All these years later, Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson are still sorting out just who was responsible for what when Jones’s Dallas Cowboys were winning Super Bowls with Johnson as coach.
Their private little “War of the Roses” erupted not long after Jones said he’d never relinquish his duties as general manager as long as he owns the team, even though he admitted to Bob Costas on Sunday that he might have fired the general manager for the team’s performance if it were structured differently. Which, of course, it isn’t.
“The time I was with the team, I had complete and total responsibility over the football operation,” Johnson told the Dallas Morning News. “That meant personnel, the draft, coaches, including the strength coach. Everything.
“It was always in my contract.”
Jones purchased the team in 1989 and, with Johnson as coach, it won two Super Bowls. With Barry Switzer replacing Johnson, it won one. Since then? Bupkus.
“When I bought the team, the night I bought it, I said I would be doing what I’m doing and that’s GM the team and making the final decisions on personnel,” Jones said late Sunday night. “That’s the way it’s always been done. We’ve won three Super Bowls doing it that way, so I’m going to do it again.”
Odd that the two would be marking their territory so many years later, particularly when one of them is still running the team and is in the midst of a season, but that’s where this is.
“When we signed that first contract Jerry said, ‘I’ll be in charge of the finances, you’ll be in charge of the football. We’ll make history,’” Johnson said.
Jones told the Morning News in a statement:
“I came into the NFL as the owner and general manager of this team, and one of the first decisions I made in the role of GM was to hire Jimmy as head coach,” Jones said. “Jimmy and I worked well together. We had great communication, and I have always appreciated what he has done for the organization. I wanted all the input in the world from Jimmy on personnel.
“During Jimmy’s tenure, the authority to hire the players was with the GM. But it was agreed that we wouldn’t bring a player into the organization that he didn’t approve of. We were a team and it worked very well. In our unique circumstances, where the owner and the GM were the same person, in the case of a disagreement — which we never had — the owner had the ultimate authority.”
In an interview on “The Dan Patrick Show,” Johnson said it was “completely a bunch of crock” that Jones ran the football operation. “Jerry started putting all those titles on himself after I left. He didn’t call himself general manager and president and all that stuff when I was there. He was just the owner. Because it was in my contract that I had total responsibility for all football decisions. It was in my contract, and he didn’t allow anybody to have that in their contract after I left.”
Johnson said his personnel decisions were just as important to him as his coaching decisions. “I was the personnel director there with the Cowboys,” Johnson said. “My pride was collecting the talent and putting together the team that won the Super Bowls.”
As for the Cowboys of 2012, who are 3-5, Johnson had plenty to say.
“All the players in this league think they’re self-motivated and that’s a bunch of bull because there are only a handful that are self-motivated,” Johnson said. “So you’ve got to motivate these players through some respect, but the No. 1 motivator is fear. Fear of letting down your teammates, being embarrassed or fear of losing the job. Where is the fear in Dallas? There’s no fear in Dallas. It’s a country club where everybody is buddies.”
Johnson, who has mentored Cowboys Coach Jason Garrett, couldn’t resist doing a little armchair general managing himself.
“Jason Garrett is probably coaching for his job for the rest of the year. This game with Philadelphia on Fox may decide the future of coaches and players with those two teams.”
And Tony Romo?
“I would extend Tony Romo unless I had somebody better, and they don’t have anybody better.”