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It’s hard to believe that the Dallas Cowboys have been dubbed “America’s Team,” when they haven’t won an NFC title and a Super Bowl championship in 22 years. Don’t worry though, together we will relive the Top 10 moments in Dallas Cowboys history and why they are worthy of the nickname.

Honorable Mention:

  • James Washington’s fumble return in Super Bowl XXVIII that tied the game for the Cowboys, and was the turning point that helped them eventually win the Championship.

10. Tony Romo Retires from The Dallas Cowboys

During the third game of the preseason for the Dallas Cowboys, starting quarterback Tony Romo broke a back bone, missing the first 11 games of the season. Dak Prescott then took over for the Cowboys as QB. When Romo was cleared to play, he became the backup quarterback to Prescott, because, well, Prescott was actually doing a great job. He led the Cowboys to an eleven game winning streak, and also, positioned the Cowboys as the first team to clinch a playoff spot in Week 13.

Due to his injury and Prescott’s success, Romo saw this as a time to retire, and his decision has, and still will have, a huge impact on the Cowboys. His retirement has allowed for a new era of Cowboys football to begin, with fresh, new talent. That talent includes Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The Cowboys can now forget the uneventful 15 years with Tony Romo as the quarterback and can move forward into a new championship era.

9. Dallas Cowboys Named the “Most Valuable Sports Team” of 2016

In 2016, Forbes’ annual “50 Most Valuable Sports Team” concluded that Real Madrid had been overthrown as the most valuable sports team in the world, by the one and only: Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys had been planted at the top of the NFL’s own most valuable team’s list for the last 10 years, but to be at the top of the list of all sports teams in the world was a real big moment for the Cowboys. They have been able to prove to the NFL and sports teams everywhere, that they are a top market value franchise, all without winning a championship in 22 years.

According to Forbes, the Cowboys have a $4 billion dollar market value and it is the first time that the top spot does not go to a soccer team. The Cowboys can thank Jerry Jones for ranking so high. Jones has been able to maximize money for the Cowboys in large broadcasting deals, regulating revenues from sponsors, and his AT&T Stadium (better known as Jerry’s World). His smart business moves have paid off because the Cowboys will now be cemented in history as the most valuable team and the team to beat out the world renowned sports of soccer.

8. Jason Witten’s No-Helmet, 53 Yard Reception

If there is anything that NFL fans can agree on it is that we love a good football rivalry. The Cowboys are not new to the rivalry scene and have famous rivalries with a few teams. One of those teams being the Philadelphia Eagles. As a result, both teams try to out do one another whenever they get a chance.

One of the most memorable moments of the rivalry has to be when Jason Witten caught a dagger from Tony Romo, then gets hit helmet-to-helmet by Philadelphia’s defensive linebacker, Quintin Mikell, making Witten lose his helmet, while still continuing to run the ball, and end with a 53-yard reception. The Cowboys finished with the win against the Eagles, 38-17 and continue to add wins against their hated rival.

To this day, the Dallas Cowboys continue to have the one up on the Eagles, winning 65 games out of the 116 games they have played against each other. And nothing says, “we are better than you,” than Witten’s 2007, 53-yard play.

7. The Cowboys Say Goodbye To Texas Stadium and Hello to AT&T Stadium A.K.A “Jerry’s World”

After years of playing at Texas Stadium, in 2009, the Dallas Cowboys made their official move to AT&T Stadium, formerly known as the Cowboys Stadium. They were leaving behind an old, run down stadium with much history and turning it in for a new state of the art facility that would become the gold standard today.

AT&T Stadium is one of Jerry Jones’ most profitable business. He built it from the ground up to his liking and it cost him (and partially the city of Arlington) a whopping 1.3 billion dollars. At the time, it was the most expensive stadium ever built and it would turn out to be the most technologically advanced stadium, as well. It has more than 3,000 television displays, cameras everywhere on the field and above, and a humongous high-def television scoreboard right up above in the middle of the field. Not only did the move help build confidence for the ailing Cowboys, but it allowed them to have a fresh start and cement their way in history, in another way.

The Dallas Cowboys and the AT&T Stadium have set the bar for stadiums around the world and have led the push on modernization in football. So, the Cowboys move is a move for the history books.

AT&T Stadium AKA Jerry’s World

6. “Savings and Loans Crisis”: Welcome New Owner, Jerry Jones

The former owner of the Dallas Cowboy’s, Bum Bright was a victim of the “Savings and Loans crisis” in 1989 so he had to sell the Cowboys to someone, and fast. He decided to take Jerry Jone’s offer and the rest is history. Jerry Jones became the new owner of the Cowboys in 1989.

In his first few years, he fired head coach Tom Landry, replaced management, and made trade moves and pivotal draft picks, as well.  In 1992 Jones’ decisions paid off because the Cowboys won their third championship that year and then, in ’93, they won their fourth. 1995 marked the year of their fifth championship and it was all because of Jones’ behind the scene moves that set them up for success. Jones has also turned the franchise that once claimed they were losing $1 million a month, into a $4 billion dollar franchise. He’s been a key role player for not only the Cowboys but the entire NFL as well. Jones helped to secure the NFL’s television rights and in some way, is connected with improving television rights revenues reach the record breaking numbers we have today. Jones has set the Cowboys up with a new and improved home at AT&T Stadium, and in a less than a month will be a Hall of Famer. For Bum Bright, the Cowboys might have been a burden, but for Jerry Jones, the Cowboys were the best thing to ever happen to him.

5. The Fastest Touchdown in NFL History

Leave it to the Dallas Cowboys to just continue to make their mark in history. As if being the first NFL team to dethrone a soccer team in the “Most Valuable Sports” team list wasn’t enough and being the first NFL team with a billion dollar stadium, they have added their name to the Guinness World Record book as well.

On October 12, 2003, the Cowboys completed the fastest touchdown in NFL history and of course, this play came against their long time rival, the Philadelphia Eagles. Let me set the mood; it was week 6 of the 2003 NFL season, the Cowboys were at home eager to face Philadelphia. The Eagles were the first ones up, choosing to kick the ball. The Eagles would attempt an onside kick as the first play of the game, a risky and honestly weird move to start off with, but they continued with the plan. Eagles kicker, David Akers, then attempts the onside kick, only to have it be caught by Cowboy’s wide receiver Randal Williams. Williams then returns the ball for 37 yards and scores a touchdown in the games first 3 seconds.

Not only did the Cowboys go on to win that game, but it was just, yet again, another subtle reminder to the Eagles that “America’s Team” was not going anywhere. This touchdown will forever be in the Top 5 moments of Cowboys’ history.

4. Dallas Cowboy, Roger Staubach, The O.G. “Hail Mary”

Nowadays, a “Hail Mary” is synonymous with Aaron Rodgers, but former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Roger Staubach deserves all the credit. Staubach was the first one to make the term go viral way back in 1975. Although he wasn’t necessarily the first one to use it, he was the first to bring it to the attention of the world. The Cowboys were in the NFC title game against the Minnesota Vikings and there were only a couple of seconds left to end the game. The Cowboys were losing and Staubach connected with Drew Pearson for a 50-yard touchdown. Dallas ended up winning the game with that play. When Staubach was interviewed right after, he called it a “Hail Mary” because he prayed a Hail Mary when he threw it.

Since then, the term has been used to describe any situation where a chance is taken even when there is a small success rate. Thanks to the Cowboys and Staubach, the “Hail Mary” term has had a huge impact in the NFL, it has surpassed boundaries, and has transcended worldwide. To have thought of a term that would have so much impact in the league and in the sports world, Roger Staubach makes it into the Top 5 moments in Dallas Cowboys history.

3. Drafting Done Right: Emmitt Smith

In 1990, the Dallas Cowboys drafted Emmitt Smith after he dropped down the draft chart. Many teams passed on him, even though he was a pretty good running back in college, and mainly because of his small frame. After his first year in the NFL, Smith was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year. This set the Dallas Cowboys apart from all the other NFL teams, especially the ones who passed on Smith. Smith was not done though.

In 1992, he was a key component in winning the Cowboys’ third Super Bowl and he also led the league in rushing. He did not stop there. In 1993, Smith won the Super Bowl, he won Super Bowl MVP, he was the NFL MVP, and the lead rusher for the NFL; that was the first time all four titles went to one player in one season.

He won three Super Bowl Championships, all with the Cowboys, and is the all-time leading rusher in the NFL. It is true, that if the Cowboys would not have drafted Smith, they probably would not have won those three championships. Smith was such an integral part of the Dallas Cowboys that the Cowboys would not be the team that they are today without him and that is why drafting Smith is in the top three.

2. The Herschel Walker Trade: The Beginning of “Cowboys Dynasty”

After Jerry Jones took over as owner, everybody was on the move and that included running back Herschel Walker. Jones and then coach, Jimmy Johnson, wanted to trade Walker and let the offers come pouring in. They had many, but it was the Minnesota Vikings who ultimately gave the Dallas Cowboys what they wanted.

The Herschel Walker trade was the largest trade in NFL history, involving 18 players and numerous draft picks. The Cowboys were mainly interested in the draft picks because they wanted to rebuild with fresh new talent, and they did just that. This trade is at number two because it allowed for the “Cowboys Dynasty” to begin. With all the draft picks, the Cowboys would get Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, and Russell Maryland; all key players that won the Cowboys their last three Championships. The Hershel Walker trade opened the door for success for the Cowboys and without this trade, who knows where the Cowboys would be now.

1. Tom Landry Becomes Head Coach of the Dallas Cowboys

It’s definitely hard to believe that any moment in Dallas Cowboys history would top the Herschel Walker trade, but the hiring of Tom Landry as head coach was the pivotal moment for the Cowboys. Landry established the foundation to place the Cowboys as “America’s Team” and as innovators in the NFL for the next decades. Joining the Cowboys in 1960, he created the “4-3 defense”, the “flex defense”, and the notion of “pre-shifting”. He revolutionized plays for not only the Cowboys but for the NFL as well. Under his leadership, the Cowboys had their first winning season, ever, and won their first two championships as well. I mean, winning their first Super Bowl by only allowing the Dolphins to score one field goal was magical. No one could have pulled that off, except for Landry. Landry continued coaching the Cowboys for 29 years and in those years, the Cowboys would only have success. After parting ways with the Cowboys, Landry finished with a career record of 250-162-6 and there are only two other coaches ahead of him for most wins.

For 29 years, Tom Landry was what made the Cowboys run. His innovation, his leadership, and his passion for football and his team earn him the top spot on this list. The Cowboys have a unique brand that sets themselves apart from any other team, and it all started with Landry.

Leslie Torres-Valadez

Author Leslie Torres-Valadez

West coast sports nerd, with a love for east coast football.

More posts by Leslie Torres-Valadez

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