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Jerry Jones – Dallas Cowboys GM

Jerry Jones as the Cowboys Owner and GM

With the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders playing on local tv tonight, with Jerry Jones’ and Al Davis’ teams in their annual preseason showdown, it got me thinking about Jerry Jones and his role as Cowboys GM and Owner. Those of you not from the North Texas Area might not know this, but the Cowboys and Raiders play one another every preseason.

They often have scrimmages every preseason. The reason seems to be that Jerry Jones admires Al Davis and considers him something of a role model.

Jerry Jones and Al Davis

Every time someone in the local media mentions that fact, it makes me cringe. I’m guessing Jerry admires Al for his renegade personality and the off-the-field stuff, but I also always kind of wondered if Jerry Jones also didn’t admire Al Davis for his determination to meddle in the Raiders’ football affairs. My friends have heard me wonder aloud once or twice a year if Al Davis today isn’t where Jerry Jones will be in 15 years.

I can just picture Jerry Jones at a press conference sometimes in the 2023 NFL Season, complaining about how then-Dallas Cowboys head coach, Lane Campo, has “betrayed him”.

Jerry Jones & the Dallas Cowboys

Seriously, though, as a Dallas Cowboys fan, I have a love/hate relationship with Jerry Jones. Here’s how it does. When the Cowboys are cruising towards the playoffs, I love Jerry Jones as the Cowboys owner. When the team is self-destructing, I hate Jerry Jones.

I guess I’m your typical knee-jerk Dallas Cowboys fan in that way, but I also think that’s a reasonable way to look at it. No one has ever doubted Jerry Jones’ passion and dedication to making the Cowboys the best team in the NFL, but passion isn’t enough.

Jerry Jones is a Great Owner

One argument you’ll often hear with local Cowboys fans is that Jerry Jones is a great owner, but he’s a terrible GM. My brother-in-law says that every year. But I completely disagree with that dichotomy.

I would say the first job of a good NFL owner is to fire the General Manager when you realise the GM sucks. If you refuse to fire the GM when he screws up time and time again, you can’t be a very good owner.

So if you assume that logic – and you don’t have to – is Jerry Jones a good NFL GM?

20 Years of NFL Experience

Jerry Jones will tell you that he’s a good NFL GM. He’ll cite 20 years of NFL front office experience and 3 Super Bowl titles as evidence of that fact. So let’s look at both of those questions.

Jerry Jones – Failures as a GM

Jerry Jones has talked in the local media that, after 20 years evaluating talent in the NFL, that he’s a “football man”. The implication is that Jerry was an oilman when he first bought the Dallas Cowboys, and that criticisms of his football knowledge in the early years were justified. But after twenty years of watching films and games and talking to scouts and coaches, he’s gained the training needed to become a football man.

I would say that Jerry has a point. He’s had the proper training to become an NFL insider and a football man. Others have mastered the job in less time.

But Jerry’s statement implies that all “football men” are the same. That’s just not the case.

Jerry Jones – A Football Man

There are good football men and there are bad football men, just like there are good cops and bad cops and good artists and bad artists and so on down the line of professions. You can have two police officers with the same training and one will be better at the job than the other. You can have two artists with the same training and one will be better at the job than the other.

It’s the same way with NFL football men. So Jerry Jones has all the training you need to be a good NFL talent evaluator, but his track record just isn’t that good.

You Enjoyed Those Three Super Bowls, Didn’t You?

Dallas Radio had a famous moment when Jerry Jones was listening and called into a local station one day, challenging the radio hosts and listeners on the fact that those 3 Super Bowl titles in the 1990′s are justification of Jerry Jones talents as an NFL GM. (Which reminds me of Al Davis’ touting 3 Super Bowl wins on his watch – the last one more than 25 years ago in a whole different NFL era.)

Jerry called into the radio station and asked a caller (or maybe just the hosts – it’s been years), “You liked those three Super Bowls, didn’t you? I hope you did…I hope you enjoyed them very much.”

To which I wish one of the others in the conversation had replied, “Yes, thank you very much, Jimmy Johnson.”

The JJ’s

Just about every Dallas Cowboys fan who lived through the 1990′s credits Jimmy Johnson with those 3 Super Bowls. Maybe Jimmy had one too many beers with the local media and we’ve all been the victim of a big scam, but I always got the impression the personnel decisions were Jimmy Johnson’s and his coaching and scouting staffs. Remember, Jimmy was only here for the first 5 years of the Jerry Jones Era, when Jerry was admittedly still learning how to be a “football man”.

So Jimmy Johnson gets the lion’s share of the credit for the 3 Super Bowls, even the one Barry Switzer won. You always got the idea Jerry Jones fired Jimmy to show him that Jerry could do it without Jimmy, as in his famous statement (paraphrase) on the night the JJ marriage ended, “Any one of 500 football coaches could coach this time to a Super Bowl win. Heck, Barry Switzer could coach this team to a Super Bowl title.”

We Got a Job To Do and We’re Gonna Do It, Baby!

Which was true at the time. Anyone decent football coach could have coached that team to Super Bowls. But that missed the point about Jimmy Johnson’s role as a talent evaluator. Jimmy had recruited a lot of the players he drafted in his 5 years with the Cowboys, and that gave him a tremendous advantage drafting talent – along with more picks than any other team in the NFL at the time.

The Post-Jimmy Era

But once Jerry took over the Cowboys draft, the team steadily went downhill. Two years later, they won a Super Bowl. Three years after Jimmy Johnson left, the Cowboys won their last playoff game.

That’s right. It’s been 12 years of playoff futility for the Dallas Cowboys. 12 years without a playoff win. Only 5 NFL teams haven’t won a playoff game in that time. Heck, even the Raiders have been to a Super Bowl since the Cowboys last won a playoff game.

I would say, with each passing year, Jerry Jones proves more and more that he had little to do with those Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl wins of the 1990′s. Jimmy Johnson drafted Troy Aikman and Emmitt Smith. Jimmy Johnson traded away Herschel Walker and traded for Charles Haley. Jimmy Johnson picked up free agents like Jay Novacek and coached up Tom Landry draft picks like Michael Irvin, Ken Norton Jr., Nate Newton and Mark Tuinea. Jerry Jones signed the checks.

But Jerry Jones Hired Jimmy Johnson

I’m not saying Jerry Jones didn’t play a huge part in those Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl wins in the 1990′s. Without Jerry Jones, Jimmy Johnson never would have been the Dallas Cowboys head coach. Without Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys never would have been the Team of the Nineties.

But that’s not the same as saying Jerry Jones was the personnel guy in the early 1990′s when that amazing collection of talent was brought to Dallas. Whatever their job titles at the time, Jimmy Johnson and his staff built that team.

Jerry Fontes?

In fact, Jerry Jones decision to hire Jimmy Johnson can be looked at more as a quirk of fate than a brilliant decision.

Jimmy Johnson was Jerry Jones’ college roommate. Jimmy Johnson was the football coach Jerry Jones knew the best. Because their last names both started with a “J”, they were put together as roommates in the Arkansas Razorbacks’ football dorm. Jerry Jones knew Jimmy Johnson from their college days, so he hired Jimmy Johnson as the Dallas Cowboys head coach.

It’s my guess that, had Jerry Jones shared a college dorm with Wayne Fontes, he would have hired Wayne Fontes to be the Dallas Cowboys head coach in 1989.

2009 Is a New Start

But that’s coming off one of the most deflating and disappointing years in recent Dallas Cowboys History. Everyone in Cowboyland thought the Boys had a great chance to get back to the Super Bowl, so missing the playoffs – and missing them on a 44-6 drubbing in Phillie – was a complete disaster. It put in all Cowboys fans the thought, “Bill Parcells built a contender, and Jerry’s already started tearing it up in only 2 years time.”

Hopefully, Jerry Jones proves us wrong. He’s finally decided to send all the circus performers out of town and he’s even playing down the Cowboys chances. Even thought the 2009 Cowboys Draft was pure 1996, drafting backups, I liked Jerry’s offseason pickups: Kitna is a vast improvement at backup QB and about as good as you can hope in today’s salary cap NFL, while Keith Brooking is better suited to play 3-4 inside linebacker than Zach Thomas and actually seems to be a good personality and personnel fit.

I liked the signing of Sensabaugh and Olshansky as probably upgrades, while the Martellus Bennett and Felix Jones picks of 2008 actually have me really excited.

Dallas Cowboys – 2010 Super Bowl Champions!

So I hope to be sitting here in 2010 writing a blog post about how great an owner and GM Jerry Jones is.

Heck, just get us to the playoffs and I might even mention the word “genius”.




This entry was posted on Thursday, August 13th, 2009 at 10:29 pmand is filed under Football. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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