When Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys, he made himself the General Manager. More than 30 years later, he still is.
So why does he still fill that role?
“I’ve always thought that when you cut out the person between the decision-maker and the people doing the recommending, then you can make quicker, more succinct and more responsive decisions,” Jones said Tuesday on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. “The very first press conference I was ever involved in I explained to everybody how I was going to run the Dallas Cowboys since I owned them. The very first one. I said that I would be involved in everything from this to socks and jocks, and I’m not trying to be cute. There has never been any doubt in anybody’s mind how I run the Dallas Cowboys and how I ran the Cowboys from the day I got here.
“Nobody can exchange a player, nobody can do anything unless I have approved it tacitly or otherwise. Nobody can have the authority to make a trade or a change or deal a draft pick since I owned the Cowboys, unless I approve it. Within the organization some people like a coach or some people like a player personnel director or some people like a marketing manager, they may have decision-making authority above people below them, but as far as having any authority to do that above them as it pertains to me, that has never been the case with the Dallas Cowboys. Never. . . . Nobody never has had the final say but me. Now, you really know I don’t like to say that. But that’s a fact. And, so, when we don’t do good, we all know who the ultimate total responsibility is.”
But that’s the way it is with every NFL team. The owner has the ultimate authority to make decisions, and even when the owner has technically delegated that authority to others, it’s always smart to make sure the owner is on board with whatever decision are being made.
Jones characterizes his role as being the one who decides what to do after everyone else has their input, especially if they aren’t on the same page.
“Since day one, we have made decisions on a contributing basis from key people,” Jones said. “Ultimately that’s called input and ultimately somebody has to break ties if somebody disagrees. Somebody has to do it. That’s my job. And, so, the question was why do I think it’s the best one, since I got to make it anyway? And since it is ultimately mine, then why have several people in between? You know, the turnover we have had with coaches throughout the NFL, not just the Cowboys, but throughout the NFL, you’ve had the same turnover in General Managers. Just as often as you’ve traded coaches you’ve traded General Managers. And sometimes you don’t have the same General Manager that brought the coach in. But he probably never brought him in anyway. It was the owner that brought him in. This is pro football, not college. And pro football, the guy that ultimately has the responsibility for paying the bills makes the decision.”
Jerry’s life arguably would have been a lot easier over the last three years if he’d simply hired a General Manager, had a key role in making decisions, and from time to time made the G.M. accountable for the team’s failures. To his credit, he has opted not to have someone in the building who can be thrown under the bus.
Still, this means that Jerry the G.M. will never be fired by Jerry the owner, even if/when maybe he should be. Seven years ago, Jones acknowledged that he indeed would have fired himself by now, if the owner and G.M. weren’t the same person.