Dear Mr. Jerry Jones,
I realize it’s easy for anyone that doesn’t own a football team to take the backseat-driver role and highlight every deficiency and criticize every last decision made by a team's front office. Some of it’s warranted, some of it isn’t. But even you can't deny that the last few seasons have justified many people's contention that coaching and quarterbacking aren't the biggest issue with this team.
We always say there are no points for style in the NFL. But if that is true, why do we have power rankings, and why does a 38-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles feel so uninspiring? It’s because nobody believes in this football team, Jerry.
It has no style, and it has no class.
Even if they were to somehow stumble into enough wins to put pressure on the slumping New York Giants, everyone knows that the Cowboys will find a way to keep themselves out of the playoffs.
It’s a terrible way to go through a football season, or many seasons for that matter, knowing that your best will never be good enough to overcome your worst. I’m nearly 32-years-old. I was just entering my teenage years as you were entering what should have been a stretch of many football championships.
I was just old enough to understand what Jimmy Johnson, Troy Aikman and the rest of America’s Team stood for. But I wasn’t mature enough to truly appreciate what was happening—that a dynasty was in the making. And then, as the years went by, as I graduated high school and eventually college, I endured season after season, quarterback after quarterback, coach after coach of painfully uninspired performance.
Sure, I took the good years for granted. I guess I just assumed that they would come back. I just kept telling myself “this was just a bad season. Next year they’ll be better."
I’m sure you know as well as anybody that there’s a sense of entitlement that goes along with being a Dallas Cowboys fan. I feel as if I deserve a Super Bowl. That’s the culture I was raised on. Instead, I’ve seen one playoff win since I was 15-years-old.
It’s not fair. This isn’t the franchise I bought into. This isn’t the kind of team I thought I was cheering for. I’ve read so much about the Cowboys of the 1970s and ‘80s. I’ve read about Tom Landry and twenty straight winning seasons.
I’ve read about how you fired Landry on a day some still refer to as “Black Saturday." I know, with the grand delusion of hindsight, that it was the right move at the time. And you proved that by bringing in Jimmy Johnson and winning back-to-back Super Bowls just a few years later.
But this isn’t about the past. This is about the future. We’re in new era of the NFL. I like to believe it’s the best era in its storied history. But where is my Tom Landry? Where is my Jimmy Johnson? Where is my Troy Aikman? Why has my life as a Cowboys fan been best described as some unfortunate subject in a Paula Cole song?
Just before the 2008 season, I made a bet with a good friend of mine (a lifelong Steelers fan) that the Cowboys would claim six Super Bowl titles before the Pittsburgh Steelers would. Both franchises had five at the time. The loser of the bet had to get a tattoo of his respective team's logo.
It didn’t take long as the Steelers went on that year to win the Super Bowl. The Cowboys, coming off of a promising 13-3 season, failed to make the playoffs.
I haven’t honored that bet, Jerry. I haven’t honored it because I’m embarrassed. The thought of permanently branding my skin with something that represents such mediocrity and such a shameful execution of what was once was a source of pride makes me sick.
Forty years ago the Cowboys were celebrating the best decade of their franchise. They were being christened with the title of “America’s Team” as their fanbase spread from coast to coast. What will people see when they look back 40 years from now?
How will this decade be remembered, Jerry?
They’ll remember the strange times that collectively will be known as the "Romo Era". They’ll remember how you replaced Bill Parcells with Terrell Owens. They’ll remember how you pissed away draft classes and penciled head-scratching contracts for Marion Barber and Doug Free.
They’ll remember it as Jerry Jones’ club of yes-men. Ever since you chased Jimmy Johnson out of town you’ve made damn sure to hire guys that won’t take your spotlight. We were quick to credit Jason Garrett for the success the Cowboys had when Wade Phillips was the head coach. You went as far as to make him the highest paid offensive coordinator in the NFL. Then you fired Phillips, despite two NFC East titles in three years and replaced him with Garrett, the ultimate yes-man.
Which brings us this season’s 4-5 catastrophe. I think I can speak for an entire fanbase when I say that I would take no issue if Garrett didn’t return in 2013. What I do take issue with is that you extended his contract when you could have taken a risk with Jim Harbaugh.
That, again, is mere hindsight. What’s not hindsight is the belief that the Cowboys have more talent on their roster than the 49ers do, yet your team has absolutely no respect throughout the league and very little hope of winning the division.
That’s a word we don’t get to use around here very often. I do respect that you took a football team and turned it into one of the most valuable sports franchises (via Forbes.com) in the entire world. But in the process, you successfully created what economist call a Giffen good. You built this embarrassment of a shrine to your failures known as Cowboys Stadium. You somehow managed to remove every aspect of a home-field advantage. You offered “standing-room-only” tickets. You oversold Super Bowl XLV in a quest to break records (via The New York Times).
You took the character out of America’s Team and replaced it with profit margins. You sacrificed every last bit of your self-respect by building the name of the Dallas Cowboys but somehow failing to build a team in the process. It’s become obvious that your ability to spot talent is as minimal as your team's odds are of winning this year's Super Bowl.
We’re now dealing with the threatening future of drafting a quarterback. We’re dealing with the reality that Tony Romo will most likely never lead this team to the Super Bowl. We’re dealing with a coaching controversy.
So while you surround yourself with yes-men and embarrass the rest of us with Papa John’s commercials, I want you think about the owners of the Steelers, Giants, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. I want you to know that your fanbase envies those teams. We envy the respect and class they represent. It’s not necessarily about winning percentages and playoff odds. It’s about character and pride.
I’m not even suggesting that you need to replace Jason Garrett or Tony Romo. But I promise you that if you don’t replace the yes-man that is your general manager, it will be a long, long time before you see another championship.
The 12th Man