Richard Justice: Can you feel an extra buzz in the air? Thank the Cowboys for that this week

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Darren Lee/CSM/Shutterstock (13622145cv) Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones during the NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin NFL Cowboys vs Packers, Green Bay, USA – 13 Nov 2022

Richard Justice: Can you feel an extra buzz in the air? Thank the Cowboys for that this week

   Can you feel that extra buzz in the air? Thank the Dallas Cowboys for that. They get television sets turned back and make your local team more interesting.

   The Texans will feel something extra the moment they step onto the field at AT&T Stadium. Surely, they’ve wondered how much fun it would be to play for America’s Team.

   They’ve seen the place on television dozens of times because the Cowboys are the national game so often. Check out the giant video board and the sideline level suites and the feeling that this is a big event.

   The Cowboys are the NFL gold standard for television ratings, franchise value, merchandise sales, and interest. Every network executive wants as many Cowboy games as he can get. Love ‘em or hate ‘em; you can’t ignore ‘em.

  In a dismal 1-10-1 season, the Texans will have extra eyes on them because everyone cares more when the Cowboys are involved. This isn’t some state rivalry thing, either.

   The Cowboys are way bigger than that. Even the Cowboys practice facility is legendary.

   HBO’s drone tour of The Star with all its bells and whistles, including a 12,000-seat high school stadium, has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

   That place was Jerry Jones’ idea. He built it in the far North Dallas suburb of Frisco, and if some thought that was too far from the action, Jerry’s only regret was not adding a second or third office tower.

   Remember when a lot of people predicted Jerry Jones would run the Cowboys into the ground when he bought them?

   First thing he did was fire Tom Landry, arguably the greatest coach — and one of the finest men — ever. Plenty of Cowboys fans vowed never to watch again. Maybe they resisted until the Cowboys won the Super Bowl in Jerry’s third season, 1992.

   If you’re inclined to compare the Cowboys’ playoff failures to the Texans’ playoff failures, don’t. You’re missing the larger point. In the larger way these things are valued, Jerry wins and wins and wins.

   Jones took over one of the great brands in sports and upgraded it from top to bottom. Now, his original $150-million investment is worth $8 billion, and if that isn’t winning, your definition is different than mine.

   No other American sports franchise comes close. Even the New York Yankees are way back at $6 billion. The Texans are another step down at $4.7 billion, and that’s not exactly lunch money.

   Jerry Jones is the best owner in all of professional sports, and it’s not even close. On the other hand, Jerry the fabulous owner is also Jerry the lousy general manager.

   Yes, Jerry has both titles, owner and general manager, and there’s a thought for you, Cal McNair.

   Since the Cowboys won three Super Bowls in a four-year stretch between 1992 and 1995, they haven’t come close to an NFC Championship Game, much less a Super Bowl.

   You don’t have to remind Jerry that his ex-friend Jimmy Johnson constructed those championship teams. Jerry has a different version of that story. In his telling, they were co-geniuses.

   Since then, the Cowboys have won four playoff games in a quarter-century. In fact, since the Texans made the playoffs for the first time in 2011, they’ve won twice as many playoff games (four) as the Cowboys (two).

   If only that mattered. Jerry has somehow pulled off the most brilliant marketing gimmick ever. He has managed to disconnect winning games from popularity and revenues.

   The Cowboys are the only team NFL fans from Seattle to Miami care about.

   Even scandal hasn’t tarnished the Cowboys, and Jerry has had plenty of them, too. America’s Girls, a Texas Monthly podcast on the Cowboy Cheerleaders, does not paint a flattering profile of Jerry.

   Nor does having one of his highest-ranking executives dismissed after getting caught in a tawdry voyeurism scandal.

  At times, he seems to court controversy — for instance, occasionally adding a bad actor or two to his roster — apparently knowing it will not dent his franchise’s steel-proof popularity.

   In a tough season, the Cowboys are favored by whopping 17 1/2 points to run their record to 10-3. At this point, the Texans are playing out the string and trying to get in position to draft Alabama quarterback Bryce Young.

   It may not be interesting watching these final weeks. But this week offers a reprieve. As George Allen used to spit out the words with disgust: It’s Dallas week!

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