Heal­ing time for Jerry and Jimmy

Old coach, owner get to­gether as Cow­boys cel­e­brate 1992 team

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - SCHUYLER DIXON

DAL­LAS — Jimmy John­son moved from one in­ter­view to an­other, smil­ing plenty and com­fort­ably ad­dress­ing ques­tions about his re­la­tion­ship with Jerry Jones in a rare off­sea­son ap­pear­ance to cel­e­brate the 1992 Dal­las Cow­boys, who won both their first Su­per Bowl. They were in the same build­ing on the 28th anniversary of Jones buy­ing the Cow­boys, fir­ing the only coach Amer­ica’s Team ever had in Tom Landry and hir­ing John­son, his for­mer col­lege team­mate at Arkansas. And it was about a month shy of 23 years since Jones and John­son had an ac­ri­mo­nious split af­ter win­ning a sec­ond straight ti­tle. The event Satur­day night, pitched as the 25th anniversary of the team that started the Dal­las dy­nasty of the 1990s, wasn’t a time for bit­ter mem­o­ries. “I’m just happy for what we had,” said John­son, who forced his way out af­ter Jones in­fa­mously sug­gested that 500 coaches could win the Su­per Bowl with the Dal­las ros­ter. “We had a great, great thing go­ing, and so I’ll look back at those years and ap­pre­ci­ate what we did.” Jones re­minded re­porters what he said the day he hired John­son — that the coach who won a na­tional cham­pi­onship and al­most had two more at Mi­ami was worth five firstround draft picks. The brash owner didn’t men­tion the com­ment that fin­ished off a re­la­tion­ship that was al­ready de­te­ri­o­rat­ing. “Jimmy and I re­ally un­der­stand the cir­cum­stances and to some de­gree we have a good feel for each other, and so I’ve al­ways had to over­look his foibles, but he’s had to over­look mine, too,” Jones said. “We just ab­so­lutely had five years to­gether that you just can’t write a book and make it any more re­ward­ing.” In five sea­sons un­der Jones and John­son, the Cow­boys went from 1-15 to two-time Su­per Bowl champs. Even­tu­ally, Dal­las be­came the first fran­chise to win three Su­per Bowls in four years, but the third was with Barry Switzer as coach. Switzer at­tended the event en­gi­neered by Troy Aik­man, the quar­ter­back on those three Su­per Bowl win­ners. It al­most goes without say­ing that the other two Hall of Fame “Triplets” — all-time NFL rush­ing leader Em­mitt Smith and re­ceiver Michael Irvin — were there. Jones beat his for­mer coach to the Hall of Fame, get­ting elected in Hous­ton the night be­fore the Su­per Bowl. The bil­lion­aire for­mer wild­cat­ter will be in­ducted in Au­gust. John­son said he saw his for­mer boss there and con­grat­u­lated him — and made it clear dur­ing the re­union that Jones de­served the hon­our. “You look at what the im­pact he has made on the NFL since he’s been in the league, the value of ev­ery fran­chise can be at­trib­uted re­ally to Jerry Jones,” John­son said. “His pas­sion, his work ethic, and what he’s done for the league, he de­serves to go in there and I’m happy for him.” Smith has never been sure about the pub­lic por­trayal of the breakup that some play­ers be­lieve cost the Cow­boys a chance to win three straight Su­per Bowls, some­thing that still hasn’t been done. Dal­las lost to San Fran­cisco in the NFC cham­pi­onship game in Switzer’s first sea­son. Af­ter two years away from coach­ing, John­son re­placed Hall of Famer Don Shula with the Mi­ami Dol­phins. Four years, a 2-3 play­off record and no more Su­per Bowl trips later, he left the side­line for good and has been a pop­u­lar TV stu­dio an­a­lyst ever since. Jones turned the Cow­boys into the first pro sports fran­chise worth $4 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to Forbes magazine. “They’re go­ing to be con­nected whether they want to be or not, be­cause of what they did in bring­ing the Cow­boys back,” said Nate New­ton, an of­fen­sive line­man for those Su­per Bowl win­ners. Jones seems to un­der­stand that. “In a way, the Cow­boys helped him get to spend his life the way he wanted to spend it,” Jones said. “And the Cow­boys made me get to spend the life be­yond any­thing I ever dreamed.”


Dal­las Cow­boys owner Jerry Jones, right, and his for­mer Su­per Bowl-win­ning coach Jimmy John­son laugh af­ter the 25th Anniversary of Su­per Bowl XXVII in Dal­las.

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