February 20, 2020

The Changing Identity of Modern American Football

by Graham Seymour '22 - Opinions Editor

Multiple studies have shown that the New England Patriots have just recently taken over the Dallas Cowboys as “America’s Team.” This is no surprise to the casual observer considering that Tom Brady has led the Patriots to 6 Super Bowls in the 2000s era. Regardless of success, these articles are not expressing a general like or dislike for the Patriots or the Cowboys, but rather illustrating the generational divide taking place in our world. 

As millennials rise to adulthood, their experiences of the National Football League consist of the success of the New England Patriots. Watching yearly the New England Patriots compete for AFC title games and, just about every year, in the Super Bowl. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Malcom Butler and even Antonio Brown (for a few days) have all become household names whether Americans support the Patriots or not. This trend in the NFL is not new at all, and this shift from the Dallas Cowboys to the New England Patriots signifies the generational divide of football. Parents now reminisce on the successes of coach Jimmie Johnson and his trio of Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikmen and Michael Irvin. These names of players among young adults are fading away, and those who are preparing to have children are only seeing the Super Bowls of the New England Patriots. 

A recent article also explained how the Dallas Cowboys have become the world’s most valuable sports club. To many it is a shock, but the honest truth is that because of their fame almost 30 years ago has propelled them to get more television time, have more ticket-buyers and a bigger stadium in Arlington. The Cowboys’ Super Bowl wins in the 90s (’93,’94,96) have been doubled by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. By logical conclusion, one could say that in a few years, the New England Patriots’ value, as a whole, could dramatically increase. 

Growing up, my father, as well as ESPN always discussed the historic success of the Dallas Cowboys. Jimmy Johnson’s star-studded lineup dominated football in the 90s, very similar to the way the Patriots are now. Both the cowboys and patriots have recorded back-to-back Superbowl championships, but not many people remember the glory of the 90s cowboys. The Cowboys were an icon symbolizing the NFL as a whole—when you think of football of the past, you think of the Cowboys. Regardless of who America’s team may actually be, it is obvious that times are changing for both the nation and culture of America’s National Football League.

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