Dallas Cowboys nickname history explained

Dallas Cowboys helmet. Mandatory Credit: Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Cowboys helmet. Mandatory Credit: Shane Roper-USA TODAY Sports /

The Dallas Cowboys’ nickname history stretches back more than 60 years to when the team was first introduced into the NFL.

The Dallas Cowboys franchise was established in 1960 under owner Clint Murchison Jr., who turned to Tex Schramm and Tom Landy as general manager and head coach, respectively. Gil Brandt served as the director of player personnel.

Things didn’t start well, as the team went winless in its debut campaign. However, greatness was soon to come as the 1966 team made it to the NFL Championship game for the first time. Losses in the title game followed three more times before they broke through for victory in Super Bowl VI. The 1971 championship belonged to the Cowboys, the first of five in franchise history.

By 1978, Dallas was dubbed “America’s Team.” Long before that, the Cowboys’ official nickname launched the lore.

How did the Dallas Cowboys get their nickname?

Imagine a world where the Dallas Steers played in the NFL. What about the Dallas Rangers?

Those were the two nicknames held by Dallas before they settled on Cowboys in 1960.

The Steers didn’t sit well with Schramm, the GM, so they switched over to Rangers. Of course, that didn’t stick either. There was a baseball team in Dallas also dubbed the Rangers. No one wanted to deal with the confusion.

It was all for the best. Someone figured out that “Dallas Cowboys” had a nice ring to it. It held true to Texas heritage while avoiding association with a castrated bull or overlapping with another team.

And so, the Dallas Cowboys made their NFL debut on Sept. 24, 1960 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. They wore white helmets with a soon-to-be iconic star and stripes.

In the decades since, Dallas has produced Hall-of-Famers like Troy Aikman, Deion Sanders and Roger Staubach. Schramm, Landy and Brandt all ended up in the Hall of Fame as well.

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