Rich Dalrymple of the Dallas Cowboys may have the toughest job in professional sports.
No. He does not play quarterback, cornerback or left tackle. To my knowledge, he has never had to read a blitz, cover a speedy receiver or block a bull-rushing defensive end.
Compared to what Dalrymple does have to do, however, those things seem a bit like child's play. You see, Dalrymple's unfortunate title is Director of Personal Relations for the Dallas Cowboys.
You do see the implications of such a title, right?
Dalrymple has to cover Jerry Jones' tracks. He has to spin the news when his boss spins out of control. He is the one jerking the steering wheel to keep the car from crashing into a telephone pole when Jerry's brain falls asleep at the wheel, but his mouth continues to accelerate toward disaster.
Consider the story SI.com recently broke about what Jerry Jones said and did at the meeting between the NFL Executive Committee and the NFL Players Union representatives.
According to SI columnist Jim Trotter, Jerry Jones said, "I don't think we got your attention. You clearly don't understand what we're saying."
Jones then made a gesture of bumping his fists together and got up from his seat to make a dramatic exit.
The implication was that the players took Jones' actions and words as the powerful Cowboys' owner attempting to impress upon them the imminent reality of the NFL lockout in dramatic fashion. Trotter reported that the move may have backfired since some of the players thought it was funny:
"I think everybody in the room thought it was overly dramatic, almost hilarious," one player said. "It was like a Jerry Maguire moment. You know, 'I'm leaving. Who's coming with me?' I know it didn't scare any of us."
The report put Jones in a bad light and tossed him right in the center of the circle of blame for the failure of the two sides to reach an agreement and avoid the shutdown of NFL football.
Guess who had to go to work putting lipstick on that pig?
Yep! Rich Dalrymple.
Dalrymple told the Dallas Morning News, "A lot of people were reading into that story that Jerry walked out of the room and that simply wasn't the case. He never left the room, and he wasn't trying to orchestrate anything. I guess the story was that Jerry Jones can become animated when trying to make a point. That's not news to anyone around here."
See why the man who goes through coaches like they were bags of potato chips has kept Mr. Dalrymple around throughout the entirety of his ownership of the Dallas Cowboys? It is because the man with the toughest job in sports is as smooth as butter.
Like a franchise NFL quarterback, Dalrymple can read a media blitz and attack it with great success. Like a shutdown corner, he covers the often swerving, unpredictable route-running Cowboys owner like a blanket. And like an All-Pro left tackle, he takes on bull rushing fans and speed rushing reporters with equal success, always keeping his boss upright.
Dalrymple is Alice in Wonderland. He is the voice of sanity in a world of crazy.
Or maybe it takes a little crazy to seem so sane.
Brings to mind the words of the Mad Hatter to Alice: "There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter."
Welcome to Jerry's world. Mr. Dalrymple will be your guide. Watch your step, keep your eyes on the ball and never believe what you hear...until Mr. Dalrymple explains it for you.