When Fox broke the news to former head coach Jimmy Johnson on live television, the moment was pure and incredibly raw. Even for a 76-year old man, Johnson came across as a child — genuine and innocent.
The manic robot, the man who owned a tough tone during practices, was no longer. That side of Jimmy Johnson was finally put to rest. Tears ensued. A new chapter was written; the fairy tale ending was ready to be told. The book was finally finished.
And yet, one word sticks out most during this ceremonious occasion: appreciation. As tears flowed from Johnson’s eyes, he talked about how nice it was to be appreciated. The first thought to my mind was a name. Jerry Jones.
During Johnson’s run with the Cowboys, the coach went 44-36 in the regular season but published an astonishing 7-1 record in the playoffs. He was a 1-15 coach that turned around a franchise, which earned three Super Bowl titles in the span of four years. Johnson created a dynasty. He was, in essence, the brainiac behind the curtain.
But his owner, and general manager, Jerry Jones, wanted the spotlight and the credit that followed. Jones was the Hollywood producer who needed his first and last name on every credit sheet. He wanted the camera close-ups as well.
With Johnson bawling his eyes out on amongst his co-workers, you can’t help but get a deep sense that the coach never fully felt appreciated in Big D, despite building a majestic team.
Dallas Cowboys fans already know this, but it’s worth mentioning this specific note. What coach Johnson did can never be duplicated. History will never see his transactional wizardry repeated again.
Johnson’s psychological warfare on his players might be studied, but in the end, there is only one Jimmy. And for that, Johnson deserves immense appreciation.