Hey, Rangers, don’t mess with a Texas legend

Posted Monday, Mar. 11, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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engel Jerry Jones may not be the first person you want to solicit advice about how to run a winning professional sports franchise, but this does not mean he is not an expert on a variety of topics.

At the top of this rather lengthy list is how not to run off a legend.

Jerry will tell you after he bought the team and fired Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry in 1988 he had no idea what he had just done and the reaction it would cause.

This actually became a case study in the PR world (not kidding).

Jerry would have been better off degrading God than to fire one of his saints.

There are people to this day who are more upset with Jones over this move more than his decision to draft and start Quincy Carter, fire Jimmy Johnson, hire Barry Switzer, trade for Roy Williams, sign Terrell Owens, or for his cameo on Entourage.

Hindsight says Jerry handled it the right way. He broke the news to Landry’s face.

What Jerry did not know is that there is no correct way to fire Tom Landry, even if it was the right call.

Not only do you not mess with Texas, but the same goes for Texans — namely, Tom Landry and Nolan Ryan.

The Texas Rangers are now fully aware of this E=mc2 certainty.

The Rangers should have consulted first with Jerry on the dangers of politely trying to strong arm, or evict, a living, breathing statue out of office when he is not ready to go.

As Jerry knows, there are just some people you can’t screw with. It is not a coincidence that Ryan and Landry are the only two men who have a statue at their home fields.

What we are witnessing at the Ballpark/Surprise is the equivalent of Tom and Jerry. This may be worse because, unlike Jerry, the Rangers are now trying to keep Nolan while making him just a figurehead.

This falls into the category of “only the Rangers.”

Theoretically, pushing Nolan Ryan out of the decision-making equation in regards to baseball decisions in Arlington may be in the best interests of the Rangers’ future (it’s not). There is, however, no way to win this unless the Rangers win the 2013 World Series (they’re not).

The whole thing, up to and including the press releases, is uncomfortable, awkward and sad. We are the concerned neighbors watching a serious family spat. We would rather not watch but can’t turn away.

If Nolan leaves, the blood will be on owners Bob Simpson and Ray Davis’ hands. No matter how much soap he uses, there will be some splatter on GM Jon Daniels’ mitts as well.

Oh, if only Johnny Cochran were alive today.

Not even three Super Bowl titles cleaned Jerry’s hands of axing Landry.

This was always one of the peripheral dangers when Tom Hicks convinced Nolan to join the front office and add some credibility to his franchise in February 2006. Nolan can do no wrong, even if he does.

Nolan Ryan is too big to fail.

As a pitcher, Nolan never walked a batter, allowed a home run or lost a game. The ump blew the call, the batter was on steroids, the team didn’t score enough runs.

As an executive, it is more of the same.

Did you notice when the Rangers led during Game 6 of the 2011 World Series the Fox cameras focused on Ryan? When the Rangers were losing Game 7 against the St. Louis Cardinals, those same Fox cameras focused in on manager Ron Washington, Neftali Feliz and Nelson Cruz.

This isn’t some race card play, but merely on observation that The Express is not made of steel but Teflon.

It is almost in our subconscious that men like Ryan and Landry are above all of us.

Ryan and Landry came from a completely different era. They were born in and played in a generation when their achievements were not only worshiped but canonized. People looked for reasons to make them even larger.

Their time was before a 24/7 media that takes more pleasure eviscerating people for their mistakes than glorifying them for their success. Before Twitter devoured people for a personal embarrassment, or YouTube replayed their mistakes.

In their time, Ryan and Landry were considered heroes.

Not many of their kind are left. Landry is gone, God rest his soul. The Express is alive and well, and he wants to keep working.

There is no good way to tell a legend he should leave, or accept a demotion.

Just ask Jerry.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7697 Twitter: @macengelprof

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