Jimmy says Jerry told him, “You can’t get rid of Herschel Walker”

AP

Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson love nothing more than to try to one-up each other over who deserves more credit for the success of the Cowboys in the 1990s, so as the 25th anniversary of the Cowboys’ blockbuster trade of Herschel Walker to the Vikings approaches, it’s not surprising that Johnson is taking the opportunity to say he’s the one who pulled off the trade, and that Jones urged him not to do it.

In a new “30 for 30” short film, The Great Trade Robbery, Johnson says Jones couldn’t believe Johnson was considering trading Walker, the star running back who had been chosen to two consecutive Pro Bowls.

“When I told Jerry that we were gonna trade Herschel Walker he was kind of astonished. He said, ‘Really? You can’t get rid of Herschel Walker. We won’t score a point if we don’t have Herschel Walker!'” Johnson says.

The trade turned out to be a gold mine for Dallas: The Cowboys used the bounty of picks they got from the Vikings to select players including Emmitt Smith, Alvin Harper and Darren Woodson, who would help them go on to win three Super Bowls in the 1990s.

And the trade was a huge disappointment for the Vikings, not because Walker was a disappointment (he played well for the rest of the 1989 season in Minnesota and then led the NFL in all-purpose yards in 1990) but because they simply gave up far too many future draft picks.

Acquiring draft picks from other teams was the centerpiece of Johnson’s strategy in building the 1990s Cowboys.

“I knew that the only way we were going to turn the Cowboys around was with draft picks,” Johnson said.

In fact, Johnson was so intent on acquiring draft picks that he even considered trading future Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin.

“I considered trading every player on our roster — everybody, even a player that I loved, Michael Irvin, who played for me at Miami,” Johnson said. “My attitude was, we were 53 players away from the Super Bowl.”

As it turned out, Irvin would be one of those 53 players to get the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. Walker would not. Johnson says he recognized that reality before Jones did.

55 responses to “Jimmy says Jerry told him, “You can’t get rid of Herschel Walker”

  1. burfict’s wrath says: Oct 10, 2014 10:39 AM

    These two should just find the nearest overpass, line up side by side, and see who can pee farther.
    ______________
    Oh I thought you were gonna suggest one of them throw the other off.

  2. I hope that 30 for 30 episode also talks about Mike Lynn’s motivations for making that trade in the first place: a chance to get out of paying salaries for high draft picks for the three years following that trade.

    Mike Lynn’s motivations were the key to that trade. Any GM who actually cared about making his team better (instead of saving money) would have landed Walker for two high picks, and nothing else.

  3. It’s what you DO with the acquired draft picks. It was one stud after another.

    You think Minnesota was going to make those same picks?

    Also, what did St Louis do with their RG3 picks?

  4. Interesting – Chuck Noll had the same attitude when he walked into Steeler camp for the first time in 1969. He basically looked around and told the players, “most of you aren’t going to be here within a couple of years”.

    Just like Johnson in Dallas, Noll lost badly the first couple of years, and built the juggernaut team through the draft.

  5. Herschel Walker was and is still a genetic freak. Too bad the Vikings couldn’t give him any support.

  6. Another great moment in Minnesota Viking history. That trade led to the beginning of the Dallas dynasty and the beginning of many years of futility for Minnesota.

  7. Minnesota wasn’t drafting and developing talent all that well at the time, so it’s important to note that where Dallas drafted a bunch of All Pro’s and HOF’ers, Minnesota likely would not have changed their fortunes dramatically by keeping those draft picks instead of taking Walker.

  8. Is there even the tiniest bit of doubt in any reasonable person’s mind who, out of Jerry and Jimmy, was responsible for the Dallas Dynasty of the early to mid-nineties?

    Slam dunk. Jimmy.

  9. I just wish Jerry would take credit for hiring Johnson and let Jimmy take the credit he deserves for building the team. It’s proof enough that it was Jimmy’s genius that brought Jerry his 3 SBs. Too bad that 25 years later Jerry still wants all the credit. If it weren’t for Stephen talking Jerry down, the Cowboys would be the Raiders. Stephen makes better decisions and is pulling a decent team together.

  10. The 30 for 30 is ok, but at 13 minutes way too short to be all that substantive. You never really get a full list of what the Cowboys got in the end from all those picks.
    The one really amazing point is that the Vikings could have been snookered into giving up so many draft picks for one player. On paper it was 5 players and ONE draft pick for Walker, but, all the Cowboys had to do was cut the 5 players and get a bounty of draft picks instead. How the hell did Minnesota fall for that??
    And, I was shocked that Mike Lynn’s famous quote isn’t included, that for the good of the NFL no team make a trade this bad again.

  11. I’ll never forget that trade, first for how many picks were involved to get Walker, but mainly because of how many of those picks worked out extremely well for the Cowboys.

    That was the trade of the century, just amazing.

  12. Walker was a HUGE disappointment for the Vikings. He had 148 yards in his first game, 89 in his second, but never topped 76 yards for the rest of 1989. He may have led the league in all-purpose yardage in 1990, but that was only because he was used as a kickoff returner. He wasn’t even really good at that. He didn’t have 100 yards rushing the whole season. He had 12 or fewer carries 9 times in 1991. If that isn’t a disappointment, I don’t know what is.

    Meanwhile, they didn’t really miss those draft picks that much. From 1992 to 2000, they didn’t have a losing season and they went to the playoffs 8 times. They probably would have been even better with the draft picks, but I’d say the trade was a disappointment because Walker played so poorly.

  13. No surprise that Jimmy would say that.

    What we know for certain however is that nothing happens in Dallas without Jones giving the green light and chances are that it was Jones that stuck the eventual deal.

    So someone had to have the idea first, and what Jimmy is saying is that it was him. So what?

  14. Here is how the convo went…

    Jimmy…”Do Ya Wanna Win?”

    Jerry …”Badly”

    Jimmy….. “Then ya need to do three things”

    Jerry….Ok! What are they.

    Jimmy….Sit down – shut up and then shut up!!

  15. Honestly, what was Jimmy success rate with all of those picks? Didn’t it just give him more room to swing and miss?

    Even if 50% of the players stuck, isn’t that about average?

  16. I cringed when Jerry said Herschel was the best personnel decision he’s ever made. Everyone knows Jimmy made those decisions.

  17. jerry is not by any accounts, looking for all, the credit. But in fact he is the man with the money so every move made you know for sure went across his desk for approval. So no doubt every success that occurred during that time had Jerrys name on it along with Jimmy. Too bad they could not see this then and now

  18. Maybe Jimmy & Jerry needed each other?
    If I had to pick only one, of course its Jimmy. Easily. But he didn’t accomplish much after they split up either.

  19. apkyletexas says:
    Oct 10, 2014 11:27 AM

    Minnesota wasn’t drafting and developing talent all that well at the time, so it’s important to note that where Dallas drafted a bunch of All Pro’s and HOF’ers, Minnesota likely would not have changed their fortunes dramatically by keeping those draft picks instead of taking Walker.
    _________

    If Minnesota wasn’t drafting and developing talent all that well, how did they have such a talented team that the trade was worth it to them? How did they follow up the trade with a decade of winning seasons?

  20. Jerry always wanted to view himself as a real-life J.R. Ewing. When Jimmy started running the show and winning Super Bowls, Jerry started hoping he was at least Jock Ewing. During the bar snubbing, Jimmy told him, “You aren’t strong enough to be Miss Ellie.”

    And that’s when Jerry fired him.

  21. Mike Lynn was about as cheap and crooked as you can get. Believe it or not, when the Metrodome was built, he gave himself a cut of the concession revenue for the length of the lease.

  22. “Jimmy Johnson’s thought initially wasn’t to trade Walker, it was to trade Michael Irvin. But after running the idea by Al Davis, perhaps to gain consensus, he realized it wouldn’t fly, so Jimmy suggested Walker instead. Also, according to what Norm Hitzges wrote in his book, Jerry Jones and Johnson worked the phones as a team to jack up the price, so it wasn’t all Johnson. The idea was, but the trade was a collaboration between the two.” -Gary Morris, blogging the boys, SB Nation.

    It’s interesting that since it is hard to find ways to pick at the Cowboys ’14 team, they bring up this stuff to be disparaging to Jones, hence keeping the beloved narrative alive.

  23. Hm who do I believe on this one? – The coach, who would most likely value draft picks and the ability to select his own crop of players he can mold.

    Or the big shot, show business oil tycoon owner who knows the value of having a mega star running back to fill seats?

    Yeah Jimmy, you don’t need to explain yourself here.

  24. “Walker was a HUGE disappointment for the Vikings. He had 148 yards in his first game, 89 in his second, but never topped 76 yards for the rest of 1989. He may have led the league in all-purpose yardage in 1990, but that was only because he was used as a kickoff returner. He wasn’t even really good at that. He didn’t have 100 yards rushing the whole season. He had 12 or fewer carries 9 times in 1991. If that isn’t a disappointment, I don’t know what is.”

    Herschel didn’t fit the Vikings offense, he misused. Minnesota’s offense was for split-backs.

  25. An interesting sidebar is Walker’s equally inadvertent role in taking down an entire league, the USFL . When another horse’s tail end of an owner with $, Donald Trump, ignored the USFL’s blueprint for salary caps by over paying Walker a bidding war ensued which put the fledgling league in a position to absorb revenue losses it couldn’t sustain.

  26. Looking back, I think that the Vikes were a QB away from the SB, not a RB. At the time, it may have been better to trade with Atlanta to get Jeff George #1 overall, and then draft Chris Warren or Barry Foster later in the draft (or a Terry Allen, which they did).

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