The Demise of “America’s Team”

The Dallas Cowboys have been called “America’s Team” since the 1970s, but have failed to live up to this reputation since the tail end of Troy Aikman’s career.

Forbes released a study in Sept. 2012 that showed owner Jerry Jones’ team as the most valuable franchise in the league at $2.1 billion. A Public Policy Poling survey last December showed that the Cowboys are also the most hated NFL team, with 22 percent of NFL fans claiming the squad is their least favorite.

Despite all of the attention and spotlight shining on Dallas, it is a team that has won just one playoff game in over 15 years. The last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl was when Bill Clinton was president of the United States.

Dallas fell on hard times towards the end of Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman’s career in the early 2000’s and has had little success since. The team went through countless names at quarterback such as Quincy Carter, Drew Henson, Steve Hutchinson and Vinny Testaverde.

Then after Bill Parcells left town in 2007, the Cowboys finally looked like they were on their way back to the Super Bowl. A team with rising star Tony Romo at quarterback, DeMarcus Ware on defense and Terrell Owens at wide receiver looked destined for great things.

The team made the playoffs as they would in 2009, but both postseason trips ended without a trip to the NFC championship team much less a Super Bowl appearance. So what is the problem that’s keeping the NFL’s most profitable team in mediocrity? It is an over-controlling owner and stupid play on the field.

Jones is one of the league’s best and most influential owners. He and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft were crucial in ending the lockout last season. At his core, Jones runs his team with the same passion that the diehard Cowboys fans would. He spends the money to get the big name players and knows how to keep his team in the headlines. Unfortunately, Jones makes a lousy general manager and has proven incapable of making football decisions.

The issue the Cowboys as a franchise face is that Jones won’t step down as the GM and the only one who could fire him from the position… is Jones himself. Dallas has been unable to make quality investments in the NFL Draft since Parcells left, with notable first round busts such as Felix Jones and Anthony Spencer coming to mind. Despite both players being solid role players, they have not become superstars like Adrian Peterson and Haloti Ngata, who were both first round selections that play the same positions as Jones and Spencer.

Until the Cowboys’ owner can either have a smarter NFL mind consult him on draft day and during free agency, the team will continue to struggle bringing in personnel. The other big issue the franchise faces is underperforming on the field.

Dallas is one of the most talented NFC teams on paper and arguably the most talented in the NFC East division. The trouble has been taking that talent and producing it on the football field. The Cowboys are the second-most most penalized team in the NFL this season and have an offensive line that can’t keep pressure off Romo.

Even with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s defense posting a top-10 unit most of this season, the team still sits 5-6 and barely in playoff contention in 2012. The only way this squad will live up to their talent on paper is to have a disciplinary head coach the players respect.

Whether that means firing current head coach Jason Garrett or not is up to the owner to decide. But until the Cowboys can stop making costly mistakes and drafting underperforming players, “America’s Team” will continue to be a hollow nickname. In the meantime, Dallas can continue to sell tickets and merchandise while failing to live up to its fans high expectations.