Johnson’s “crock” claim turns out to be sort of a crock

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Former Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson ripped into his boss with the ‘Boys on Wednesday’s edition of The Dan Patrick Show, explaining that it was Jimmy Johnson not Jerry Jones who had the control of the team in the early 1990s.

But Johnson apparently went a little too far in making his point.

That is completely a bunch of crock,” Johnson said.  “Jerry started putting all those titles on himself after I left.  He didn’t call himself general manager and president and all that stuff when I was there.  He was just the owner.”

As Todd Archer of points out, Johnson’s claim is erroneous.  Archer explains that the team’s media guides for the five years Johnson served as coach show that Jones was indeed the owner, president, and General Manager.

Johnson’s broader point was that his contract gave him the kind of control over player personnel that Jones now exercises.  But the owner always has the absolute final say, doesn’t he?  Regardless of what the contract says, the owner hires the coach — and if the owner doesn’t like the decisions the coach makes with whatever authority the coach has, the owner can fire the coach.

The unspoken message from Johnson, who was both highly competitive and extremely effective in Dallas, perhaps was that the team wouldn’t have won those championships without him picking the players and then coaching them up.  As Archer points out, however, Johnson had that same authority in Miami — and he was 36-28 in the regular season, 2-3 in the playoffs, and he exited coaching with a 62-7 loss to the Jaguars.

So maybe Jones had more to do with the success of the Cowboys than Johnson or anyone else would admit.  Indeed, in the latest episode of A Football Life, which focuses on Jimmy Johnson and debuts tonight at 8:00 p.m. ET on NFL Network, Jones admits that finding players wasn’t his strength.

“I was the General Manager, and Jimmy was the coach,” Jones says.  “Certainly, he had spent all that time in football and understood what a football player looked like better than I did.  At the same time, I was a good trader.  That’s what I did for a living and that’s how I bought the Cowboys.”

Bottom line?  Together, Johnson and Jones were football’s version of Lennon and McCarthy.  Alone, the two men haven’t come close to that level of success.  (Yeah, Jones won a Super Bowl with Barry Switzer as the coach — but with the team Johnson built.)

Maybe, some day, they’ll both admit that each man played a significant part in their mutual NFL success.

42 responses to “Johnson’s “crock” claim turns out to be sort of a crock

  1. I think Johnson said he had say in football decisions, not that he was GM. But that the broader point was that there is no one being held accountable for the “talen” on the field now-a-days.

  2. Calling MIKE LYNN.

    C’mon, 8 draft picks and 5 1st rounders.

    Great players and i think great coach in Jimmy but he definitely had some help!!

    Jerrah is still the worst owner in sports.

  3. Owning a sports franchise may be the only business in the world where owners are expected to take all of the blame when their franchise is unsuccessful yet have nothing to do with the decisions that made that happen.

  4. If Jerry Jones was one of those more quiet and anonymous owners I would have more respect for the Cowboys.
    But since he is a loud mouth attention seeking braggart, I can’t help but love it when the Cowboys fail year after year now.
    It’s good to see that they are not the contenders they once were.

  5. Who cares. This story is two decades old. The Cowboys are irrelevant and stories like this just keep then hanging around. By sure why ppl are surprised they suck since they have for the past 15 years.

  6. Comparing Jimmy Johnson’s record in Miami to his record in Dallas without considering the change in free agency rules and the draft between those periods is specious. Jimmy knew how to work free agency and the draft to his advantage when he was in Dallas, but by the time he went to Miami the rules had changed and thus the game had passed him by.

    Jimmy is 100% correct, he is the reason for the Cowboy’s superbowl trophies in the 90’s (Switzer rode his coattails,) not Jerry Jones. It’s no coincidence that they’ve only won one playoff game since the Jimmy/Barry era.

  7. I think it’s safe to say, regardless of who had what title, Jimmy made all the football decisions.

    I could see though, Jerry saying, “you want to draft X? Let me think about that.” Then, a few days later, going to Jimmy and saying, “we’re doing to draft X.”

  8. WHile in Dallas, Jimmy had no salary cap. When he got to Miami , the NFL had a salary cap in place. Makes a BIG difference in who you can sign in free agency.. And for what its worth, I think Jimmy wasted Marino’s last good years by taking the ball out of his hands and forcing the Offense to try and run the ball for 3.5 qtrs. ,before he finally started winging it down field.

  9. Please..

    Any moron can see that when Jimmy Johnson was there, he was the one really making all the drafting decisions for that team. Just because Jerry sat in the room also, doesn’t qualify him to be a General Manager also. Jimmy was the brains AND the coach of that organization.

  10. An awful lot of credit for building that dynasty belongs to Bob Ackles, the Vice President of Player Personnel, starting I believe the year before Jones bought the team and continuing for another five years through to the second Super Bowl.

  11. Johnson did amazing things with one franchise, and set another back more than half a decade. I’m not buying that the difference was just rule changes. I’m the last person to stick up for Jones, but I think this article is right on the money. Neither one of them could have done it without the other.

  12. You can’t argue with the complete and absolute lack of success Jones has had for the past however many years without Johnson.

    Despite Johnson’s lack of success with the Dolphins ask yourself this question.

    If you owned a football team and had to hire one or the other would you hire Jones to be your GM or Johnson to be your coach.

  13. 2-3 in the playoffs in what 4-5 years?

    Jones is 1-??? In what 20 years

    Herschel walker deal made it possible but I believe Johnson made the most of those picks. It pretty obvious that jerry drafts pretty bad

  14. Two megalomaniacs that have been butting heads about this since 1995. Jones can’t stand not getting any credit for those teams, and Johnson can’t stand giving any of it up. Too bad, if they had been able to get along, the Cowboys could have had 2 or 3 more championships.

  15. Both get credit. Here is why:

    -Johnson says to Jones: “it would be great if I could get a bunch of draft picks in this upcoming draft.”

    -Jones: “Okay Jimmy. Hey Sandra! Can you get me Mike Lynn on the phone?”

    Between that and the ensuing trades, Jones was very good at wheeling and dealing.

  16. If you owned a football team and had to hire one or the other would you hire Jones to be your GM or Johnson to be your coach.



    But more to the point, Jones would never have gotten a job in the NFL, while Johnson, coming out of the University of Miami, was going to get a head coaching job in the NFL, and he was going to succeed.

    It’s pretty clear that once he left Dallas, the fire had gone out and his days as a top-rung coach were over.

  17. I mentioned this in the other JJ & JJ thread, but it worth repeating, “Still, a Walker-like steal/trade doesn’t come along very often.The Vikings GM (Lynn) said at the time something to the effect of, “For the good of the NFL this will remain the worst trade of all time”.

    And, I will also note that I told football fans back in 1989, that the Cowboys were “the best 1-15″ team you were likely to see. There was some decent building blocks there, and they got Aikman with the first pick of the draft.

    So, I would add a footnote that Tom Landry deserves at least some mention in providing some building blocks to those dominant early 90s teams.”

    I would also note that Jimmie Johnson was saddled with an aging Dan Marino and a lot of other Don Shula guys. Johnson simply wanted to add balance to the Dolphins offense but Marino apparently had a hissy fit and cried about how Shula always let him do things his way, how dare you!?

  18. Please don’t utilize Beatles comparisons unless you know what your are talking about. Lennon and McCartney had plenty of success (#1 albums, hit songs, etc.)after they stopped writing music together. Jerry Jones has been the owner of a mediocre team since the players Jimmy Johnson drafted stopped playing. Jimmy Johnson never had any success as a coach once he left the Cowboys.

  19. Without E. Smith as the explosive element on those teams the 90’s Cowboys would be much like the current Cowboys. Talented players at the skill positions but no one guy to pull it all together.

  20. If I could have shown Jerry the future when he was running his mouth after back to back Super Bowls I would. Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones robbed the Vikings blind and turned every pick into key pieces of a championship team. What a shame Jerry’s ego killed an incredible run. If Johnson is coach in ’94 they best the 49ers and win 4 straight! I hope Steve young sent Jerry a thank you card for his 1 Super Bowl.

  21. Jimmy doesn’t need to explain about putting the Superbowl teams together.. Anybody who follows the Cowboys religiously knows how terrible Jerry has been with putting a team together.

    Even the team that went 13-3 with Wade was all Parcells and not Jerry. He is still trying to live off that success, but as EVERYBODY sees, he has turned that once competitive team into whatever you wanna call it today.

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