Pro football had been tried in Dallas before the Cowboys, but had failed. A team known as the Dallas Texans (not to be confused with the AFL team of the same name or the modern Houston Texans) played one year in Dallas in 1952, but the owners went broke and the team folded after one year.
It wasn’t until 1960 that another team tried to play in the city. There was no doubt that Texans loved their football, but it was the college game that was most popular.
The new team began play in the league with an expansion team made up mostly of rejects from other teams and untested new players. Their quarterback was Eddie LeBaron, one of the shortest players ever in the league at 5’7”. He had been a star at Pacific and had played through the 1950s with the Redskins.
Also on the team was young Don Meredith out of the local school SMU. Eventually, he would become the starter at quarterback and lead the team through most of the sixties. He is better known now for his work as a broadcaster on Monday Night Football telecasts, but he is well-remembered by his teammates for his toughness and his leadership.
The Cowboys’ first coach was Tom Landry. He would be their only coach for 29 years. Though the first few years of the team were not successful, the Cowboys’ colorful owner Clint Murchison, Jr. made a wise decision when he gave Landry a 10-year contract.
Eventually with the good judgment of Landry and general manager Tex Schramm, the Cowboys accumulated a lot of good players, including future Hall Of Famers Bob Lilly, Rayfield Wright and Mel Renfro. They also added Bob Hayes, an Olympic champions sprinter who added an element of speed to the team that no one else in the NFL could match.
The Cowboys under Landry were known for their innovations, including a revival of the shotgun offense. They were also famous for having a computer-generated game plan each week, as well as advanced scouting techniques that netted them many top players from very small schools.
The Cowboys played for the NFL championship in both 1966 and 1967, but lost both games narrowly to the Green Bay Packers. Three years later, the Cowboys finally reached their first Super Bowl, but lost to the Balitimore Colts in another bitter loss.
However, in 1971, the long wait for a championship in Dallas ended. The team won the Super Bowl over the Dolphins. While many of the players from the early years of the team remained, including Lilly and Renfro, the star of the team was their new quarterback, Roger Staubach. He had won the Heisman Trophy playing at Navy, then went into the service after his college career ended. He didn’t get to the Cowboys until he was almost 30, but still managed to have a fairly long and quite glorious NFL career. The Cowboys got to three more Super Bowls with Staubach as their quarterback, winning one at the end of the 1977 season.
After Staubach retired after the 1979 season, the Cowboys remained strong contenders under their new quarterback Danny White, but they did not get back to any more Super Bowls under Tom Landry.
The next Cowboys’ championship came at the end of the 1992 season. By then, the team had a new owner, Jerry Jones, and a new coach, Jimmy Johnson. The Cowoys also had several new stars, including quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and wide receiver Michael Irvin, all of who ended up in the Hall Of Fame. In 1995, the team also acquired another future Hall Of Famer in Deion Sanders, who played mostly defense but was also used at times on offense and special teams.
The Cowboys won three Super Bowls in the nineties, winning a second straight in January 1994. Two years later, they won another, although by that time, Jommy Johnson had been replaced as coach after a dispute with the owner Jones.
Though the team won another title without Johnson, his loss was felt in the years that followed. Without his judgment on players, the Cowboys’ fortunes declined.
The Cowboys have been in the longest drought in their history. Through the 2012 season, they have not won a championship or even been to a Super Bowl for seventeen consecutive years.
While the team has not been able to win titles recently, they have been a great success financially. In 2009, they moved into a spectacular new venue, Cowboys Stadium. It is just one of the reasons that the Cowboys are now the most valuable franchise in all of American sports. They are valued at over two billion dollars, or more than ten times what Jerry Jones paid for the team in 1989.