As Cowboys fans, we have all come to expect the unexpected on any given day from our illustrious owner, Jerry Jones. With draft day looming large on the horizon, I feel safe in saying that Cowboys Nation is getting as nervous as Manti Te’o at an online dating convention.
Since buying the ‘Boys, Mr. Jones has made many a controversial move and not all of them have involved player personnel. Practically his first act as owner was to unceremoniously fire the only coach the Dallas Cowboys have ever known, the great Tom Landry. Although it was probably time for Coach Landry to hang up his spurs, the move certainly didn’t make him any friends with the Cowboys faithful. The next headscratcher came when Jones fired Jimmy Johnson on the heels of back-to-back Super Bowl wins in favor of loopy loose cannon Barry Switzer. He promptly added another Lombardi to the Cowboys trophy case with the team Johnson had assembled. What has followed has been a coaching carousel that has kept Cowboys fans’ heads spinning for the past several seasons.
Perhaps the most unsettling sideline move outside the head coaching job has to be when Mr. Jones and company brought in the son of one of the most hated men in Cowboys lore, Buddy Ryan, to handle the defense. Rob Ryan brought his father’s blustery style to Dallas and made the ESPN highlights for his sideline antics and the bulletin board material he gave the Cowboys’ opponents on many occasions. With that in mind, though, it was still a bit surprising when Ryan was let go in favor of septuagenarian Monte Kiffin after just two years in Big D, especially considering the injuries that plagued the Cowboys D in 2012.
Mr. Jones wheeling and dealing with player personnel started off on a successful note with the trade heard around the NFL which sent Herschel Walker to the Minnesota Vikings and brought three Super Bowl titles to Dallas. It appeared Jerry was on a roll when he brought Deion Sanders in from the then-rival San Francisco 49ers. When the deal went down, it got mixed reviews both inside and outside Cowboys Nation. However, Sanders proved to be a valuable asset to the Cowboys roster that had even yours truly screaming, “Run, Deion, Run!” before half of his first season in Dallas was done. Bringing Charles Haley into the Cowboys fold also turned out to be a good thing.
Not all of the risky decisions coming out of The Ranch have proved as fruitful. Perhaps the worst failed experiment came in the form of one Terrell Owens. When T.O. came to town it left me wondering if Jerry Jones was one of those people who, when playing Monopoly, care more about having Park Place and Boardwalk than actually winning the game. If that was the case, the signing of Owens paid dividends as his antics made it onto SportsCenter many a time. Indeed, his play-making ability also proved headline worthy as he quickly became a productive member of the Dallas squad. However, it didn’t take too long before rumors of locker room drama began to surface and the T.O. experiment went swirling down the proverbial drain.
As for the draft, Cowboys fans never know what is coming. Case in point, the 2004 draft when Dallas was expected to take running back Steven Jackson with their #22 pick, but traded down and ended up with Julius Jones in the second round instead. Obviously, we will never know how Jackson would have performed in Dallas; but we are painfully aware of the revolving door at running back that has been steadily turning since the departure of Emmitt Smith.
The jury is still out on the latest strange draftee in Big D. Admittedly, when it became clear that Jones was about to select Dez Bryant in 2010, I was standing in front of the tv yelling, “No, Jerry, No!” With the saggin’ saga and mama drama aside, Bryant has developed into a successful member of the Cowboys receiving corps. Filling the shoes of Dallas legends who have worn #88 before him, namely Drew Pearson and Michael Irvin, is a tough task. Bryant’s maturity level will have to match that of his talent before he can add his name to that lofty list.
As April 25 moves ever closer, we in Cowboys Nation might want to stock up on antacids and blood pressure pills because there’s no telling what Mr. Jones has up his sleeve…but I beg you, Jerry, just say no to Manti Te’o…