Boys Will Be Boys:
The Glory Days and Party Nights of the Dallas Cowboys Dynasty
by Jeff Pearlman
Jeff Pearlman's new book neatly summarizes the shift to the modern era of the Dallas Cowboys. The early history of the team isn't the focus of the book, but the reader does learn about its beginnings as a hastily formed NFL expansion franchise (mainly to battle the emergence of the AFL which had teams in Houston and Dallas) which were almost solely defined by the dignified presence of Tom Landry.
Boys Will Be Boys, instead, follows the team's journey from the point a high-flying Arkansas oil man named Jerry Jones bought the team and set out to make them his own. Jones has been an entrepenuer most of his life and the book credits him for seeing the business potential of pro football. Before Jones, NFL team ownership lay almost solely in the domain of the super wealthy who used the team as a fun toy or a tax write off. Jones came into the NFL determined to run the Cowboys as a business. In the process, he changed the business of pro football, which now fully exploits its marketing and TV potential.
Although the book spends most of its pages covering the sordid off the field details of drunken and drugged debauchery, another story emerged through that fog. The Cowboys have always been the pro football team favored by the western wing of the Footprint with the Redskins taking the eastern half. Boys Will Be Boys shows how the decades of Cowboys dominance of that side of our region infiltrated into the culture. The other story surrounds how Jones, an Arkansan, took control of "America's Team" from Texas and Texans, and he put it into the hands of non-Texan Swamplanders.
First, Jones hired Jimmy Johson, fellow Razorback and former head coach at Oklahoma State and Miami, to coach his team. Later, he replaced Johnson with Oklahoma Sooner legend Barry Switzer. On the field, the Cowboys were led by Troy Aikman (Oklahoma-raised), Michael Irvin (Miami), and Emmit Smith (Florida). For many in Texas, Jones and his crew initailly had a Snopes-like effect on their town and team. Three Super Bowls later, no one was complaining.
It's interesting looking at the Cowboys today to see the massive effect they had on the league. This group of players made the Cowboys and the NFL a must watch event. Jerry Jones understands marketing which is why the Cowboys remain the biggest team in Texas despite the state's long and important high school and college football history.
Today, the Cowboys are the most valuable franchise in sports, and they have a new stadium opening next season. The foundation may have been laid by Tom Landry, but Jerry Jones made the Cowboys Swampland's most important professional team of the modern era.
- Jim Markel