The Old Jerry Emerges Under The Guise Of A New Image
At 73 years and ten months, Jerry Jones has logged many miles and seen many suns. He’s lifted Super Bowl trophies in front of thousands of adoring fans in Dallas and built an awe-inspiring palace unto himself in the suburban city of Arlington. Everything that money can buy, whether substantive or socially, has been afforded him.
But nothing so angelically transformative as the past two weeks has happened to this NFL magnet since he bought the Dallas Cowboys from a trouble-laden Bum Bright in February of 1989. To locals, Jones was a devil-infested hog from Arkansas back then because he had the gall to not only make Jimmy Johnson the Cowboys’ new head coach, but because he dared to pull the rug of employment right out from under Tom Landry’s helpless, aging feet.
He became an intellectual hypocrite worldwide when he dismissed the aforementioned Johnson in the wake of back-to-back Super Bowl victories in March of 1994. The tag of “football fool” was then applied to his backside after Jones’ vanity resulted in his team crashing and burning at the decade’s conclusion. It’s been over twenty long years since Johnson’s silver hair-line disappeared over the Dallas sky-line. The Cowboys and their owner have never recovered.
Those looking for a lucky rebound from their Cowboys in 2016 need only consider the recent events which have turned their owner from a laughingstock into something of a local legend, albeit in a quiet manner. (Two weeks of good fortune hardly overrides two decades of failure. Jerry may live in his own castle, but he has yet to be called king by those in the public square. But, based on the events so far during this preseason, that could change sooner rather than later.)
Jerry is riding a rare wave of local optimism these days as only the unexpected discovery of a quality quarterback can produce. Dak Prescott, a legend among Mississippi State enthusiasts for lifting the Bulldogs to an above-average position in the dog-eat-dog SEC, has proven to be just as magical in the NFL’s Summer League program.
Prescott’s arm is golden. Through two preseason games, Prescott has completed 22-of-27 passes for 338 yards and four touchdowns. His feet are nimble. At home versus Miami on Friday night, Prescott carried for two touchdowns. His production is impeccable. In ten possessions with Prescott on the field, the Cowboys have scored nine times, while accumulating 51 points in all.
Too bad it’s only August. The 41-14 exhibition finale against the Dolphins, at the end of the day, doesn’t count toward January’s playoff picture. But don’t tell Jerry that Prescott’s performance was altogether meaningless. Shoot, it may have been the biggest news to come out of a Cowboys summer since Tony Romo’s strong preseason of ten years ago. The Cowboys, it does appear, have a legitimate quarterback behind Romo on the depth chart. Oh, thank heaven! Oh, and while you’re down on your knees, give a shout of thanks for Jerry too. He, after all, is the reason for this hopeful season.
Jerry, that noted draft-day ramrod, opened the gate this past April and waved through the perfect heifer that would eventually grow into Cowboy stardom. What a stroke of brilliance! Forgotten are the misfits that were subjected to Jones’ quarterbacking sausage factory over the years, the many names which were ground into backfield beef and eaten up by foe and media alike. Quincy Carter. Anthony Wright. Clint Stoerner. Chad Hutchinson. Drew Henson. Stephen McGee. The list goes on and on.
Jerry, by all accounts here and now, is a certified genius. No longer is he prime pickings for high-security admittance into a football asylum. Rather, Jerry needs to be admitted a free pass into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next summer. A goober at picking quarterbacks has suddenly transformed into a guru.
Gone are the days of moaning over an ill-timed interception from a Cowboys quarterback. As of 2016, the Cowboys are enjoying the benefits of Lady Luck’s loving embrace. Remember that interception that Prescott threw against Miami the other night? Oh, that’s right! It was wiped away by a foolish Dolphins penalty that had nothing whatever to do with Prescott’s equally foolish throw. Nobody remembers that ill-fated pass because, by the letter of the law, it never happened. Just ask the indomitable statistician. What interception? The world won’t remember any such thing. Jerry certainly won’t remember. He, of unwavering optimism, forgot it the minute it happened. And why shouldn’t this New Jerry bask in the golden glow of his talented, lucky quarterback?
So outstanding has the nature of Jerry’s persona been altered that it would seem he has changed all together. Can it be? Has Jerry found religion? Is he walking in step with the will and wisdom of the football gods?
To the gullible public, anything is believable so long as their team is winning games in dominant fashion every week. But those of us who have refrained from following the crowd to the bar and toasting America with a goblet-full of Jerry’s Kool-Aid know better than to buy stock in Jerry’s enterprise during August. Jerry’s concoction has left him in a permanent state of intoxication. We who, from a distance, have watched him bumble and stumble his way into old age realize the impossibility of him ever walking a straight line again. Not after multiple hip surgeries. And not after such a tongue-in-cheek apology to start the month off.
As he is wont to do when burdened by the guilt of two decades of failure, Jerry began reminiscing about the good ol’ days when he and Jimmy ruled the world from their roost at Valley Ranch. Jerry summed up his frustrations by admitting that he should have been more “tolerant” of Johnson’s antics during the last months of their partnership, and strived to co-exist a bit longer with his former college roommate.
The reaction from the media was just what Jerry hoped it would be. After all these years, Jerry was apologizing for letting down everyone in Dallas; the players, the coaching staff, the fans. They deserved those three consecutive Super Bowls that Barry Switzer could not deliver. They deserved a muscular dynasty that spilled over into the next millennium. Finally, the owner was admitting what everyone else had known for so long: If only Jerry hadn’t fired Jimmy…
And without hardly a soul cognizant of the fact, Jerry had made himself a victim again. According to Jerry’s selective memory, Jimmy was the provoker in that entire drama, the devious-minded head coach who chose to needle and meddle with success, rather than share the glory with the owner who gave him the means to attain it. Jimmy was the madman with the uncontrollable temper and an unaccountable lust for the limelight. He was the front-office figure who had to have a finger in every pie.
What the pen-and-pad wielders forgot to ask Jerry was if Jimmy should have displayed a similar “tolerance” for the owner’s many encroachments? Because there were many. Or has everyone simply forgotten the times Jerry made an issue out of how much credit his head coach was receiving over multiple trades Dallas was involved with in the early nineties? Jerry, if you had let well enough alone, do you think the entire divorce could have been avoided, and thus a dynasty saved?
But that’s all water under the bridge to this generation of reporters. If Jerry doesn’t want to bring it up himself, then why should we? And if he wants to play the victim, then who are we to stop him? It is a role he is quite familiar with.
And that, after all, is the telling irony of this most unaccountable of months for the Cowboys and their owner. Far be it from the truth for Jerry to have turned over a new leaf. He hasn’t changed, no, not nearly as much as his luck appears to be changing.