Malcolm Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
Growing up in the 80's, I was obviously a huge Steelers fan. However, I was also a fan of the NFL, in general, and knew about the history of a lot of the great teams, including the Dallas Cowboys and their roster full of legends.
I know what you're going to say, "What respectable Steelers fan could possibly have any admiration for those stinkin' Cowboys?" But you have to understand, I was young and impressionable in the late 70's/early 80's. Speaking of impressions, the "good guys in white vs. bad guys in black" theme of television shows and movies certainly rubbed off on me, and it was in full effect when I was about six years old and saw some commercial involving the Steelers and Cowboys--I don't remember the spot, but it included highlights of either Super Bowl X or XIII. Anyway, back then, in my naive little mind, I associated people wearing black with the evil "bad guys" that I watched on TV--Star Wars came out when I was five--and the first thing I thought at that time was that I wanted the team wearing white to vanquish those Darth Vaders and ride off into the sunset.
You should probably know that I really didn't care about football or the Steelers at that time. In fact, during Super Bowl XIII between Pittsburgh and Dallas, I was watching Tarzan in the living room while my mother was watching the game on her kitchen TV as she did the dishes.
Everything soon changed, fortunately, and by the time the Steelers faced the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV, I was a full-fledged Black and Gold fan who somehow knew the recent history of the team, and I was glued to my little black and white television as I witnessed the guys win their fourth title in six seasons.
In the ensuing years, my fandom was so intense, it wasn't uncommon for me to cry after a Terry Bradshaw interception, and I was usually depressed after a Pittsburgh loss, which was more frequent in the early 80's, as the team grew older and the dynasty of the 70's became a thing of the past.
It didn't matter, though, I was hooked. And in addition to the Steelers, I became a huge fan of the NFL. I loved everything about it, and I quickly familiarized myself with the top teams in the league, and that included those "good guys" in white, the Dallas Cowboys.
I don't know if it was because they were in the NFC and on CBS all the time, or because I really loved that star on the helmet, but I actually became fond of "America's Team." Don't get me wrong, my fondness wasn't nearly on the same level as my passion for the Steelers---they were still the home team--but I certainly rooted hard for Dallas, especially during big games.
I don't know what you were doing during "The Catch," but I was pretty upset after Joe Montana hit Dwight Clark for the game-winning touchdown with 58 seconds left in the 1981 NFC championship game that launched the 49ers' dynasty of the 80's and prevented Dallas from going to the Super Bowl for a second straight season--the Cowboys would lose three straight NFC title games from 1980-'82.
I was a fan of Tom Landry, the Cowboys' legendary head coach who wore the famous fedora on the sidelines, and I was aware that Dallas had some tough times getting over the hump in the late 60's before finally capturing two Lombardi trophies in the 70's.
Speaking of which, one of my favorite NFL Films programs as a kid was the highlight show of Super Bowl XII, where the Cowboys defeated the Denver Broncos, 27-10. Today, I like Super Bowl XII because I think the 1977 Broncos were a great story, but when I was young, I enjoyed the highlights of that game because I really admired those guys in white and their dominating "Doomsday Defense," led by Ed "Too Tall" Jones, Randy White, Cliff Harris and Charlie Waters.
I was a fan of Danny White, who spent four seasons as the team's punter and back-up quarterback while he waited for future Hall of Famer Roger Staubach to finally retire, which he did following the '79 season. .
I loved Tony Dorsett and thought he was one of the best running backs in the NFL.
While I really didn't lose much sleep over any Dallas loss, I certainly followed the team closely all throughout the 80's (I even liked Everson Walls) and was pretty sad to see the tailspin in the latter part of the decade, including a 3-13 season in 1988. As a consequence of that record, it was the last year on the sideline for Landry, as he was fired by new owner Jerry Jones, who subsequently hired Jimmy Johnson from the college ranks to be his head coach.
I didn't like the Cowboys as much by then, but I still rooted for them and thought rookie Troy Aikman would eventually become a good quarterback despite the team finishing 1-15 in 1989.
Even as late as the '91 season, when they were once again a legit playoff team, I was telling people to watch out for those Cowboys.
I don't know if it was because I was getting older or because I really couldn't stand Jones, Johnson, and players like Michael Irvin and Leon Lett, but by the time the Cowboys of the early 90's were primed for a Super Bowl run, I despised them, and I certainly didn't want to see them win any of those three Lombardi trophies--especially the one over Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XXX.
Today, I still don't care for the Cowboys or their billion dollar stadium. And don't get me started on their fans, and not just the ones in Dallas--there's something very irritating about a guy who was born in Pittsburgh, has the same accent as I do, complains about route 28, has never set foot in the state of Texas, but refers to the Cowboys as "we."
What's that about?
Anyway, even though I can't stand the Cowboys now, I still have great respect for what they were able to accomplish in the 60's, 70's and early 80's with some of the most talented rosters the NFL has ever seen.
I hope my youthful fondness for Dallas isn't totally unforgivable in your eyes. If it is, you should know I'm not the only member of Steeler Nation who suffered the same kind of disorder as a kid. Jerome Bettis was a Cowboys fan as a child, and the Rooneys eventually paid him millions.