For Old Dallas Cowboys Fans, Jerry Jones is Hard to Endure
The current state of the Dallas Cowboys is especially hard for long time Fans to endure. By “long time” I mean pre-Jerry Jones.
This is not to imply that the Cowboys never had their on field difficulties resulting in a less than desirable win-loss column. The initial years of Cowboys history records such struggles. It must be remembered that such difficulties are a part of what made the Cowboys available for Jerry Jones to purchase in 1989.
But there was one constant that could be counted on within the Cowboys organization. Ownership, Management and Team were separate, and essentially, at arms length. The flow of authority and responsibility was known and respected as all personnel were allowed to perform their jobs. And of course, occasionally, if their jobs weren’t performed satisfactorily, replacements were found. But the process worked.
But within the NFL family, this scenario was not always followed. Different business models were implemented which mingled positions, job descriptions, duties and authority. The concept of separation of power was not as adhered to in these models. In fact, sometimes, especially when Ownership was vested in a family, power seemed to collect within a particular individual and family members.
In Dallas, Jerry Jones implemented a rather ordinary business model when He purchased the Cowboys, one familiar to the NFL landscape. Yes, Jerry was a shoot from the hip, boisterous, cocky owner, but was relegated to trying to right America’s Team that had become a listing ship threatening to sink. His business acumen was the perfect antidote for such an economically sick, yet proud business enterprise.
The landscape began to change, however, with the arrival of success. Back to Back Super Bowl victories put Jones and the Cowboys on the pinnacle of the NFL universe with all the accolades that accompany those that prove to be the best in their business. Jones, however, wasn’t quite content with the acclaim that came his way. He decided, for whatever reason, that he wanted and/or needed more.
With this desire or need came commensurate meddling with coaches and players. At the head of the list was Jimmy Johnson and the authority he wielded through written contract over all personnel, coaches and players. Driving a wedge between himself and Johnson, they parted company on anything but amicable terms. Jerry was finally free to mold the personnel according to his image and prove that Jimmy Johnson the Head Coach wasn’t as necessary or significant as many thought. Partial vindication was won two years later when the Cowboys won another Super Bowl under Barry Switzer, yet the popular consensus among football insiders and fans was that the championship was won with Jimmy’s players.
The decline then started. The decline continued. The first decade of the 21st century saw the Cowboys experience their worst decade in history. The second decade of the century has started with less than desirable results for Jerry Jones and his Cowboys. Though no longer languishing at the back of the NFL pack, they remained mired in mediocrity, unable to return to the elite status of years gone by.
The second decade sees Jones seeking consolation for the long term, this time in the person of Head Coach Jason Garrett. Referring to Garrett as his “Tom Landry,” Jones seems to have long term plans for the even handed demeanor and varied abilities of Garrett.
Long term Fans know different, though. The reference to a team Legend rings hollow, but not for any negative on Garrett’s part. In order for Jason Garrett to be considered the Tom Landry of his era, he must be free to have the final say on all coaches and players. Tom Landry never looked over his shoulder worrying about the next meddlesome move by management or ownership. In no way did this mean that he was unaccountable, but was free to be himself as Head Coach.
In case you doubt the veracity of this assertion, here is a question and answer nugget from the Ask Tex Schramm column as recorded in the September 27 issue of the Dallas Cowboy Weekly from 1975.
- Question: Clint Murchison is one of the most behind-the-scenes owners on pro football. How important was he in the initial phases of growth? It doesn’t appear that he interfered in the initial phases of growth.
- Answer: “One of the greatest assets we had in the beginning was Clint Murchison. He had taken a great deal of interest in the development of the team, and he was in contact with me a great deal because I sought his counsel on a lot of matters. At the same time, he let the individuals under me direct their operations. We had, and still do have, tremendous managerial strength because we have a clear delineation of responsibility, which is adhered to very scrupulously.”
In the mean time, this mess is hard to watch.