Michael Corcoran: Cowboys get full treatment in new history

Michael Corcoran reviews the Cowboys book for the Austin Statesman’s Texas Book Festival special

Link here: statesman.com

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Posted: 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012

By Michael Corcoran

Fort Worth native Joe Nick Patoski has wrapped himself around some of the state’s biggest icons: Stevie Ray Vaughan, Selena, Willie Nelson. But his latest book tackles an institution almost bigger than Texas itself: the Dallas Cowboys.

Several histories have been written about “America’s Team,” but none has covered as much ground as Patoski’s, which takes the reader from John Neely Bryan to Dez Bryant, the founder of Dallas to the most recent team “trouble man.”

Reading this epic, exhaustive biography is like driving across the entire state of Texas or eating a large pizza by yourself. At first your appetite is so strong you think you’ll get through this with no problem. And this trip doesn’t stay on the freeways, but often ventures into the backroads, where the real adventure is. But as much of a Texas historian as Patoski is, he’s not above dishing dirt, and this book tells you who stashed away secret families and bottles of office whiskey, among other peccadilloes.

Still, about halfway through, you’re completely full. You can’t take another mile, another slice, another chapter.

But then along comes Jones. When things start to drag a bit, like the Tom Landry Cowboys of the late ’80s, Jerry Jones comes aboard like an overconfident Arkie on a seniors cruise ship. He’s a fascinating huckster, the Colonel Tom Parker of sports, who paid too much for a team in 1989 that’s worth 10 times that amount today. Perhaps there’s one too many references to Jones’ “lizardlike” looks and personality, but Patoski backs the eccentricity with numbers that show Jones as a genius of marketing. The team’s $220 million-plus operating income last year was almost twice as much as any other NFL team.

The 700-plus-page book opens with an awestruck description of the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium, “Jerry’s World,” to show how the team and its trappings played a role in the adage that everything’s bigger in Texas. But then the book quickly gets into its best stuff, the early years. We meet a couple of oil baron heirs, Clint Murchison Jr. and Lamar Hunt, who went head-to-head in the early 1960s with two professional football teams: Murchison’s Dallas Rangers, who would become the Cowboys of the National Football League, and Hunt’s Dallas Texans of the American Football League. Losing money with the AFL champions, Hunt moved his team to Kansas City and it became the Chiefs, named after KC mayor Harold “Chief” Bartle, of the super-sweetheart offer Hunt couldn’t refuse.

The rivalry between the NFL and the upstart AFL — and Hunt’s role in the merger — is just one of the topics here that deserves a book of its own. Several, in fact have been written on the subject. Patoski’s challenge was to be a completest, fitting so much history, so many players and personalities, into a book that weighs less than a lineman’s helmet. He breezes past much of it, and the pace picks up in the chapters on the past 15 years, during which Dallas has won only one playoff game, which feels tacked on as punishment, for both the author and fans. (Full disclosure: Having covered the periphery of Troy Aikman’s first two Super Bowls for the Dallas Morning News in 1993 and 1994, I was interviewed for the book and provide an anecdote concerning Cowboys legend Lee Roy Jordan and brash defensive end Charles Haley.)

You’ll hear football coaches recite that the three phases of football are offense, defense and, the one you might not think about if they didn’t keep drilling it in, special teams. The “special teams” of writing are the transitions between paragraphs, and if there’s a knock on “The Dallas Cowboys,” it’s a lack of smoothness between sections at times. It seems Patoski had to decide between making this writerly or full of anecdotes and observations that sometimes collide like linebackers, and he chose the latter.

Patoski’s a natural storyteller — as I’ve known since I first met him in 1984 — and his best trait here in that regard is providing context. This is not just the story of “America’s Team,” it’s sexy cheerleaders and larger-than-life owners and the functional monuments they built to themselves and their teams. “The Dallas Cowboys” succeeds in framing the bigger picture that gave birth to it all. Dallas is a city, Patoski writes, that has no real reason, no ports or navigable rivers, for existing in the mid-1800s. It’s a metropolis of its own invention, fueled by crazy oil money, and along the way it created “the biggest, loudest, most hated, best loved football team in America.” The Cowboys, Patoski writes in the book’s last sentence, “couldn’t have happened anywhere else.”

I grew up hating the Cowboys. My favorite NFL team was always the one playing against the self-important jerks with the blue stars on their helmets. But after I moved to Dallas in 1992, something strange happened. Something I could not really put in to words, but Patoski does. The Cowboys are to Dallas what the beach is to a island resort.

As a born-again Cowboys fanatic, I couldn’t wait to read about the team that converted me, with Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin on the field and Jimmy Johnson on the sidelines. But the part of the book I just couldn’t put down told of the building of the franchise. I’ve always heard the name Gil Brandt, but didn’t before know the depth of his scouting abilities and the role it played in the team’s rise. He’s one of the many reasons this team from the city wheere Kennedy was killed became such a national phenomenon. It’s all in there, often peppered with brusque commentary and corny Texanisms.

That Patoski was able to write this book so soon after finishing his authoritative biography of Willie Nelson attests that this was a story that the author grew up with and added to during his two decades at Texas Monthly. Although more than 70 books and hundreds of articles are cited as sources, portions of the book read written first and researched later. He knew most of the story going in.

He has lived in the Austin area, currently Wimberley, since college, but Patoski’s heart has never left the black prairie land of North Central Texas, where a team of football players gave it an identity, a sense of pride and community.

This book couldn’t have been written by anyone else.

“The Dallas Cowboys”

Joe Nick Patoski

Little Brown, $29.99

The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America

with Joe Nick Patoski

2:30 p.m. Saturday, Lone Star Tent

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Steve Crawford’s book review, Rocknycliveandrecorded.com

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Joe Nick Patoski has been writing about popular culture in Texas for decades. His work includes biographies on Willie Nelson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Selena. He has been a scribe for Texas Monthly magazine and freelanced for Creem, Rolling Stone, and The New York Times. Whether the subject is western swing music, barbeque, or water conservation, Patoski has the Lone Star State covered like a blanket. His latest work, as lengthy as a presidential memoir, is about how a football team and a city grew together, have somewhat grown apart, yet are inextricably linked.

Professional football started in Dallas as the play toys for the sons of oil tycoons. Lamar Hunt, unhappy with his inability to purchase his own team, established the American Football League in 1959. His franchise, the Dallas Texans, began competing with the Dallas Cowboys for the hearts and wallets of DFW football fans in 1960. The Cowboys, founded by Clint Murchison, Jr., won the battle when the Texans moved to Kansas City in 1963 and were rechristened as the Chiefs.

For decades, the operations of the organization were handled by Tex Schramm, the General Manager, and Gil Brandt, the Vice President of Player Personnel. The Cowboys were innovators in their use of computer statistical models to evaluate players and creating the eye candy known as the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders as a marketing tool. Tom Landry, the stoic, aloof coach, focused on game planning, substitution X’s and O’s for motivation. In the ‘60s, quarterback Don Meredith was as comfortable throwing touchdowns as he was chasing skirts in Texas honky-tonks or appearing on The Tonight Show. Meredith’s irreverence and Landry’s seriousness were never a comfortable pairing.

As the book progresses, Patoski reflects on the growth and changes in Dallas. A segregated city with the dishonor of being where John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Dallas has always had a strange polytheism where capitalism, Christianity, and football are all equally worshipped and revered. The true sin in Dallas doesn’t involve who winds up someone’s bed or what goes up somebody’s nose – the only true sin in Dallas is losing.

As the 1970s progresses, Roger Staubach became not only a two-time winning Super Bowl quarterback , but with his clean cut image also became a poster child for the National Football League. The Cowboys were branded “America’s Team,” as they were the squad that everyone either loved or hated. You could be apathetic toward the New York Jets, but everybody had an opinion about the Cowboys. The glory days of the team coincided with the expansion of the “Metroplex,” as DFW built a huge airport hub and became the headquarters for a number of business operations. The team had also moved to Irving and opened the iconic Cowboys Stadium. General Manager Schramm developed a reputation as a ruthless negotiator that was able to pay bottom dollar for top talent. He was more generous with the funds when it came to parties for management officials.

Ownership changed hands twice in the 1980s, with the cultural implosion arriving with Arkansas oil and nature gas tycoon Jerry Jones. Jones dropped Cowboy legend Tom Landry and the internal management team like a pair of dirty underwear, creating howls of disapproval. The thought of an obnoxious Arky owning the hallowed Dallas Cowboys was an unthinkable heresy, until they started winning again. Jones hired his University of Arkansas college football teammate Jimmy Johnson as coach and they quickly landed the best quarterback (Troy Aikman), running back (Emmitt Smith), and receiver (Michael Irvin) in the league. Johnson won two Super Bowls, but there was an inevitable ego clash between the perfectionist coach and the solipsistic owner. The workaholic Johnson was replaced by the hard partying, back slapping yahoo Barry Switzer, who had so much talent on hand that he even won a Super Bowl with the team.

On the field, it’s been mediocrity or worse for the past fifteen seasons, but Jerry Jones has developed a new measuring stick for success. After opening a mega-stadium in Arlington, Texas, which can hold over 100,000 fans, and by taking corporate sponsorship deals to previously unimagined levels, the team is making more money than ever. The franchise is worth at least ten times more than the wildcat oil speculator paid for his vanity project. He has so thoroughly embodied the “Bigger is Better” Texas spirit that what happens on the field has almost become a secondary thought in the equation.

In this book, Patoski has covered over fifty years of Dallas Cowboy’s football while deftly interweaving the history of the city and the popular culture of the area. It’s a compelling story that could only be properly told by someone as entrenched in Texas history as Patoski. Highly recommended.

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Texas Book Festival, Saturday October 27

Join me at the 15th annual Texas Book Festival in Austin, October 27-8.
link here texasbookfestival.org

On Saturday, October 27 at 2:30 pm moderator Bill Minutaglio will be quizzing me about my new book, The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America (Little, Brown) and I’ll be signing books in the signing tent immediately afterwards, ’round about 3:15 pm

Here’s the scoop: The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America
with Joe Nick Patoski

Date: Saturday, October 27, 2012
Time: 2:30 – 3:15
Location: Lone Star Tent

The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America is Joe Nick Patoski’s tribute to the team that has delighted its fans and infuriated its rivals since 1960. Cowboys’ stories abound, bringing us a book that is not just an account of the team, but a very rich portrait of a time, a place, and a culture. Patoski is the author of the award-winning Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, along with several other books. He has written for Texas Monthly, Rolling Stone, TV Guide, and the Austin American-Statesman.

Moderator Bill Minutaglio has written several books including ones about George W. Bush, Molly Ivins, Alberto Gonzales, blues music in America, and the greatest man-made disaster in American history. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Esquire, Newsweek, Outside, Texas Monthly, The Bulletin of The Atomic Scientist and other publications. He is a columnist for The Texas Observer and a professor of journalism at The University of Texas at Austin.

Joe Nick Patoski
Moderated By: Bill Minutaglio

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Linking History and Fortunes of a City and A Team (New York Times)

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from the Sunday October 13 2012 New York Times:
Texas Monthly

Linking History and Fortunes of a City and a Team
Published: October 13, 2012

photo by Tim Sharp/AP

The rapid-fire, ultra-glitzy, superstar-driven nature of professional football as it is played on any given Sunday does not always lend itself to serious literary contemplation. For every nonfiction classic like George Plimpton’s “Paper Lion” or Michael MacCambridge’s “America’s Game,” the shelves are cluttered with dozens of adoring biographies, glossy chapbooks and quickie novelty items like “100 Things Steelers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.”
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Tim Sharp/Associated Press

Joe Nick Patoski’s book reaches back to the mid-20th century, when the groundwork for the Dallas Cowboys franchise was laid, and beyond.

Which makes the arrival of Joe Nick Patoski’s new book, “The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America” decidedly unexpected. A doorstop-size 800-plus pages, the book is less a sports story than a mixture of history and cultural analysis. In Mr. Patoski’s interpretation, the city and the sports franchise are inextricable; each allowed the other to grow and capture the national consciousness.

“Growing up in Fort Worth, you experience that second-city syndrome, that no matter how good your city is, what is going on in Dallas is shinier and better,” said Mr. Patoski, who now lives near Wimberley. “That question has been there throughout my life. What’s the deal with Dallas?”

“The Dallas Cowboys,” which was published by Little, Brown and Company last week, reaches back to 1841, when John Neely Bryan founded Dallas. It then fast-forwards to the mid-20th century when the oil scions Clint Murchison Jr. and Lamar Hunt laid the groundwork for the football franchise. Mr. Patoski creates a vivid portrait of that era in Dallas, a city where “success seemed to be a matter of simply wanting it badly enough and being willing to work hard enough to get it.” (A second newly published book about the Cowboys, “Ten-Gallon War: The N.F.L.’s Cowboys, the A.F.L.’s Texans and the Feud for Dallas’s Pro Football Future,” by the sportswriter John Eisenberg, takes a similar, if narrower look at the team’s earliest years.)

Mr. Patoski goes on to illustrate how clever iconography (the Cowboys’ silver star logo); intriguing, elusive personalities (the quarterback Roger Staubach, Coach Tom Landry) and happy coincidence (the television show “Dallas” went on the air in the late 1970s, just as the Cowboys’ on-field fortunes were soaring) combined to make Dallas — team and city — into internationally recognized brands.

Mr. Patoski, a former Texas Monthly staff writer best known for biographies of musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Selena, had almost no previous experience writing about sports. He first began working on the Dallas book in 2009, after “Willie Nelson: An Epic Life” was published. Though he planned to compose a book of historical record, the sports franchise greeted his Cowboys project with a fair measure of indifference. Mr. Patoski’s multiple requests to interview Jerry Jones, the Cowboys owner, were never answered, and the author said he was denied a press pass to cover the 2011-12 season because the Cowboys media office determined he was not “working press.”

The franchise, which was first established in 1960 as part of the National Football League, did give him access to historical scrapbooks at the team’s headquarters in Valley Ranch, documents he pored over and supplemented with the day-to-day newspaper coverage of the team.

As thoughtful and well researched as “The Dallas Cowboys” is, one question remains unanswered: does the mythology of “America’s team” still resonate 16 years after the Cowboys won their last Super Bowl?

According to John Parsley, who acquired and edited the book for Little, Brown, the publisher thought an audience would be drawn to this ambitious project.

“Every team is buffeted by its great glories,” Mr. Parsley said in an e-mail. “If a team is thriving, it’s said to be returning to greatness, and if it’s struggling, nostalgia can bring about the joy a fan clings to. But some teams are so integral to a sport, to the way it’s viewed and celebrated and even played, that their full history is always fascinating.”

Although books like Mr. Patoski’s and Mr. Eisenberg’s are being published, and the television networks continue to see big ratings for Cowboys games, some long-term observers wonder if the franchise is simply running on the fumes of nostalgia.

“It continues to be an ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ narrative,” said Bob Sturm, one of the hosts of The “Bad Radio” show on 1310 AM, Dallas’s sports talk radio station. Mr. Sturm added: “It’s really a great study on the optimism of fans and media alike about certain brands. The Cowboys enjoy this brand name benefit of the doubt.”

Mr. Patoski sees the issue in even grander terms. He thinks both the city of Dallas and the football team are at a crossroads, poised to do great things, but perhaps paralyzed by trying to live up to past glories. What cannot be denied, he says, is that both Dallas and its Cowboys still know how to think big. Consider the new Cowboys Stadium, which opened in Arlington in 2010, at a reported price north of $1 billion. “It may be the last big gasp of Dallas’s ‘ours is bigger’ syndrome,” Mr. Patoski said. “That’s Jerry Jones’s brilliance. He’s kept the Cowboys part of the conversation.”

For stories, reviews, news and more, go to: texasmonthly.com.
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Express-News report on the big Book and Author luncheon for the CTRC

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Authors share wit, wisdom at luncheon
by Hector Saldana, San Antonio Express-News

Whether sharing stories about a lost cat in King William, the forgotten Armenian genocide, the outrageous history of the Dallas Cowboys, the science of cooking, Ulysses Grant or reintroducing a domesticated owl to the wild, the common goal was cancer research awareness.

Authors Sandra Cisneros, Chris Bohjalian, Joe Nick Patoski, Jack Bishop, H.W. Brands and Gijsbert “Nick” van Frankenhuyzen were the star attractions at the 21st annual San Antonio Express-News Book & Author Luncheon on Monday.

The long-running literary event benefits the Phase I Clinical Research Program of the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.

About 1,000 attended Monday’s sold-out luncheon at the Marriott Riverwalk. To date, the event has raised more than $2.8 million.

Trinity University professor Coleen Grissom reprised her role as the sardonic “Ms. Of Ceremonies,” as she has done since the program’s inception.

“If every day was like this for authors, everyone would want to be writing,” said Patoski, praising the “well-oiled event” that offers book fans face-to-face time with guest authors.

Rowena Lopez waited in line for Cisneros’ signature and inscription.

“I’ve read all of her books. It hits home for me,” Lopez said. “And this is such a wonderful way to donate to charity.”

Cisneros, whose animated readings fall into the category of performance art, was happy to oblige. Offstage, the author lovingly called “La Sandra” revealed a vulnerable side.

“You get an affirmation,” she said about meeting readers.

“Writers are basically introverts. Most of us are very shy. This is our performance.”

Brands agreed.

“Writing is purely a solitary undertaking,” Brands said. “You get no feedback. So (meeting readers), it’s very helpful. It gives you the encouragement to write again.”

Kristina Hanley weighed her purchase options, glancing at a table of books.

“The appeal is seeing the author in person,” she said. “It makes it much more personal than ordering it from Amazon.”

“It’s a big thing to see the author in person,” added Anoop Warrier, “especially when you’re gifting.”

As in years past, the audience was overwhelmingly women. Tom Payton, associate director/director of marketing and sales at Trinity University Press, says there’s a simple reason.

“Guys read books,” Payton said. “But from a publisher’s point of view, women are the absolute Energizer Bunny consumers of books.”

This year’s lineup was among the most memorable and engaging. The eight-minute time limit per author often passed too quickly and presented one of the funnier moments of the day as Nick van Frankenhuyzen watched the seconds count down as he wrapped up.

“Thirteen seconds! This is like Cape Canaveral,” he said.

Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/From-a-grown-up-fairy-tale-to-outrageous-Cowboys-3929729.php#ixzz28uag5gOJ

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The Wall Street Journal reviews The Book

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When the Cowboys Battled for Dallas
Early on, “America’s Team” weren’t even the best squad in their home town.


For years now “America’s Team” has been stuck in an unholy funk. The Dallas Cowboys’ record since its last Super Bowl victory in January 1996 has been barely better than .500: 132 wins and 128 losses. In the past 15 years, the team has won just a single playoff game. Neither the top payroll in the National Football League nor the construction of the billion-dollar pleasure palace known as Cowboys Stadium has helped produce a rebound. Yet it would be difficult to claim that owner Jerry Jones isn’t at the top of his game.

Since he bought the team in 1989, Mr. Jones has built the franchise into a cash machine: The Cowboys’ $227 million in operating income last year was almost twice as much as any other NFL franchise and more than all the combined teams of either the NBA or NHL. He has done it, as Joe Patoski notes in his exhaustive history, “The Dallas Cowboys,” by ruthlessly, shamelessly and brilliantly exploiting the possibilities of merchandise (Dallas distributes its own) and sponsorship. Mr. Jones’s nose for such opportunities reached sublime heights when he persuaded Kraft Foods to sponsor the demolition of old Texas Stadium as part of a “Kraft Cheddar Explosion.”
The Dallas Cowboys

By Joe Nick Patoski
Little, Brown, 805 pages, $29.99

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Sports Illustrated Classic

Don Meredith quarterbacking the Cowboys in 1962, when the team went 5-8-1. Founded in 1960, the team did not enjoy a winning season until 1966.

Think you’re a football superfan? Test your mettle against some of the biggest football superfans we found from college football and the NFL. We dig those Cleveland Browns dance moves here on WSJ Off Duty.

Making one stadium home for both the New York Giants and the New York Jets requires an intricate changeover – from endzone logos, lighting, tee-shirts, banners, artwork – sometimes in just 12 hours. See the tricks used, including how the crew shuffles those 2,000-pound endzone trays. With ‘Off Duty’ Host Wendy Bounds.
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For all Mr. Jones’s notoriety, he is just the latest in a line of hardheaded businessmen who shaped Dallas football. John Eisenberg’s “Ten-Gallon War” tells the rough-and-tumble tale of how the Cowboys got their start and their short, heated rivalry with the AFL’s crosstown Texans (today’s Kansas City Chiefs), which lasted from 1960 to 1963. Neither franchise might have existed without the efforts of a young Texas oil heir whose self-effacing modesty masked a determination to bring pro football to his hometown: Lamar Hunt.

Hunt’s problem was that, in the 1950s, no one in the NFL shared his interest. His push to found a Dallas expansion team was thwarted by Chicago Bears owner George “Papa Bear” Halas, who spoke for an NFL ownership corps that had little interest in pushing pro ball beyond its roots in the Northeast and Midwest. Unable to sway Halas, Hunt struck out on his own, gathering seven other would-be franchise owners to form the American Football League. At the age of 28, Hunt was its guiding intelligence and its chief spokesman, proclaiming that “the American Football League stands as a group, not wanted by anyone except the American public, ready to play in 1960, and interested only in furthering the game of football.”

Papa Bear’s retaliation was swift: The NFL announced that it would bring an expansion team to Dallas in 1960, under the ownership of another oil heir, Clint Murchison Jr. Where Hunt “almost seemed embarrassed by his money,” Mr. Eisenberg writes, Murchison was “a whip-smart risk-taker who, though shy, relished the excessive life of a Texas oil millionaire.” The battle for Dallas (along with the ploy to strangle the AFL in its crib) was on.
Ten-Gallon War

By John Eisenberg
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 308 pages, $27

From the beginning, most of Dallas’s business establishment rallied around the Cowboys and the imprimatur of legitimacy bestowed by the NFL. Both teams played in the Cotton Bowl, but the scrappier Texans offered up a better show. “When it came to football and sports in general,” Mr. Patoski writes in his epic history of the Cowboys, “Lamar out-innovated Clint.” Hunt devised outlandish marketing schemes to draw crowds to Texans games, stuffing free tickets into bags of Fritos and in balloons lofted over the city. But he also orchestrated a foresighted league-wide television contract with ABC, splitting revenues among the teams—an arrangement later mimicked by NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle.

On the field, Hunt put together a franchise that could keep up with its AFL competitors: Texans running back Abner Haynes wowed crowds and led the fledgling league in rushing yardage and touchdowns while the Cowboys plodded far behind storied NFL squads, going 0-11-1 their first season. In the 1962 season, the Texans broke through and captured the AFL championship with a 20-17 double-overtime win against the Houston Oilers. But Murchison had already made clear that he was prepared to suffer as much red ink as was needed to see the team to success and run the Texans out of town. Hunt announced less than two months after winning the AFL title that his team was leaving Dallas: Eager to turn a profit and frustrated with lagging community support, he had been tempted by a sweetheart deal from Kansas City mayor Harold “Chief” Bartle.

Years of low turnout and bumpy performances had not broken the resolve of the Cowboys’ leading troika, which consisted of Murchison, general manager Tex Schramm and coach Tom Landry. Landry had been anointed one of the nation’s best coaches during his years as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, where he pioneered the 4-3 defense. When Murchison invited the Dallas sports-writing corps out to his private Bahamian island, Spanish Cay, in the spring of 1962 for a weekend of hedonistic fun, his guests looked on in awe as Landry detached himself from the party to sit and work on his playbook under the shade of a palm tree.

Though not a few players and fans in Dallas snickered at Landry’s evangelical piety, they couldn’t help admiring his mastery of the sport. Murchison extended an unprecedented 10-year contract to Landry in 1964, at a time when many Dallas sports writers were calling for his head. The owner’s faith was rewarded in 1966 season when quarterback Don Meredith led the team to the NFL championship game opposite Green Bay. Though the Cowboys lost by a touchdown, Landry took home the league’s “coach of the year” award, and Dallas established itself as a force within the NFL. The Cowboys would win their first Super Bowl in 1972, two years after the Kansas City Chiefs trounced the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

Mr. Eisenberg tackles the early histories of the two teams with enthusiasm, but it’s hard to match the thoroughness of the account presented by Mr. Patoski, a Texas institution in his own right whose previous works include biographies of Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan. “The Dallas Cowboys” adroitly traces the ascendancy of the team while shedding light on its unique position today as an athletic, commercial and cultural powerhouse.

Most of the credit for the Cowboys’ renown, Mr. Patoski shows, belongs to the irrepressible Tex Schramm, a PR genius who conceived of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders and was painstaking in his management of the Cowboys’ image in the press. Behind the scenes—when he wasn’t negotiating the NFL-AFL merger with Hunt—Schramm was a hard-nosed executive who kept a tight lid on players’ salaries. Decades before Oakland’s Billy Beane imposed the rigors of statistical analysis on player selection in baseball, the Cowboys ventured out to San Jose in 1962 to recruit an IBM statistician who knew nothing about American football—Uttar Pradesh native Salam Qureishi—to discover a reliable quantitative tool to assist head scout Gil Brandt in drafting and keeping the best players. Qureishi’s computer stole undervalued late-round picks—among them, Roger Staubach and “Bullet Bob” Hayes —who would go on to lead the team to its five Super Bowl appearances over the course of the 1970s.

Mr. Patoski takes as much care to recount those halcyon days as he does to narrate the downfall: Murchison’s sale of the ‘Boys to H.R. “Bum” Bright in 1984; off-field problems with the law among headline players such as Harvey Martin and Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson; and a string of bad seasons that led to the collapse of what Mr. Patoski calls the “First Regime.” When Jerry Jones swooped into Dallas to oust the poorly performing Schramm, Landry & Co., the sense of violation for some Texans was on a par with the Fourth Crusade’s sacking of Constantinople.

Foes of the NFL’s most polarizing owner will find much to cheer in Mr. Patoski’s account. The author, who gives Mr. Jones due credit for the team’s three Super Bowl wins in the early 1990s, nevertheless lets you know exactly where he stands: “Murchison was the one who created the mystique and prestige out of nothing. Jones just bought it.”

Be that as it may, the mystique has never been more valuable. Mr. Jones, like his predecessors, knew a good investment when he saw one.
—Mr. Dameron is a student at Yale Law School.

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The FW Star-Telegram Outs The Author

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Here’s a revelation that we found surprising: Joe Nick Patoski — author of The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America — does not bleed blue and silver.

He grew up in Fort Worth and has a lifelong love of Texas football. But when it comes to the Cowboys, whose history he explores in a book that’s more than 800 pages, Patoski is no Crazy Ray.

In fact, his first favorite team as a kid in the early 1960s was the Dallas Texans. “I was an Abner Haynes fan,” Patoski says.

Today, he sees himself as just an “interested bystander” when it comes to Cowboys football.

That said, Patoski has always found the “America’s Team” mystique and the story behind it to be thoroughly fascinating. That’s the real reason he wrote the book, which arrives in stores Tuesday.

He’ll be at Barnes & Noble at the Hulen Shopping Center (4801 Overton Ridge Blvd., Fort Worth) at 7 p.m. Wednesday to talk football and to sign copies.

— David Martindale, Special to the Star-Telegram

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/10/03/4309139/joe-nick-patoskis-history-of-the.html#storylink=cpy

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Hector Saldana’s profile in the San Antonio-Express News

Story link here:

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.”


Read more: http://www.mysanantonio.com/entertainment/books/article/Tall-Cowboy-tales-3899864.php#ixzz27yoiqitf

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Bobby Hawthorne’s book review in Texas School Business

Click this link for the pdf file
TSB Oct 2012 GameOn
by  Bobby  Hawthorne
When  we  used  to  Cowboy  up
Do  I  look  like  the  jealous  type?  Well,  I’m  not.   Sure,  I’d  love  to  have  a  sliver  of  Paul  McCart-­ ney’s   talent,   charm   and   boyish   good   looks.   I’d  like  to  have  his  bank  account  too.  But  am   I  jealous  of  Paul  McCartney?  
Not   really.   If   I’m   jealous   of   anyone,   it’s   Maria   Sharapova’s   lingerie   consultant.   At  least  that  was  the  case  until  I  received  an   advance  copy  of  Joe  Nick  Patoski’s  fantastic   book,  “The  Dallas  Cowboys:  The  outrageous   history   of   the   biggest,   loudest,   most   hated,   best   loved   football   team   in   America”   (Little   Brown  &  Co.,  2012).
The   more   I’ve   read,   the   more   envious   I’ve   become.   Envious   and   bitter   and   angry   —  angry  because  it  apparently  wasn’t  enough   for  Joe  Nick  that  I  merely  enjoy  his  book.  No,   I  had  to  love  it.  I  had  to  wish  I’d  written  it.  I   had  to  wish  I  know  what  he  knows,  go  where   he  goes.  And  I  do.
Joe   Nick   has   turned   me   into   a   wet   wad   of  resentment  because  the  book  is  that  good.   Here’s   his   description   of   the   Cowboys’   lat-­ est   digs   in   Arlington:   “The   giant   dome   sat,   bloated   and   squat   like   a   giant   Transformer   bulldog,   in   the   middle   of   a   140-­acre   asphalt parking lot, a long spit from the part of Interstate 30 that’s identified by green signs bearing the profile of a fedora as the Tom Landry  Highway.”
Snarky  and  spot-­on.  Joe  Nick’s  achievement  is  particularly  humbling  because  I  grew   up   in   Longview   while   the   Cowboys   were   morphing  from  doormat  to  doomsday.  I  rode   the  roller  coaster  up  and  down,  up  and  down,   so  I  know  the  story.  I’ve  pretty  much  lived  it.
“The   Cowboys’   problem   is   that   they   can’t  stand  prosperity,”  my  dad  once  told  me,   in  one  of  his  rare  philosophical  moments.  He   was  as  big  a  fan  as  I  was,  maybe  bigger.  After   a   Dallas   loss,   he’d   tromp   out   to   the   garage,   pop  a  Schlitz  and  the  hood  of  the  car  and  pre-­ tend   to   tinker   with   the   engine   until   he   sim-­ mered  down  in  an  hour  or  so.
How  my  mom  put  up  with  this,  I’ll  never   know.   She   tried   her   best   to   maintain   a   strict   Catholic   household,   so   cursing   was,   natural-­ ly,   forbidden.   But   on   Sundays,   all   bets   were   off.  If  Staubach  tossed  an  interception  or  Bob   Hayes   bobbled   a   sure   touchdown   pass,   then   we   could   blurt   “damn,”   and   that   was   OK.   Mom   didn’t   like   it,   but   she   understood.   Ap-­ parently,  God  did  too.
A   loss   ruined   my   day   and   generally   the   day   after   that.   I   watched   the   1966   and   1967   losses  to  Green  Bay,  the  Ice  Bowl  and  Duane   Thomas’   fumble   on   Baltimore’s   goal   line   in   the   Blunder   Bowl.   I   watched   Bradshaw   to   Swann  and  Aikman  to  Irvin.  
I   stopped   watching   —   and   caring   —   when   Jerry   handed   the   car   keys   to   Barry   Switzer,  or  at  least  I  thought  I  had.  Joe  Nick’s   book   has   rekindled   feelings   I   thought   were   long  dead.  Fact  is,  I  miss  the  Cowboys.  I  miss   what   we   had:   heart-­stopping   ecstasy,   gut-­ churning  grief.  It  was  real,  visceral,  atavistic.   I  miss  caring.  When  Dallas  creamed  the  Dol-­ phins   in   Super   Bowl   IV,   I   couldn’t   contain   myself.  I  sprinted  up  and  down  Whatley  Road   until  I  was  exhausted.
Today,  I’m  no  Pollyanna  or  purist  about   professional   sports.   It’s   a   messy   business   comprised   of   some   guys   I   wouldn’t   want   standing  on  my  front  lawn.  If  I  root  for  any-­
one,  it’s  likely  to  be  the  New  York  Giants,  an   organization  that  reminds  me  of  the  old  Cow-­ boys.  The  coach  resembles  a  stern  Irish  priest,   and   the   owner   doesn’t   cast   himself   in   pizza   ads,   shucking   and   jiving   like   he’s   just   rolled   out  of  the  hood  in  a  bulletproof  Benz.
Not   sure   if   you   saw   it,   but   it   makes   me   miss  Tex  Schramm  and  Clint  Murchison  and   Lee  Roy  Jordan.  And  it  makes  me  appreciate   guys  like  Paul  McCartney  even  more.  He  has   talent,   charm,   boyish   good   looks   and   a   bil-­ lion  or  two  in  the  bank,  but  most  of  all,  he  has   class.  I  guess  if  I’m  jealous  of  anything,  that’s   it.   Well,   that   and   Maria   Sharapova’s   lingerie   consultant  and,  of  course,  Joe  Nick  too.

BOBBY   HAWTHORNE   is   the   author   of   “Longhorn  Football”  and  “Home  Field,”  both   published   by   The   University   of   Texas   Press.   In   2005,   he   retired   as   director   of   academics   for  the  University  Interscholastic  League.

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