Jerry Jones stood in the middle of the visitor's locker room in the bowels of MetLife Stadium amidst a crush of reporters, dripping with sweat, a huge grin on his face.
Prior to the game, Forbes magazine reported its annual NFL team valuations with Jones and his Cowboys becoming the first American sports franchise worth more than $2 billion.
Then, with the whole football-obsessed country watching, his team took the field against the defending Super Bowl champs, a New York Giants team that had become a bit of a bully for this oilman's team from Dallas, and beat the champs convincingly.
When the doors were opened to the waiting throngs of reporters and cameramen, Jones was there waiting for them, ready to, not gloat, but simply marinate in the attention and feelings that only victory can bring.
Speaking softly but resolutely, Jones spoke of not only what this game meant to him and his team, but what victory over this particular opponent meant to him personally.
He watched his team overcome significant injures and multiple on-field set-backs. Even after taking a two-touchdown lead, however, Jones never felt comfortable until the final gun.
"What I didn’t say and didn’t know—would this team have the courage to play against a quality team like that, on the road, and have the courage to stay in there and win a ballgame?" Jones said. "And I really was concerned there late in the game that we were going to fool around here, get them to get back in it. But this bunch persevered. It was a very significant win for the franchise."
A significant victory for the franchise...in Week 1 of a season still in its infancy?
"This becomes one of the highlights for me in my 24 years in the NFL."
Think about that.
A man who has watched his team win multiple Lombardi Trophies saying last night's victory was one of the highlights of his two-plus decades in the league. That tells you how important this game was for Jones. How badly he and his team wanted it.
Jones acknowledged the fact that his team may have focused on this game a bit more than their opponent, saying "I'm not so sure this was as big a deal to the Giants as it was to us."
With this victory in the books and a 10-day break between games, the Cowboys can focus on getting guys healthy and getting ready for their trip to Seattle. If ever there was a possibility for a massive let-down, it will be after such an emotional victory.
After listening to Jones hold court for a good 30 minutes, I made my way over to Tony Romo's press conference and listened to him talk about how this victory would be enjoyed tonight, and then how the team would move on.
After Romo finished, another good 20 minutes or so, I made my way back to the Cowboys' locker room. Nearly all the players were gone, a few here and there talking to a reporter or two—and Jones was right where I'd left him, talking to a handful of reporters, relishing the victory.
You could tell he'd have stayed there all night if he could, knowing that today it's time to move on.
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