3. The chapter that was never written
To this day, Dallas Cowboys players from the 1990s posit that their three championship run was a minimum. You can hear the anger in Michael Irvin when he talks about this. You can feel the pain and confusion in Aikman’s tone.
Had Jimmy Johnson stayed in Big D, the Dallas Cowboys would have had an opportunity to become the dynasty of all dynasties. Instead, as Barry Switzer’s fingerprints replaced Johnson’s, the Cowboys transformed into weakness. The organization flowed into mediocrity, a theme that stretches to this day.
In the end, the Dallas Cowboys brand would never be the same with Jimmy Johnson onboard. Sadly, America’s Team was never the same without him as well. His ingredients still live within Cowboy fan DNA.
Of course, when you bring up the Jimmy Johnson tales to the fan base, a smile ensues. But in retrospect, when you think deeply about it, his era can be a painful topic for Cowboys Nation as well.
His fingerprints are all over the three Lombardi Trophies from the 90s era, but it’s the invisible trophies not earned during that span of time that bleeds out the heart the most. If you are asked to recall the three trophies earned, you have to also remember the three possible trophies not earned.
Because, as a fan, when you taste one you dream of the next. And when the second comes, a trilogy must be on the horizon. Thanks to coach Jimmy Johnson, the Dallas Cowboys returned to NFL supremacy. But that scale will always be joyous as it is painful.
It’s hard not to feel greedy about Johnson’s legacy. His story is now complete with the NFL Hall of Fame induction, but in those middle chapters are loose-leaf notes that are unwritten.
Dallas fans will never get to see these notes, and the type of stories it may have conjured up. And for this, the Jimmy Johnson elixir will always be components of supreme happiness, pride, and sadly, objects of regret.