The Cowboys Have a New Team Theme — And It’s a Bad Sign

Dallas coach Mike McCarthy's players needs leadership, not a motto like "Carpe Omnia"

The Cowboys celebrate running a touchdown against the Raiders.
If the Cowboys need a motto, they are in trouble.
Ron Jenkins/Getty

On Sunday night, the Dallas Cowboys will open their season in New Jersey against the New York Giants. Favored to win the Week 1 divisional NFC East matchup, the Cowboys will try to seize victory from the home team because this year Dallas will be trying to “Carpe Omnia” — that is, “seize everything.”

Entering his fourth year as the coach of the Cowboys, Mike McCarthy revealed the team’s new Latin motto earlier this week after presenting his players with pictures of their families. Set to turn 60 in November, McCarthy then explained what the theme for this season means. Literally. “Just giving them the touchstone to connect with, of ‘Carpe’ equals ‘seize,’ ‘Omnia’ equals ‘everything,’” McCarthy said. “That’s the way we’re looking at this season.”

To represent everything that it will be possible for the Cowboys — who have been knocked out of the postseason for two straight years by the 49ers — to seize this year, McCarthy put an empty picture frame in front of the team surrounded by photos of the franchise’s five Super Bowl teams. “It illustrates that pictures say a thousand words, but the reality of it is an empty frame is everything because it is all the possibilities, capabilities, what’s in front of us,” McCarthy said. “Are we going to do what we need to do every single day, everything that we can possibly do to fill that frame and be part of the history and tradition of the Dallas Cowboys?”

Probably not, because if a team of highly compensated adults needs a theme like “Carpe Omnia” to get them to do their jobs effectively, they are in big trouble. Themes are for restaurants, amusement parks and birthday parties, not pro football teams. McCarthy should realize this, but he clearly does not as he has used a theme every year he’s been in Dallas. Over that time, the Cowboys have won a single playoff game.

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“I think themes are important,” McCarthy said. “They come to you at different points of the offseason. This came a little different. I think it needs to illustrate where you feel your football team is at, where they are, in their progression towards winning a championship. I think it’s very, very difficult to win a Super Bowl in this league. There’s no question about it. That’s proven each and every year. But sustaining success, I think personally in my experience, is a bigger challenge.”

McCarthy may be right about that, but he’s wrong in thinking that a little Latin is going help Dallas sustain success in the NFL.

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