Defense wins championships. That's the phrase you hear all the time when the topic of winning at any sport is brought up. But, what about the other most important there is in winning. Team chemistry. Unless you're playing golf or tennis, any sport is a team sport, and it takes a collective effort from a group of players to win each and every game.
And the Dallas Cowboys don't have any team chemistry right now, with the blame of that resting squarely on the shoulders of owner Jerry Jones.
The Dallas Cowboys have become the New York Yankees of the National Football League. Just a group, not a team, of players assembled together because of the name on the back of their jerseys. Jerry Jones seems to act more and more like the way George Steinbrenner acted for the Yankees in his years prior to his resignation as owner. They both just go out and try to build the best team that money can buy.
A championship caliber team isn't built that way by adding stars to the roster, it's done through scouting young players coming up and by signing free agents accordingly, depending on team needs.
Take this example for instance, Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys went out this off-season and acquired Adam "Pac-man" Jones via trade with the Tennessee Titans. Huge mistake. As if Terrell Owens isn't enough headaches for one team Dallas goes out and gets a player who is coming off a year long suspension, because it seemed as if he was in trouble with the law every other week. And what was the reason for signing Jones, because his name is "Pac-man"? Or is it because he said he's matured and wants to be referred to as Adam Jones and no longer as "Pac-man". Well, a nickname doesn't effect the way you act, as it only took six weeks into the season for "Pac-man" to go out, get drunk, and start fighting with his bodyguards, earning him a four-game suspension. He is an unproven, overrated cornerback coming to the league, rusty, after having a year off from football. The strongest aspect of his game is probably his kick and punt return skills, but the Cowboys barely utilize that as they send many different people back as return men, such as Miles Austin, Patrick Crayton, and Felix Jones.
This is very similar to the way Steinbrenner and the Yankees have handled business for many years. And it all traces back to the Alex Rodriguez trade. Since the acquisition of Rodriguez, the team chemistry that was there during the championship years during the turn of the century, just hasn't been there. Those Yankee teams had unsung heroes, such as Paul O'Neill, Tino Martinez, Scott Brosius, and Orlando Hernandez, all guys who made names for themselves while in New York. Not guys who were brought to New York because of their name, such as Jason Giambi, Johnny Damon, Randy Johnson, and the before mentioned Rodriguez.
In the trade for Rodriguez the Yankees gave up probably the best young player in baseball at the time, in Alfonso Soriano. Soriano was a fresh new player out of New York's farm system making a name for himself in baseball's biggest and toughest media market. Given up for a few more home runs, RBIs, and a lot more money. And since the trade happened in 2004 the Yankees have been progressively worse each year, including missing the post-season for the first time since 1993 this past season.
Another similarity between the Cowboys and the Yankees has to do with not focusing on the needs and weaknesses of the team.
The Cowboys just made a transaction that had most of the football world scratching their heads at the decision about a week ago when they acquired wide receiver Roy Williams from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a first, third, and sixth-round pick in the next spring's draft. Dallas already had one of, if not the, best offenses in the league, and Tony Romo needs another receiver about as much as he needs Jessica Simpson showing up at some more games. With Terrell Owens, Jason Witten, Patrick Crayton, Marion Barber, and Felix Jones there's barely enough balls to go around as it is (as Owens has already stated this year when he complained about not getting the ball enough). But Roy Williams was the big name on the market as the trade deadline was approaching, so Jerry Jones saw fit to make a deal happen for a player that he had his eyes on for the past couple seasons, but not a player that he needed.
Instead of using those draft picks to help out a very less than impressive Dallas defense, with the exception of linebacker DeMarcus Ware (nine sacks through seven games this season), they trade them away for a player who may only cause problems within the team, not because of his attitude, but because passes will be thrown in his direction. Another big-time receiver in "Big D" may be nice for Tony Romo when he returns from injury, but how nice will it be for the rest of the team? Terrell Owens doesn't seem like the type of player who would welcome another star receiver with open-arms, and we may start hearing the complaining from T.O. in the very near future again.
Once again, this can be compared with the way the Yankees go about trying to "improve" their organization. For the past few seasons the biggest weakness for the Yankees has been pitching. And how has New York addressed those needs? By trading for Bobby Abreu and acquiring players such as Richie Sexson and Ivan Rodriguez, all position players. The one pitcher they signed was a 42 year old Randy Johnson. That was just as bad as the Cowboys taking on the contract of "Pac-man". Randy Johnson was a washed-up pitcher, way past his prime, and the Yankees gave him a big contract to come in and get smacked around the ballpark for a couple of years. Good move Mr. Steinbrenner. A young, up and coming pitcher is what was needed in New York, someone to build the staff around for years to come. But instead, Johnson was signed and then two years later sent right back to the National League.
So why is it that these two franchises conduct business in the manner in which they do? Do they not realize that star power isn't what wins championships in today's sports world?
Look at the two teams that have been atop both the NFL and MLB for the past few years, the New England Patriots and Boston Red Sox. Two organizations that won their championships, not with all the best players, but with guys who knew their role within the team and just went out and did their job every night.
It's about finding that right group of guys that will work together as a team with only one common goal, winning a championship. Having the Troy Brown's and Kevin Youkilis' of the team that will go out and do whatever is asked of them to help succeed. But with the way Jerry Jones and the Steinbrenners have gone about doing business, some serious changes need to be made. And if nothing is done soon, the downward spiral will continue for both franchises, and may be a long time before either hangs another championship banner.