with 26 takeaways for a ratio of -24.
Then (1989): The team ranked dead last in the NFL in turnover ratio. The Cowboys had 42 giveaways compared with 17 takeaways for a ratio of -25.
Now (2015): The team ranks 31st out of 32 teams in the NFL in turnover ratio. The Cowboys have 13 giveaways compared with 4 takeaways for a ratio of -9.
Then (1960): First-year head coach Tom Landry led the Cowboys to the playoffs by 1966 and a Super Bowl championship in 1971.
Then (1989): First-year head coach Jimmy Johnson led the Cowboys to the playoffs in 1991 and a Super Bowl championship in 1992.
Now (2015): Sixth-year head coach Jason Garrett has led the Cowboys to one winning record and one playoff appearance.
No fan of the Dallas Cowboys could possibly be happy with the fate of the 2015 team thus far. A 2-0 start has disintegrated into a 2-4 start, and the team could be out of the playoff race before Tony Romo returns later in November.
The Cowboys have been in a similar situation in the past. The team of the 1970s was nearly a dynasty, and by 1974 Dallas had been the playoffs eight consecutive years. Moreover, Dallas had at least made the NFC Championship Game in each season between 1970 and 1973.
The 1974 season was, however, one to forget. As you can see below, that season and the 2015 season have some similarities.
Then (1974): The Cowboys had reached the playoffs each season between 1966 and 1973. The team had reached the Super Bowl in 1970, won the Super Bowl in 1971, and reached the NFC Championship Game in 1972 and 1973.
Now (2015): The Cowboys have not had recent success like the 1970s Cowboys did, but Dallas reached the playoffs in 2014 and beat Detroit in the first round.
Then: Dallas dominated the Atlanta Falcons before losing consecutive games against the Eagles and Giants. Dallas also lost to the Vikings and Cardinals, leaving the Cowboys with a 1-4 record.
Now: Dallas recorded wins over the Giants and Eagles before losing to the Falcons. Additional losses to the Saints, Patriots, and Giants have left the Cowboys with a 2-4 record.
Then: Dallas rebounded with a 31-24 win over the Eagles in week 6. Dallas eventually won four straight to get back into the playoff race with a 5-4 record.
Now: Dallas faces the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks in week 8.
Then: The Cowboys had a good backup QB with Craig Morton, but the Cowboys traded Morton to the Giants early in the season. When Roger Staubach went down with an injury against the Redskins on Thanksgiving Day, backup Clint Longley entered the game. In one of the most famous games in team history, Longley threw two touchdown passes to bring the Cowboys from behind in a 24-23 win.
Now: Dallas lost starting QB Tony Romo in week 2, and the team did not have a good backup. The team lost three straight games with Brandon Weeden, followed by a fourth loss with starter Matt Cassel.
Then: The Cowboys still had a quality starter at RB with Calvin Hill. However, Hill would leave the team after the 1974 season to join the World Football League. In 1976, Hill returned to the NFL, joining the division rival Washington Redskins.
Now: The Cowboys had arguably the best running back in the NFL in 2014 with DeMarco Murray. However, Murray left via free agency to join the division rival Philadelphia Eagles.
Then: Although the Cowboys finished with a winning record in 1974, the team missed the playoffs. Nevertheless, a strong draft in 1975 helped Dallas to rebuild quickly, and the team reached the Super Bowl in 1975.
Now: Jason Garrett’s teams have reached the playoffs just once since he took over as the head coach of the Cowboys. A feel-good season in 2014 has evaporated into a distant memory, and unless the team can turn things around in a hurry, the Cowboys will have another disappointing finish in 2015.
The Dallas Cowboys have had a bye week during week 6 several times in the past, including 2000, 2001, and 2009. Prior to that, the only other week 6 bye occurred in 1996, and that year is the focus of today’s then and now feature.
After the Cowboys won Super Bowl XXX, several in the local Dallas media expected the Cowboys to win one more time during the 1990s. A win after the 1996 season would have given Dallas four titles in five years, which would have been (and still would be) unprecedented. Of course, the Cowboys did not win another championship—and still haven’t.
Below we will compare and contrast the 1996 Cowboys and today’s Cowboys.
Then (1996): The Cowboys had gone 12-4 in 1995 before making it to and winning Super Bowl XXX. Dallas beat Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game before defeating Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. It marked the Cowboys’ third title in four years.
Now (2015): The Cowboys went 12-4 in 2014 but lost to Green Bay in the NFC playoffs. Dallas beat Detroit during the opening round of the playoffs, marking the team’s third playoff win in the past 19 seasons.
Then: Barry Switzer entered this third season as head coach in 1996. Although he received no credit for his football knowledge or coaching ability (of course, he was coaching Jimmy Johnson’s players), he had compiled a 28-8 regular season record and a 4-1 playoff record in two seasons.
Now: Jason Garrett is in his fifth season as head coach. He receives all the credit in the world for his intelligence (of course, he went to Princeton, so he’s smarter than any other coach who did not go to Princeton). Before 2015, he had a career coaching record of 41-31 with a playoff record of 1-1.
Then: The Cowboys lost wide receiver Michael Irvin to a five-game suspension before the season began. To make matters worse, Emmitt Smith suffered what appeared to be a devastating neck injury during the season opener. Although Smith did not miss a game, he struggled at times. For instance, during a 10-7 loss at Buffalo in week 4, Smith had only 25 rushing yards on 15 carries. Having Troy Aikman was not enough during the first five games as the future Hall of Fame quarterback failed to throw for more than 200 yards in four of those games.
Now: The Cowboys had a new version of the triplets in 2014 with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, and DeMarco Murray. However, Murray left the team via free agency, Bryant suffered a foot injury in week 1, and Romo suffered a broken clavicle in week 2.
Then: The Cowboys limped along without Irvin, losing to the Bears, Colts, and Bills. However, Dallas managed wins over the Giants and Eagles to remain in the race.
Now: The Cowboys looked strong in wins over the Giants and Eagles. However, without Romo or Bryant, Dallas has lost to the Falcons, Saints, and Patriots in consecutive games.
Then: Dallas should have suffered a whipping at the hands of the Eagles in week 5, but strong rushing by Smith and good defense allowed the Cowboys to sneak out of the game with a 23-17 win. The win improved the Cowboys’ record to 2-3.
Now: Dallas should have suffered and did suffer a whipping at the hands of the Patriots in week 5. The loss dropped Dallas to 2-3.
Then: The 1996 Cowboys showed guts and resolve. They overcame a 1-3 start to win 9 of their final 12 games. The 10-6 mark was enough to give Dallas another division title. Had Jimmy Johnson been the coach, the turnaround would have provided even more evidence of his genius. However, because Barry Switzer was the coach, most felt that he just won with Jimmy’s players.
Now: The 2015 Cowboys have not shown much of anything since losing Romo and Bryant. Although the defense showed signs of life early in the game against New England, the team appeared to all but give up in the second half. Jason Garrett is still a genius because he went to Princeton, and anyone who studies history at Princeton is a genius football coach. The genius nevertheless needs to find a way to win without his stars or the 2015 season will be lost.
The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots have never faced one another during a week 5 in the past. However, the teams have played during week 6 three times, including 1971, 2007, and 2011. New England won the last two of these three games while Dallas won the game in 1971.
Overall, Dallas leads the series, 7 games to 4. However, the Cowboys have not defeated the Patriots since 1996.
Let’s remember some better days today and review the 1971 game.
Then (1971): The Cowboys and Patriots had never played one another in a regular-season game. The teams faced off in 1971, one year after the NFL-AFL merger.
Now (2015): Dallas and New England play each other every four years under the current NFL scheduling system. The Cowboys won the first seven games against the Patriots, but New England has owned Dallas in the four games played between 1999 and 2011.
Then: The Patriots were led at quarterback by rookie Jim Plunkett. He was a highly touted Heisman Trophy winner, but he struggled for many years before leading the Oakland Raiders to two Super Bowl titles.
Now: The Patriots are led at quarterback by Tom Brady. He was a 6th-round pick out of college and entered the NFL without any expectations. However, he had immediate success and has led the Patriots to four Super Bowl titles.
Then: The Cowboys reached the Super Bowl in 1970 with a rookie running back named Duane Thomas. He was such a disruption that the Cowboys traded him to the Patriots in August 1971. NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle later voided part of the trade because Thomas caused so many problems in New England, and Thomas played the 1971 season in Dallas.
Now: The Cowboys reached the playoffs thanks to the running of DeMarco Murray. The Cowboys let him leave via free agency, and the Eagles signed him. He has been ineffective thus far, leading at least a few Philadelphia fans to want to send him back to Dallas.
Then: Dallas head coach Tom Landry developed an ill-fated system of alternating quarterbacks Roger Staubach and Craig Morton. The system failed miserably, and by the time Dallas played New England, the team was 3-2.
Now: Dallas head coach Jason Garrett has had to rely on backup Brandon Weeden, who has been largely ineffective against the Falcons and Saints. Losses to those teams have dropped the Cowboys’ record to 2-2. Garrett may need to turn to backup Matt Cassel if Weeden continues to struggle.
Then: Dallas was a regular contender by 1971 and would eventually win the Super Bowl that season. New England, on the other hand, had been to the AFL playoffs only once and would not reach the Super Bowl for another 14 years (1985 vs. Chicago in Super Bowl XX).
Now: New England has been to six Super Bowls in the past 14 years, and the Patriots have looked like Super Bowl favorites thus far in 2015. Dallas, on the other hand, has been to the playoffs only five times during the past 15 years and has not reached the Super Bowl in 20 years.