Legend Rick Gosselin talks Cowboys, Jimmy, Jerry, McCarthy and more

Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Dallas Cowboys (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
3 of 9
dallas Cowboys
RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports /

Jimmy Johnson of the Dallas Cowboys

Q: I am still waiting for Amazon to deliver my copy of Jimmy Johnson’s new book Swagger today. How were things when Jimmy ran things? I know the football team were successful on the field but it seem like the entire culture was different? After Jimmy was fired and before Bill Parcells was hired. The culture at the star was no culture. It felt like those teams had a sense of entitlement.

A: There was accountability when Jimmy was there. Cutting John Roper because he fell asleep during a meeting. Cutting Curvin Richards after a fumble. The players never knew what Jimmy was going to do.

There was an edge in that locker room and Jimmy provided it. He brought in players with work ethic – players he coached at Miami like Michael Irvin and Russell Maryland who held themselves and others accountable. You had to earn your spot on that roster and then bust your tail to keep it. There was no such sense of entitlement in the two years I was on the beat.

There was just a sense of urgency to get better. Jimmy won a national title at Miami. He believed he could win an NFL championship in Dallas. And he was going to be demanding of his players, drive them, until he achieved it. In four years under Jimmy, thanks in large part to the Herschel Walker deal, the Cowboys went from worst team in the NFL to best team in the NFL.

Q: Do you miss Jimmy Johnson?

A: As a coach, yes. But even more so as a GM. When Jerry moved on from Jimmy to Barry, he said “500 coaches could do what Jimmy Johnson has done.” Maybe so – but there weren’t 500 who could have built that team the way Jimmy did.

There may have been only 3-4 in the history of the NFL. When I made the presentation for Jimmy to the Hall of Fame committee, I pitched him more for what he did as the GM of the Cowboys than as coach. Jimmy had such a keen eye for talent and the ability to envision how players would fit into his scheme. Dixon Edwards, Darren Woodson, Brock Marion…they were all drafted as speed “fits” for what Jimmy wanted to do on defense.

He wasn’t afraid to draft an undersized center (Mark Stepnoski) or a raw, small-college blocker (Erik Williams) with premium (third-round) draft picks. He saw how they fit and then watched them become Pro Bowl blockers on championship teams. He goes to Miami and drafts two more Hall of Fame players with later-round picks, Jason Taylor (third-round) and Zach Thomas (fifth-round). He knew what a player looked like and how to maximize his talents.