Jerry Jones did what some longtime Dallas Cowboys fans still consider an unforgivable offense when he fired legendary coach Tom Landry shortly after purchasing the team in 1989.
That – and the fact that Jones has had seven head coaches in his time as Cowboys owner – has made some question how much respect he has for coaches.
Well, Jones defended himself on Wednesday when speaking to a group of 600 youth, middle and high school coaches, saying his perceived lack of respect for coaches “couldn’t be further from the truth.”
He brought up the Landry situation unprompted.
“I had such respect for coach Tom Landry,” Jones said. “I was motivated to be a part of this organization, the Cowboy organization and the NFL in no small part because of coach Landry. Yet, probably no one has had more criticism . . . than what I got when I basically made the change to coach Landry and asked Jimmy Johnson to come in and be the coach. That is just in my mind an illustration of the hard decisions that sometimes you have to make doing the right thing possibly for the greater good of the team.”
The switch worked out. The Cowboys won the Super Bowl with Johnson in 1992-93 before another unceremonious coaching divorce.
Jones and Johnson parted ways after that 1993 championship with Jones famously saying: “Any one of 500 coaches could have won those Super Bowls.”
Jones brought in longtime Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer to replace Johnson, and Switzer won the 1995 championship. The Cowboys haven’t won a Super Bowl since then, though.
The Cowboys have cycled through coaches such as Chan Gailey, Dave Campo, Bill Parcells and Wade Phillips since that last Super Bowl run.
Jason Garrett took over in the middle of the 2010 season, and has been the longest tenured coach in the Jones era. Garrett has no complaints about working for Jones, and seemed to echo what Jones said himself about his respect for coaches.
“He’s fantastic,” Garrett said. “I’ve had the unique experience to be a player for him for eight years, an assistant coach for him and now a head coach. I think all of the players I played with, and certainly all the coaches I coached with, they have such an appreciation for him because he cares so much about football.
“He cares so much about the NFL. He cares so much about the Cowboys and he wants to do everything he can to make this the best organization possible.”
“He’s a driving force behind this organization and he creates a great environment. The pedal is always down. He loves the game and he has a passion for people and creates a great environment for all of us.”