The original series was pretty good. Photo: Getty Images
Reboots from the previous millennium are all over TV these days. Of course, if the entertainment went that direction, the NFL would bring back one of its classic programs, the Dallas Cowboys versus the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs.
I’m sure a lot of people have seen the commercials for Night Court’s return on NBC, and those second season of Bel-Air starts in February on Peacock. After months of hype, Kitty and Red are back on TV on Netflix’s That 90s Show. There’s even a new House Party in cinemas.
If nostalgia reigns supreme in the content menu, why not give people the chance to choose what used to be the most anticipated matchup on the sports calendar. The beginning of the 49ers as a nationally relevant franchise came when Joe Montana and Dwight Clark put an end to the original Cowboys glory days in 1982.
From 1992 to 1995, the regular season was just a formality. Sports fans tuned in to their 3D Doritos and clear Pepsi all NFL season, but they knew the championship would be decided when the Cowboys and 49ers went into battle. The Super Bowl was just an excuse to see holograms of Michael Jackson dancing on the Rose Bowl, with the best team in the NFL having been decided two weeks earlier.
These two franchises have seen many ups and downs over the past three decades, but even at their most prosperous, neither has won a Super Bowl since the glory days of the 1990s. On Sunday, the Cowboys and 49ers will face off in a postseason encounter for the second straight year.
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As with 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 college football’s most polarizing figures. These days, Micah Parsons and Joey Bosa are the picks for Defensive Player of the Year as these two pass-rushing savants lead two wild defenses.
Dak Prescott is currently the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. It’s a job that will bring plenty of validation and scrutiny while the NFL is still in business, but he doesn’t have a Young, Montana or even a Colin Kaepernick on the other side to match his fame. The 49ers play with their third-string quarterback Brock Purdy. A year after trading to Trey Lance in the NFL draft, he went down in Week 2 with a season-ending injury. The same thing happened to his backup – whom they tried unsuccessfully to get out of town – Jimmy Garoppolo.
Relying on a third-row rookie quarterback for an extended period of time ended the Miami Dolphins’ season early. Purdy has not lost a game since Garoppolo’s injury in Week 13, and the 49ers finished the season with the second-best record in the NFC.
Also, like most reboots, the feel of a once-classic is something that can never be recreated. 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, which will take place at the 49ers’ new home stadium, nearly 40 miles from where Candlestick Park once stood.
The Cowboys and 49ers are certainly no longer superior to the rest of the NFL either. They are two of several teams believed to have enough talent to win a championship. The AFC is now actually regarded as the better conference. The NFC’s current Super Bowl winning streak is two years, no more than 10.
Times have changed, but what has stayed the same is that it’s the featured game when the Cowboys and 49ers meet in the playoffs. Their divisional round contest is the final NFL playoff game of the weekend.
So break out those old starter jackets whether you still fit in them or not. The Cowboys and 49ers playoff restart is about to begin.