Call it a mistake. Call is a conspiracy. Call it treason to the general football fan, who nowadays is trained to despise the glamour-based franchise known as the Dallas Cowboys. With politicians in attendance, a palace-like stadium to call home, and a love affair with network televising, the Dallas Cowboys once again proved why they hold the label of “America’s Team.”
After the officials picked up what looked to be a textbook pass interference call on Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens, social media blew up into a firestorm. The reaction was even greater than the one following the recent terrorist attacks in France. As shocking as that sounds, it highlights the point that Dallas truly is the sports child of America.
The flag seemed a no-brainer. Numerous times, the Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive backs were called out by officials for not turning to play the ball, in much the same manner Hitchens seemed to forget that the ball was even in the air. Add in the contact Hitchens made on the receiver’s jersey, and the penalty seems completely justified.
The fact of the matter is, no other sports team could garner such a polarizing, thunderous reaction from fans across the country. Only the Cowboys could create such a widespread audience for a Wild Card playoff game, albeit during a prime Sunday evening television slot. The hated and disdain that exists for the Dallas Cowboys has seen them become one of the most highly-publicized sports teams in the American athletic industry.
Had the Lions been facing the fifth-seeded Carolina Panthers, for example, nowhere near the same outrage would have followed the missed penalty call. A small-market team like Carolina would have left the playoff scene with a whimper, with fans forgetting the controversy by the time the dreaded first workday of the year arrived. Because a big-market team like the Cowboys was involved, the controversy has carried throughout the work week. If Dallas somehow manages to overthrow the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau, the haters will further emerge.
But that’s exactly why Dallas will remain America’s team. If an immigrant moved to America in the last week, and searched Twitter, he would have thought that the Dallas Cowboys were the FC Barcelona, Manchester United, or Chennai Super Kings of American football. Whether we love them or hate them, the Cowboys symbolize the passion and drive that Americans have for sports—as well as American creativity in photo captions and memes-and will continue to represent American sports passion for the foreseeable future.