May 142013


A friend recently suggested that I put together a top ten list of Jerry Jones foot-in-mouth statements. That might be fun…and a challenge. Not to find ten candidates but to settle on just ten.

Now, we can add another. Another friend, a Twitter friend, put me onto this one.


Actually, Jones didn’t so much put his foot in his mouth as he simply demonstrated how precious little he really knows about the history of his own football team:

“He’s played a lot of games now,” Jones told co-host Gil Brandt and me on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Monday night. “He certainly had a lot of time on the job before he ever started and played. He has a unique grasp of our offensive concepts. The people who are around him the most – his coaches – tell me he’s never had a bad idea.

“If you think about where he’s at right now, he’s 10 years older than most of the players we have on the field. We think his skill level right now is very much where we hoped it would be and will be for several years to come. But what we want to use more than we ever have is the kind of thing that (ex-Cowboys quarterback Roger) Staubach contributed – input into designing a plan that helps us beat that opponent.”

Mind you, this was Gil Brandt, the head of the Cowboys scouting department during the Landry/Schramm years that Jones was talking to.

Apparently, Brandt let the comment about how much input Staubach had in play-calling and game planning slide. Any real fan of the pre-Jones Cowboys knows that Staubach actually offered to come back and play another year if Landry would let him call his own plays. Landry declined. Play-calling was a bone of contention between the two iconic Cowboys. Landry was a bit of a control freak in that regard. He would shuffle players in and out of the huddle with the next play. He trusted no one with his game plan more than he did himself.

Here is how remembers it:

Wile (sic) others appreciated Staubach’s neat footwork, Tom Landry was not so impressed. “Coach Landry wasn’t happy with my scrambling,” the quarterback revealed. “It caused a running feud between us. “But I put up with his play calling and he put up with my scrambling.” Staubach tried to have more of a say in the Dallas offense. After winning Super Bowl VI against the Miami Dolphins Staubach said, “I’m going to study films more than ever, but it will be hard to convince coach Landry to let me call my own plays after we won 10 games in a row with him calling them.” The friction between two tough and intelligent leaders helped spark a dynamic game.

A January 1979 issue of the Lakeland Ledger, in an article leading up to the Super Bowl, ran side-by-side articles on Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach.

The Bradshaw article was titled, “Bradshaw is One of a Dying Breed.” It begins,

“Terry Bradshaw is one of a dying breed. A rarity in the NFL. He is one of the few quarterbacks still in the game that is allowed to call his own plays.”

The Staubach article, titled, “Staubach Like an On-Field Robot,” goes like this:

“On a football field, Roger Staubach is a robot. His decisions are made for him by Tom Landry

In the NFL, that is not unusual. Most coaches make robots out of their quarterbacks, sending in instructions for them to carry out.

However, since quarterbacks are flesh and blood with feelings of their own, and not a bucket of bolts activated by some remote control process, they don’t like being robots.

Staubach doesn’t like it. He has learned to live with it, and he doesn’t make a big deal of it, but he would like to call his own plays.

“I think any quarterback would,” he said prior to today’s Super Bowl. “When you call your own plays, you believe in them. You’re confident they will work.”

Landry was a renowned autocrat when it came to offensive game planning.

In a January 17, 1978 article on Landry (a real gem of an article) titled, The 12th Cowboy, Wilmington Morning Star staffer Dave Anderson wrote,

Tom Landry designs the offensive game plan and supervises the defensive game plan that is structured on the “flex defense” that he invented, just as he invented the 4-3 when he was a player-coach with the New York Giants a quarter century ago.

Tom Landry was not the impassioned, fiery, quotable motivator extraordinaire like his counterpart Vince Lombardi. He was often seen as detached and emotionless. One former player, the somewhat unstable Duane Thomas, called him a “plastic man.” He was a tactician. He believed in X’s and O’s. He believed in a superior plan of attack. He believed that if his players would run his plays the way he designed them, they would win way more than they would lose.

He was right.

jones-staubachStaubach was a great player. He was fiery and emotional on the field. He was a leader of men. He was an athletic, cool-headed, steady hand. He carried out Landry’s game plans with enough success and precision to get the Cowboys to five Super Bowls in a decade and win two of them.

But he never designed a single game plan and he never called his own plays.

Why would Jerry Jones know that? A narcissist knows nothing except to put himself in the middle of everything. Even if he has to do it with his own foot in his mouth.