Book of the Week on TheFinancialist.com

Very fine review from the Finalialist, link here http://www.thefinancialist.com/book-of-the-week-the-dallas-cowboys/

Book of the Week: The Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl in nearly two decades. They haven’t been to the playoffs since 2009. They finished this season with an 8-8 record and a gut-wrenching loss to the Washington Redskins that ended their hopes for a playoff berth.

Despite their lackluster performance in recent years, the Cowboys still have a swagger that delights their fans and enrages their many detractors. “America’s Team,” as the Cowboys have dubbed themselves, plays in a $1 billion stadium that includes displays of high-end art alongside the team’s five Lombardi trophies. The stadium and its gigantic high-definition screen (the fourth largest in the world) is a reminder that, win or lose, the Cowboys always seem to be in the spotlight.

In his 800-page book, “The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America,” former Texas Monthly journalist Joe Nick Patoski explains how the team cultivated its larger-than-life persona over the last four decades. He argues that the Cowboys’ brash attitude is part of the Lone Star State’s own unique football culture, where high school and college football often approach the status of religion. In fact, when Clint Murchison Jr., the son of an oil baron, invested $600,000 to launch the Cowboys in 1960, he had to rely on a healthy dose of spectacle to convince fans who passionately followed high school and college play on Friday and Saturday to also cheer for professional football on Sunday.

While Murchison used marketing to build a fan base, by the 1970s, the team was drawing crowds with its winning ways. Head coach Tom Landry, always wearing his trademark fedora, led Dallas to five Super Bowl appearances, winning in 1971 and again in 1977.

Much of Patoski’s best material comes from this era, including his descriptions of quarterback Roger Staubach, who asked for a station wagon instead of a sports car after being named M.V.P. of Super Bowl VI, and running back Duane Thomas, who refused to speak for an entire season as part of a contract dispute.

Patoski also dedicates a great deal of ink to the Cowboys’ current owner Jerry Jones, whose over-the-top sense of style personifies today’s team. The author portrays Jones as a passionate, hands-on owner who signed some of the league’s biggest contracts and built one of the its most ambitious stadiums.

In his own way, even though the Cowboys are no longer winning, Jones has helped solidify the brand established by Landry and Staubach back in the 1970s. Dallas remains big and bold, and whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are still America’s team.

Photo courtesy of Ken Durden / Shutterstock.com

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Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, Sat Dec 15

Austin-area Cowboys fans, I’ll be selling and signing Dallas Cowboys books at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar at the Palmer Events Center on Saturday, from 11 am to 5:30 pm. Come and visit, and pick up a few gifts for your favorite Cowboys fans. I’ll be bringing some Texas High School Football and some Willie Nelson books too. Drop by and say Hidy.

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The Washington Post review 12/2/12

link www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-dallas-cowboys-the-outrageous-history-of-the-biggest-loudest-most-hated-best-loved-football-team-in-america-by-joe-nick-patoski/2012/11/30/5a47bdbc-0ce4-11e2-bb5e-492c0d30bff6_story.html

By Gene Wang, Published: November 30

The Dallas Cowboys recently topped Forbes magazine’s annual list of most valuable franchises in the National Football League, weighing in at an estimated $2.1 billion. That astronomical figure represents about $1 billion for each of the Cowboys’ two playoff victories since the 1996-97 season, underscoring the chasm between winning and cash flow for professional football’s most recognized brand.

In “The Dallas Cowboys,” Joe Nick Patoski views the franchise against the political and socioeconomic backdrop of its home town and examines its tradition of championships mixed with the often boorish behavior of its owners, coaches and players. Patoski, who has written for Texas Monthly, Rolling Stone and other publications, portrays not only the central figures responsible for the birth and evolution of the most polarizing team in American professional sports but also the many journalists who covered the exploits. He relives the accomplishments of Troy Aikman and Michael Irvin, indispensable members the 1990s Cowboys, which became the first team in league history to win three Super Bowls in four seasons. While Aikman became the disciplined quarterback who was as unlikely to engage in self-promotion as he was to throw an interception, Irvin embraced the excesses of victory that in many ways typified “America’s Team.”

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(Little, Brown) – ’The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America’ by Joe Nick Patosk

Few wide receivers can claim as many clutch receptions as Irvin, but no other player in team history generated as many headlines for off-field escapades. In one infamous drug bust in March 1996, a little more than a month after winning a third Super Bowl ring, Irvin asked the arresting officer, “Can I tell you who I am?”

Narcissism also seems to be hard-wired in Jerry Jones, the current Cowboys owner, who purchased the franchise for $140 million from H.R. “Bum” Bright in 1989, installed himself as general manager and in later years flirted with coaching. The season before Jones became the third owner in team history, the Cowboys lost $9 million and finished 3-13 in what turned out to be the final season under late legendary coach Tom Landry.

Jones fired Landry, the Cowboys’ only coach since the NFL awarded Dallas a franchise in 1960, and hired Jimmy Johnson. Jones also devised aggressive measures to make the organization profitable again, among them opening additional luxury suites and selling personal seat licenses at Texas Stadium, the team’s home in Irving, Tex., until Cowboys Stadium was completed in 2009 in neighboring Arlington.

For all his savvy marketing and knack for turning a buck, Jones has had notable failures, including his evaluation of player talent. In 1993, for instance, he initially spurned running back Emmitt Smith’s overtures for a higher salary, deeming him“a luxury, not a necessity.” Smith, who signed a contract for the 1993 season after missing the first two games, wound up leading the league in rushing and being named MVP of that season’s Super Bowl. Then in March 1994, Jones and Johnson parted ways after the Cowboys’ consecutive championships prompted the owner to surmise that practically any coach could reach those heights given the talent on the roster. Patoski details an infamous, alcohol-fueled confrontation in which Jones cursed Johnson for declining to participate in a toast “to the people who made it possible to win two Super Bowls.” Jones felt he belonged in that company; Johnson thought otherwise.

Jones’s perceived meddling was in stark contrast to the approach of the late Clint Murchison Jr., the first owner of the Cowboys, who preferred to stay out of the talent-evaluation business. Murchison left those duties to pioneering general manager Tex Schramm and scout Gil Brandt, who were with the franchise in its infancy. Schramm was the first to use computers to assess talent and began drafting players from obscure colleges. Among his best finds were tackle Rayfield Wright (Fort Valley State), who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2006; linebacker Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson (Langston); and safety Cliff Harris (Ouachita Baptist).

Schramm shared Jones’s flair for marketing, particularly when it came to the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders. Appearing in their own television special in 1979 and selling posters at a rate second only to Farrah Fawcett during the 1970s, when the Cowboys won a pair of Super Bowls, the cheerleaders became almost as symbolic of the organization as early quarterbacks Don Meredith and Roger Staubach.

These days, moving merchandise, hawking spots on the party deck at the new digs known as “Jerry World” and leaning on past glories keep the Cowboys relevant on the balance sheet, if not in the win column. As Patoski writes, “The swagger had never left, even if their record no longer justified the confident arrogance that defined Dallas the team and Dallas the people.”

wangg@washpost.com

Gene Wang , an editor and reporter with The Washington Post sports department since 1990, covered all three Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl victories in the 1990s.

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New York Times Review of Books reviews The Dallas Cowboys

link
nytimes.com/2012/12/02/books/review/the-dallas-cowboys-by-joe-nick-patoski.html?pagewanted-all

By JOHN WILLIAMS
Published: November 30, 2012

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We might pause right here at the start to wonder about the potential audience for an 800-page history of the Dallas Cowboys. If “football mad” is the first adjective you would use to describe Big D, many more will scroll by before you get to “bookish.” As Joe Nick Patoski writes, this is a city “all about tearing down the past” that can count, among its other achievements, an early rivalry with Houston for the title of “boob-job capital of America.”

THE DALLAS COWBOYS

The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America

By Joe Nick Patoski

Illustrated. 805 pp. Little, Brown & Company. $29.99.
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Times Topic: Dallas Cowboys

Then again, even the N.F.L. was initially a hard sell in northeast Texas. The entrenched Lone Star tradition of packing high school and college football stands on Fridays and Saturdays didn’t leave a lot of energy for Sundays. The city’s first iteration of a professional franchise, the Dallas Texans in 1952, drew so little interest that the team was banished to practice in Hershey, Pa., and play in Akron, Ohio, in the middle of its inaugural (and only) season.

The Cowboys fared a little better. Clint Murchison Jr., the son of an oil baron, invested $600,000 to start the team in 1960. After surviving competition from another crew named the Texans — this one in the upstart American Football League — it went on to win five Super Bowls, redefine the art of cheerleading and inspire the equal levels of adoration and resentment reserved for arrogant conquerors everywhere. The current owner, Jerry Jones, paid $140 million for the team in 1989. Forbes recently valued the ’Boys at a manly $2.1 billion.

Jerry Seinfeld once joked that given all the personnel changes over the years, remaining loyal to a sports team is a silly proposition: “You’re actually rooting for the clothes, when you get right down to it. . . . You are standing and cheering and yelling for your clothes to beat the clothes from another city.” On one hand, this is a problem for Patoski, since generations of Cowboys aren’t bound together by a single narrative strand, or even a dozen of them. Only by clothes. So a comprehensive history of the team is at an inherent disadvantage against narrower slices — say, Jeff Pearlman’s “Boys Will Be Boys,” which covers the team’s frequent victories and tabloid appearances in the 1990s with the frictionless verve of glossy-­magazine vernacular. Or John Eisenberg’s “Ten-Gallon War,” published just one week before Patoski’s book, which chronicles the early battle with the Texans for the Dallas fan base.

On the other hand, the 50-year scope offers an instructive time-lapse view of America’s jock culture: from the 1970s star quarterback Roger Staubach, who asked for a station wagon instead of a sports car after being named M.V.P. of Super Bowl VI, to the current quarterback Tony Romo, who took fire from fans when he jetted to Mexico with Jessica Simpson just before the start of the 2008 playoffs. And from the legendary coach Tom Landry, who said about his deep religious convictions, “I have no doubt that there is something other than man himself that leads man,” to Jones, who once reflected, “If I was going to be in the foxhole with somebody, I’d be there with me.”

Whether or not it’s an illusion based on high visibility, the franchise seems to have attracted more than its share of outsize characters. Gathering them all in one book makes for a raucous reunion. In 1971, the running back Duane Thomas fell into a silence for weeks after asking a reporter, “Haven’t you ever felt like not saying anything?” He spoke to the media through the former football star Jim Brown after that season’s Super Bowl. (Brown: “Duane says he feels good today.”) A vow of silence would have been a good strategy for the offensive lineman Nate Newton, a key part of the team’s ’90s dynasty. He told the press, of the days leading up to Super Bowl XXX in 1996: “The Tempe police gave us a list of places not to go, and there’s where I went. I like wicked, dude.” And in perhaps the least publicity-­conscious moment in American history, he said this about the “White House,” a designated five-bedroom hangout where Cowboys could get wicked, dude: “We’ve got a little place over here where we’re running some whores in and out, trying to be responsible, and we’re criticized for that, too.”

Patoski notes that the linebacker Lee Roy Jordan and three other white players went to a team Halloween party in 1970 dressed as members of the K.K.K., which was somehow less odd than the explanation for it. “I felt I needed some way to show the blacks on the team, especially those from the West Coast, that color meant nothing to this ol’ Alabama boy,” Jordan said. Mission . . . accomplished?

Unfortunately, Patoski sets no limits for himself in the anecdotes department. Information, once learned, will be shared. He knows the rest of the costumes worn to that party, so we’re told that “Larry Cole was the Jolly Green Giant; Ron Widby came as Frankenstein.” The minutiae of the team’s media changes are also set down for the record, like the fact that Rick Weaver, “an announcer from the West Coast by way of Wichita, Kan.,” joined the radio team in 1963. One by one, we learn all the moonlighting jobs that players held in the 1978 off-season. (“Burton Lawless got into frozen seafood.”) This devotion to detail reaches its apotheosis when Patoski lists the regular seating arrangement for team flights in 1975: “On the right side, Clint Murchison and wife were in 3C and D,” and so on.

His appendix of sources includes a 62-page list of magazine and newspaper articles. That’s a lot to synthesize, and he can be too dutiful in giving equal time. He spends just a little more than three pages (about 0.4 percent of the book) on the Ice Bowl, the legendary playoff game between Dallas and the Green Bay Packers in temperatures well below zero. A bit later, we learn that Billy Graham christened Texas Stadium with a 10-day spiritual crusade in 1971, which is interesting enough. But we’re also treated to an extended excerpt from Graham’s remarks on one of those nights: “To you who are watching by television, it’s been raining here in Texas for the last two days. And tonight, in spite of the weather, there are 43,000 people here. I don’t know what kind of crowd this would have been, had we had good weather.”

Patoski’s previous books include biographies of the musicians Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Selena, Texan legends all but not of the gridiron variety, and he airs some opinions about football that seem squarely those of a music fan. He offers, for instance, that by 2011 the former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson “had become almost as legendary a broadcaster as former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden.” He also fumbles some facts along the way. For instance, he has the 1960 United States men’s hockey team (the book is wide-ranging) beating the Soviet Union, 9-4, for the gold medal in the “miracle on ice.” But America beat Czechoslovakia for the gold that year — the “miracle on ice” over the Soviets came in 1980, and not in the gold-medal game.

But the book’s shortcomings are balanced by its surplus of entertaining characters and by Patoski’s broader interest in Texas history. The Cowboys’ birth and ensuing decades of success also corresponded with the Sun Belt’s ascent to a central role in the politics and economics of the country. Always in the foreground of the book is the larger story of Dallas, from its founding in 1841 through its lingering codified racism in the mid-20th century to its various periods of population boom and increased clout. Those looking for just the football facts have to wash them down with a lot of civic history along the way, and the book is better for it. Patoski must be fascinated by the Cowboys to have devoted himself to this herculean task. Luckily for those fans whose curiosity extends beyond the sidelines, he’s also taken with the complicated region that the team calls home.

John Williams produces the Books section for NYTimes.com.

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My latest Cowboys screed, courtesy of the TM Daily Post

link here www.tmdailypost.com/sports

Why the Cowboys Should Go Socialist
by Joe Nick Patoski
Nov 29 2012, 11:30 AM

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Editor’s Note:

Another week, another Cowboys loss, and another round of fan unrest with Jerry Jones. This time, no doubt inspired by all of the secession talk in Texas, a desperate and disgruntled fan took to the White House “We the People” website, asking President Barack Obama to faciliate the “removal” of Jones as Cowboys owner and GM: “We, the Citizens of the Great State of Texas, and Dallas Cowboys fans worldwide, have been oppressed by an over controlling, delusional, oppressive dictator for way too long,” it read, as Dan Graziano of ESPNDallas reported. Unfortunately, the petition violated the site’s terms of participation, no doubt because it failed to “address the current or potential actions or policies of the federal government.” Fear not. Longtime Texas Monthly contributor Joe Nick Patoski has another solution:

If Jerry Jones wants to make a really big move before the 2013 season rolls around, he’s got to go beyond bringing in another formerly successful coach/GM like Bill Parcells or Mike Holmgren.

Last week, ESPN’s Ed Werder reported that Holmgren (above, left, with Jones) would be interested in coaching the Cowboys should the job come open, even as Holmgren publicly denied it.

Holmgren may have been a winner at Green Bay and Seattle, but his most recent record running the Browns leaves something to be desired. If Jerry really craves the Packer legacy and record, he should go much further than simply hiring its Super Bowl coach. He also needs to embrace Green Bay’s socialism.

Jones the owner has been fantastically successful, monetizing the value of the franchise as the NFL has monetized itself into America’s biggest entertainment. Jones the general manager is a failure, despite his “socks and jocks” declaration when he bought the team in 1989. And the owner won’t fire the GM.

So Jerry, go ahead and hire Holmgren. Give him the authority to make trades and run the football end of the franchise. But then double down and emulate the Green Bay model of ownership.

The Packers are the only community-owned team in the NFL, with over 300,000 shareholders owning a piece of the franchise. And yet, despite that—or more accurately, because of that—the Pack remain a dynastic team that consistently competes among the league’s elites.

Why would the NFL’s most ruthless capitalist embrace that model? Because then Jerry Jones could finally get what he really wants most—another Super Bowl win.

Think of it: 300,000 Cowboys fans, in Texas and around the world, willing to pony up $10,000 apiece (a pittance compared to the personal seat licenses fans pay to dib a prime viewing seat at Cowboys Stadium, much less a luxury box) to call themselves part-owners. That’s $3 billion more for Jerry. He also gets to keep the stadium receipts (like all that pizza money).

Meanwhile, a real GM is hired, and, finally, a better football team takes shape, and brings back the Lombardi Trophy. That earns Jerry absolute forgiveness, both from everyone who’s suffered the past decade-plus, and from older fans who haven’t forgotten Jones’s classless firing of Tom Landry.

Jones and his son Stephen might even be retained as business managers, so they can continue to wheel and deal. And if Jerry needs to get his football ya-yas out, he can always donate more dough to his alma mater the University of Arkansas, which, in its current state, can probably use him as a bench jockey and armchair general manager (it’s been suggested Jones was at least partially responsible for the Razorbacks’ overture to LSU head coach Les Miles this week).

The NFL is a very complicated game and business, one that requires specialized expertise at every level. The owner of the Jones-era Cowboys has tried to do it all for the past 15 years. He’s succeeded wildly at revenue and branding, but ultimately failed by not delivering on his business’s core-product: the football team.

So go socialist, Jerry! Make yourself a hero to the fans, and make the Dallas Cowboys worthy of their global fan base once again.

Joe Nick Patoski is the author of THE DALLAS COWBOYS: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America (Little, Brown). Read an excerpt from it here.
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Sports, America’s Team, cowboys, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Jerry Jones, Joe Nick Patoski, Mike Holmgren, NFL, Dallas

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talking on Prairie Home Companion

. Watching the broadcast from backstage was fascinating. Being part of it was beyond fun.

So I was in Houston Friday night, talking the Dallas Cowboys at Brazos Bookstore and spinning vinyl at Leon’s Lounge, as well as hanging with my friends William Michael Smith of the Houston Press and Jack Massing of The Art Guys and sword-fighting with Max Massing. I’d noticed my old player-coach of the Jack’s Auto Repair All-Stars of the Twin Cities Cultural Arts Softball League, Garrison Keillor, was hosting A Prairie Home Companion at the Wortham Opera House in Houston on Saturday. I sent an email to the show and Friday afternoon received an email from Garrison. Long and short of it, and unbeknown to me until about 10 minutes before airtime, I had the pleasure of enjoying a few minutes of conversation with Garrison on his show, which is during the third segment.

I love radio and this program is the best of what radio is

Here’s a link to the broadcast.
prairiehome.publicradio.org/programs/2012/11/17

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Glenn Dromgoole weighs in on Cowboys book

Link here:

from the San Angelo Standard-Times:

A comprehensive history of the Dallas Cowboys and a coffee table book on legendary Panhandle rancher Charles Goodnight are two books that should be popular in Texas this fall.

Veteran Texas author Joe Nick Patoski tells the story of “The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America” (Little, Brown, $29.99 hardcover).

This isn’t for the faint-hearted fan. It requires a little heavy lifting, as in 800 pages of text, pictures, notes and index. But if you like football, and particularly the Cowboys, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better storyteller than Patoski, whose most recent epic was an award-winning biography of music icon Willie Nelson.

“The Statue of Liberty could fit inside Cowboys Stadium standing up,” Patoski writes. “Laid down on its side, the Empire State Building could too. It was only fitting that football’s finest showcase was the home of the Dallas Cowboys.”

Patoski traces the team decade by decade, beginning before the Cowboys were even a dent in Clint Murchison’s pocketbook.

Even though the team plays in Arlington, the vitality of Dallas made the team possible, says Patoski, and “the team gave the city its identity and a sense of pride and glory.”

Goodnight: Noted Texas photographer Wyman Meinzer teamed with museum director and author B. Byron Price to tell the story of Charles Goodnight in a beautiful and well-written 150-page oversized book, “Charles Goodnight: A Man for All Ages” (Badlands Design & Production, $45).

“Born in Illinois in 1836,” Price begins, “Goodnight rose from obscurity and relative poverty to become a celebrated frontiersman, drover and rancher in the years immediately following the Civil War. A renowned cattle trail would eventually bear his name.” He would become “arguably the best-known cattleman in the American West” by the 1880s, Price says.

Price tracks Goodnight’s life and personality through chapters on his ranching, his help saving the buffalo from extinction, his support of higher education, and his influence on Panhandle history — accompanied by Meinzer’s color photographs and historic black-and-white pictures.

Goodnight’s first wife, the beloved Mary Ann, or Molly, died in 1926. The next year, at age 91, he married his 26-year-old caregiver, Corrine. The cattle king of the Panhandle died Dec. 12, 1929.

Poetry Calendar: The 2013 edition of the Texas Poetry Calendar features 96 new poems by poets from all over Texas (Does Gatos Press, $13.95 spiral-bound).

Each week on the calendar includes one or two poems with a Texas theme or connection. Here’s a great gift for the accomplished or aspiring poet on your holiday list or those who simply appreciate good verse. At the back of the book are guidelines for submissions for the 2014 calendar.

The calendar was edited by Scott Wiggerman and Cindy Huyser of Austin. More details at dosgatospress.org.

Glenn Dromgoole, who writes about Texas books and authors, has two new books out himself this fall — a collection of stories set in the fictional town of “Coleman Springs, USA” and a bedtime book for young children, “Good Night Little Texan.”

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