The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
What inspired me to create a website dedicated to the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders? Well, I fell in love with the Cowboys first and the only way to explain my loyalty to the DCC is to explain my loyalty to "The 'Boys".
It all started back in 1978 when I was a 10th grader at Detroit's Cass Technical High School. Some students were discussing Super Bowl XII when a girl said, "I knew the team with the best bodies would win. And Dallas won." Not only did I think that was humorous, but it also made me curious about those Cowboys. One day not long after that, my brothers were watching a football game when the camera came across this vision of loveliness wearing number 80. I asked one of my brothers, "Who is that!?!" He answered, "That's Tony Hill!" as if this was common knowledge for any red-blooded American. Well I tell you, I fell in love with Thrill Hill that day and I've been watching the Cowboys ever since.
Now comes a bit of irony. Maybe a few weeks after Hill graced my TV screen, my sister said to me, "There's this really good-looking football player on the Cowboys. His name is Tony something". I replied, "Yeah, Tony Hill." She said, "No, not Hill, um, oh yeah, Dorsett." I couldn't believe she was praising a football player other than my "Dial 80", but it did intrigue me so I started looking for this Dorsett guy. In fact, I sat down and watched my first full football game on Thanksgiving 1978 to check out this exciting team and see what this Dorsett fella was all about. It was against some team in red (New England maybe?). Anyway, Dallas clobbered 'em. And there was this running back with the best lips and best buns around. He wore number 33 and he was a fast, elusive runner. I now understood what my sister was talking about.
As the weeks went by, I checked out this team that seemed to be on TV every week without fail (to my delight). I began to appreciate a ball club that NFL Films (not the Cowboys!) had annointed as "America's Team". There was Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Preston Pearson, Robert Newhouse, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, D. D. Lewis, Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson, Benny Barnes, Harvey Martin, Raphael Septien, Charlie Waters, Cliff Harris, Larry Cole, Danny White and, of course, Tony Dorsett and Tony Hill. I could go on and on about how great they were as a talented, disciplined football machine led by the legendary Tom Landry, who roamed the sidelines in his hat, making every Cowboy rooter believe that the team was in good hands. And it was. In fact, in my young mind, there was a Holy Trinity of sorts: Head Coach Tom Landry, GM Tex Schramm and Personnel Guru Gil Brandt. But that's another story. Anyway, everyone knows about the lore of the Dallas Cowboys, but to a teenage girl in Detroit, they were more than just sports heroes. I began to indentify with them in a way I never imagined I could. I took pride in every aspect of the Dallas Cowboys Football Club. And that included the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
A blonde-haired, blue-eyed beauty looked into the camera and said, "You'll tell two friends." She was then joined by more attractive young women all clad in blue midriff blouses, white boots, white shorts, and white vests with fringes, accented with strategically-placed blue stars. They all joined the first woman, all saying "And they'll tell two friends." The next thing you knew, the women were in the middle of a full Texas Stadium where the crowd joined them, all saying, "And so on. And so on. And so on. And...". It was the most beautiful commercial I had ever seen. The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The Cheerleaders for my favorite team were in a commercial! And those big, fluffy, white pom poms with the beautiful dark blue center just mesmerized me. They were a perfect reflection of the team they represented. Nothing pretentious. Just a group of pretty, intelligent young ladies in a very charismatic uniform. There was an undeniable aura about this group; and other NFL cheerleaders would imitate them for decades to come. They still do, but none have the same grace or dignity as the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. The DCC have created a chemistry between sexiness and wholesomeness like no organization ever.
Before that shampoo commercial, the DCC were already famous. I had seen them on the Osmond Brothers TV show and various other appearances. I thought they were cute, sweet and benevolent in every way, but I didn't go nuts over them until I went nuts over the Cowboys. Once I was a true fan of the team, I identified with the Cheerleaders and felt overwhelming pride every time their name was mentioned. After the commercial, there were Jerry Lewis Telethons, Country Music Awards, Love Boat appearances, and a made-for-TV special The 36 Most Beautiful Women in Texas (I missed that, darn it!). But what really topped it off for me was the ABC movie, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders. The first time I saw the advertisement for that movie, I squealed so loud my mother had to laugh. She was upstairs from me watching the same channel and there was no doubt in her mind what I was excited about. That movie had the highest rating for any television show of that time. It was great going to school afterwards and realizing that everbody else had watched it (and enjoyed it) too. Then the sequel, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders II, was very successful as well, keeping the Cheerleaders in the spotlight.
It didn't hurt that this was all happening amidst the Cowboys unprecedented 20 consecutive winning seasons. The years went by, the players came and went, and the Cowboys just kept on winning. I remember watching a Cowboys home game on Monday Night Football one night in the early 1980s because I knew The 'Boys were likely to win and the DCC would likely be shown often. During this particular game, it was was so chilly that the DCC dawned these blue spandex body suits to keep warm. This was another innovation of the Cowboys organization. How many pro, college and high school cheerleaders wear spandex these days? Too many to count. What was merely a temporary solution to the cold for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, turned out to be a permanent fashion for cheerleaders all over the world -- tight, form-fitting, shiny body gear. It didn't stop there. Why do so many cheerleaders wear shorts? Why do so many wear vests? Why do so many wear puffy sleeves? Why do so many wear boots? You got it. The DCC are trendsetters for cheerleaders/dancers the same as the Cowboys are for football teams. Tex Schramm was responsible for many NFL innovations, including instant replay and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. His tradition has been upheld quite nicely by Jerry Jones, the current owner/GM who is just as image-conscious as Schramm was and rightly so. Jones was the first owner to strike his own stadium deals (with Nike and Pepsi); and he is currently the only owner to market his team's memorabilia himself, having inked an agreement with JC Penny, making the chain the exclusive retailer of Cowboys apparel in the southwest. Dallas-based JC Penny was a DCC sponsor for years, so it was a natural fit.
USO AND THEN SOME
The Cowboys' success has benefitted the DCC through the years; however, there is an aspect of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders that is independent of the football team. During the end of the Landry era and the beginning of the Jimmy Johnson era, the Cowboys fell on hard times with consecutive losing seasons for the first time in two decades. Despite the team's misfortune, the DCC were featured on the Phil Donahue Show and a CBS New Year's Eve special to ring in 1991. Further illustrating their time-tested mystique, in the seventies, the DCC embarked on a relationship with the Department of Defense/United States Organization (DOD/USO) that has spanned going on four decades. As a result, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have entertained the troops overseas more than any other entertainment entity ever. As of the summer of 2013, they have served the country in their unique way a record 75 times and counting! In fact, the DCC Show Group's main function is touring around the world to entertain the troops. However, the entire squad is dedicated to community service on a local, national and international scale. And of course, there is cheering for America's Team at the stadium with the hole in the roof!
BACK IN TOWN
As is always the case with the Cowboys, the bad times didn't last very long. It took Johnson and his "How 'Bout Them Cowboys!" mentality three years to get the 'Boys back to the playoffs, culminating in back-to-back victories in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Even after Johnson left, Barry Switzer came along and held things together enough for another NFC Championship game appearance in his first season and a victory in Super Bowl XXX in his second. The 'Boys were back in town and the DCC took advantage. They made appearances on The Montel Williams Show, Wheel of Fortune, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The David Letterman Show, two Nike promos with Deion Sanders and the annual Making of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar on ESPN for fifteen consecutive years. (The special now airs on The NFL Network). The Girls were back in town too.
I remember a Thanksgiving Day game (a Dallas tradition) when NBC did a postgame story on the DCC that competed with rival Fox's pregame show (the Dallas game no less). Jerry Jones and fullback Daryl "Moose" Johnston explained what the DCC mean to the image and goodwill of the Cowboys organization. Director Kelli Finglass very eloquently spoke of the Cheerleaders' history and there was a video put to the music of The Real McCoy's Another Night where the camera alternated between Cowboys and Cheerleaders in this order: Dorie Braddy, Troy Aikman, Tandra Cromer, Emmitt Smith, Dagney Helms, Michael Irvin and a dancing group of DCC. It was awesome. The world's most famous players and their most famous cheerleaders. The DCC looked great during that piece, about as great as I've ever seen them look. In a commercial about the feature, they were referred to as the "First Ladies of Thanksgiving" or something like that. You see, the DCC are the only Cheerleaders who cheer before a national TV audience every Thanksgiving Day. The Detroit Lions also play on turkey day, but they do not have cheerleaders; and the visiting teams are not accompanied by their dance squads. The NFL Network has added an evening game on the holiday, but different teams will be featured each season, leaving the Cowboys Cheerleaders as the only squad who appear on television every Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Night 1999, country singer Shania Twain featured the entire Cowboys organization (players, cheerleaders, locker room, stadium, fans and all) in her prime-time special on CBS. The DCC demonstrated their trademark kickline and jumpsplits while a laughing and screaming Twain admitted she couldn't accomplish that feat, especially in Cowboy boots! It was great.
Now every Thanksgiving the Cowboys kick off the Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign, encouraging people to help the less-fortunate by donating to the red kettles stationed outside of public places during the holiday season. The halftime show is dedicated to this cause. Entertainers including Reba McEntire, Clint Black, Jessica Simpson, Creed, Destiny's Child, Sheryl Crow, Carrie Underwood and, most recently, Kelly Clarkson have displayed their considerable talents surrounded by a bevy of fireworks, sound effects and dancers. Of course, the DCC are a big part of the festivities on stage, as well as, on the field. It's a wonderful Thanksgiving tradition.
PAST MEETS PRESENT
In the late '90s, the Dallas dolls appeared in Richard Gere's motion picture Dr. T and the Women and a Super Bowl commercial for Netpliance to rave reviews. Then in December of 2000, they accompanied the Fox network's pregame crew aboard the USS Harry S. Truman and danced before hundreds of appreciative servicemen in yet another national TV appearance. In one segment, they wore silver chaps over their traditional uniform, a really nice touch.
In the summer of 2002, HBO filmed hours upon hours of footage of the Cowboys and Cheereleaders for a cable series entitled Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Dallas Cowboys. Rookie DCC Leah Lyons was showcased along with several players and other Cowboys personnel. Wondering why the Cheerleaders were on a training camp special? Well, the DCC were on hand for a kickoff pep rally in San Antonio where they put on a rousing routine to the delight of 30,000+ fans. So of course the Hard Knocks crew had to include the most famous cheerleaders in the world in this production. In August of 2008, HBO reprised its Hard Knocks association with the Cowboys. This time the DCC were featured exiting a plane to the delight of cheering fans in Oxnard, CA, home of the Cowboys training camp.
The DCC were also featured in a Doritos promo where some guy ventures into their locker room (every guy's dream) to prove that Doritos can go anywhere and withstand anything. Well, let's just say he is worked over pretty good by the "cheerleaders" who smack his butt with towels and ram his head into a wall. Actually, the only real DCC in the ad were the ones wearing the full uniform. The rest were stand-ins. But still, it was quite humorous and a testament to the DCC's appeal.
In 2005, the DCC were featured in a Burger King commercial with a singing Darius "Hootie" Rucker. They were also in an ESPN promo wearing mermaid fins in a tribute to former head coach Bill Parcells, affectionately known as The Tuna. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy surprised one of its makeover candidates with a surprise appearance by the ladies.
Not to be outdone by today's group, the original 1972 squad was on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the summer of 2001. Thirty years removed from cheering and they still look great! That inaugural squad was also featured on Entertainment Tonight in January 2002.
The Country Music Television (CMT) network has adapted an annual series entitled Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders - Making the Team, which follows the Sweethearts from the beginning of auditions all the way to the first home game. It originally aired as a two-hour special in 2005, but the ratings were so good that CMT expanded it into an eight-part reality series in 2006. The series has great success and the eighth season of the show begins airing September 6, 2013. Check your local CMT listings.
Under Coach Jason Garrett, America's Team was only 8-8 in 2012, suffering several heart-breaking last minute losses. However, they have a true commitment to excellence as demonstrated by a record eight Super Bowl appearances and five Super Bowl wins. With young talent such as WR Dez Bryant, RB DeMarco Murray, OT Tyron Smith, S Barry Church, CB Morris Claiborne, LBs Sean Lee and Bruce Carter, and seasoned veterans such as Tony Romo, Jason Witten, DeMarcus Ware, Anthony Spencer, Jay Ratliff, Miles Austin, and Brandon Carr, this team should look to make its first playoff appearance in 4 years. With the promise of the 2013 draft, including C Travis Frederick, TE Gavin Escobar, WR Terrance Williams, DBs JJ Wilcox and BW Webb, RB Joseph Randle and LB Devonte Holloman, I look forward to the Cowboys getting back to their world champion status. It is where they belong. And the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders will be there every step of the way.
America's Sweethearts: Making the bad times good and the good times better.