I know that hating Jerry Jones seems to be the popular thing to do these days, with some writers going as far as senselessly attacking him for plastic surgery and drinking on his own time (don’t see exactly how either relate to football). I know how fun it is to be on the bandwagon, although I prefer to be there at the beginning or not at all. I understand that this is still America, and at least for now we still enjoy the right to hate anyone we want to. I think the problem I have is when so many people hate somebody based solely on media hype and misconception.
There are 3 major issues people refer to when vehemently expressing their distaste for Jones. Many people are still angry over the Tom Landry firing, and the perceived classlessness with which this was handled. There is a public discernment that he is too visible, too stubborn, and ultimately drove Jimmy Johnson off, costing the Cowboys an untold amount of Super Bowl rings. The 3rd reason is his wealth and title as owner and general manager of America’s Team.
The firing of Tom Landry infuriated what seemed to be nearly the entire Dallas Cowboys fan base. What most people don’t know, and a lot wouldn’t admit, is that nearly as many fans called to demand the firing of Landry in 1988, as called to protest it in 1989. The most damaging thing about this circumstance is the massive misinterpretation of how the event occurred. I talked with a friend a couple of weeks ago that described the release of Tom Landry as though Jerry practically had Texas Stadium security throw Landry out of a moving car immediately outside the premises. The truth is that Jerry Jones and Tex Schramm flew to Tom’s vacation home to break the news to him privately and in person. Tex cried, Jerry repeatedly offered his apologies for the situation and asked Landry to stay on with the organization, explaining that he [Landry] will always be the Dallas Cowboys. Tom never responded to Jones’ offer.
Obviously a lot of fans were upset to see Landry go, myself included, being just a pre-teen boy with a Tom Landry poster on my wall at the time. Jerry knew what he was facing. He knew that replacing the only man to ever coach the Dallas Cowboys would unleash an uproar of unfathomed proportions. Although thankfully he was able to weigh that backlash versus the direction the game was headed and ultimately what would be best for the team, and now the Cowboys organization is 3 rings richer for it.
Another issue with Jerry is the notion he is impossible to work with, stemming from the fallout between himself and Jimmy Johnson, prematurely ending the dynasty years that we had all just settled into like a nice warm bath. The news of Jimmy’s stepping down as coach of the Dallas Cowboys hit like a helmet to helmet collision with Bill Bates. What had happened? Why were Jimmy and Jerry willing to risk something so great, something they had so carefully and perfectly built together? This is another topic everyone seems to have an opinion on, and adamantly believe that their perspective is the verbatim account of events. My account of this matter comes directly from the words of Jimmy Johnson.
It was the ’93-’94 season, the Dallas Cowboys were coming off a Super Bowl victory and looked unstoppable in repeating. Jerry had just extended Johnson’s contract and those around Valley Ranch couldn’t be happier. Then suddenly, Jerry began getting word of Johnson taking calls from other teams interested in offering him their head coach position. Jones spoke with Johnson, pointing out they had a contract in place, and that any offers from other teams should not be entertained. Jimmy insisted that as he was not the owner of the Dallas Cowboys and was instead “a working man” that he would listen to any offers presented to him. This seems to be where the rift began.
As the season went on there were more and more accounts of a growing divide between the owner and coach, slowly playing itself out as the backdrop to a 2nd straight Super Bowl championship season. This would all come to a head the evening of March 28, 1994. Apparently, Jones and Johnson were enjoying the evening, talking and laughing, no doubt reveling in what they had accomplished in two consecutive seasons. When, in the words of Emmitt Smith, the two suddenly find themselves on the “wrong page”. This is where speculation comes in, as nobody but Jerry or Jimmy knows exactly what was said. A press conference was held the next day to announce Johnson leaving the position of the Dallas Cowboys head coach.
Jimmy would later say in interviews that he had already decided to leave Dallas. That his coaching ideology has always been to go somewhere, turn the team around, and then move on. In fact, he even said that the exact day he had planned to leave the organization was already circled on his calendar (hopefully it wasn’t the one in his office), and that ultimately he ended up leaving about a month before then.
Now if you believe Jimmy Johnson’s story, then this is most likely how things shook out. Somewhere in the middle of Jones’ and Johnson’s “gentleman’s evening”, Jimmy broke the news that despite being under contract, he had no intention of returning as coach the next season, and suddenly things got a lot less “gentlemanly”. I imagine Jerry lost his temper, the two went back and forth, all culminating to Jones telling Jimmy to go ahead and clear out the next day.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Jimmy Johnson. However, given the picture Jimmy paints, Can you really blame Jerry for what happened? Also, I think it’s important to give Jerry his fair share of credit for building that dynasty. If it was all Jimmy Johnson, why did he never go on to be successful with another team? I didn’t particulary care for Jones’ comment that any of 500 coaches could win with that team, but we all say things when we are angry, and didn’t he ultimately prove it with Barry Switzer?
Everyone seems to want to portray Jerry as someone who has regularly been the cause of this team’s failures, without ever giving him any credit for the successes. I have often heard Jones described as a meddler. Trust me, if any of us bought a company for $150 million, personally took the reigns and developed it into a $2.1 billion enterprise, I can only imagine how infuriated we would become when accused of interfering with or ruining said enterprise.
I realize that not every draft, trade, or free agent signing under Jerry has been an absolute winner, but whose have? I have to admit that I have been very excited about some moves we’ve made in the past, only to be disappointed when they never quite pan out. I think if we are being honest with ourselves we would realize we have all done that. It is all too easy to criticize someone for a decision after the fact, when everyone including themself has realized it is a bust. It is also important to recognize that for every flop, there has been an undrafted rookie free agent or late round steal that has risen to stardom.
A popular reason for hatred of Jones is that he is an incredibly successful and wealthy businessman, and for some reason that has recently become something to apologize for. Don’t get me wrong, I am very familiar with the concept of jealousy, but at what point did someone’s determination and business sense become a justifiable reason to hate that person? At what point were all successful people deemed evil and vilified?
I couldn’t be happier to have Jerry Jones as the owner of America’s Team. He is dedicated and determined to do whatever it takes to bring this team back to a Super Bowl. That doesn’t mean there won’t be mistakes and I certainly never expected it to happen overnight, but with Jerry I know it WILL happen. I know that it has been and always will be his number one priority. I know that if the salary cap didn’t exist, there would be no limit to what he would spend to fill every position of concern on this team. I know that he stood by Romo, when many fans gave up on him. I believe Romo will take us to a Super Bowl.
I don’t have a problem with Jerry’s level of involvement in this team, because I would be the same way. Can any of you see yourselves being any different? I don’t have a problem with his success, because I believe he will use that success, and the pocket book that comes with it, to make this team everything it can be. Most of all, I don’t have a problem with him saying in an interview that we were going to whip the Giant’s a**** last Wednesday. And for the so-called fans and writers that suggested he should keep his mouth shut, you shouldn’t have a problem with him, or me for that matter, clearly having more faith in the Dallas Cowboys than you do.