Mac Engel

NFL’s return to LA will put Jerry Jones in Hall of Fame

Jimmy Johnson on replacing Landry: 'A lot of people were ready for a change'

Joe Buck interviews the former Dallas Cowboys coach on his new show Undeniable. The full interview airs Wednesday on AT&T U-Verse/DirecTV's Audience Network.
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Joe Buck interviews the former Dallas Cowboys coach on his new show Undeniable. The full interview airs Wednesday on AT&T U-Verse/DirecTV's Audience Network.

This may make you sports sick, but the next member of the Dallas Cowboys to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame will not be Terrell Owens but rather our own Jerry Jones.

Dale Hansen, Jimmy Johnson or Randy Galloway should be Jerry’s presenter at Canton.

The architect of more than 20 years of football mediocrity all but ensured his football immortality Tuesday when the NFL announced it is returning to Los Angeles with the Rams going back to begin play in 2016. By the fall of 2017, Jerry should have his own gold jacket and a bronze bust at the Hall of Fame.

So, it will go something like Halas, Lombardi, Landry and Jerry.

Jerry is ahead of everybody over the past 30 years on the business of football.

For as much influence as George Halas, Vince Lombardi and Tom Landry had on football, Jerry is ahead of everybody over the past 30 years on the business of football.

Imagine if he were as good of a football GM as he is a football businessman.

No one person outside of Los Angeles has been as instrumental, and wanted this more, than Jerry. No other general manager of a pro sports team has ever concerned himself to this level on an issue that has nothing to do with his team like our Jerry.

Short of winning another Super Bowl, which at this point we should expect will not happen before the year 2934 — Jerry will still be the GM then, too — the NFL returning to LA is all that is necessary for our leader to be included in football’s highest honor.

Decades before he bought the Dallas Cowboys in 1989, he tried to buy the San Diego Chargers. He often joked for years that, if he had owned the Chargers, they would be in Los Angeles.

And every year in the early days of Cowboys training camp in Oxnard, Calif., Jerry would proclaim to the LA media that he could see a day soon when Los Angeles would have an “NFL franchise, possibly two.”

This was another case of Jerry being Jerry, and privately we all laughed at him.

On Tuesday at the NFL owners’ meeting in Houston, the league announced the Rams will return to Los Angeles, with the possibility that the San Diego Chargers or Oakland Raiders could eventually play there as well.

Jerry is now laughing at us, all the way back to the bank.

The Rams will open a new stadium in 2019 at the site of the old Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, Calif.

“As much as we talk about our television and our content and our viewers, this was so important that we do it the [best] way we could in Los Angeles,” Jerry told the Star-Telegram’s Charean Williams on Tuesday evening in Houston. “This is as significant a day as we’ve had in the NFL.”

For more than a decade, the league and that city continually fumbled and repeatedly botched opportunities to relocate to the nation’s second-largest market. An entertainment league as big and as successful as the NFL should be in the biggest entertainment region in the world.

The same man who once proclaimed Quincy Carter a potential Pro Bowler, and often allows his emotions to undermine his coaches and scouts and otherwise shrewd business acumen, continues to make this sport and this league bigger and more profitable.

Jerry’s business sense and accomplishments were always going to get him into Canton, it was just a question of when and if he would still be alive. The Pro Football Hall of Fame is rather tricky, and there has always been an order to its inclusion process.

As a potential nominee with the modern-era candidates, Jerry had to be selected over a busload of players whose accomplishments are more interesting, fun and tangible than that of an owner/GM/president.

30 of the 32 NFL owners approved the Rams moving from St. Louis back to Los Angeles

For a long while, it appeared that Jerry’s best chance at the Hall would be to be considered by the Seniors Committee, which requires a candidate to essentially be inactive in the league for 25 years. Basically, you are just about dead if you are on the Seniors Committee. And the idea that Jerry will be inactive from the Cowboys for 25 years is mathematically impossible.

No one would want to see Jerry inducted posthumously. His record says he is a horrible GM, but if he is going to be in the Hall, then he deserves the moment.

When the HOF added a “Contributors Category” two years ago, it changed the timeline for Jerry. No longer does he have to hope to be chosen over a massive collection of impressive candidates. As a contributor, the field is much smaller and his credentials trump most of those in this category. Men such as former 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo, Patriots owner Bob Kraft and former general manager Bobby Beathard are worthy candidates, but none of them has meant as much to football as Jerry.

The voting for this year’s class will be in a few weeks at the Super Bowl, where Owens is on the ballot. T.O. was a team-wrecking, drama mama brat, but he was dominant for a while and he has more numbers than a calculator. He also is more of a 49er or an Eagle than a Cowboy. He is going to go in, whether it be this year, the next or the year after.

Jerry, however, should be in line to be on the ballot later this year, and will be voted in next January, so he could be enshrined in August 2017.

Jerry did not need to put the NFL back in Los Angeles to make an induction to the Pro Football Hall of Fame happen, but it makes his strong résumé a bit stronger.

All that will be left is the Ring of Honor.

Listen to Mac Engel every Tuesday and Thursday on Shan & RJ from 5:30-10 a.m. on 105.3 The Fan.

Mac Engel: 817-390-7697, tengel@star-telegram.com, @macengelprof

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