The Port Arthur News
PORT ARTHUR —
Editor’s note: The following column from the Best of West collection was originally published in the Port Arthur News on Sept. 27, 2001.
Too bad there is isn’t an Alcoholics Anonymous equivalent for rich guys who buy professional sports teams as high profile, ego-boosting toys, then screw them up due to lack of expertise, excessive meddling or refusal to surround themselves with the right people.
Yes, I’m mostly referring to Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones. But it could be the Redskins’ Daniel Snyder. Or Bill Bidwell of the Arizona Cardinals. Or, before he finally came to his senses after extensive bumbling in Houston, the Titans’ Bud Adams.
None of the others are of much concern here, due to the reality that they operate outside Texas borders. Jones, of course, is an entirely different issue. His mismanagement of the Dallas franchise has sent Cowboy nation into a funk from which there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
For those who live and die with the Cowboys, the future is grim and most of the diehards detest Jones for it. Yet they keep coming back for more.
Because there are no easy solutions, including Randall Cunningham, let’s briefly delve into a flight of fantasy. Let’s pretend someone convinces Jones that he’s an owneraholic and talks him into enrolling in Owner’s Anonymous.
Here’s how his first OA session might go.
“Hi, I’m Jerry and some folks think I have a problem. I used to be a football player at the University of Arkansas. Well, actually I wasn’t much of a player but my roommate the night before games, Jimmy Johnson, was pretty good. He turned out to be an ever better football coach.
Basically, Jimmy is where my problem started.
“You see, I made a lot of money in the oil bidness and I was looking for a new challenge. The Dallas Cowboys were about to go into the toilet, because they kept Tom Landry around too long. Bum Bright, who was the owner then, decided he wanted to unload the team. It was my big chance.
“To make a long story short, I bought the team, brought in Jimmy Johnson as my coach and in the fourth year we won the Super Bowl. We won another one the next year. Hell, it looked easy to me.
“We had great players in the key positions and good players stacked up at other positions. We were on the way to becoming the greatest dynasty ever.
“About that time some things that were going on between Jimmy and me sort of escalated. Jimmy thought I ought to stick to the business part and let him take care of personnel and coaching. But I had already told everybody I was going to be involved in everything from socks to jocks.
“I even made him act like he was consulting with me on draft day.
“Anyway, Jimmy got to where he was a pain in the butt, so I fired him. In my mind, there were 500 coaches who could do what he was doing. In all honesty, I’ve never thought coaches were very smart. So I brought in Barry Switzer and, well, we have had several bumps in the road the last few years. Matter of fact, it’s gotten pretty ugly at times.
“I finally had to run Barry off. Then I hired a coach nobody had ever heard of named Chan Gailey. I fired him two years later and gave the job to a career assistant named Dave Campo. He hasn’t exactly been a fall of fire either.
“From time to time, I think about taking over myself. I’d be a great coach, but the commissioner would never stand for it.
“What bothers me most is the fact I fear the fans are going to be influenced into pointing at me as the reason the Cowboys are struggling. Media jerks like Randy Galloway and Dale Hansen keep harping on all this being my fault, and eventually some of that garbage may make an impact.
“On the other hand, most of our fans are pretty gullible. They are so eaten up with being associated with the Dallas Cowboys, most of them since they were little kids, that they can’t stay away. I think that’s probably my ace in the hole with this deal.
“Cowboy fans just can’t help themselves. They may not like me, but they’re hooked on the Cowboys. They just can’t let go.
“Between us, I just hope they never figure out that there is one sure-fire way to force me to hire somebody with football smarts, then leave him alone and let him do the job. If the attendance dropped off real bad, and our TV ratings fell and folks quit buying Cowboy merchandise, then I wouldn’t have much choice.
“To tell the truth, I briefly considered bringing in a general manager really respected by football people. Hell, the allure of putting the Dallas Cowboys back on top would help me land anybody I wanted. Provided, of course, I guaranteed the guy that I would let him have total control of the football operation.
“But what fun would that be for me? I love looking at game tape. I get all psyched up about going to practice. I live for those game days when I’m down on the sidelines in the middle of the action. The players need my pep talks. Why should I give it up? It’s my team.
“Besides, Troy is going to be healthy next year and we’ll have Joey Galloway and Rocket back to 100 percent. Emmitt is still going strong. We’ve got a great offensive line. I can’t wait for training camp. I see us being a Super Bowl contender.
“What do Randy Galloway and Hansen really know? I’ve got three Super Bowl trophies. I’m smarter than all of them. Why am I even at this meeting? I don’t belong here. I’m Jerry Jones.”
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.