Center John Wade #76 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers plays a block against Leonardo Carson #91 of the Dallas Cowboys on October 26, 2003 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers defeated the Cowboys 16-0. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images)
As a kid there were certain Sundays where merely the first sight of the Cowboys prompted a collective groan from our household. When our favorite team gave us a horrible case of the blues.
My Dad referred to them, in fact, as the “dreaded blue jerseys.”
When the Cowboys don their blue jerseys Sunday afternoon against the Chargers in San Diego we’ll be treated to the rarest sight in the NFL and be reminded about the supposed jinx from yesteryear. Other than alternate “throwbacks”, the Cowboys’ blue jerseys are the league’s least worn, by far. They’ve only worn them seven times in the past five years. Second-least is the Miami Dolphins’ aqua jerseys, which they’ve worn in 12 games since 2008.
This is the only time this season you’ll see the traditional road blues (as opposed to the throwback blue on Thanksgiving). The Cowboys beat the Panthers in them last season in their only appearance, lost at New England in them in 2011 and didn’t wear them at all in 2010.
The fact that the Cowboys’ blues are rarer than Willie Nelson twerking is a good thing. Because most of their memories are bathed in white.
It was former general manager and franchise founding father Tex Schramm who designated Dallas’ image as white instead of blue. There was a competitive advantage, he figured, as the lighter-colored jerseys would keep his team cooler during day games at the sultry old Cotton Bowl. But there was also an entertaining method to his madness, as he wanted Cowboys’ fans to enjoy the color of the opponents’ jerseys instead of merely Dallas’ blue vs. the enemy’s white week after week.
As the Cowboys grew more successful in the ‘70s and into the ‘80s teams did anything to maul their mojo. Yep, opponents who traditionally wore their dark colors at home suddenly wore white, forcing the Cowboys into their blue jerseys and supposedly out of their comfort zone.
More times than I care to remember, the blue jersey jinx worked.
The Cowboys made their first Super Bowl in the 1970 season, and as the NFC representative in Super Bowl V they were automatically designated as the home team, wearing dark. Yep, blue jerseys and, well, you know the rest. The Baltimore Colts got a fluky tipped pass for a touchdown, received a controversial fumble near the goal line and used a last-second field goal to beat the Cowboys. When Dallas destroyed the Dolphins in Super Bowl VI the following year – wearing white – the jinx grew legs.
All five of the Cowboys’ Super Bowl wins have come in white jerseys. And in their 54-year history they’ve only won one playoff game – the ’78 NFC Championship Game over the Rams in Los Angeles – wearing the blues. Overall in the postseason the Cowboys are 1-6 in blue, including two losses in the NFC Championship Game (’80 at Philadelphia, ’82 at Washington) and two road losses to the Panthers in Carolina (’96, ’03).
How real was the Cowboys’ blueperstition? My family knew it was going to be long Sunday in anything but white, and at one point an exasperated Schramm even considered changing colors.
“We’ve even thought about making a jersey from the color of our pants,” he said after the loss to the Eagles in the ’80 NFC Championship Game, “and wearing a sort of silver top with white pants on the road.”
Fortunately, none of today’s players and most of the fans are slaves to the Cowboys’ blue-jersey jinx. So it can’t be real, right?
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.