Jimmy Johnson receiving Cowboys Ring of Honor treatment, shares reactions

Published 12:08 am Wednesday, December 27, 2023

According to Jimmy Johnson, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had told him for years, at least the last 15, that he would be going in the team’s Ring of Honor.

“I knew that it would happen eventually,” Johnson told Port Arthur Newsmedia. “I just didn’t know when.”

Thankfully for the Port Arthur native and 1961 Thomas Jefferson High School graduate, the announcement came earlier this year. Now the event is only days away.

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The official induction ceremony takes place at halftime of the Cowboys-Lions game at AT&T Stadium on Saturday.

The game is scheduled to start at 6:15 p.m. in Arlington on ABC and ESPN.

“My time with the Cowboys, winning a couple of Super Bowls, that was a big part of my career,” Johnson said. “I am very proud of that. I am honored to go into the Ring of Honor. What a lot of people forget is the Cowboys were at the bottom of the league when I first went there. They had three losing seasons even though they had Tom Landry. They were 3-13 in his last year, the worst team in the league. To go from the worst team in the league to winning back-to-back Super Bowls is something I am very proud of.”

Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, left, listens as Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones makes a point Feb. 28, 1989, at the team’s headquarters in Irving. (File photo)

Johnson’s love affair for football began in Port Arthur.

Thomas Jefferson High had won two state championships and 12 district titles before Johnson enrolled in 1957. In each year Johnson attended “TJ,” the Yellow Jackets won a district title under coach Clarence “Buckshot” Underwood.

“He was a great coach,” Johnson previously told Port Arthur Newsmedia. “He was an assistant for Bear Bryant at Kentucky. That tells you a little bit. But [he was] a demanding disciplinarian.”

In reflecting on it again this month, Johnson said Underwood’s coaching and the Port Arthur experience gave him a good start.

“Of course, I played for an undefeated national championship team at Arkansas, so I won a national championship as a player, as a coach and also won Super Bowls,” Johnson said.

Underwood led the Yellow Jackets to a state runner-up finish in Johnson’s freshman year. Johnson, an offensive guard and linebacker, helped the Jackets reach the state semifinals as a junior and senior, losing to Corpus Christi Ray in 1959 and Corpus Christi Miller in 1960.

Cowboys success

Johnson took the reins as Cowboys head coach in 1989, the first year of the Jerry Jones era. During their span together, a slew of Hall of Fame talent was brought in and coached up, headlined by Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith and Michael Irvin — affectionately known as The Triplets.

After a rebuild that spanned two seasons, Johnson coached the Cowboys to a playoff berth in 1991, followed by Super Bowl victories in 1992 and then again in 1993, his final year as Cowboys head coach.

In announcing the news earlier this year, Jones told Johnson: “You were inspirational. I couldn’t have felt then, I can’t believe now that we were able to experience such a time in our lives.”