I think it is safe to say that most Cowboys fans were more than a little nervous to have Jerry Jones take the NFL center stage to give a speech. Those of us who have followed Jones’ tenure as the owner of the Dallas Cowboys know the level of crazy incoherence he can achieve when asked to publicly speak. Those fears were assuaged and a certain pride swole in the collective Cowboys Fandom breast as we listened to the fearless leader not fumble.
Let me tell you 10 things you can love about Jerry’s speech.
Jones was genuine in his level of humility when paying tribute to the long list of people he considered indispensable to his success.
Homage paid to the owners who paved the way
I loved one of his opening lines. He was talking about the first time he attended an NFL owners meeting. “Frankly, I was overwhelmed. I felt like a college freshman walk-on in a room full of all-Americans.”
He then went on to name people like Rozelle, Brown, Schramm, Wilson, Hunt, Merrill, Rooney, and DeBartolo. He called them, “Innovators, founders, and visionaries.”
He talked about the first NFL owners meeting held in an Ohio car dealership. His love for the institution was obvious.
Acknowledgment of Jimmy Johnson
Around Dallas, speculation was high as to whether Jones would honor Jimmy Johnson, and, if so, to what degree? Most felt he would have to mention him in some way. In fact, Johnson was among the first Jones honored. He mentioned him early and often and gave him the credit due. He even poked fun at himself for messing up a good thing.
“I wanted someone I knew. I wanted someone I knew well. I wanted someone who could get it done. I wanted Jimmy Johnson.”
Admission of failures
Jones opened up his life a little bit, revealing that some of the gambles he took as a young businessman threatened the security of his family. Going all-in to purchase the Dallas Cowboys, a team hemorrhaging $1 million per month was no small gamble.
“As a young man,” Jones said, “I chased prosperity. When you strike out more times than you succeed, you soon learn that it’s real embarrassing to bust your ass.”
A little colorful cussing
Jones channeled Barry Switzer and threw down terms like “ass” and “damn” a few times (very few, unlike Barry) and it never felt forced or “look at me, the tough guy talking.”
A shout-out to his college coaches
Jerry mentioned Frank Broyles several times, crediting him with teaching the young football player and future Hall of Fame NFL owner that games are won in the fourth quarter when you are tired. He also credited Barry Switzer, who was his freshman coach at Arkansas and would become the second coach he would hire to lead the Dallas Cowboys.
“We’re all in the fourth quarter now, but we’ve been coached up real good…”
“Put up or shut up”
Jones talked about being on a fishing trip in Mexico when he learned the Cowboys were for sale. The economy was in shambles. He had been drinking a little too much the night before and was a bit hungover. But he made the call, introduced himself, and said, “You don’t know me from Adam, but if I live to make it back to the United States, I am going to buy the Dallas Cowboys.”
Praise of Tom Landry and the regime that built America’s Team
Jones earned immediate and almost universal hatred from Cowboys fans everywhere, and I was right there among them, when he made his first order business the firing of legendary Hall of Fame, two-time Super Bowl winning coach Tom Landry.
With Landry’s son in the audience, Jones praised Landry. “He was…he IS the Dallas Cowboys.”
Jones showered praise on the original General Manager Tex Schramm, super scout Gil Brandt, and original team owner Clint Murchison, as well. He said theirs were the shoulders he stood on.
Honoring the players
Jerry mentioned a bunch of players by name, from the triplets Aikman, Smith, and Irvin to contributors like Bill Bates. Jones has been accused of many things through the years and one of them is that he loves his players too much, hangs on for too long, and overpays them when their skills are diminishing.
OK! I can live with that.
Love of family
Jerry Jones loves his wife and kids. That is obvious and undeniable. Every one of them is intricately involved in the operation of the team. His wife Gene has never missed a single game in 28 years.
I have given Jerry Jones “what for” in these pages many times through the years.
Not today. Jerry Jones is a Hall of Fame owner who taught the NFL how to really make money and helped guide it to its current place of preeminence among American sports leagues. He didn’t get there by accident. He didn’t luck into it. He worked his tail off. He devoted his life to it. And he succeeded.
Good job, Jerry! Now, go get us another Super bowl.
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