Reboots from the previous millennium are all over television these days. If this is the direction that entertainment is heading, of course the NFL would bring back one of it’s classic programs, the Dallas Cowboys vs. the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs.
I’m sure many have seen the commercials for the return of Night Court on NBC, and the second season of Bel-Air begins in February on Peacock. After months of hype, Kitty and Red are back on T.V. in Netflix’s That 90s Show. There is even a new House Party in theaters.
If nostalgia is going to be prevalent on the content menu, why not give the people the option of what used to be the most anticipated matchup on the sports calendar. The dawn of the 49ers as a nationally relevant franchise was when Joe Montana and Dwight Clark put a hard stop on the original glory days of the Cowboys in 1982.
Then from 1992-1995 the regular season was but a mere formality. Sports fans tuned in all NFL season with their 3D Doritos and clear Pepsi, but they knew that the championship would be decided when the Cowboys and 49ers went to battle. The Super Bowl was just an excuse to watch holograms of Michael Jackson dancing on top of The Rose Bowl, with the best team in the NFL having been decided two weeks earlier.
These two franchises have gone through many ups and downs over the last three decades, but even at their most successful neither has won a Super Bowl since the glory days of the 1990s. On Sunday, the Cowboys and 49ers will match up for a second-consecutive season in a postseason matchup.
Like most reboots, the cast has changed. Troy Aikman and Steve Young both work for ESPN. Michael Irvin is on NFL Network, and Deion Sanders is one of the most polarizing figures in college football. These days Micah Parsons and Joey Bosa are the favorites for Defensive Player of the Year as these two pass rushing savants lead two ferocious defenses.
Dak Prescott is currently the starting quarterback for the Cowboys. It’s a job that will bring a great deal of endorsements and scrutiny as long the NFL is still in business, but he doesn’t have a Young, a Montana, or even a Colin Kaepernick on the other side to match his level of stardom. The 49ers are on their third-string quarterback, Brock Purdy. One year after trading up in the NFL draft to select Trey Lance, he went down with a season-ending injury in Week 2. The same happened to his backup — who they unsuccessfully tried to get out of town — Jimmy Garoppolo.
Relying on a third-string rookie quarterback for an extended period of time put an early end to the Miami Dolphins season. Purdy has yet to lose a game since Garoppolo’s Week 13 injury, and the 49ers finished the season with the second-best record in the NFC.
Also, like most reboots, the feel of what once was a classic is something that can never be restored. Candlestick Park and Texas Stadium have both been demolished, and commentators Pat Summerall and John Madden are no longer with us. It will be Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olson calling the matchup that takes place in the 49ers new home stadium, nearly 40 miles away from the site where Candlestick Park once stood.
Also, the Cowboys and 49ers are certainly no longer head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL. They are two of several teams that are perceived to have enough talent to win a championship. The AFC is actually now viewed as the better conference. The NFC’s current Super Bowl winning streak is two years, not 10-plus.
Times have changed, but what remains the same is that when the Cowboys and 49ers matchup in the playoffs, it is the featured game. Their divisional-round contest is the final NFL playoff game of the weekend.
So break out the old Starter jackets, whether or not you can still fit in them. The Cowboys and 49ers playoff reboot starts soon.