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For the people of Dallas, the most pressing issue was how to deal with being known as the city where JFK was killed.

“That was our label for a number of years,” Lively said. “When I would travel around this country and around the world … people would say, ‘Oh, you’re from Dallas’ in a condescending way. People thought Dallas was a bad city with mean people.”

Football, such a dominant force in Texas, helped to change all that.



The NFL placed an expansion team in Dallas in 1960, a ragtag squad known as the Cowboys that didn’t have a winning season until 1966. From there, coach Tom Landry built a championship contender, missing out on a chance to play in the first two Super Bowls with close losses to the Green Bay Packers.

By the 1970s, it was the Cowboys who were known as “America’s Team,” a catchy label that stuck in a decade that included five trips to the Super Bowl and a pair of championships.

They wore a simple but powerful star on their helmets, played in a futuristic stadium with a hole in the roof (supposedly left that way so “God can watch his favorite team”) and had a group of scantily clad cheerleaders who became nearly as famous as the players.

All of it helped Dallas shed its label as a city of hate.

“Every year in the ‘70s, we had a shot at it,” said Roger Staubach, who took over as the team’s quarterback after serving in the Navy. “We should’ve won more Super Bowls, but we were always in the hunt. And I think coach Landry, just his image, who he was. People really respected him around the country. He was a really great man.”

Looking back, Staubach knows how much the Cowboys helped shape a new image for Dallas instead of the one that drew scorn from the rest of the world.

“I had felt that way, too, before I got here,” Staubach said. “I didn’t particularly like Dallas. But the Cowboys had a good, positive part in getting the city away from the assassination.”

Staubach stayed after his playing career ended and is now one of the city’s most revered residents.

But the most famous resident of all might be one that didn’t actually exist.


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