Why Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Should Use His Flip Phone to Call Belichick, Payton and Saban

Mike Fisher

CHICAGO - It's oddly charming that Jerry Jones still uses a flip phone. It'll be more charming still as soon as the leader of the coming Dallas Cowboys coaching search uses that flip phone to call Bill Belichick, Sean Payton and Nick Saban.

“I've seen a lot of coaches' ... names mentioned,” Jones said, well-aware of the public view that Jason Garrett is a lame duck and that the Cowboys are about to start accepting resumes. “But they can't guarantee me a Super Bowl or guarantee my fans a Super Bowl.”

Jerry is a master debater, and knows very well what he's doing here with this comment, issued this week on 105.3 The Fan. This is the "Straw Man'' fallacy; Jerry has over-simplified and misrepresented the argument for replacing Garrett.

Of course a head coach's presence cannot "guarantee'' a Super Bowl. Nor can a billion-dollar stadium, or the finest training headquarters in sports, or the highest-paid offensive line, or the highest-paid running back, or success in the NFL Draft.

None of those things "guarantee'' a Super Bowl, either - yet Jerry's Cowboys have accumulated all of the above steps because they increase the odds of a Super Bowl.

And so, logically, would the finest possible head coach.

Who are the finest possible head coaches? I bet the Jones' family's list looks remarkably similar to mine: New England's Belichick, New Orleans' Payton and Alabama's Saban.

“Who's got the exclusive skills to get the job done so that collectively you can win a Super Bowl?” Jerry asked when nudged on this philosophical concept. “But there are qualified people. Jason Garrett is one of them.”

But wait. The belief that Garrett is qualified to win championships is a subjective one. Jerry can think it (I don't believe he does anymore, but maybe). Meanwhile, the belief that, say, Belichick can win championships is objective. It's fact. 

Are the Joneses truly about to search for - to use Jerry's words - someone with "the exclusive skills to win a Super Bowl''? Then any search that doesn't include a behind-the-scenes probe into Belichick's 2020 availability is a charade.

There need be nothing underhanded here; the Joneses are close to Patriots owner Robert Kraft and they can simply call him and ask permission. Or, through back-channels, they can gauge Belichick's interest separate from that. Is Tom Brady leaving? You wanna leave, too? Is Brady insisting on staying? You wanna leave because of that? Would one more Super Bowl cause you to seek a a new challenge? Quietly. (Heck, Jerry, can't you and Bill just hit the ski slopes again?)

Same thing with Payton, a long-time Jones family pal. The Joneses are close to Saints GM Mickey Loomis. Is there a way that works around Payton's recent contract extension? What if Drew Brees retires? What if the Saints win the Super Bowl? Would that be a debt-paid reason for a Payton exit?

Saban, of course, works in the NCAA, where they make up the rules as they go along. The Jones family can court him as it wishes ... and considering the fact that 'Bama's actually not undefeated, who knows where Saban stands there?

My three names, by the way, are my three names. If you are reading reports (as Jerry is) of "finalists'' and "Jerry's favorite'' and whatnot, you are reading baloney. There is, I'm told, no "short list.'' There will, however, be a long list. This is a no-stone-unturned situation. 

If Belichick and Payton say "no,'' can you steal another established NFL head coach? Does it have to be a Jones pal (Mike Zimmer?) or should they also make new pals? (John Harbaugh?)

Is a "hot'' NFL assistant just another Garrett-like move in that he's have to undergo on-the-job training? The Joneses need to find out. Call 'em all. The Niners Saleh, the Patriots' Josh McDaniels, the Chiefs' Eric Biememy, the Ravens' Greg Roman, all of 'em. Oh, and the pals, too, Dan Campbell, Matt Eberflus and Ken Norton and the rest.

What about NFL "retreads'' like John Fox and Jack Del Rio? Is Ron Rivera that? I'm not saying "hire 'em''; I'm saying, pick their brains. Oh, and do the same with on-staff guys Kris Richard, Kellen Moore, Jon Kitna and Rod Marinelli. Pick.

Once you get done with Saban, you get to Urban Meyer and Lincoln Riley and Dabo Swinney and Matt Rhule and Chris Peterson and anybody else you think might be "The Next Big Thing.''

But think about it: Why "guess'' about McDaniels or Riley when you - relatively speaking - "know'' about Bill Belichick?

Pretend the Joneses were producing an Oscar-worthy Hollywood movie. You know who they would call? Spielberg, Tarantino, Scorsese, Spike, Streep, Pacino, DiCaprio. Jerry would allow himself some humility to get the picture made right.

No pretend here: Jerry Jones is trying to produce a Lombardi-worthy football team. He has the finest stadium, the finest facility, (arguably) the finest roster (in his opinion), the finest plane, the finest yacht, the finest franchise, money can buy.

Why should the finest-of-everything Dallas Cowboys settle for the flip-phone version of a coach?

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