With Romo Retired, Jerry’s Ring of Honor Politics Has Become Something Of A Guessing Game
Horrors, has another bastion bitten the dust? Isn’t it enough that we now know not to leave young children unattended in a hot car?
It has been proven beyond a doubt that a penny with its face pointing skyward is of no more value than one on its opposite side. Pizza is now political, and Twitter is now presidential.
Indeed, the old sacraments are crumbling. Today, women are the bread winners and men wear makeup. Babies are entitled to smart phones before they’re even weaned. Rolling stones gather as much grass as the underside of a lawn mower on a damp spring morning.
So, after all, maybe the scene that transpired on a recent Sunday afternoon in November wasn’t so shocking to all of us Cowboy traditionalists as we may have initially thought. Shocking? No. Discomfiting? More likely.
You remember the moment well. The scene was all set, the ball ready to be teed up and delivered to the vault of NFL history when a voice invaded the Big Yard to read a heartfelt term paper. The subject was football, and the lecturer was somewhat of an expert.
His square title was, and remains, Christopher Jason Witten and his credentials are packaged and ready for shipment to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In his case, returns are not allowed. Witten’s narration of a heart-warming, visually-enhanced letter of thanks brought smiles to thousands of faces, and nearly tears to the eyes of the moment’s honored guest, Tony Romo.
Back home for the first time since trading his cleats for a microphone, Romo was clearly taken aback by such an outpouring of affection for his 14-year Cowboy career. More than just a wink or a nod from a few longtime associates, Romo was awarded a king’s welcome, with a standing ovation as a capper.
When the applause faded away and 90,000 craning necks turned away from the broadcast booth, an old geezer in the audience with a soft spot in his thumper for Cowboy tradition – along with a few more reclining couch potatoes at home, I’m sure – started a spontaneous staring contest with the owner’s box. Having honored God, Flag, and Romo, the old-timers had a few questions for Jerry Jones: Why Romo? Why now? Why ever? Why, why, why?
Had this been merely a sincere show of friendship and appreciation by Jerry, Jason, and the entire organization, or was there some ulterior motive to the demonstration that only Jerry was privy to? Remember, no one has ever accused Jerry of having an honest face.
Oblivious to the questioning suspicion being aimed at him, Jerry Jones stood behind the glass clapping like a proud papa, complete in the moment, a man overjoyed in his starched collar and liberally applied slickum in his hair. With a twinkle in his eyes and a pep in his step, Jones basked in the warmth of the moment. He had just pulled off the most inspirational pregame extravaganza in recent memory.
Or had he?
An old philosopher once pointed out that the difference between drama and farce is only a few inches. Shoot a man in the stomach and it’s tragedy; shoot him in the backside, it’s comedy. With Jerry orchestrating the show, you’re never quite sure which category fits.
We all know human tendency. Everyone wants to stroke the morale of the latest retiree. But, more than merely the red-carpet treatment which everyone was so moved by, could Jerry’s moment of touching theater be a prelude to another ceremony in the not-too-distant future? Like, say, a Ring of Honor induction?
Ring of Honor, you say? Wasn’t the Ring supposed to be reserved for champions and franchise legends?
What about Too Tall? What about Charlie? And what about Jimmy?
Mind you, all of these are fair questions. It’s just too bad that Jerry isn’t known for being overtly fair on this subject.
We all know what Romo meant to Jerry and the Cowboys for a decade. It was Romo who kept the Cowboys from drowning in irrelevancy after Bill Parcells left town, Romo who kept fans glued to their seats in hopes of yet another Sunday afternoon miracle. It was because of Romo that Jerry got to drop those not-so-subtle hints during training camp about an impending push to the Super Bowl, and because of Romo that Jerry’s all-world stadium wasn’t half-empty eight times every year.
In Jerry’s mind, when considering all of that, Romo’s probably an easy shoo-in to the Ring.
Ah, but wouldn’t the village green be a regular donnybrook at that news! It’s almost indecent to think of all the contraband and gutter talk freely flowing from that scene. Children are certainly excused.
In another part of town, news like that would be enough for many cooler heads to pause and consider the possibilities of Jerry being something other than the monster of ineptitude he has for so long been alleged to be. Could Jerry be morphing slowly, yes, ever so slowly into a human being? His case, at the very least, harbors memories of some of yesterday’s great managers laboring in the limelight.
For decades, sports journalists marveled at the evolution of certain specimens of baseball’s managerial circle. Managing a club, don’t you kiddos know, requires more than a good sense of timing for the hit-and-run, or when to bring Joe Flamethrower from the bullpen. It takes a package of wisdom that few ever possess at one time.
When Sparky Anderson first arrived at Cincinnati, he confessed to being in awe of the Roses and the Benches in the Reds’ dugout. By the time Sparky landed in Detroit, it was he who drew the awe, instead of his players.
When Dick Williams began his tour of duty in Boston, lusty Red Sox bleacher patrons heralded his mind as the greatest baseball weapon since the Bambino’s bat. However, his biting wit and sharp tongue alienated certain players, who began a sniping campaign that eventually left him high and dry. It wasn’t until his fourth managerial post that Williams learned to occasionally hold his peace.
Jerry’s transformation is of a more subtle variety, a real human interest story that will certainly interest those pessimistic Cowboys fans in the audience. Instead of focusing his efforts on declining an old comrade his day in the sun, Jerry will have learned to cheer on one of his own in such a biased way that Jerry, after all these years, will undeniably be declared a member of the human race.
That may not sound like much for those of you seeking for fair play, but take solace knowing that it is, at the very least, a step in the right direction for Jerry. Humans have hearts. Jerry, you must admit, has been all of heartless these last two decades.
Don’t think that Jerry’s job is of a simplistic nature just because he isn’t down on the field for every game like those skippers of old were. There is more to being an NFL general manager than merely selecting a Flash Gordon every April and twiddling your thumbs on weekends in autumn. Especially in Dallas, where Ring of Honor business is as sacred as a church discipleship program.
Now, Jerry has crossed himself and hoped to die on this topic many a time, but it’s hard to avoid the fact that, in recent years, the selection process for the hallowed Ring of Honor has taken on the flavor of a personal vendetta on Jones’ part. Oh sure, Jerry’s of an ebullient disposition to the media on the matter, right up until the moment Jimmy Johnson and Ring of Honor are packaged together in the same sentence. Jerry doesn’t want Jimmy honored in his building. Some excuse about the Ring being only for past players. Somebody should remind Jerry that Tom Landry and Tex Schramm were both enshrined on his own watch.
But let’s not pile on Jerry for being petty. Not at this late date. Remember, it was Tex himself who first used this honor to wage a personal war with a bygone foe. Schramm’s dislike of All-Pro middle linebacker Lee Roy Jordan was so strong that he refused to enshrine the longtime fan-favorite, despite the fact that Jordan, who retired in 1976, was the franchise’s all-time leader in tackles.
Jordan was eventually enshrined in 1989, but only after Jerry bought the team and Tex had been dismissed, and well before Jerry was corrupted by Super Bowl pride.
Without making any promises, it’s just barely possible that Jerry will end this needless standoff with his former head coach in the near future. Only after a long and winding process. Likely, only after Jerry gets his own way with Romo. After all, if Romo’s name is worthy of being hung on the façade of AT&T Stadium after a paltry two playoff victories to his credit, then certainly Jimmy is deserving because of the two rings he currently wears.
Jerry the monster never cared much for Jimmy the Great. There’s just a chance that Jerry the human may discover a sudden change of heart.
Maybe then the Too Talls and the Charlies will be allowed entrance as well.