Herschel Walker and the Great Trade Robbery from Dallas To Minnesota

Josh McCainSenior Writer ISeptember 30, 2010

3 Nov 1996:  Running back Herschel Walker of the Dallas Cowboys moves the ball during a game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas.  The Eagles won the game, 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr  /Allsport
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

In spite of his Cowboys winning three Super Bowls in the mid-90's, Jerry Jones has largely been a pretty bad owner and general manager.

In fact it's those Super Bowls that probably keep the fans in Dallas from rioting and showing up to his office with torches and pitchforks.

Quite possibly the only real intelligent move Jones has ever made as Owner/GM is the hiring of Jimmy Johnson (which has also led to stories of Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry finding out he was fired on the radio driving into the Cowboys' practice facility).

When Jimmy took over the Cowboys, they were a laughingstock.  Gone were the days of Roger Staubach, Tony Dorsett, and Randy White.

Jimmy knew he had to make some sort of huge deal, but he had very little to bargain with.

At first he had contacted Oakland about trading Michael Irvin, but re-thought that idea.

The only player left of value was Herschel Walker.

For the most part, he was the franchise.  Most new coaches, especially first-time NFL head coaches, try to build around their best player, but not Johnson.

He was convinced that the only way the Cowboys were going to get any better was through the draft.

There were a handful of teams interested in Walker, such as the Giants, Falcons, Browns, and Vikings.

The Giants were never an option for Jimmy since they were at the top of the NFC East, so why give them another weapon? The Falcons dropped out because they had their doubts on whether they could re-sign Walker when his contract was up.

That left the Browns and Vikings, and the bidding war began.

In the end the Vikings won (if you want to call it that) and landed Walker (along with Dallas's third and 10th round picks from 1990, San Diego's fifth round pick from 1990, and Dallas's third rounder from 1991), but they gave away linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, cornerback Isaac Holt, running back Darrin Nelson (traded to San Diego after refusing to play for Dallas), and defensive end Alex Stewart.

Furthermore, they gave away first, second, and sixth round picks in the 1990 draft, first and second rounders in the 1991 draft, second and third rounders in the 1992 draft, and a first rounder in the 1993 draft.

These picks (some where kept and traded) would become players like Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, and Russell Maryland.  All three players were key in the Cowboys early-to-mid 90's run.

Jimmy Johnson's fleecing of the Minnesota Vikings has marked the only time in Jerry Jones's tenure where the Cowboys lived up to the hype.

In spite of some of his players' off-field indulgences, Jimmy Johnson was able to focus them once they stepped between the lines.

But Jerry Jones had to seize power away from Johnson, and eventually the two decided to part ways. Barry Switzer replaced Johnson and won one Super Bowl with Jimmy's team.

Of course Barry and Jerry's moves after Jimmy left culminated in a 6-10 1997 season in which Switzer resigned at its conclusion.

Then came Chan Gailey (1998-99), Dave Campo (2000-02), Bill Parcells (2003-06), and currently Wade Phillips (2007-).

All of the coaches after Jimmy (except Parcells) have all been rumored to have been chosen because Jerry felt he could run the team anyway he wanted.

After all, after Parcells retired Jerry chose the entire coaching staff before settling on Wade Phillips as his head coach.

If Jerry every wants to return the Cowboys to glory, he may need another coach like a Jimmy Johnson, a coach he'll have to trust to make tough trades to try and build a winner.

Until he can do that, don't expect too many blockbuster trades that come the Cowboys way, a.k.a trading for Roy Williams.


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