The Dallas Cowboys are a National Football League franchise that plays in Dallas, Texas. The Cowboys play their home games at Texas Stadium (for the time being), located in nearby Irving, TX. Team colors are: royal blue, metallic silver blue and white.

The Cowboys rank as one of the NFL's most successful franchises. Since their entry into the league in 1960, the club has appeared in the most Super Bowls (8), tied for the most Super Bowl victories (5, tied with the San Francisco 49ers), won 18 division championships and has amassed one of the best overall records in both the regular season (377-275-6) and the playoffs (32-21).

On the field, the 'Boys' primary strengths have been at the most skilled positions (quarterback, running back and wide receiver) and the most "unskilled" (defensive tackle and offensive lineman). Another strength is the stability of the coaching staff and front office; in their 42 year history, the Cowboys have only had three owners and five head coaches.


History
The 1960s - On January 26, 1960, the NFL awarded an expansion franchise to Clint Murchison Jr. and Bedford Wynne. Their team, the Dallas Cowboys was stocked with 36 players through an expansion draft. The Cowboys, led by head coach Tom Landry and quarterback Don Meredith stunk up the Cotton Bowl for the first few seasons, going a combined 18-46-4 in their first five seasons.

During this timespan, the club began drafting several players who would be the keys to future success: Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro and Roger Staubach (Staubach would not join the club until 1969, after his committment to the US Navy was fulfilled). The 'Boys finished the 1965 campaign at a respectable 7-7, but they failed to make the playoffs. The club would be left out of postseason contention only thrice more in the next twenty years.

Landry installed his famous "Flex Defense" scheme in the mid-60s, and the Cowboys defensive squad would get the well-earned nickname "the Doomsday Defense." The defense propelled the team to a conference championship in 1966, and tied an NFL record for fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (2) in 1968.

The 1970s - The decade started with Dallas established as one of the powerhouses in the NFL. In 1970, the club was moved from the NFL's Capital Division to the NFC East during the AFC realignment. That year, the Cowboys played in their first Super Bowl, Super Bowl V, which was only lost by a last minute field goal to the Baltimore Colts. The club avenged the loss the next year, trouncing the Miami Dolphins 24-3 in Super Bowl VI. (Perhaps this loss motivated the Dolphins, as they won Super Bowl VII, capping off the NFL's only perfect season ever.) Super Bowl VI saw the introduction of what was to become a Dallas tradition: the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The early seventies also saw the addition of Billy Joe DuPree, Danny White and Ed "Too Tall" Jones.

The Cowboys suffered through injury and personnel problems between 1972 and 1974, but returned to the NFL championship game in 1975, losing Super Bowl X to the emerging Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty. The club suffered an early exit from the playoffs in 1976, but returned to start the 1977 season with a record 8-0 run. The club faced the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XII, triumphing 27-10. 1977 also saw the club select running back Tony Dorsett with their first draft pick. The Boys' put together a 12-4 season in 1978, and advanced once again to the Super Bowl. There, they lost to the Steelers in Super Bowl XIII. By the end of the decade, Lilly, Staubach, safety Cliff Harris and Jones had retired, although Jones would rethink his decision, and rejoin the club for an additional nine years in 1980.

The 1980s - The early-80s were a bittersweet time for the Cowboys. The club was still a force to be reckoned with in the NFC, but three consecutive losses in the conference final (including 1981's game, where the 49ers beat the 'Boys on the final drive of the game, culminating in "The Catch") cast doubts on Landry's ability as a coach and White's ability to run the offense.

The team slowly started to fade in the mid-80s. After decent seasons in 1983 and 1985 led to early playoff exits, the franchise hit its longest postseason drought since 1966: five straight years without a postseason appearance. Following the end of the 1988 season, new owner Jerry Jones fired Landry (an act that would villianize him in north Texas for tears) and hired Jimmy Johnson from the University of Miami. The team's poor showing, however, resulted in a number of useful draft picks. Johnson drafted Troy Aikman, fullback Daryl "Moose" Johnston and center Mark Stepnoski in 1989, adding to a list of yourn prospects which already included Michael Irvin and Ken Norton Jr.. Johnson traded running back Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a slew of conditional draft picks. The next year, Johnson picked running back Emmitt Smith to replace Walker...not a bad choice.

Despite inheriting a 3-13 club, Johnson quickly turned things around. The team dropped to 1-15 in 1989 with rookie Aikman at the helm, but began to show flashes of brilliance.

The 1990s - 1990 saw the Cowboys begin to claw their way back to respectability. The club went 7-9, and Johnson won Coach of the Year honors for his efforts. The next year, the club returned to its winning ways, posting an 11-5 mark and winning their first playoff game since 1982. Smith and Irvin (two corners of the Cowboys' new Holy Trinity) led the league in rushing and receiving respectively, an NFL first.

In 1992, the Cowboys posted their best-ever season, a 13-3 mark. The team rolled over the Philadephia Eagles and the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs, only to encounter the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXVII. It wasn't pretty. The Bills surrendered five fumbles (two for touchdowns) and were pummeled in one of the most lop-sided Super Bowls ever, 52-17. The Bills and the Cowboys met again in Super Bowl XXVIII, with the Bills falling 30-13.

After the 1993 season, Johnson and Jones came to the proverbial loggerhead. Johnson left the Cowboys, and was replaced by former University of Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer. Fan support was not behind Switzer at first, but a 12-4 season helped ease their concerns. Following a 30-20 bow to the 49ers in the 1994 NFC title match, the Cowboys returned to the Super Bowl in 1995. In Super Bowl XXX, the team extracted revenge for losses to the Steelers in Super Bowls X and XIII by beating Pittsburgh 27-17.

Although Aikman, Irvin and Smith remained productive when on the field, the team began to fall apart after their fifth Super Bowl. Super Bowl XXX MVP Larry Brown left that year, joining Norton Jr and lineman Kevin Gogan as recent free agent departees. More important, though, was the problems certain Cowboys faced off the field. Both Irvin and defensive tackle Leon Lett were suspended for substance abuse, and Irvin and offensive lineman Erik Williams were accused of sexually assaulting a woman.

Switzer found himself embroiled in controversy that year, when he allegedly took a loaded gun onto a commercial airliner. After posting a 6-10 mark in 1997, he resigned. Switzer was replaced by Chan Gailey, who led the Cowboys to decent records during his tenure, but was unable to win a playoff game. Gailey was fired after two seasons, making him the first Cowboys coach to fail to lead the team to a Super Bowl title.

The Aikman/Irvin/Smith "Triplets" started to fade away at the end of the decade. Irvin retired after a neck injury in 1999, and Aikman, suffering from chronic concussions, retired following the 2000 season. Prior to being released by the club at the end of the 2002 season, Emmitt Smith managed to surpass Walter Payton's record for career rushing yards. Smith capped his career off with two lacklustre seasons with the Arizona Cardinals before retiring in 2004.

2000 and Beyond - Gailey's replacement, Dave Campo, struggled to put the pieces together to revitalize the club. He had a revolving door at quarterback in the wake of Aikman's retirement, with such stellar names as Clint Stoerner, Ryan Leaf, Chad Hutchinson and Tony Romo taking snaps for the 'Boys. Campo "guided" the franchise to three straight 5-11 records before getting canned in 2003.

Jones made an unexpected move when hiring his replacement, coaxing master motivator Bill Parcells out of retirement. Parcells had an immediate effect on the young club, pulling career years out of incumbent players like Dat Nguyen and bringing in a few of his players from his days holding the clipboard of the Patriots and Jets like Richie Anderson and Terry Glenn. In his first season in "The Big D", Parcells reversed the teams fortunes with an 11-5 finish and a wildcard playoff berth (lost to eventual NFC Champion Carolina Panthers).

The positive impact of the Tuna's arrival was shortlived, with the team limping in with 6-10 and 9-7 seasons in 2004 and 2005, respectively, missing out on the postseason in both years. The revolving door of star players persists with the departure of stars Larry Allen (the last member of the team's Super Bowl XXX roster), La'Roi Glover and Keyshawn Johnson, and the arrival of quarterback Drew Bledsoe and controversial wideout Terrell Owens.

By 2009, gone too will be aging Texas Stadium, to be replaced by a state-of-the-art, $650 million structure being built in Arlington.


Controversy
Throughout their history, the Cowboys have found themselves tied up in some kind of controversy or another. The team was skewered in the 1979 Nick Nolte movie North Dallas Forty, which highlighted the seedier sides of professional football.

More notable, however, is the off the field troubles faced by members of the Cowboys. Both Michael Irvin and Leon Lett were suspended for multiple violations of the NFL's substance abuse policy, reportedly for cocaine use, in the 1990s. Wideout "Bullet" Bob Hayes served prison time for drug trafficking in the 1980s. In 1999 former Cowboys offensive lineman Mark Tuinei was found dead of a heroin overdose. Most recently, another former Cowboys offensive lineman has found himself in trouble with narcotics; Nate Newton has been found transporting huge loads of marijuana on two separate occasions, and has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. These repeated problems have earned the franchise, known to some as "America's Team," the nickname "South America's Team."

The Cowboys' run-ins with the law have not been restricted to drug offenses. As mentioned above, Switzer was caught packing heat in an airport and Irvin and Williams were accused rapists. And in January 2003, Cowboys DB Dwayne Goodrich struck and killed two men with his car on Interstate 635 while returning home from a night at the club. Goodrich was convicted on two counts of criminally negligent homicide in the hit and run.

I haven't even mentioned Jerry Jones' recent facelift... Or his disputes with the league over signage at Texas Stadium...


Super Bowls
Super Bowl V:        Baltimore 16   -  Dallas 13
Super Bowl VI:       Dallas 24      -  Miami 3
Super Bowl X:        Pittsburgh 21  -  Dallas 17
Super Bowl XII:      Dallas 27      -  Denver 10
Super Bowl XIII:     Pittsburgh 35  -  Dallas 31
Super Bowl XXVII:    Dallas 52      -  Buffalo 17
Super Bowl XXVIII:   Dallas 30      -  Buffalo 13
Super Bowl XXX:      Dallas 27      -  Pittsburgh 17



Sources:
Dallas Cowboys Official Website - http://www.dallascowboys.com
Dallas Cowboys History and Stats Page - http://www.geocities.com/~jrbeasley/dallas

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