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Jimmy Johnson’s contract gave him “emperor” status in Dallas


Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was wrong regarding the titles that owner Jerry Jones had during Johnson’s time with the franchise.  But Johnson was right regarding his own authority.

Rainier Sabin of the Dallas Morning News has tracked down a 1989 article from Bernie Miklasz, then of the Morning News, regarding Johnson’s job duties.

Instantly, Johnson became the most powerful coach in a league that included Don Shula in Miami, Chuck Noll in Pittsburgh, and Joe Gibbs in Washington.  Described as an “emperor,” the then-45-year-old Johnson had final say on all football matters, along with freedom to “become involved in virtually every detail of club business, from the draft to player contracts to overseeing the production of the team’s two television shows.”

And Jones was happy to do it, calling the hiring of Johnson as the equivalent of “five No. 1 draft choices and five Heisman Trophy winners” — and giving Johnson a 10-year contract.

The relationship lasted only five years, but it produced two Super Bowl wins and laid the foundation for a third.  A generation later, Jones and Johnson should be celebrating what they accomplished instead of trying to claim credit and cast blame.

Given what transpired and how it all ended, there’s plenty of both to go around.

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20 Responses to “Jimmy Johnson’s contract gave him “emperor” status in Dallas”
  1. cardmagnet says: Nov 8, 2012 7:45 PM

    The only credit Jerry Jones really deserves is hiring and giving power to Jimmy Johnson, and perhaps some negotiating on trades. All other credit is due to Jimmy Johnson – the drafting, guys to trade for, free agents, motivation, trimming the fat, bringing out the best in players, etc.

    As far as blame for things falling apart, I put it all on Jerry. Had he just backed out and been an owner and only an owner, who knows how long Jimmy Johnson would have stayed around.

  2. dcbrave says: Nov 8, 2012 7:46 PM

    They don’t know how big a favor they did the NFC East and the NFL by falling out. As a diehard Redskins fan, I for one am grateful.

  3. profootballwalk says: Nov 8, 2012 7:47 PM

    No – Jimmy built and ran the team, and deserves the credit. Jerry Jones deserves thanks for staying out of the way and letting someone who knew what he was doing run the show.

    Jones suffers from that “I’m rich, so I must be smart” disease.

  4. jackericsson says: Nov 8, 2012 7:50 PM

    Complete credit should go to Vikings GM Mike Lynn for possibly the worst trade of all time. That set the foundation for the Cowboys SuperBowl run. The Cowboys have done nothing since.

  5. t8ertot says: Nov 8, 2012 7:50 PM

    I wish Mike Brown would give the reign to a coach for the Bengals

  6. pftcensorssuck says: Nov 8, 2012 8:00 PM

    I have to admit, at the time I thought Jones was insane giving this much authority to a guy who hadn’t proven a thing in the NFL … the league was littered with great college coaches who failed miserably in the pros.

    Man, when I’m wrong, I’m REALLY wrong!

  7. somekat says: Nov 8, 2012 8:02 PM

    I don’t think there is “plenty of both to go around”. I’d say there is plenty of blame to go around (Although Johnson’s can be debated, as mot likey Jones trying to change those things led to most of this). But I don’t see how there is plenty of credit to go around. Jones has proved his mettle in the almost 20 years since Johnson left, and it’s pathetic. He won another SB, with Johnson’s team, and has been on a steady decline since.

    Both can be blamed, but all the credit for that dynasty should go to Johnson. Not that he’s some sort of god (didn’t exactly bring Miami much success down there), but he did build THAT team

  8. hlm2311 says: Nov 8, 2012 8:09 PM

    He couldn’t do anything in Miami cause all Marino wanted to do was pass he has passing records but no sb wins

  9. enrifer says: Nov 8, 2012 9:35 PM

    The credit goes to the person who owns the team no matter what.

  10. goodellsadouche says: Nov 8, 2012 9:44 PM

    Jones was angry that Johnson didn’t give him credit for signing his name to checks??? Had he NOT hired Johnson, he’d still be looking for his first Lombardi.

  11. cometkazie says: Nov 8, 2012 10:14 PM

    Makes sense to me.

    The record speaks for itself.

  12. granadafan says: Nov 8, 2012 11:28 PM

    Jerrah suffers from Al Davisitis. Living in the revisionist past glories while the game has past him by. He’s slowly turning into skeletor.

  13. richndc says: Nov 8, 2012 11:50 PM

    wow, I did not know there were so many of you there when it happened to tell us what really went on and who was really running the show. Oh, wait, half of you experts that post on here weren’t even born when Jones bought the team. Odd that you would know so much…….

  14. bigbadal21 says: Nov 9, 2012 1:18 AM

    Myron Cope called Chuck Noll “the emperor” and “emperor Knoll” long before 1989.

  15. ntss22 says: Nov 9, 2012 2:17 AM

    They should both send thank you cards to George Seifert and ninner ownership for Charles Haley and Deon Sanders. Without them they don’t win nothing. Haley was the key.

  16. joetoronto says: Nov 9, 2012 4:26 AM

    Even during early on, you could feel the tension between these two.

    I remember that Johnson didn’t look happy for very long.

  17. TheWizard says: Nov 9, 2012 7:03 AM

    They caught lightning in a bottle for a time, they both deserve credit for that.

    Kraft and Belichick are showing us how, without massive egos involved, it can be sustained.

  18. mrpickled says: Nov 9, 2012 7:40 AM

    Jerry jones = modern day al Davis

  19. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Nov 9, 2012 12:19 PM

    Results speak for themselves. Johnson was the man. Not sure why he wasn’t as successful in NFL apart from Jones?

  20. nat2004nic says: Nov 11, 2012 12:03 AM


    Really what has Belicheat WON after Spy gate? How many SuperBowls has he won after Spygate? Crickets anyone. Oh yeah wasn’t it New England and other weak teams crying because Cowboys, 9ers winning SuperBowls causing those weak teams to cry because they couldn’t compete thus the salary cap. Think before you type!

    PS I suggest you look at Belicheats record with the Browns. Between Browns and Pats was a video recorder.

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