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Volume 24 No. 117
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Star Gazing: Jerry Jones' 25-Year Ownership Of The Cowboys Examined

Today marks the 25th anniversary of Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones buying the team, making it the "perfect time to pause and put this wild, joyous ride into perspective," according to David Moore of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Comparisons are "often drawn" between Jones and late Raiders Owner Al Davis. There are "similarities" between the two, but Davis would "consistently extend his middle finger" to the NFL. Jones has "taken a different approach," as he "extends his hand, pulls his opponents closer, forcibly argues for change and works to build consensus." Jones talks about the "friends he’s made on this journey and beams." Five former players from the Cowboys' Super Bowl-winning teams in '92, '93 and '95 are in the Pro Football HOF, and Jones "probably will join them one day." Jones said, "It would be easy to say, ‘Jerry, win about three more Super Bowls and you might be considered for the Hall of Fame.’ But I know the people that are in the Hall of Fame as contributors are not only in there for what their teams did on the field but for what they contributed to the game and the league. I do hope the kinds of things we’ve been involved in over the last 25 years have significantly improved the game for our fans. If that’s Hall of Fame stuff, then it’s Hall of Fame stuff." Moore wrote Jones' accomplishments "are numerous," but "nothing means more to Jones than having his family by his side" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/23). Jones said that if he could "change anything during his tenure, it would be the rushed decision to fire legendary coach Tom Landry and replace him with Jimmy Johnson." In Ft. Worth, Clarence Hill Jr. noted Jones "doesn’t regret the move, just the circumstances that forced him to act so quickly and thus come off as disrespectful to Landry." Jones: "I would’ve waited a year and just got my feet on the ground a little bit more and probably just gone with the staff that we had and then later made the ultimate change that I made." Jones is still "pained by the stigma of being the man who fired Landry and how coldly he did so," and some Cowboys players "have never forgiven him for it" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/24).

A CLEAN SLATE: ESPN DALLAS' Todd Archer noted Jones bought the team and Texas Stadium for $140M from H.R. "Bum" Bright, who "offered to fire Landry ... but Jones declined." The Cowboys had endured "three straight losing seasons" at the time of the purchase. Jones: "He did insist that, 'I should make this change. You shouldn't. You should have a clean slate. I will make the change.' I wanted to and felt that it was pretty obvious that changes were being made because I was taking the team, and I wanted to look coach Landry in the eye, visit with him about that rather than having it done just through the actual purchase closing procedure that would normally come. But that would've been something that when I look back at hindsight, I could've taken Bum up on his offer to make those changes" (, 2/24).

WHO'S CRYING NOW? The DALLAS MORNING NEWS' Moore noted Jones has "broken down and cried after three losses during his ownership." The first came in January '95 when the Cowboys lost to the 49ers in the NFC Championship to "fall short in their bid to three-peat." The second time was when the Cowboys "opened the 2002 season with a 19-10 loss" to the expansion Texans. Jones: "I was the leading proponent of getting Houston the team. I wanted those fans to have their own team even though I knew at that time half of them were Cowboys fans. To go down and get beat on opening night by an expansion team was absolutely a low point." The third time "came five years later when a 13-3 regular season ended with a 21-17 loss" to the Giants in the divisional round of the playoffs. Jones regards three Super Bowl wins as his "greatest accomplishment" as an owner, followed by getting AT&T Stadium built. Moore noted one of the "most important decisions Jones will make is how the franchise will be run once he’s gone." Jones said of his family, "What I didn’t know was how effective these people were going to be and how focused and interested they were going to be in the ensuing years. ... They have made it their lives. We have other things and manage other things, but everything else is secondary" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/23).

NUMBERS DON'T LIE: The Dallas Morning News' Kevin Sherrington said of Jones' tenure, "It's been great. If you look at it from the standpoint of how many Super Bowls had they won before he got here? Two. How many Super Bowls have they won since he got here? Three. That's more Super Bowls. ... I've been very hard on Jerry Jones, there's no question about that, but he's a potentially great owner. He's way up there as an owner" ("SportsDay On Air," FS Southwest, 2/24). In Ft. Worth, John Henry notes the Cowboys are "one of three franchises in the last 25 years with three Super Bowl championships." But the "only problem is that the Cowboys today are nowhere in the same network of today’s NFL dynasties on the playing field." With Jones as the team’s GM, the Cowboys are "setting new standards in mediocrity" (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 2/25).