Steve Young

Young claims Cowboys' ‘America's Team' mindset has ‘messed them up'

NBC Universal, Inc.

Even after all these years, former 49ers quarterback Steve Young gets fired up when talking about the Dallas Cowboys.

The San Francisco legend and three-time Super Bowl champion certainly is well-versed in the 49ers-Cowboys rivalry after playing three straight NFC Championship Games against Dallas in the 1990s. And while the Cowboys' status as "America's Team" has persisted over the years, Young doesn't believe it's doing Dallas any favors.

With the latest chapter of this storied rivalry set to play out in Week 5, Young told NBC Bay Area's Raj Mathai why he believes the Cowboys are placing more weight on their upcoming "Sunday Night Football" clash than the 49ers.

"The Cowboys constantly believe they're the greatest. I mean, it's amazing," Young told Mathai in an exclusive interview. "Like, 'I got a star on my helmet. I'm great!' You're like, 'No, you're not! You're not.' And I think one of the issues that they have as an organization -- and it's hard to overcome -- is that they're great when they put the helmet on.

"But they're not, and it's hard to go actually earn the right that you think you already have. I think it's messed them up a little bit. It's difficult. It makes it complicated, because everyone else is totally on merit, [whereas] the Cowboys show up and it's like, 'Well, we're the Cowboys.' Well, no one cares."

Young admitted he was "overstating" how the Cowboys view themselves but hammered home his main point, arguing Dallas has had plenty of top-tier talent this century with little to show for it. The team hasn't reached the NFC title game since their last Super Bowl win at the conclusion of the 1995 NFL season, despite having players such as Zack Martin, Dez Bryant, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Jason Witten, among countless others.

Now, after back-to-back playoff losses to the 49ers, Cowboys stars including quarterback Dak Prescott and pass rusher Micah Parsons are eager for vengeance.

"What I'm saying is they have had a lot of talent for a lot of years and have not lived up to the talent," Young continued, noting the 49ers are expected by many to have a successful season. "The Cowboys, I don't know. We should, but we don't know. So I think, to me, this game is really about the Cowboys. Because they need to live up to the talent they've had for years."

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