Texas journalist and author Patoski (Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, 2008, etc.) delivers an oversized history of one of sport’s greatest franchises.
The Dallas Cowboys’ on-field achievements—five Super Bowl wins, 10 conference championships, 21 division titles and 30 playoff appearances in their 52-year history—have arguably been overshadowed by their impact on professional football and popular culture in general, earning them the nickname “America’s Team.” Patoski’s in-depth study gives readers everything they want to know about “The Boys” and much more, from the field to the front office, the media and, of course, the famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The author also tracks the parallel development of the city of Dallas, with a focus on business and politics. For a book about a football team, there’s surprisingly little football, though the author briefly recaps the triumphs and tragedies of star players like Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. Patoski barely mentions the subpar teams of the 1980s, though he does document the most recent edition’s struggles, highlighted by the drama surrounding talented and camera-friendly quarterback Tony Romo. Patoski spends a surprising amount of time discussing the media coverage of the team, but the majority of the narrative belongs to the ownership and front office, with the first two-thirds dominated by the man most responsible for the Cowboys’ success and for much of what an NFL franchise looks like today, team president and general manager Tex Schramm. Schramm and legendary coach Tom Landry got pushed out when “reptilian” Arkansas oil-and-gas baron Jerry Jones, a cartoon villain of a franchise owner, purchased the team in 1989, beginning the modern era of the Cowboys and keeping them in the headlines with controversy and equal measures of success and failure on and off the gridiron.
A fittingly exhaustive history of a larger-than-life franchise.