How Jerry Jones Ruined Football in Dallas
When Jerry Jones took over as owner of the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, he started off by making one of the most illogical decisions ever: dismissing the legendary Tom Landry from his position as head coach. If there were a better way to make sure that the fans of your new franchise despised you, Jerry Jones might have gone with that option.
The Dallas Cowboys have been on a downward spiral ever since their run of three Super Bowls in the mid-1990s, and with the talent they've had for the past six seasons—all disappointing years—it's time for a change in ownership.
Even though he knows that he is a villain in the eyes of Cowboys’ fans, Jerry Jones continues to make decisions that he alone believes will benefit the team. There are reasons why Dallas has gone from dynasty to mediocrity, and all of them have to do with everyone’s favorite owner, Jerry Jones himself.
The First of Jones' Three-Step Process
When the new Cowboys' Stadium was built, ESPN's Stuart Scott quoted someone that said the new stadium was "Jerry Jones' personal middle finger to the recession." If that's not enough evidence for you, then let's look at his decisions that dealt with the coaching staff.
I've already told you that he fired fan-favorite, legendary head coach Tom Landry, who won two Super Bowls as head coach for the Cowboys and instituted the 4-3 defense, but when he convinced former Arkansas teammate Jimmy Johnson to leave the University of Miami and fill Landry's shoes as head coach, things got worse.
Johnson had absolute control of his players while at the University of Miami, and essentially ran the entire football program while flipping the bird to school president Tad Foote the entire time he was there.
When Johnson won his first of two Super Bowls as head coach with the Cowboys in 1992, Jerry Jones looked like a genius. The very next year Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys repeated as Super Bowl champs and people finally began the process of forgiving Jerry Jones for firing Landry.
But in a bizarre turn of events, Jimmy Johnson quit his job as head coach, eventually stating that he and Jerry Jones had a strained relationship.
Barry Switzer was then brought in to replace Johnson and won Dallas' most recent Super Bowl in 1995, but did so with players that Jimmy Johnson had drafted and coached.
The head coaches that followed Switzer were all signed because Jerry Jones gave the final word and they were absolutely awful. Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcels, Wade Phillips and currently Jason Garrett have coached the Cowboys with lacking results.
With the exception of Wade Phillips (who won a single playoff game), every head coach following Barry Switzer has either not reached the playoffs, or reached the playoffs but never won a game.
Step Two: Almost at the Finish Line
Despite what people might say, Jerry Jones did actually play football at a near-professional level when he was an offensive lineman for the 1965 National-Champion Arkansas Razorbacks. One of his teammates on that '65 roster was Jimmy Johnson, the last great coach that Dallas had before Jones' stubbornness messed things up again.
Apart from playing at Arkansas, Jones never played a single down of professional football, choosing instead to go into the business world. He eventually started his own oil and gas company, called Jones Oil and Land Lease, which was extremely successful and also the reason for being able to buy the Cowboys for 140 million dollars.
Does any of that sound like someone who should be making football decisions that are detrimental to a team's success?
Hopefully you answered with a resounding "no" since a person with no experience in professional football has absolutely no business owning what was a powerhouse franchise at the time.
Firing Tom Landry because "he was too old and wasn't winning" was his rationale, but as a first-time owner and total newbie to the NFL, he should've at least given Landry one final year. This is a man who was responsible for assembling both "Doomsday Defenses" that were chock-full of future Hall of Famers, such as Bob Lilly, Mel Renfro, Herb Adderley and Randy White.
Jones' inexperience has also led to a few questionable draft choices (Felix Jones and Dez Bryant) along with his apparent obsession with giving troubled players second chances, like Adam "Pacman" Jones and Terrell Owens. The "high risk, unknown reward" approach didn't work for either of those two. Dez Bryant also falls into that category, even though he has yet to become a distraction to the team.
With no NFL background whatsoever coupled with his bull-headed personality, there's only one final step/explanation as to how Jerry Jones has made Dallas a whipping boy.
The Finishing Touches
What kind of writer would I be if I failed to neglect the very reason for the Cowboys' struggles under the ownership of Jerry Jones? The simple fact that epitomizes how big Jerry Jones' ego is, is the fact that he refuses to hire a General Manager, instead choosing to take on that job himself, stating that a GM would "clutter the process."
To his credit, though, Jones drafted Troy Aikman in his first year as Owner/GM, and followed that up by drafting Emmitt Smith the very next year. Both are enshrined in Canton, and led Dallas to three Super Bowl titles.
Apart from drafting Aikman and Smith, Jones has drafted players based on sheer athletic ability and ignores scouts' advice simply because he can. Demarcus Ware was the last sensible pick Jones made. Ware will undoubtedly get into the hall on his first ballot if he keeps it up.
Dez Bryant was a risky pick, one in which I called when I was sitting in my apartment in Austin, Texas. I called my dad in Florida and told him "Jerry Jones will trade up to draft Bryant because he loves having problem players on his team." Sure enough, it happened, and the "playmaking ability" that Jerry Jones used to defend his pick is nowhere to be found.
His unwavering faith in Tony Romo started as just that, faith. But as Romo continues to choke in key games (most recently the MNF game against the Bears, where he threw five interceptions), the faith Jones had in Romo has become a front. Jones doesn't want to admit that he made a mistake when he gave Romo a six-year, $67.5 million contract extension.
His ego has prevented him from admitting what we all already know: Tony Romo is not a championship-caliber quarterback. He has amazing career stats, yes, but where are those numbers when the pressure is on and the games are must-wins?
It's time for a new quarterback in Dallas, but Jones refuses to believe what all of us have known for the past two seasons.
Arrogance, inexperience and an ego that could fill his beloved Cowboys Stadium, Jerry Jones' welcome has long been worn out in Dallas.
Change needs to occur sooner rather than later, otherwise Cowboys fans will continue to suffer through numerous seasons of mediocre football.