Tyron Smith has heard stories about Larry Allen, but the rookie right tackle doesn't remember ever seeing one of the team's biggest stars play. In what seems like yesterday, Smith was only 5 years old the last time the Cowboys won a Super Bowl.
Those were the good ol' days, and the Cowboys had lots of them.
But the Cowboys' five championships now are stories told by parents and grandparents rather than firsthand memories for this generation.
The Stars and the Mavericks have won championships since the Cowboys, and the Rangers got to their first World Series. Dallas hasn't even been to an NFC title game since its last Super Bowl season.
Never miss a local story.
Former quarterback Troy Aikman mentioned the other day the Cowboys should rebuild if they don't win this year.
"I just sense that this is a kind of watershed year for the Cowboys," Aikman said at the SMU Athletic Forum luncheon.
"It's a group that's been together for a while, and I just don't know that you can plan on keeping this core together, which they've been able to do. I just think this is an extremely important year. If they don't do it this year, I think it's going to be hard for them to move forward."
But isn't rebuilding exactly what the Cowboys are doing this year?
The roll call of released players is familiar: Roy Williams, Leonard Davis, Andre Gurode, Marion Barber, Marc Colombo, and maybe today, Igor Olshansky. Some of their replacements are unproven if not unknown.
Bill Nagy, Phil Costa and Tyron Smith, with a combined one year of experience and one career start, are new starters to the offensive line. Kevin Ogletree, with 10 career catches, 130 yards and no touchdowns, is the third receiver, unless the Cowboys decide to add a veteran from the waiver wire. A pair of rookie running backs -- DeMarco Murray and Phillip Tanner -- will make the team.
When Tony Romo gets in the huddle next Sunday against the Jets, only a handful of players will be the same as the season opener a year ago.
"I think me, [Jason] Witten, Bradie [James] and Terence [Newman] are the oldest guys on the team now," Romo said. "It's just crazy how fast time flies. I can remember like it was yesterday I was behind three quarterbacks [as a rookie]. It goes by quick. You want to make sure you take advantage of your opportunities."
Here's the thing: No matter how many names change, the expectations stay the same.
With the Cowboys, it always starts and ends with the Lombardi Trophy. Or, more accurately, if the season doesn't end with the Lombardi Trophy, it wasn't as successful a season as it has been five times previously.
The reminders are everywhere at Cowboys Stadium and at Valley Ranch -- in pictures, on T-shirts, in replicas of the trophies. Jason Garrett has taught his team not to live in the past, but to remember it.
The Cowboys currently have 15-1 odds to win Super Bowl XLVI. They still have enough weapons -- the core that Aikman was talking about -- to make them dangerous. Romo, Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Witten, Felix Jones, DeMarcus Ware, Jay Ratliff and Mat McBriar are good enough to win with.
The question is: Are Nagy, Costa, Smith, Mike Jenkins, Abe Elam, Kenyon Coleman, Marcus Spears, Anthony Spencer, whoever the kicker is, etc.... good enough to win now?
This team doesn't look like a Super Bowl team. It looks like one in the process of rebuilding, at least a year or two from contending. Just getting back to the playoffs this season will be a step.
Maybe it's time to start living in the future.