Last night as I was reeling from doing live switching for Korean professional soccer, I was talking with one of my co-workers about how Stephen Jones and Jason Garrett have replaced Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson.
Now, like I had to do with him, let me give a foreword stating I’m not comparing their successes nor am I stating they will have the same success as their predecessors. I’m only making a general comparison for your amusement and my delusion that I’m someday going to be a web producer or news writer instead of an industrial ball bearing salesman — Heaven forbid.
I could have titled this “Tom and Tex: The Generation.” The fact is, as has been most evident in the past off-season’s activities and slightly evident going back to 2009, Jason Garrett and Stephen Jones have taken a more pronounced role with this team than most fans and most mediots deny. The current head coach and the current director of player personnel have put their stamp on this team.
The first move I can pinpoint as evidence was the release of Terrell Owens in 2009. It’s indubitable that Jerry Jones favored T.O. However after 2008 when T.O. became more vocal about the direction of the team in the month of December, Jason Garrett and Stephen Jones lobbied Jerry to get rid of Owens. It was a decision that Jerry came to begrudgingly, but it was the first step of Garrett and Stephen getting their way with this franchise.
Who knows how the 2009 draft would have turned out had Jerry not mortgaged it on Roy “Thanksgiving” Williams. Even then, Jerry deferred enough to Wade Phillips that it might not have made a difference. See the Jason/Brandon Williams pick or whoever the frick that was. It was about the same player to us: below average.
So we really didn’t get to see how Garrett and Stephen would have handled a draft until 2010 when we took Dez Bryant, who was the best player available, and Sean Lee, a character guy. We also got a hard worker in Sean Lissemore in the seventh round and spent a pick in the supplemental draft on Josh Brent. Naturally, we also got some strange picks like Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, but that was the last draft of the Wade Phillips era. What would you expect?
In the 2011 off-season, even if it was abbreviated, you saw the Dallas Cowboys trim the fat and eliminate players who weren’t buying into “the process.” See Andre Gurode, Leonard Davis, Marion Barber, and Roy Williams’ releases. You saw competition at virtually every position. You saw the Dallas Cowboys continue to take the best player available in the draft along with character guys. You saw constant roster churning.
This 2012 off-season has really shown us who is running the show at Valley Ranch. Jason Garrett said it: he’s not looking for the best players, but the right players. He’s talking about character guys. He’s talking about players who are excited to be here like Morris Claiborne. He’s talking about players who are eager to workk for their Star like Tyrone Crawford. These are the kind of players we had in the ’90s and the kind of players we need to win again.
It’s true that Jerry Jones is still the president and the general manager of the team, but it doesn’t mean he won’t cede power or that executives have never ceded power in such absolute roles. Thomas Jefferson began a tradition of having the State of the Union address read to Congress as opposed to the President delivering it. Similarly, just because Jerry Jones holds these Caesar-like titles doesn’t mean he’s not letting Garrett, Stephen, Ciskowski, and the scouts get their way behind the scenes. Oh, sure: we’re still going to see Jerry with his botox grin giving interviews in his central Arkansas accent with the timing of Porky Pig and using folksy phrases Dan Rather wouldn’t even touch. But if you look at the direction of this team and you look at what’s being done personnel wise, you see that he’s not running everything from socks to jocks.
Ernest Hemingway said that the truth has a certain ring to it, and you don’t have tinnitus. You know that if this team ever starts to win again, we’re way past Parcells for the mediots to give him the credit. They would rather swallow the cyanide pills in their cheeks than admit Jerry Jones ever built anything successful without Jimmy Johnson. Who are they going to credit for the Cowboys’ turnaround? Rowdy?
Stephen and Garrett want to seize this opportunity too. Let’s hope soon that “the process” is complete.