With the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers in town for Super Bowl XLV, it seems appropriate to revive the debate regarding whether one of them has overtaken the Dallas Cowboys as "America's Team." That moniker, which NFL Films gave to the Cowboys in the 1970s, has annoyed other fan bases ever since.
ESPN.com asked three brave souls -- Chad Millman, Gene Wojciechowski and Tim MacMahon -- to make arguments for the Steelers, Packers and Cowboys. I've read each argument and will present key excerpts:
Millman on the Steelers: "The Steelers were defending Super Bowl champs the first time the two played for the title and had the NFL's best regular-season record heading into their second matchup. And yet, both times, Chuck Noll's players felt stung by their second-class status. At one point before the two teams' first Super Bowl, which was played in Miami, Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert complained to the media about the Cowboys' team hotel being closer to the beach than Pittsburgh's. "I hope," said Lambert, "that Roger Staubach is eaten by a shark."
Woj on the Packers: "At JerryWorld you get The Art At Cowboys Stadium, including such exquisite pieces as "Unexpected Variable Configuration: A Work in Situ." At Lambeau, you get a hot brat, a cold beer and a chorus of "Go, Pack, Go" while smooshed next to some guy wearing a cheesehead and orange hunting overalls. You tell me what sounds like more fun.
"The most-watched show in the 2009 fall TV season was a Packers game. The second-most-watched show in cable history is a Packers game. Five of the top 20 most-watched shows in the fall of 2010 were Packers games."
MacMahon on the Cowboys: "But the point of going to high school is to get an education, and it's not as if grade-point averages are the determining factor in selecting prom queens. You could consider the Cowboys to be the NFL's prom queens. "America's Team" just sounds better.
"The Cowboys' popularity probably spiked during their '90s dynasty. However, it's still going strong a decade and a half later despite only one playoff win in the last 14 seasons."
I sort of buy into the theory that the Cowboys are the only team in the league that can maintain its popularity (ratings wise) while not winning playoff games, as we've seen them do for years. I'm not even sure Steelers and Packers fans should want to wrest the "America's Team" label from the Cowboys. What makes them special is how important they are to their communities, not the rest of the nation.
Now I'd like for you guys to make the call. Packers, Steelers or Cowboys? Show work.