PLENTY TO APPRECIATE — Jimmy Johnson reflects on special Cowboys experience

Published 12:16 am Thursday, December 28, 2023

Port Arthur’s own Jimmy Johnson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2020, the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame in 2012 and the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2019.

Those honors are not taken for granted by Johnson, who is receiving another one Saturday, when he is inducted into the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor.

“Of course it means something because winning back-to-back Super Bowls and building that team that actually won another Super Bowl is quite an accomplishment,” Johnson told Port Arthur Newsmedia. “I am proud of what we were able to accomplish.”

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

His first season in Dallas produced a 1-15 record in 1989 for the Cowboys, but the talent Johnson and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones brought in improved, and they added to the mix a running back from the University of Florida named Emmitt Smith.

The Cowboys improved to 7-7 with two games remaining in 1990, but dropped their last two games for their fifth straight losing record and fifth straight season without a playoff berth.

Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson watches the time click away late in a 41-10 win over the Phoenix (now Arizona) Cardinals on Dec. 18, 1990. Dallas lost its next two games, however, to finish the season. (Associated Press via Museum of the Gulf Coast)

Johnson stayed active in evaluating talent, which was a key to the turnaround.

With another top overall pick in Miami defensive tackle Russell Maryland, the Cowboys returned to the playoffs the next year after going 11-5 in the regular season, beating the Chicago Bears in the wild-card round but losing a divisional playoff to the Detroit Lions.

The next two years were the best of Johnson’s career. The talent continued to jell and the Cowboys went 13-3 in the 1992 season, beating the Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers en route to Super Bowl 27, where they steamrolled the Buffalo Bills 52-17 on Jan. 31, 1993.

Dallas’ following season proved difficult at the start, losing decisively to the archrival Washington Redskins and in close fashion to the Bills. But the Cowboys turned things around and finished the regular season 12-4.

In the playoffs, Dallas beat Green Bay and San Francisco before handing the Bills their fourth straight Super Bowl defeat, 30-13, on Jan. 30, 1994.

Unfortunately the Cowboys and Johnson parted ways after the title win.

Johnson went on to coach the Miami Dolphins and Dallas moved forward with Barry Switzer.

Johnson said he was fortunate to have a “very aggressive owner” in Jones to help throughout his time in Dallas.

“He worked around the clock to pay the bills, and we worked together on it,” Johnson recalled this month. “On top of that, I was able to bring my entire coaching staff from the University of Miami, where we had just won the national championship and had a couple of undefeated seasons. Having my coaching staff from the University of Miami and knowing all these college players, it gave us an advantage going to the Cowboys.”