The Dallas Cowboys' season ended on Sunday in the most-watched game of the year. This is a point of pride for Cowboys fans who don't have anything to brag about regarding the on-field product. Despite the fact that they've gone a quarter-century since winning a Super Bowl or even making a conference championship game, the Cowboys remain insanely popular.
Jerry Jones' oft-bumbling franchise is the richest and most valuable sports entity in the entire world, most recently estimated to be worth a nice, conveniently round $8 billion by Forbes. The most obvious reason they're worth so much is because of their large fanbase that refuses to turn its back on the team no matter how embarrassing they can be. For instance, Ezekiel Elliott got pancaked while playing center on the final play of their loss to the 49ers on Sunday, and I had a Cowboys fan e-mailing me to tell me they played in four of the highest rated games this season.
And it's true. More people watched Dak Prescott throw two interceptions and do this...
... than watched any other NFL play since the Super Bowl. In total, 45.7 million viewers watched the game, making it the most watched contest of the season. And to no one's surprise, Dallas was also featured in three more of the top five games this season.
Thanksgiving against the Giants, their Week 10 overtime loss to the Packers and their Week 11 blowout of the Vikings rounded out the top five. Truly seminal moments in a season where the nation spent multiple weeks debating whether the backup quarterback was better than the guy with the $160 million contract.
But money isn't important. And, clearly, neither is success. The Cowboys are immensely popular and recession-proof. They stink, people tune in. They're good, people tune in. Half of America loves them, the other half loves to watch them lose. Which they do when it matters most.
So Cowboys fans hang their 10-gallon hats on the ratings. They root for the Big Bang Theory of football teams. Four out of the five highest rated games this season? Put it on a banner and hang it in the rafters at Jerry World. Its the only way anything is going up there anytime soon.