The Enduring Appeal of Old Beef: Lessons from the Cowboys and Jimmy Johnson

I was a young child in the 1990s, scrolling through Chicago Sun-Times box scores and keeping up with the daily drama of the 1997 Chicago Bulls contract negotiations. Fast forward to 2023, I’m now a sports writer in my mid-30s, and the Bulls and Chicago White Sox are uninteresting, at best. The tale of the 1990s sports conflicts still generates attention as if they happened last week. The nostalgia for that era still sells, as both the Bulls and Cowboys’ efforts to rebuild champions after their decade of dominance is still a work in progress. However, capitalizing on the success of the past is a guaranteed profit that requires no work in the present.

There are sports fans in 2023 who don’t even remember Tony Romo fumbling the snap on a field-goal attempt in the playoffs in 2007. Last season, the average age of NFL players was just over 26. That means most players currently in the league were not even a thought when Jones and Johnson won their last Super Bowl together in 1994.