My first memory of football and the Dallas Cowboys was at the age of 6.
It was the 1981 Cowboys vs. 49ers Championship game.
What I remember about the game is more of feelings, I remember asking questions about what was going on in the game, the rules, what would happen if the Cowboys won. I must have enjoyed watching it because it was with my parents and other family. But I also remember being intrinsically hooked to the game. Ever since that game football and more importantly the Dallas Cowboys have been a part of my life.
I grew up with early 1980s Cowboys’ football. Players like Danny White, Randy White, Drew Pearson, Tony Hill, and Tony Dorsett.
I remember when Bill Bates joined the team as an overachieving and undersized linebacker.
The Cowboys of my early youth were good, but could never get over the hump especially with teams like the Redskins and 49ers. I really enjoyed those Cowboy teams, it was more about the struggle.
I was hooked and totally immersed into the Cowboys. I remember, it was the fourth or fifth grade, and I bet another kid that Dallas was going to beat the Redskins that week. The Cowboys lost, and I cried after the game. My parents told me if I continued to take the game this seriously that I would not be allowed to watch it anymore.
I recall the last Monday night game of one season, it was the Cowboys vs. the Dolphins and Dan Marino. Dallas needed the win to get into the playoffs. My mom picked me up early from a cub scouts meeting so I could watch the game. Unfortunately they lost.
The mid to late 1980s were really bad. After the retirement of Danny White, quarterbacks such as Gary Hogeboom took the reins. I remember my Dad would start singing after an inevitable interception “Gary H o o g a b o o o u u u u m”.
Then Jerry Jones bought the team and that was the last of Coach Laundry. A disappointing way to go out. But I really got excited with Jimmy Johnson as coach.
The 1988 season was my favorite year. I watched every single game. The Cowboys drafted Troy Aikman from UCLA and Steve Walsh from the University of Miami. The Cowboys only won one game all year, and that was a victory over the Redskins with Steve Walsh at the helm. The excitement and enthusiasm of the new coach and young players was infectious. I was thankful to the Vikings with the Hershel Walker trade which built a good part of the 1990s Cowboys team.
The early 1990s were the glory years. Watching young players such as Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irving develop into hall of famers was amazing to watch. Winning Super Bowls seemed easy at that point.
However, since 1996 Dallas has been through a plethora of coaches and quarterbacks trying to recreate the magic of the early 1990s teams. It is not so easy to win Super Bowls
I have tried given up watching the Cowboys many times. During the 1997-1998 seasons I was a ski lift operator in Montana living in the mountains with no TV. This about kicked my habit of the Cowboys. Then I started grad school in pursuit of my PhD in Anthropology. I wouldn’t allow myself time to spend a Sunday watching the Cowboys if I had not made much progress with my research.
But here I am now. Almost 40 years old. I followed the last Cowboys draft in April and was happy and surprised with the new draft class of Frederick, Williams, and Escobar.
I wish I could stop watching them. I have a lot more things to do. I have manuscripts to write and publish, spend time with my wife, and we have our first baby coming this fall. Yet, here it is the start of the season and I can’t wait. Will the offense line solidify with Frederick? Will the new 4-3 defense allow Ware to become the best DE in the league? All questions that I want to see answered and I do not want to miss a thing.
It feels like watching the Cowboys is in my DNA. Watching and talking about the Cowboys with my Dad was an important part of my life. It will be interesting to see if my love of the Cowboys is culturally transmitted to my son. Being a fan of a team like this is so much more than just watching the game.