by Hector Saldana
Author Joe Nick Patoski was looking for a Texas story bigger than Willie Nelson, the subject of his last book.
He found it in the Dallas Cowboys, a team whose history and mystique not only transcends the game but reflects the elevation and coming-of-age in pop culture status of professional sports. The team’s star logo is second only in recognizability to that of Coca-Cola.
“The light bulb went off,” said Patoski. “The only thing bigger in Texas than Willie Nelson is the Dallas Cowboys.”
Patoski’s latest book is titled “The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America.”
Best known for his musical biographies “Willie Nelson: An Epic Life,” “Selena: Como La Flor” and “Stevie Ray Vaughan: Caught in the Crossfire,” his love of secret swimming holes and for his many years at Texas Monthly, Patoski says his outsider status uniquely qualifies him to write the Cowboys story.
“I really am a music guy,” said Patoski. “My history has been using music as a way to understand culture. It’s an easy way to understand and identify culture.”
Patoski admits he longed for something different.
His books on Nelson, Selena and Vaughan are definitive and covered areas that he loved — country, blues and Mexican music.
“I really felt I’d completed this triumvirate of what Texas is all about, African American, Mexican American and Anglo American. That’s our ethnic foundation,” Patoski said.
Patoski, who grew up in Fort Worth, says the task of telling the Cowboys history in a state known for football was daunting, but piqued his curiosity.
“We didn’t invent the game, but we own it,” he said. “This is all larger-than-life (stuff). The Cowboys are the story of Dallas. The story of the NFL since 1960 is best told through the Dallas Cowboys, the premier franchise. It’s why we even care.”
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