What does the Dallas Cowboys star mean and why are they considered America's Team?

Everyone knows that the Cowboys are America’s team, but how did that start and why is a team with a streak of no big wins known as the team of a nation?

What does the Dallas Cowboys star mean and why are they considered America's Team?
Tom Pennington AFP

Here’s the thing. I’m a Cowboys fan - born and raised in Dallas - so the fact the Cowboys are known as America’s team is just a way for me to be smug when I talk about why everyone else should also be a fan. But I always get the question…why is America’s team one which hasn’t won a Super Bowl in over two decades? Fair question. It's a mix of history and loyalty. Let me explain.

The history of the nickname “America’s Team”

The nickname America’s Team was actually first coined in 1978 in a Dallas Cowboys highlight film by narrator John Facenda, who mentioned that the team appears on TV so much that they are as recognizable as movie stars and US presidents. Thus, they are “America’s Team”. The name stuck and is used today by media outlets and sports announcers.

Though it may have been coined in a year when the Cowboys went to the Super Bowl (compared to today in 2021, 25 years after winning their last Super Bowl title), the name still holds up and the Cowboys are still one of the wealthiest, most well-known, and talked-about teams in the NFL. But why?

The Cowboys have been around since 1960 and they still hold the record for most sold-out games, both home and away. They have made it to the Super Bowl eight times, which is the second-most in NFL history. Of the eight appearances, the Boys have won five. Only the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers have more Super Bowl victories than the Cowboys. They were the first team in NFL history to win three Super Bowls in four years. Though it may have happened a long time ago, Dallas had a long run of consecutive winning seasons which builds up a loyalty that stays.

Hall of fame running back for the Dallas Cowboys (and my childhood cat's namesake), Emmitt Smith said, “When I was a kid, all you ever heard about was the Cowboys. I wanted to be like Tony Dorsett. The Cowboys were like Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls - they were always winning.”

Hall of fame running back Emmitt SmithEmmitt Smith was one of the greatest RBs in all the NFL

The meaning of the star logo

So what about the star? Why is it blue and not red, white, and blue if this is indeed America’s team? Well, the star is less about America and more about Texas, but if you ask a Texan, they might tell you they’re one in the same. Texas is known as the lone-star state because of its former status as an independent republic and as a reminder of its struggle to gain independence from Mexico. The Texas state flag has one single star too, and Dallas also has a hockey team known as the Dallas Stars. The star is meant to be a symbol of unity and the color blue was chosen to depict calmness and peace, a sort of reminder to practice good sportsmanship. Do they always do that? Well, that’s another story.

Cowboys helmets

Cowboys helmetsThe Cowboys star has been a symbol of unity that's lasted the team's tenure.

The popularity persists

Still not understanding the lasting power of this team’s fame after 25 years of heartache and disappointment? Well, the success of the team’s popularity didn’t happen overnight. It’s not just about their wins - it’s about the brand. Roger Staubach, a war veteran as quarterback, the first-of-their-kind America’s sweethearts the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders, the iconic logo evoking patriotism and the name of the team itself, the Cowboys, all played a part in the fame.

We can't talk about the Cowboys without talking about Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who perpetuates the drama and feeds the news cycle with his antics. From firing Tom Landry to making comments like “I want me some glory hole”, to building a giant stadium with a Victoria’s Secret inside, Jerry Jones knows how to get publicity - good or bad, doesn’t matter. And drama draws in views and gets people talking.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones

Cowboys owner Jerry JonesJerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, claps for his team.

Obviously, fans want their teams to win, and there are always those fans we like to call “bandwagonners” who jump on as fans solely because a team has won. Cowboys fans are not that so much as they are just really loyal. Being a fan of the Cowboys isn’t about winning (though we wouldn’t complain about it). It’s more like an identity. So we hold on tight to the successes of the 90s and memories of Super Bowl victories past, and year after year, we say (and some truly believe), “this is our year!”