Why are the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East?

Joshua Rogers November 24, 2022
Why are the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East?
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images


We explore why the Dallas Cowboys are in the NFC East ahead of their clash against rivals the New York Giants on Thanksgiving 2022.

The Dallas Cowboys – America’s team – are one of the most valuable sports team in the world and an organisation with a rich history in the NFL.

They are tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos for second most Super Bowl appearances, and their five Super Bowl wins ties them with the 49ers as the third most by a franchise.

Cowboys take on Giants in NFC East Thanksgiving clash

On Thanksgiving 2022, the Cowboys take on the New York Giants in a hugely exciting NFC East clash. Both teams have a 7-3 record, however, the Giants lost their last game against the Detroit Lions while the Cowboys demolished the Vikings.

Since 1966, the Cowboys have featured on ever single Thanksgiving except for two. The Lions started the tradition back in 1934, and the Cowboys followed suit third years later.

Now, both franchises are as much of a staple on Thanksgiving as turkey.

Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Why are the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East?

The game between Dallas and the Giants will see two NFC rivals duke it out – but why are the Cowboys in the NFC East? Geographically the Cowboys are in a completely different location to the Giants, as well as the Washington Commanders and Philadelphia Eagles who make up the NFC East.

The reason dates back to 1969, before the NFL-AFL merger when the Baltimore Colts, Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL agreed to join the AFL and form the 13-team American Football Conference.

In the following season, the 1970 season, the two leagues would be divided into two 13-team conferences but still operated under the NFL shield and commissioner, Pete Rozelle.

Random lottery draw decided NFC East breakdown

However, in the new NFC there were plenty of east coast teams but not enough in western time zones. Rumor has it that in order to allocate the remaining teams in divisions, a crapshoot was proposed.

Five proposed breakdowns were devised, with the Giants, Eagles and Redskins in the NFC East in each of the five proposals. Four of the five proposals had the Minnesota Vikings in the East and the Dallas Cowboys in either the Central or the West.

The proposals were put in a vase, and as luck would have it, Rozelle’s secretary would reach in and randomly chose the NFC East breakdown. Ultimately that selection included the Dallas Cowboys which is why they’re in the NFC East to this day.

Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Rivalries could have played a role

Others have speculated that it’s because of the East’s strong rivalries and the NFL’s ability to cash in on them. The Cowboys already had great rivalries with the Giants, Eagles, and Redskins, and so breaking that up would have been bad for the league.

Thankfully things went the way they did as it’s hard to image the Cowboys anywhere else but the NFC East.

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.