October 16, 2012 – The Dallas Cowboys and Texas: The rapid-fire, ultra-glitzy, superstar-driven nature of professional football as it is played on any given Sunday does not always lend itself to serious literary contemplation. For every nonfiction classic like George Plimpton’s “Paper Lion” or Michael MacCambridge’s “America’s Game,” the shelves are cluttered with dozens of adoring biographies, glossy chapbooks and quickie novelty items like “100 Things Steelers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.” Pictured above is Texas Stadium, home to the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas.
Which makes the arrival of Joe Nick Patoski’s new book, “The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America” decidedly unexpected. A doorstop-size 800-plus pages, the book is less a sports story than a mixture of history and cultural analysis. In Mr. Patoski’s interpretation, the city and the sports franchise are inextricable; each allowed the other to grow and capture the national consciousness.
“Growing up in Fort Worth, you experience that second-city syndrome, that no matter how good your city is, what is going on in Dallas is shinier and better,” said Mr. Patoski, who now lives near Wimberley. “That question has been there throughout my life. What’s the deal with Dallas?”
“The Dallas Cowboys,” which was published by Little, Brown and Company last week, reaches back to 1841, when John Neely Bryan founded Dallas. It then fast-forwards to the mid-20th century when the oil scions Clint Murchison Jr. and Lamar Hunt laid the groundwork for the football franchise. Mr. Patoski creates a vivid portrait of that era in Dallas, a city where “success seemed to be a matter of simply wanting it badly enough and being willing to work hard enough to get it.” (A second newly published book about the Cowboys, “Ten-Gallon War: The N.F.L.’s Cowboys, the A.F.L.’s Texans and the Feud for Dallas’s Pro Football Future,” by the sportswriter John Eisenberg, takes a similar, if narrower look at the team’s earliest years.)
Mr. Patoski goes on to illustrate how clever iconography (the Cowboys’ silver star logo); intriguing, elusive personalities (the quarterback Roger Staubach, Coach Tom Landry) and happy coincidence (the television show “Dallas” went on the air in the late 1970s, just as the Cowboys’ on-field fortunes were soaring) combined to make Dallas — team and city — into internationally recognized brands. Follow the link below for the complete story.
The Master of Disaster
PS: All right I admit it, I’m an NFL junky. Patten Manning better live up to the $18 million the Denver Broncos are paying him to play this year. You guessed it, I’m a Bronco fan.