The Cowboys joined the NFL as a 1960 expansion team. The team's national following might best be represented by its NFL record of consecutive games in front of sold-out stadiums. The Cowboys' streak of 160 sold-out regular and post-season games began in 1990, and included 79 straight sellouts at their former home, Texas Stadium, and 81 straight sell-outs on the road. The franchise holds the record for most Super Bowl appearances (8), corresponding to most NFC championships (8). The Cowboys are the only NFL team to record 20 consecutive winning seasons (1966–1985), in which they only missed the playoffs twice (1974 and 1984), an NFL record. It remains one of the longest winning streaks in all of professional sports. As of the 2009 season, the Cowboys have the highest winning percentage of any active NFL franchise (.580).
An article from Forbes Magazine, dated September 2, 2009, lists the Cowboys as the highest valued sports franchise in the history of the United States, and second in the world (behind the United Kingdom's Manchester United), with an estimated value of approximately $1.65 billion, above the Washington Redskins ($1.5 billion) and the New England Patriots ($1.361 billion). They are also the wealthiest team in the NFL, generating almost $269 million in annual revenue.
After losing Super Bowl V the year before and enduring a quarterback controversy between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton, the Cowboys switched to Staubach. Behind Staubach and the "Doomsday Defense", the Cowboys went 11-3, then defeated the Minnesota Vikings 20-12 in the divisional playoffs, then defeated the San Francisco 49ers 14-3 in the NFC title game to reach Super Bowl VI.
The Cowboys shook off many years of near misses and finally won their first championship. The defense became the first defense to not give up a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Roger Staubach was named Super Bowl MVP by completing 12 of 19 passes for 119 yards and 2 touchdowns while also rushing for 18 yards on 5 carries.
Behind Roger Staubach, rookie running back Tony Dorsett, and the "Doomsday Defense", led by NFL Defensive Player of the Year Harvey Martin, the Cowboys went 12-2, then defeated the Chicago Bears 37-7 in the divisional playoffs, then defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23–6 in the NFC title game to reach Super Bowl XII. This was the first Super Bowl played at night and the first one played in a domed stadium.
The matchup between Roger Staubach and Craig Morton, who quarterbacked the Broncos, became a dominating defensive performance by the Cowboys who forced eight turnovers. Martin and defensive tackle Randy White were named co-Super Bowl MVPs. On offense, Dorsett ran for a touchdown and Staubach threw a 45-yard touchdown to Butch Johnson. The Cowboys capped off the victory when fullback Robert Newhouse threw a 29-yard touchdown to Golden Richards.
Behind the triplets (Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin) and an improved defense, led by new arrival Charles Haley, the Cowboys went 13-3, then defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 34-10 in the divisional playoffs, then upset the San Francisco 49ers 30–20 in the NFC title game to reach Super Bowl XXVII.
The Cowboys returned to glory with a resounding victory, out scoring the Bills 21-0 in the fourth quarter. Aikman was named Super MVP after completing 22 of 30 passes for 273 yards and 4 touchdowns (two of which went to Irvin in an 18 second span) and rushing 3 times for 28 yards. Smith ran for 108 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries and caught 6 passes for 27 yards. The defense scored two touchdowns on fumble recoveries. Late in the game, defensive tackle Leon Lett recovered a fumble and was racing for a touchdown that would have set the single game points record for a Super Bowl. However Don Beebe (who would play on the Packers Super Bowl XXXI team), knocked the ball out of his hands and it rolled into the end zone for a touchback after Lett's showboating.
Behind the NFL MVP performance of Emmitt Smith, who led the league in rushing despite missing the first two games due to a contract dispute, the Cowboys finished with an NFC-best 12–4 record, then defeated Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers 27–17 in the divisional playoffs, then beat the San Francisco 49ers 38-21 in the NFC title game for the second year in a row to reach Super Bowl XXVIII.
Despite trailing 13-6 at halftime, the Cowboys scored 24 unanswered points to win their second straight Super Bowl. James Washington returned a Thurman Thomas fumble for a 46 yard touchdown to tie the game. From there Smith ended the next two drives with rushing touchdowns on each possession and helped the Cowboys run the clock down before a title-clinching field goal. Smith was named Super MVP after rushing for 132 yards on 30 carries with 2 touchdowns and catching 4 passes for 26 yards. The Cowboys became the third franchise to win 4 Super Bowls, joining the Pittsburgh Steelers and the 49ers. This was the last Cowboys game coached by Jimmy Johnson.
After failing to "three-peat" in 1994, the Cowboys finished with an NFC-best 12–4 record in 1995, then defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 30-11 in the divisional playoffs, then knocked off Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers for the third straight year, 38-27 in the NFC title game to reach Super Bowl XXX.
The Cowboys staved off a ferocious comeback effort by the Steelers (who defeated them in Super Bowls X and XIII) to become the first team to win 3 Super Bowls in 4 years and the second to win 5 (after the 49ers). Larry Brown, (who ended the Packers hopes in the NFC title game), had two key interceptions to set up touchdowns by Emmitt Smith earning Super MVP honors, the first cornerback to do so.