It seems the shoe is now on the other foot. For years it was Dallas Cowboys fans who would invade stadiums from coast to coast. Now it is enemy fans invading Texas Stadium.
It was obvious watching Monday night’s Cowboys-Chicago Bears game that there were many fans of the visitors in attendance. You could see them in the crowd. More importantly you could hear them cheer throughout the game. They had a lot to cheer for as the Bears beat Dallas 34-18.
For years it was very rare that pro football fans traveled to watch their teams play in other cities. Since most everyone who bought a ticket rooted for the home team their fans made up almost the entire attendance. The only team in professional sports that could say it had a national following was the New York Yankees of major league baseball.
Then the Cowboys came along. During the 1970′s they promoted themselves and their cheerleaders so well that fans across the country began to root for them. Dallas became a national television staple and perennial Super Bowl contender. Young fans and women who were just being exposed to pro football adopted them as their team. The Cowboys following became so large that NFL Films dubbed them ‘America’s Team.’
For years there was nothing more annoying to fans of other NFL teams than Cowboy rooters. They seemed to be everywhere when the team won and nowhere when they lost. Fans of teams who competed against Dallas in the NFC East hated seeing Cowboys jerseys being worn in their stadiums. Sometimes the Cowboys weren’t even playing and their fans would be in attendance wearing the jersey.
This went on for years until television exposed fans to other teams such as the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. Now almost every team in the NFL has an out of town following of fans.
This has led to many attending games when their team comes to town or traveling to watch them play. It has also led to them wearing jerseys even when their teams aren’t playing just as Dallas fan does.
Thus, the irony of last night was not lost on those who remember when only Cowboys fans seemed to invade enemy territory. It certainly felt as though the shoe was finally on the other foot as Bears fans made more noise than Dallas faithful. One would think that this would bother Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and it probably does. However, the bright side for him is that his stadium sold out. No matter who the fans root for from a business standpoint the main thing is to sell tickets.
With a 100,000 seat stadium and the Cowboys struggling we may see more games where fans of the opponent make more noise than Dallas rooters.
My, how things have changed.