December 8, 2016
Can the Cowboys save the NFL?
In case you haven’t seen a sports channel or read the sports section of the newspaper lately, here’s a bulletin for you: the NFL is in dire straits. With viewership – and profits – falling the league needs to find a way to make it work like it used to.
The league needs a standard bearer, someone to stand tall and attract the affections of fans who have been pushed away by changes and negative press in recent years. Why not America’s Team.
The Dallas Cowboys are a perennial top team in fan base and merchandising, but it’s been a long time since the ‘Boys truly embodied the moniker of America’s Team. The last heyday, when Aikman, Smith, and Irvin were leading Dallas to multiple Super Bowl championships, are long in the rearview, and the parity in the league since then has fans feeling disinterested.
In today’s NFL, the top team is the antihero, the brand everyone else loves to hate. The Patriots can’t stand in as the headliner for the NFL, even if their QB is on TV commercials all the time. Fans who hail from somewhere other than New England tend to detest the Pats with a passion approaching what Celtics fans reserve for the Lakers.
So the Cowboys are the next logical choice. They have the biggest bandwagon and an owner who loves to be loved. What they didn’t have was the right product on the field. The almost always injured Tony Romo and an underperforming defense kept Dallas in also-ran status. When they did make it to the playoffs, they were dismantled by a rotating band of upstart NFC powerhouses, flashes in the pan that stuck around for a few years and then drifted.
But, apparently, the Boys are back. Written off in preseason after Romo went down again, Dallas now sits atop the NFC and is the odds-on favorite to represent that conference in the next Super Bowl.
Rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott, along with a stiffened defense have given football fans plenty to cheer for. More than a Cinderella story, these ‘Boys are like a Hollywood movie on turf. Underdogs who were supposed to be lucky to break 500 are tearing through opponents, even the toughest ones. And they’re doing it in exciting, entertaining fashion, as evidenced by their 30-26 win over the rival Redskins on Thanksgiving.
How successful has Dallas been at putting butts on the couch for the game? Four of the top five most-watched NFL games this season have involved Dallas, including the Thanksgiving game, which blew last year’s ratings out of the water.
So, in an NFL that no longer has Peyton Manning, when even Aaron Rodgers is having – at least for Rodgers – an off year, there’s an opening for Face of the League that the ‘Boys are primed to fill.