Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
No.1 – Firing Jimmy Johnson
Quick – name one head coach or manager in the universe of professional sports that’s been shown the door following back-to-back world championships.
Can’t do it, can you?
I didn’t bother scouring the history of every sport for this piece, but I can certainly say that there’s not a single coach in the Super Bowl era of the NFL that was essentially fired after back-to-back Super Bowls – except Jimmy Johnson.
After the speediest rebuild of the modern football era following the infamous Herschel Walker trade of 1989, Johnson guided the Cowboys to back-to-back wins in the Super Bowl over the Bills beginning just three years later. Johnson avenged massive disappointments in previous years against San Francisco and put the Cowboys on a pedestal that hadn’t been stood on since Landry’s era in the 1970s.
Johnson was all but big game invincible once he had the pieces in place. A once dominant NFC East that seemed to alternate Super Bowl winners after two humbling defeats over the Cowboys each year became Johnson’s personal playground.
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One would think that Jones would have been ecstatic, right?
Jones had probably never been unhappier during his time as czar of the Cowboys.
The problem was that Jones was just the owner, the guy who signed the checks and watched Cowboys games from luxury suites all over the NFL.
Not good enough.
Jones didn’t buy the Cowboys for the sole purpose of winning football games – this much is crystal clear. There’s other psychological issues going on here that were quite evident as soon as Jones was handed the keys to Valley Ranch.
This particular billionaire made this purchase in order to make a profit, but that wasn’t the primary goal.
Jones became owner of the Dallas Cowboys as a means to literally buy his own celebrity.
Johnson clearly stood in the way of that celebrity, at least in Jones’ mind, and that’s exactly what brought Switzer, a Johnson-bully when the two were coaching against each other in the state of Oklahoma in the 80s, into the fold just hours after Johnson’s departure.
It’s true that Johnson was jockeying to return to the state of Florida to continue his coaching career, mainly because it’s where he feels at home. He also had a history of only serving as a head coach at a given location for five years at a time.
Nonetheless, if Jones had done what any other general manager in the entire history of professional football would have done, Johnson could have been coaxed into staying. In addition to possibly leaving Dallas for Miami, which he eventually did, Johnson wanted more money, and rightfully so.
In the end, however, the same guy that Jones boasted was worth all of those first-round draft picks while introducing himself to DFW media ended up being a guy that was literally paid to leave the franchise because Jones got his feelings hurt.
To this day, Jones still maintains an icy relationship with Johnson and apparently has no plans to place his former college roommate in the Dallas Cowboys ring of honor.