Nov 18, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam meet prior to the game at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
If you have talked about the Dallas Cowboys in the past 10-15 years, chances are that you’ve talked about owner and general manager Jerry Jones. And complained about Jerry Jones. And continued to complain about Jerry Jones.
To hear most Cowboys fans tell the story, Jerry Jones is the worst owner in all of sports and an absolute disaster as a general manager, who could not possibly put together a team capable of making the playoffs, let alone win a Super Bowl. The Cowboys are the worst-run franchise in the NFL, and the laughing stock of the sports world.
While it’s a fun narrative, like most fun narratives, it’s not actually true. Is Jones perfect? Oh God, no. But he also isn’t the incompetent, senile, unqualified buffoon that most make him out to be.
And more importantly, he’s not going anywhere.
Part of being a sports fan is agonizing over things that you can’t control and complaining about things that you can’t change. But at this point, whining about Jones’ position as general manager and calling for a change has far surpassed the classification of “beating a dead horse” and has become almost as natural of a reaction to say when ticking off the Cowboys problems as saying “bless you” when someone sneezes.
At a certain point, doesn’t complaining about the exact same thing, which you have no power to change, and is clearly not going to change, just become a useless waste of energy? Far be it from me to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t think and can or cannot say, but complaining about Jones is about as likely to produce a change as pointing out that the sky has been blue for long enough, and it’s time to shake things up. There’s a certain level of relief in finally just accepting some realities, as unpleasant as you may think that they are.
Delving deeper into the “failure” that is Jerry Jones, has he really shown an inability to build a team and hire the right people to help him make decisions?
In 2006, the Cowboys were on the verge of a playoff victory in Seattle, generally regarded as the most difficult road venue in the NFL. Only a certain disaster involving a ridiculously slick ball, which remains difficult to talk about to this day, prevented a win and advancement in the playoffs.
Was the 2007 team that went 13-3, tied for the best record in the NFC, a roster that was completely void of talent and unable to win? Or was it a team that ended up losing to a hot New York Giants team and the same defense that almost completely shut down the record-setting offense of the New England Patriots only a few weeks later, to win the Super Bowl?
I suppose the 2009 team that won 11 games and even secured the team’s first playoff victory since 1996 was another roster of waste, put together by an incompetent general manager?
Obviously, the ultimate goal isn’t just to make the playoffs, or even to win a single playoff game. No fan should ever settle for expectations so low. But while most fans point to the success of teams like the Patriots or Pittsburgh Steelers when making the anti-Jerry Jones argument, they also conveniently gloss over the teams that truly ARE being run into the ground and have almost no hope of being successful in their current situations.
I asked a friend of mine, born and bred as a Cleveland sports fan, what it’s like to root for the Browns. He was more than happy to enlighten me:
"I’ll make this short(ish) and sweet (hell no). The Browns have had 12 general managers in team history, and seven of them have come since 1999. That’s right, there have been more Browns GMs over the past 15 years than Fast and Furious movies. More Browns GMs than Final Destination movies. The same amount of Browns GMs as Saw movies, which is fitting since rooting for the Browns is basically like one big torture porn contraption. They come, they scout, they stock the roster with the players catered toward the crappy coach’s crappy system, and they’re fired when we still only win four or five games every year.The most infuriating thing is how NONE of these guys has been able to find a competent starting quarterback. Everyone blabs about how it’s an inexact science. Well, here’s some scientific data for you: We’re 0-for-20 since 1999. ZERO FOR TWENTY! Have you honestly ever tried and failed at the same thing 20 times? Of course ownership doesn’t help. Randy Lerner cared way more about his futbol team than his football team for nine years, then sold it to a shady, shiny southerner whose embroilment in a fraud case that alleges a billion-dollar corporation refused a return on investment to loyal customers, which is about the most perfect metaphor for the Cleveland Browns ever conceived.Here’s the point: Life is awful, and see you Sunday. Go Browns."
That’s what it’s like to root for a team that is TRULY in the hands of incompetent management and ownership. Dallas isn’t looking so bad now, is it?
This isn’t meant to be a Jerry Jones cheerleading festival and some delusional tirade about how he’s won three championships (a lifetime ago, it seems) and makes every right move. He most certainly does not. Would it be better if he hired a general manager? Maybe. But there’s something to be said about stability. An outside general manager could truly be a disaster.
It’s also a dirty little secret that the Cowboys have hit on some pretty great players in recent drafts. Can you call the general manager that traded to draft wide receiver Dez Bryant (arguably the best player on offense, outside of quarterback Tony Romo), traded to draft Sean Lee (the best player on defense), found a cornerstone left tackle in Tyron Smith (who would be the player that could challenge Bryant for the title of best player on offense), used a first-round pick on center Travis Frederick, who looks like a 12-year starter on the offensive line, and found a big-play threat in wide receiver Terrance Williams someone who has no idea what he’s doing in his job, and will never build a team capable of competing in the NFL?
The Cowboys went 8-8 in 2013. They lost 5 games by a combined 8 points. Injuries forced them to use 41 defenders, the most in the NFL. Yes, you can blame the general manager to a certain point for lacking depth, but when you miss the playoffs by one game, were arguably five plays away from being 13-3, and used more players on defense than any other team in the entire league, you can’t legitimately say that the Cowboys have NO hope to ever win again under Jerry Jones.
Jerry Jones isn’t the best. He also isn’t the worst. And he most certainly isn’t giving up his power any time soon, no matter how much you complain.
But, even if you can’t agree with a single thing written here about Jones, never forget to thank the sports gods every night that you aren’t a Browns fan.