Al Davis and Jerry Jones: 2 Owners Who Tarnished 2 Proud NFL Franchises
There are logos in every industry that carry a certain level of prestige and invoke certain feelings.
The NFL and the game of football are included in this. Two of the most recognizable logos in football (and all of sports, for that matter) are the Dallas Cowboy star and the Oakland Raider shield.
There was a time when players who wore these logos on their helmets could look at them and know they were playing for one of the most prestigious and respected organizations in all of sports.
Sadly, this is no longer the case.
Davis was first, allowing an escalation of commitment to ruin a commitment to excellence. He was successful in the early days of pro football, stocking his roster with the biggest, fastest, strongest and meanest players he could find.
This success, as it does with many people, created a sizable ego. Early on, Davis decided that everything was going to be his way. He would call the shots with the attitude that he knew more than everyone else.
He was going to make sure he got his way by often filling his staff with people who only knew how to do things his way, the Raider way.
Even when it became apparent that his way was not working, he never backed off. He signed and drafted who he wanted when he wanted, based on what worked in a different time. The opinion of his coaches meant nothing, and if they gave him any flak, he cut them loose (Jon Gruden and Lane Kiffin come to mind).
He didn’t mind if his players and coaches had fame, so long as it didn’t exceed his fame. Al Davis was going to be the Raiders, for better or for worse.
After purchasing the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, Jerry Jones started down the same path as Davis. His first move was to replace the legendary Tom Landry with an old college buddy in Jimmy Johnson. Johnson, the former Miami Hurricanes coach, was successful almost immediately.
Say what you will, Jones’ pride seemed to be an issue once Johnson began getting all the credit for winning back-to-back Super Bowls. Between the head coach and his superstar players, Jones was no longer in the limelight.
Sure enough, he forced Jimmy Johnson out in 1994. His next hire, Barry Switzer, would win Dallas’ last Super Bowl.
From that point until now, the Cowboys have had a revolving door of coaches, quarterbacks and talented football players who could never get over the hump. One can’t help but to think Jones’ constant meddling in the football operation has been a distraction.
Like Davis, Jones was an old-school footballer. He was convinced that because his ideas worked once, they would work again.
A decade and a half later, they have not.
In 2011, Al Davis passed away and the Oakland Raiders franchise turned a new leaf. With a real football-minded general manager in place, the Raiders have the look of a legit NFL franchise on the verge of big things for the first time in over 10 years.
The sadness of Al Davis’ passing still resonates with Raider Nation, but surely they have to believe they will be better off going forward. Davis did much for the Raiders and the game of football, but in his final years, he made decisions that could have crippled the silver and black indefinitely.
Jerry Jones is still kicking and still looking like the new Al Davis, employing staffers and coaches who only know his way in order to minimize conflict when he makes a decision. In his mind, he’s the greatest general manager in all of sports. In reality, he can’t seem to get one of the world’s most popular sports franchises back to the pinnacle of the sport.
Many view New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft as one of the best in football. Some would argue Kraft and the Patriots are only a model organization because of the recent success they’ve had and that the image of both would be much different with a few consecutive disappointing seasons.
Be that as it may, Jones once had what Kraft has now. He had a successful franchise that everyone else looked up to, but because he didn’t feel like he was getting the credit and limelight he deserved during that time, he blew it all up and began a quest to prove his genius to the sports world.
To this point, that quest has been largely unsuccessful. With apologies for the morbidity of the statement that follows, I truly believe the Dallas Cowboys will not return to prominence in the NFL until Jones is no longer able to run the day-to-day operations or, like Davis, he passes away. Things could change if he lets go of the reins, but like Al Davis, he won’t.
Like the Raiders, the Cowboys will suffer for it.
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