OXNARD, Calif. - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was driven to tears on multiple occasions during the team’s annual training camp introductory press conference on Wednesday, most of all by memories of his football divorce from coach Jimmy Johnson.
“My role here, it was my job to keep it together and should have had deference to something that was working good, those are the things that come to my mind," Jones said, reflective on Johnson’s departure from the team in 1994 following two Super Bowl wins.
“I've never been able to know,” Jones said, “why I f—-ed it up."
The truth of what happened is far more complex than a NSFW soundbite - one of a few that Jones, 78, dropped when talking about how much some level of football normalcy in a COVID time means to him, how much he desperately wants to win a Super Bowl, and how much he believes in but he labels his own “naïveté.”
“It’s a beautiful world and better world to be naive than skeptical and negative,” said Jones, the billionaire who has often stated that is “naive” positivity is a key to his success.
By 1994, of course, the Jones-Johnson relationship was something short of positive. Johnson thought the owner undeservedly wanted credit; Jones thought his coach was disloyal.
Ego. Power. Insecurity.
They were probably both right. And contrary to Jerry's claim, in regard to those "why's,'' they surely both know.
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Johnson wanted out and he got his way, to be replaced by Barry Switzer, who Jones said came to Dallas initially not understanding there was a vacancy.
Jones said Switzer’s first intention was to get the three old friends together to talk it out.
Jones quoting Switzer: “I wanted to get both you a—holes on this couch and ask you how you could f—k this up.”
Jones and Johnson will be together again in the first week of August in Canton as the coach enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as Jones did in 2017.
“We had a great run of it,” Jones said, choking back more tears. “He’s a great coach, and I’m proud to have him as a friend and proud to have the times that we had. We just had a great experience.”