On Sunday the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Dallas Cowboys for the first time since 2016. But there was a time when the two storied franchises produced one of the greatest rivalries in the league, punctuated by the Steelers defeating the Cowboys in Super Bowls X and XIII, the latter of which led to a curious bit of NFL history.
The History of ‘America’s Team’
Today NFL fans associate the Cowboys with the phrase ‘America’s Team,’ but that moniker didn’t become closely tied to the Cowboys until 1979. In fact, ‘America’s Team’ was the title of the Dallas Cowboys’ 1978 highlight film, which was produced by NFL Films.
During the introduction to the 22-minute highlight reel, legendary NFL Films narrator John Facenda intones: “Their record is envied and their innovations are copied down to the most glamorous detail. They appear on television so often that their faces are as familiar to the public as presidents and movie stars. They are the Dallas Cowboys, America’s Team.”
But did you know that NFL Films first approached the Steelers to ask if Pittsburgh wanted to be ‘America’s Team,’ only turning to the Cowboys as a fallback option?
According to Bob Labriola, longtime editor of Steelers Digest and contributor to Steelers.com, “… after becoming the first team to win three Super Bowls by defeating the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII, the Steelers were approached by NFL Films and asked whether they would agree to be called ‘America’s Team’ in their annual highlights film. Art Rooney Sr. declined and said he was happy being Pittsburgh’s team.”
So NFL Films repurposed the phrase as the title of the Cowboys’ highlight film—and the rest is history.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s 1978 highlight reel was titled ‘The Return of the Champions,’ and presented as the “story of the decade’s finest football team in its finest hour.”
You can watch Pittsburgh’s 1978 highlight film below:
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Super Bowl XIII ‘Game Rewind’
Meanwhile, if you’d like to re-visit that season’s Cowboys-Steelers Super Bowl, recall that the Steelers re-aired Super Bowl XIII on the team’s social media channels this past spring, featuring brand-new interviews with running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier, both of whom featured prominently in Pittsburgh’s 35-31 victory.
You can also watch the Super Bowl XIV ‘Game Rewind,’ featuring new interviews with Pro Football Hall of Famers John Stallworth and Donnie Shell, who recall Pittsburgh’s 31-19 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
If you’d like to indulge even further in Steelers Super Bowl history, check out the Super Bowl XL ‘Game Rewind’ or the Super Bowl XLIII ‘Game Rewind’, the latter of which features former Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes crying tears of joy recalling his Super Bowl MVP performance.
Or simply consider a recent debate about which ‘Super Steelers’ team was the best in franchise history.
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