By Zach Walker
It has been 25 years since an exchange of $140 million with Bum Bright, gave Jerry Jones, what would become an empire. An-easy to read, chronologic-be-damned top-ten of the Dallas Cowboys happenings under Jerry Jones’ ownership.
#10 – The Firing of the Fedora – When Jerry Jones took control of the team, he immediately made an unbelievably unpopular move, firing the only coach the Dallas Cowboys have ever known, Tom Landry. Landry was a great coach, but the three seasons leading up to Jones buying the Cowboys were very unfavorable. It is amazing and hard to believe, that people still hate Jerry Jones for getting rid of Landry, as if the Cowboys haven’t won three Super Bowls since Landry was let go. But the Amish still exist, so I suppose some people believe that the old ways are better, even though Landry was declining.
#9 – 5-11, 5-11, 5-11 – The Dave Campo era of the Cowboys was a horrible and forgettable time to be a fan. After 2001, Aikman had just retired and finished with another 5-11 season. In 2002, they lost the season opener against the expansion Houston Texans, and if it wasn’t for Emmitt Smith breaking Walter Payton’s record for rushing yards, this year would be completely forgettable as well. Except for Roy Williams’ emergence as a bone-crushing safety.
#8 – 8-8, 8-8, 8-8 – This one is on the list, because it’s the current era of football, and it’s just that little bit better than the Campo era, three wins a year better. The way that the Cowboys have kept their fans hoping all the way through the season, only to lose to a different divisional opponent is an unbearable ending, three seasons in a row. But the hope and optimism is restarted every year, for two reasons. One, the need for football grows and grows through the off-season, and I’m sorry, baseball isn’t a good enough substitute for tackles, blocks, and Dez Bryant catching touchdowns. And two, for me anyway, I just get so sick of all the doubt about the Cowboys, and just get extremely fired up. But this drought is affecting Jerry Jones, in every off-season, he makes another move to try and get back to the playoffs.
#7 – Tuna, on the side…lines – Yeah, sure, Bill Parcells changed the culture of the Cowboys for a while, but he also had a different quarterback, pretty much, with the changing of every season. Quincy Carter in ’03, Vinny Testaverde in ’04, Drew Bledsoe in ’05 and the first seven games of the 2006 season. Then Tony Romo stepped in at halftime against the Giants, and re-watching that Giants game, it’s amazing that Romo caught on. Parcells often brought in ancient players from his coaching past. Jerry Jones made a great move by signing Terrell Owens, look at the numbers and I say Owens should get into the Hall as a Cowboy. The Tuna’s final season ended with an unbelievable final play, but Jerry Jones would have a playoff team to build off of and a new quarterback to build around.
#6 – The Oil-man Walks the “Walk” – You know you’ve done something significant if it’s a “the”. The Herschel Walker trade, MADE the 90’s Cowboys. The Cowboys gave a little, and gained everything: Russell Maryland, Emmitt Smith, Darren Woodson, Dixon Edwards, Alvin Harper through the next three drafts and Issiac Holt, who had a three very solid years left. The Cowboys undoubtedly hosed the Vikings, which is awesome because my best friend is a Vikings fan, so that’s always on the back-burner for a comeback. But this trade by Jones and Jimmy Johnson proved that Jones was willing to use players as chips in a bigger poker game. It showed the rest of the league, that Jones was a wheeler and a dealer, and would do anything to get the Cowboys to the top.
#5 – A Switzer Spritzer – After the Johnson fallout, Jerry Jones hired Barry Switzer, after a long absence from coaching at the University of Oklahoma. Most feel that Jones could have hired anyone with the talent that was on the Cowboys at the time, but Switzer was the choice. After a loss in the NFC Championship in his first season, the Cowboys signed Deion Sanders in the off-season. The Cowboys were back in the Super Bowl the next season, and won because of a few choice Neil O’Donnell passes to Cowboys cornerback Larry Brown, who would go on to win MVP of Super Bowl XXX. The Cowboys victory in a Super Bowl without Jimmy Johnson, sort of marked a victory for Jerry Jones, in that, that the team was so talented that a new coach can just walk in and win, showing that it wasn’t just Jimmy Johnson, it was the players that they both brought in when working together to build a team.
#4 – The Fallout – After winning the Super Bowl for a second straight season, it’s been told that, after a night out together, words were said. Then Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson agreed to part ways. The thought was that Jerry Jones wanted a larger role in the football decisions, but to be honest, no one actually knows what was said except for the men who had put together the hottest team in sports. What happened was a break of the two most savvy, smartest men in football, and the thought of their split was a sort of cheat. A cheat to think of what could have been had they stayed together, the first and only three-peat in NFL history, maybe a fourth? The world will never know what could have been…
#3 – Buying the Team – None of the things on this list would have happened had Jerry Jones not bought the team. Be the same brick in the wall, and attack Jerry Jones’ football decisions, but three Super Bowls pretty much guarantees Hall of Fame, and if he wins a fourth so far removed from his first three, would be an unmatched feat. As far as business man, no one in the league is better, as I will explain.
#2 – $$$ >>> $$$$$$$$$$$ – The title might be vague, but it is what it is, turning some millions into a multi-billion dollar organization. Think of what it is, the Cowboys are currently, a completely middle-of-the-pack team, and have been since the Campo days, and yet the Cowboys are THE top valued team in the NFL, and the second most valued franchise in the USA. The Cowboys king sponsorships and rule headlines, no matter how stupid the story, ahem… play calling. Jerry Jones is the master of spinning things to a positive, and putting himself in the crosshairs for his team.
#1 – Winning Back-to-Back – Jerry Jones’ crowning achievement will remain his back-to-back Super Bowls. The first, Super Bowl XXVII, winning 52-17, absolutely eviscerating the Buffalo Bills at the Rose Bowl. The Cowboys forced nine turnovers, and knocked Jim Kelly out of the game. The next season was more of the same, the Buffalo Bills again, and this time, things would be different for the Bills. Yeah, not quite, but it wasn’t the same beat down as before. But Emmitt Smith had an MVP performance, and on defense, James Washington recovered a fumble for a touchdown, forced a fumble, and had an interception. The Cowboys won 30-13, capping a crazy season for Emmitt Smith, a holdout, an MVP regular season, one of the most gut-check performances in the season finale against the New York Giants, and then capped it off with a Super Bowl MVP.