I hate Jerry Jones. I always have and I always will. The flamboyant billionaire owner of the Dallas Cowboys is what has eroded my love of professional football, football in general and organized sports. And that’s saying a lot from someone who has loved football his whole life. But Jerry Jones epitomizes everything that is wrong with the NFL and sports in general in the 21st century.
I’ve had a lifelong love affair with football. I’m probably the only two-year-old that could throw a perfect spiral. Almost from the time I was able to walk I played football. My fondest memories growing up in New York were Saturday evenings when my dad would start a fire in the backyard and we would throw the ball back and forth. I got my love for football from him. He told me he was on the taxi squad of the New York Giants in the early ‘50s. The taxi squad is what is referred to now as the practice squad. I never checked on whether my dad was telling the truth or not about this, but I remember as a toddler he brought me to Shea Stadium and Joe Namath held me. Broadway Joe told my dad I “had the hands of a quarterback”. This was in an era when the NFL wasn’t a billionaire’s club or a trillion dollar business. The teams, players and coaches were pretty very accessible. When we moved to Chattanooga few years later. I remember my dad taking me to Falcons games. I was painfully shy growing up and my dad somehow knew everyone on the Falcons’ roster. “Want to go down and meet Dick Shiner?” he asked. I was frozen. Shiner was a journeyman quarterback who played for six teams in his NFL career. He was not a big deal by any stretch of the imagination but I knew of him. I turned down my dad’s offer – not because I was not impressed but because of my acute shyness. From time to time before his death he would offer to take me down to Atlanta Fulton County Stadium to meet different players. How he knew them I will never know or question. He was my dad. And from my dad is where I got my love for the sport.
When I wasn’t playing sandlot games I was reading books about football, looking through magazines and reading the sports section. One book my dad gave me was a hardback edition of “Dallas Cowboys: Pro or Con?” It was a history of the team and somehow my dad was able to get it autographed for me. It was an interesting read and every insightful on the early culture of the NFL and the Cowboys as well. It told the story of the Dallas Cowboys from their birth to the late ‘60s. The book was published in 1970. It was filled with a loot of great pictures. I wish I still had that copy of it. My favorite teams were the Falcons and the Dolphins. I respected the Cowboys. I really respected Tom Landry. The only time I had anything bad to say about the Cowboys was when they played the Dolphins or Falcons. I of course took Super Bowl VI hard, but there was a respect for the coach and the way he ran the team.
Besides that book, a girlfriend of my sister’s who went to high school together married John Fitzgerald, the team’s center. My sister told her what a football fan I was. Christmas that year I received a Christmas card from the Dallas Cowboys with the team on the cover and signed by John. I wish I had kept that card. But because of the team’s history, success and the fact my sister indirectly knew one of their players I never held any ill will towards the team until February of 1989 when Jerry Jones, the new owner of the Cowboys fired Landry.
Tom Landry was a living legend as far as NFL coaches along with Don Shula who met a similar fate six years later in Miami. In my humble opinion you don’t fire a Tom Landry. He dictates what goes on with the team. To add insult to injury Jones hires Jimmie Johnson who was the coach of the Miami Hurricanes at the time. I hated Jones and I still do. Johnson had players of questionable character on his team and during his reign they beat Notre Dame, my favorite team pretty bad. And when it comes to football I hold grudges. Well before you know it the Cowboys’ roster was filled with a lot of talent – and off field issues. They were back to winning Super Bowls though before a clash of egos between Johnson and Jones. Who didn’t see this coming?
I did. And leave it to Jerry Jones to make Johnson look like a sympathetic character. In Jones’ 29 seasons as the Cowboys owner and general manager the Cowboys, while they won three Super Bowls have had 19 non-winning seasons. By comparison Tom Landry has 19 winning seasons as Dallas’ head coach. Landry was the team’s head coach for 27 seasons. Since Jones has been the owner the team has had seven different head coaches. And while we tend to like people that go by the beat of their own drum it doesn’t count Jones.
After firing Landry Jones went around the NFL to sign team deals – not league deals with Pepsi and Nike. At that time the league had agreements in place with Coke and Adidas. After ousting Johnson he hired controversial Oklahoma head coach Barry Switzer whose NCAA program had undergone scrutiny for steroid use. Switzer got the team’s last Super Bowl win but he was soon ousted. He’s had a fondness for players of questionable moral character such as Michael Irvin (drugs and stripper parties), Randy Gregory (multiple drug charges and is currently still suspended), Leon Lett (substance abuse) to more recently Greg Hardy (actually convicted in a court of law and not just accused of domestic violence and weapons charges). Instead of a roster he seemed to suit up a police lineup in uniform. Let’s not forget his penchant for strippers. Remember those photos of him to be in a compromising position (at least the girl was)? He didn’t have much to say about that except they were a “misrepresentation”.
Prior to Jones people know of the team owners but few recognized them in public. Since owning the team Jones has been high profile and seems to enjoy the attention more for him than the team. Taking a play out of late Raider owner Al Davis’ book he let himself be known. If anything Jones is an Al Davis wannabe. Other owners have followed suit such as Stephen Ross, owner of the Dolphins who has made a name for himself selling small percentages of the team to celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan as well as Venus and Serena Williams. Basically this was a publicity stunt that has failed to fill the seats at the stadium or help the success of the team that hasn’t been to a Super Bowl in over 30 years. Add to that Robert Kraft of the Patriots, Daniel Snyder of the Redskins and Arthur Blank of the Falcons.
Earlier in the season threatened to sue Blank and five other NFL owners over a contract extension for commissioner Roger Goodell. When the two teams met two months ago at Atlanta’s new stadium, the state of the art Mercedes Benz Stadium that overshadowed Jones’ new stadium in Dallas there was a definite chill in the air even with the roof closed. Both owners were on the field during pre-game warm ups and exchanged icy stares across the field refusing to meet at midfield to shake hands as was tradition. To add insult to injury the league upheld a six game suspension of Cowboy star Ezekiel Elliott and the Falcons handily defeated Dallas that day 27-7 with Adrian Clayborn setting a team record with six quarterback sacks of Dak Prescott.
The only issue I am on the same side as Jones is the Anthem protests in the league and his tough stance towards his player. Of course for some of you that’s another reason to dislike him. To make things even better the Cowboys missed the playoffs. Talk about ending the season on a high note.
– David N. Marks
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