Of sportsmen, Cowboys and Texas football feuds

If you’re a Dallas Cowboys fan, the team’s glorious past, rather than the grim reality of the now it displayed last night, might be a lot more interesting.

At The Dallas Morning News, sports journalist Allen Barra reviews three recently published books about the Cowboys that illustrate how professional football was able to cut through the dominance of the college game in a state defined by the sport as much as anything else. Picture 3

“Ten-Gallon War: The NFL’s Cowboys, the AFL’s Texans, and the Feud for Dallas’s Pro Football Future,” by John Eisenberg and published today, examines the battle that prompted the latter to move to Kansas City and become the Chiefs.

Also out today is “Lamar Hunt: A Life in Sports” by Michael MacCambridge, a biography of Hunt, the Texans/Chiefs owner whose legacy in the United States is felt especially in soccer. Hunt was a founder of the North American Soccer League and a major investor in its successor, Major League Soccer, that is thriving as a respectable niche sport today.

Joe Nick Patoski’s “The Dallas Cowboys: The Outrageous History of the Biggest, Loudest, Most Hated, Best Loved Football Team in America is available a week from today, and Barra calls it “the definitive biography of a city and a football team.”

A Texas-based pop music biographer — Selena, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Willie Nelson — Patoski peels away the layers of audacity, brashness and what the Houston Press calls “that garish, gauche agglomeration of rich nut jobs” known as the Dallas Cowboys. “Federico Fellini couldn’t make this shit up.”

In other words, “North Dallas Forty” non-fictionalized.

Patoski couldn’t get current Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to sit down to an interview, but he might have been overshadowed anyway.

But the richness of the historical subject matter was too good for Patoski to resist, as he tells the San Antonio Express-News:

“We didn’t invent the game, but we own it. This is all larger-than-life (stuff). The Cowboys are the story of Dallas. The story of the NFL since 1960 is best told through the Dallas Cowboys, the premier franchise. It’s why we even care.”

It beats pondering the present.

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