Does The Fire Still Burn?


Cowboys fans take a good look at this picture. Study it hard, especially the exuberance, joy, elation and satisfaction of one Jerry Jones. Achieving the impossible is written all over the man’s face. For those die-hard football fans, especially Cowboys fans, who have seen this NFL Films capture are very familiar with the scene. Before Jerry gets to the time when this picture was snapped, he literally rips the Lombardi Trophy from then-Coach Jimmy Johnson’s hands. It was an act of pure selfishness, gloating and greed. No one can blame Jones for the exuberance, but back in those days, Jerry just didn’t have the polish and moxie to handle things in a dignified and “all as one” mentality. Jerry was so driven and so determined to be a winner that he crushed people in his path and left a mighty wake of the dead and trampled behind him. He did not care. It was win at all costs.

The question needing to be asked and fully-assessed is “Does that same drive and determination exist?” The Dallas Faithful need to know. You do not want those answers coming from former players, current players, coaches or anyone in the current Cowboys’ administration or front office. Why? Because you’ll get the standard “company line.” All would have you believe Jerry wants to win more than any Owner in the League. Alumni are not going to utter a bad or eye-brow raising word as most still enjoy the perks and glory of being affiliated with the prized organization. Players, coaches and front office folks are still receiving paychecks from the man, so why in the world would they intimate complacency. And to put a definitive spin on matters of the current and future, can all the talk about Jerry either replacing or dismissing himself as the General Manager just fade into the woodwork? It just isn’t going to happen, so why does it keep coming up?

The necessary fire and drive to win was never more prominent than captured in this picture. The “makings” of something were in the air at Mia’s during the famed Saturday Night Massacre. Again, look at facial expressions, and these two were ready to conquer the NFL World. And a few short years later, they did just that. Jerry’s resources, Jimmy’s intuition, smarts, psychology and player personnel dominance. Since this union and divorce, it has been a massive drought, with the occasional hit and miss.

As incredibly successful as this group has been, due to construction and the fabric of blood, there is no accountability. There are no annual performance evaluations, no work assessments, no verbal or written warnings, and certainly no threats or possibilities of employment termination. Everyone else below this highly-touted regime is subject to the normal workplace expectations and evaluations, but “exemption” looms large amongst the Brass. There is no threat of Jerry’s “things are going to be uncomfortable at Valley Ranch” proclamation when it comes to “the family.” Thus, there is no sense of urgency or fear of failure. Why should there be? The Jones family has worked hard to erect the most gorgeous and spectacular sports venue in the entire world, and they still possess/own a brand (the famed Blue Star) that continues to carry a ton of recognition, loyal affiliation and an income stream and franchise value second-to-none in all of sports. When you have this going for you, and the football organization is now valued into the mufti-billions of dollars, what incentive is there to strive for excellence and championships each and every year?

The Jones family doesn’t have to do a single thing, from now till forever, to press or reach. They have it all, and the biggest thing they have is a fan base who continues to come to all the games and support mediocrity that is rampant all over the field. As long as that remains the case, where is the incentive for the ownership and family to switch things up. Unlike most in the corporate or work world, there is actually “Safety in The Comfort Zone” amongst the Dallas Cowboys. They are fat and happy. And, apparently content with the Status Quo. For True Blue, Dallas Faithful this should be repulsive, but the fan base that may feel this kick or punch to the gut, is not the same group who shows up on Sunday to fill the seats. See, that beautiful venue in Arlington was constructed so that the true, rabid, my Mondays (if not the rest of the week) will be ruined if the Cowboys lose are not there. They seethe and self-combust at home, and sadly, that’s the way the Jones family wants it. Keep the Country Club what it is, a social venue for the “have’s.” They with the money and be-seen mentality. Win or lose, they don’t care, they just want to have a good time.

And that’s exactly what the Jones family is doing these days, having a good time going year in, year out without a sense of urgency or pressure. How much fear can you possess or acquire when you’re accountable to no one? Their “bottom line” is both rotund and robust. Regardless of the continuing maintenance or hovering around the win-loss Mason Dixon line. It truly is a shame the blood lust that existed in the 60′s, 70′s, 80′s and early 90′s is gone for good. Each year used to mean something. Now, it’s just another exercise in futility.

Jerry’s #1 passion may still remain the Dallas Cowboys, but the passion is different. Money and success will do that to people. Many think that the Dallas Cowboys Football Organization is where it begins and ends for the Jones family. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is the family is involved in probably 20-30 different businesses, if not more, but it’s the Blue Star that equates you with the Jones family more than any other business venture. Jerry is a smart, smart and shrewd man. That has never been in question or doubt, but he’s such a good salesman and marketer that he is playing all involved in the Cowboys lore and love. He has you snowed and content with affiliation and Cowboys attire. As long as the fandom keeps pulling on the Blue Star attire and the rich keep piling into beautiful Cowboys Stadium, it really doesn’t matter if the Cowboys win or not. The hammer of true accountability and results will never fall in Arlington or at Valley Ranch. When the Brass is held to no performance standards, there will always be a scapegoat, coach or player. It’s simply a shuffling of the deck and an annual re deal. New year, new hand. Regardless of how the hands are played, the pot still goes to the Jones family.

Jerry needs to step down, without the assistance or input of any and study the picture below with an honest and open heart. Is he operating and driving the Dallas Cowboys like he was driven to acquire this title? That drive, ambition and bigger-than-the-moment life existed for a brief while in Dallas. It was prominent and contagious for about 6-7 years, and then contentment and entitlement took over and now reign supreme in the organization. The puppet strings would have you believe things are moving and shaking, and while strings get cut, and puppets get replaced, a simple look up will reveal it’s the same Puppet Master controlling the action figures and the overall show. The unfortunate reality is there is absolutely no need for change. The rich keep getting richer, the product is stagnant, and blind loyalty continues to fill the pockets of an organization that has no Checks and Balances. Look hard, Jerry. Look at that guy at the end of the championship banner. He has that bigger-than-life, win at all costs personae. Too bad it hasn’t been seen in these parts in some 17 years. One of the proudest organizations in the history of sports has been allowed to lay dormant and collect its annual mediocrity standing. Here’s to hoping the burning desire to win somehow returns to the North Texas area. If fire doesn’t catch within the family, then forget HOPE. That, and FAITH are a terrible thing to lose in life. Sadly, but slowly, the essence of the Dallas Cowboys is fading, and the luster of the famed Blue Star is no longer a feared and proud symbol, it’s a magnet for tarnish and “who cares.” Sad, so sad.

SportDFW would like to give a special thanks to Scott Knudsen for contributing this piece “Does The Fire Still burn?” He gives an in depth look at the Dallas Cowboys rise and fall, the Jones’ family and the management of the franchise.