Back in February 2020 (aka The Before Times), I visited my in-laws who had moved to the Dallas metro area the previous summer. I had never been to Texas, much less Dallas, so I was excited to see the city.
It was…something. Not good or bad, just different. The vibes there were really strange. The weather was weird (somehow hot and cold simultaneously). It felt like someone used hundred dollar bills to paper over cardboard boxes and sterile, charmless buildings. But it still had a soul, if a weird one.
I don’t have much feeling towards the Dallas Cowboys, being a Ravens fan. But they’re certainly one of the most influential sports teams in American history. After leaving Dallas, I found this book randomly at a Barnes and Noble that advertised both the history of the team and the city. It had good reviews so I decided to give it a whirl.
This definitely gave me what I wanted, particularly the first 400-500 pages. I learned a lot about the founding of the Cowboys franchise, much of which I didn’t know, along with the history of the city of Dallas. I enjoyed it. Joe Nick Patoski has a smooth writing style and despite the books length, it was easy to read, fact-laden without being too heavy.
But the book suffers in the back half as Patoski basically glosses over the highlights of the Jerry Jones era and nothing more. Granted, all of it is of recent memory and much of it was covered in Jeff Pearlman’s excellent Boys Will Be Boys. But it felt like it ran out of steam once it came time to cover those 90s Super Bowl teams.
Also, I don’t have time to go into all of the errors, but there are a lot. Some of them glaring, such as claiming Vince Lombardi was still coaching the Packers after the Ice Bowl and that Herschel Walker was a back-up wide receiver. Patoski’s knowledge of football seemed to be slightly limited for a book that was about football.
Also, while Patoski does cover the racism in the city’s history, he still falls into racist patterns as a writer. He refers to one Black player as “articulate”, a famously racist condescension that white writers use to describe Black folks who presumably don’t use AAVE. He also goes into deep detail with every Black player who had legal issues, while ignoring or barely mentioning Jerry Jones’, as well as others.
Still, if you, like I once did, have a niche where you want to learn about a team and a city, this book accomplishes your goal. But be sure to read Pearlman’s book as soon as your done.