The Dallas Cowboys were formed as a franchise in 1960, and were known as the Dallas Steers and the Dallas Rangers before settling on "Cowboys" prior to the start of the 1960 season. Initially, the Cowboys' would-be owners had trouble securing their expansion team, since the Washington Redskins owner George Marshall had a monopoly over the representation of the Southern States of the U.S. with his Redskins team. To counteract Marshall's opposition to the new franchise, would-be owners Clint Murchison, Jr. and Bedford Wynne purchased the rights to the Washington Redskins fight song while telling him he would not be allowed to play it at Redskins games. This led Marshall to agree to a new franchise, and the Dallas Cowboys were born.
The Cowboys began the way most expansion teams do by not seeing a winning season until their seventh year of existence as well as a winless inaugural season. Led by quarterback Don Meredith and legendary coach Tom Landry, Dallas went 10-3-1 in 1966 to win the NFC Eastern Division, setting up a showdown with the vaunted Green Bay Packers. The Cowboys fell to the Packers 34-27 but that was the beginning of a powerhouse franchise that would be in the Super Bowl mix for decades to come.
Dallas drafted Heisman Trophy winner Rogers Staubach out of Navy, but were not able to enjoy the fruits of his labor until 1969 because of his military commitments. His first breakthrough came in 1971 when he assumed the role of starting quarterback after a lackluster beginning of the season by Craig Morton. The Cowboys went on to a 11-3 season and pushed through the Dolphins for their first Super Bowl victory, with Staubach named as the game’s MVP.
Dallas averaged 10 wins a season for the next five years before reaching the Super Bowl again in 1977, taking the crown with a 27-10 win over the Broncos.
The 90s saw the emergency of the “Big Three”: Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin. Led by head coach Jimmy Johnson, the Cowboys won their third Super Bowl in 1992 and twice more in 1993 and 1995 (under Barry Switzer), giving Dallas the most championships in NFL history. While all three are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s Smith that broke the record for all-time rushing yards, securing his place in history as one of the best football players of all time.
The Cowboys fan base spreads throughout the nation and even world, setting records in consecutive sold-out games, including home and road contests. Dallas is tied with Pittsburgh for most Super Bowl appearances (8) and are the only team to amass 20 consecutive winning seasons.
The recent Cowboys have been led by quarterback Tony Romo and defensive end DeMarcus Ware. Dallas went on a long playoff-win drought before finally beating the Philadelphia Eagles 34-14 in the first round of the 2009 playoffs, but then quickly succumbed to the Minnesota Vikings in the next round. The Cowboys and owner Jerry Jones will continue to try to take the team back to the Super Bowl in the seasons to come as they try to satisfy the large fan base with what they got so used to in the 90s.