Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones doesn't see the country club atmosphere of his franchise because he's there all the time and is simply not accountable for anything. Overexposure and entitlement will eventually erode the ability to maintain broad perspective, or at least I believe this to be true.
In an apparent attempt to smooth things over more so than to create excitement about the upcoming season, Jones spent some time with season ticket holders on Wednesday.
During an hour-long chat, he addressed the idea that Valley Ranch has an atmosphere that is perhaps too relaxed or friendly. SportsDayDFW.com special contributor Jon Machota captured the following unbelievable statement:
I don’t think that we do have a country club atmosphere around here. There’s too much competition. These players recognize how fortunate they are to be in the NFL, to have these opportunities. We’ve got as good or better leadership than my experience in 24 years with the Cowboys has seen.
Is Jones suggesting that there's no competition amongst elitist golfers at a country club?
And did he really say that leadership is as good or better than he's seen in 24 years—this as his team is on the verge of missing the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year?
More on that in a minute.
Sometimes when you can't see something that's rather obvious, it might be because you're simply too close to it.
For example, if you take a football and hold it under a magnifying glass, you see a very different perspective. Get the view into focus and you start to see a surface that looks like a strange landscape from either another planet or some remote part of ours. The black ink used to make letters and words may appear to mark a dramatic change in the makeup of the terrain which is still covered by all of those weird sand dunes.
But really, it's just a football, nothing more and nothing less.
Perspective is everything, and many times it is based on choice. You can see the football for what it actually is, as a whole, or you can keep the magnifying glass up close and enjoy the view from there.
I can't describe what perspective Jones has on his franchise, but we can almost pluralize the word decade in order to describe how long we've known that the whole thing is all about him.
To believe otherwise is to completely overlook the fact, if somehow possible, that this is the owner and general manager who essentially fired the first head coach he ever hired some 14 months after Dallas' first Super Bowl victory under his watch—and just two months following the second.
This is also the owner who took things one step further in hiring a disgraced and retired college football coach named Barry Switzer on the basis that he used to be an unbeatable rival of that first head coach, Jimmy Johnson, when the two clashed in the state of Oklahoma at the college level.
Of course Johnson would go on to win a national championship at University of Miami following his run at Oklahoma State. Switzer went to his couch somewhere in Norman after resigning under pressure from University of Oklahoma.
History clearly shows that the Dallas dynasty of the 1990s began to unravel almost the instant Johnson left and Switzer showed up—and you can't just blame the salary cap and free agency either.
Was Switzer a true leader?
Was Switzer a guy you'd like to have a beer with?
That's more like it.
The Cowboys became a national joke concerning off-the-field behavior and arrests, much like what happened with the Sooners under Switzer's watch—and similar to what happened in 2012 concerning multiple instances of drinking and driving.
In 2003, following three consecutive 5-11 campaigns, Jones made just the second credible hire under his ownership in then-retired head coach Bill Parcells. While re-directing the franchise in many ways, which included getting America's Team back into the playoffs in '03 and '06, ''The Big Tuna'' could only go four years working with Jones. Parcells retired having just discovered the on-the-field ability of future franchise quarterback Tony Romo and definitely knew he had his Lawrence Taylor in outside linebacker DeMarcus Ware.
It just wasn't enough for Parcells to continue.
Or was it?
Just over three years ago, Jones was caught on video at a bar offering his true feelings regarding Parcells and then-Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow, soon to become a complete first-round bust for the Denver Broncos.
Without recapping too much, let's just say that Jones was irresponsibly honest in showing off for apparent nobodies after a few drinks. But I believe that what he said definitely reflected how he felt—but at least he was right about Tebow.
Jones wanted Cowboys Stadium built, plain and simple. Hiring Parcells, a professional Jones has referred to as a "'walk-around" head coach—he referred to Johnson as the same—was his best shot to get that done.
Multiple records of 5-11 don't get many football-only stadiums built.
Well, Jones and Parcells appeared in a combined five Super Bowls while compiling a record of 4-1 with the Lombardi Trophy on the line.
You'd think that Jones' top prerequisite for any head coach would be that they ''walk'' really, really well.
Instead, Jones presently offers a head coach who can barely toddle, in Jason Garrett.
Back to this leadership issue: You think that coaches like Johnson or Parcells ever relied upon other authoritative figures to enter their locker room to inspire their players?
But Garrett does—and he's done that kind of thing a few times.
Last August Garrett took his team on a field trip to the Navy SEAL base at Coronado, Calif., to learn about things like discipline, focus and mental toughness. Todd Archer of ESPNDallas.com grabbed the following quote from Garrett following the visit:
I’m very quick to point out to our football team that what they do is very different from what we do. They’re in life and death situations. We’re trying to win football games. But I’d be hard-pressed to think that we can’t learn something from them about how they go about their job every day, how they build teams and how they lead teams and the trust they have in each other.
As though the differences between playing football games and armed conflict really needed to be pointed out to grown men, I couldn't help but notice the fact that Garrett included himself in the learning process.
To me, this is Garrett's job entirely, and I don't believe he can do it.
So why is Garrett, possibly a new "walk-around" head coach himself, still with the Cowboys?
Let's get back to the term "country club."
Who exactly do you go to the country club with, assuming you don't go just to hang out alone?
Consider the following comments offered by Machota from third-round selection J.J. Wilcox concerning his pre-draft visit to Valley Ranch:
It felt like a family as soon as I walked in the door. They got a great coaching staff there. Mr. Jerry Jones is one of the best GMs and best owners I’ve ever met. He was energetic. You don’t see that much coming from an owner. They’re mostly laid back. His enthusiasm and the way he wants to win is the same way I want to win.
OK, nice comments from a young man just drafted by an NFL team that's about to get paid far more money than he probably would have in any other industry just out of college. But you notice the phrases like "felt like family" and "mostly laid back?"
Johnson was the one who first blasted Valley Ranch in this way last November during a radio interview, and he was absolutely right. There was positively nothing about Valley Ranch that was anything like a country club when Johnson was there. Same was true as Parcells stalked the hallways as the primary figure of the organization. Parcells even forced rookies to earn the blue star on their helmets, including early round draft selections.
But friends, the very people you like to hang out with at the country club, are the preferred professional for Jones as head coach of the Cowboys—and especially friends with little if any head coaching experience.
Well, this formula rarely works in business, and it's even less effective in an industry such as professional football.
The only thing worse than friends working together, in many cases, is family trying to do the same—you've got that working at Valley Ranch as well.
Do the Dallas Cowboys foster a country club atmosphere?
Tough decisions have to be made in business, and feelings and egos can't be road blocks to that end. That issue first surfaced when Jones and Johnson mutually parted ways following Dallas' second straight victory over Buffalo in Super Bowl XXVIII in early 1994.
Johnson was getting too much credit for all of the success, period. Further, and contrary to popular belief for some time, Johnson and Jones were not friends. They were simply roommates while attending the University of Arkansas long ago and in a galaxy not exactly far away.
Well, there hasn't been too much of that lousy success stuff for many years now.
The idea that a team with a record of 22-26 under a developing head coach has great leadership is just ridiculous.
The Jones and Garrett families have been friends for many years, and you can expect the country club atmosphere to thrive well into the future, win or lose on the football field.