MOBILE, Ala. -- Twenty years ago today the Dallas Cowboys made history.
They beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XXX to become the first team to win three Lombardi trophies in a four-year span.
Since then the Cowboys have been on a Super Bowl drought. In fact, they have not played in an NFC Championship Game since and have only three playoff wins since they walked out of Sun Devil Stadium with the fifth championship in franchise history.
And now the Cowboys are coming off a 4-12 record, the worst in the NFC, which means they are as far away from a Super Bowl as possible.
Or are they?
“I’m the most surprised person in Mobile or the country that we haven’t been back to and competed in a Super Bowl,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said at the Senior Bowl. “But I know firsthand that you can go from the outhouse to the penthouse. And I’ve experienced it. And consequently that fact has always driven me to know that it’s just around the corner. There’s a pony in here somewhere.”
Jason Garrett was a backup quarterback on the Cowboys’ last Super Bowl champion. He has gone from player to offensive coordinator to head coach. His bright red hair has some flecks of grey through the course of time and perhaps through the 2015 record.
“Lifetime ago,” Garrett said of Super Bowl XXX, “but at the same time, like a lot of things in our lives it seems like yesterday. I have very vivid memories of those experiences and that’s one of the interesting things about life. It’s amazing how time passes as quickly as it does, but the things that were significant in your life you remember like they just happened to you.”
Tony Romo has experienced the Super Bowl from afar. He has two playoff wins and is coming off a season in which he missed 12 games. He turns 36 in April and is likely going to have surgery on his left collarbone.
There are only so many opportunities left in Romo’s career.
So where does Romo’s confidence come from that the Cowboys can get to Super Bowl LI?
"I just think that when you start off every offseason, you want to achieve that ultimate goal,” Romo said "That's all that's left for our football team. For my playing career, that's what you're going to be defined by. We have no choice.”
Garrett has three Super Bowl rings he can look at if he wants. He can talk about a trip to a Super Bowl with the New York Giants, too. But he wants for the players, coaches and staff the feeling he had 20 years ago today.
“Those are special experiences to have, to be a part of a championship team and everybody is positively influenced by it and everybody is a part of it,” Garrett said. “The best teams I was on had a great feeling that everybody was contributing to the success of the team. It’s a special feeling. I talk to our players about this all the time. The bounds that you create last a lifetime. They do. The bonds you create with tour teammates, you’ve shared moments and worked through a lot of things together. The ultimate success in this league is winning a Super Bowl.
"You create bonds and memories that last forever and there’s always a connection you have with the guys who are a part of that. Those are special things that you have in your life. Certainly want to cherish them and get back to having those again.”